ZoNotes: Have You Ever Danced With The Devil in The Pale Moonlight?
I hope this Sunday finds you in good stead. Here's some lighter fare for the easy Sunday in all of us. Do note however that OU and Indiana are in the Final Four. Should Kansas and Maryland win today, then I would have successfully picked 75% of the Final Four participants. Cheer me on!
Recapping the Week
Earlier this week I ranted about the inadequacies of campaign finance/incumbent protection reform, calling it a "racket." Aaron Ammerman (F'00) shared his thoughts with me on the great outrages he sees:
"Normally, an industry in America can establish an
arbitrary limit on the amount of a product that it
will produce in a given period of time. Even though
the consumers would like an increased supply and it
could produce more than this cap, the industry
chooses not to, because limiting the consumer's choices
and the availability of the product drives up the
value of each individual product. Imagine further
if the industry were to decide- not only would it
regulate its output, but instead it would also
establish a fixed quantity of the product that will be
available in the market at any given point and will
not produce more- merely replace the product that
it's already produced, without raising the overall
total of product available.
Hmmmm? Sound like the guv'mint would have a
problem with any industry that dared exert such
monopolistic influence? mebbe.
Now, let's imagine that the producer of that
product didn't set the limit. Let's imagine that the
product itself was sentient and could determine how
much of itself was wanted on the market!! Wouldn't
the product, if it were intelligent, want to limit
its availability so that it would have the maximum
value possible? So that people will fight over it
and spend oodles of money on it?
Americans get worked up every year by the thought
that MS, Sony, and Nintendo underproduce video-games
and gaming consoles so that they can pump up the
hype at Christmastime. I'm talking about a more
The industry I'm talking about is the American
population and the product is the honest American
citizen that we send to Washington to represent us in
Beginning in 1790, the U.S. government bumped up
the number of representatives in the lower house of
Congress to keep pace with the explosive population
growth in America. It did this every 10 years or
so so that the number of representatives would be
reasonably represent the changing American
"In 1789, the very first House consisted of 65
members. Since the nation’s population was roughly 4
million people at the time, each member of the House
represented approximately 62,000 people."
Times change, technology changes. With the advent
of the locomotive and the telegraph, it became much
easier to communicate with your representative.
The trip from Buffalo to Albany no longer took a week
for example. The advances in technology allowed a
single representative to represent more
In 1911, Congress declared that it was capping
membership in the House at a nice, round 435. At this
time, with 92 million Americans, each Congressman
in the House represented roughly 210,000 people.
This is a bit of a shift, from 62,000 to 210,000
people in a congressional district. Technology is
Since 1911, the U.S. has fought and won three
global conflicts. The U.S. now stands as the world's
single most important entity. Since 1911, broadcast
radio and television have revolutionized American
media. The government's budget has risen to $2
TRILLION each year (more than TWICE the entire GNP of
1911). The U.S. population has tripled since 1911.
[That's raw population, not "voting population."
let's factor in 1) women's suffrage, 2) the civil
rights movement, and 3) letting 18-, 19-, and 20-year
olds vote. Have those had any effect on the U.S.
Nonetheless, the sacred number of 435 shan't be
Today, each congressman "represents" an average of
650,000 people. Three times that in 1911, over ten
times that at America's founding.
Gasp! But you can't possibly suggest increasing
the size of the governmental behemoth!!!
The U.S. government has run amuck. Look at the New
Deal, the Great Society, and Sept 11th. Increase
the employees! Increase the budgets! Increase the
rules! From time to time an emergency calls for the
dramatic expansion of goverment to deal with the
A billion here and a billion there and sooner or
later you're talking real money.
Congress spends lots of money. The bulk of that is
NOT on Congressional salaries, nor on the upkeep of
Congressional offices. Even a dramatic increase in
the number of representatives will not represent
more than a drop in the budget bucket.
If we shrink the size of a congressional district,
we reduce the costs of access to a politician
without depriving anyone of their Constitutional rights.
The more congressmen, the less each of their votes
count. More importantly, the more congressmen, the
more each of their constituents is worth.
The American people are worth that much. I'm not
suggesting that we have 5,000 congressmen. I'd also
suggest that we shy away from a round number like
one thousand (as George Will tossed out at one
point). A randomly chosen number between 1100 and 1300
would do the trick. As for the weakest argument of all- "the Capitol
building is too small to accommodate the number of
congressmen we already have." Since when has the
government ever been reluctant to build bigger and
bigger temples to itself. If they come, they will
The Simon & Zo Correspondence
Here are some recaps of the discussion Simon and I had earlier this week about Israel, referring to the article that about the Labor Party that I posted a couple of days ago:
"An interesting article. A few thoughts come to mind. The first is that there’s no greater strain on the party that isn’t in power like a war, especially one in the fashion that Israel has on its hands. There is a high possibility that Sharon might have over-extended himself rolling tanks and troops into Ramallah and Bethlehem last week, and admittance of that mistake (and it was one, and even the US will say so) has made him real damn apt to sit down with Powell and Cheney. However, Labor doesn’t have an alternative of any kind and on any front, and given people’s general frustration with a war that seems to be never-ending, the Israeli public is tired of Labor’s hang-wringing.
Another thought: Oslo was probably the right thing to do at the time, but its failure is coming back to haunt the party in that no one trusts them. A good friend of mine who lives in Tel Aviv (and who I met at NAIMUN) says that she’s never seen anything like the party’s spectacular erosion of public support, starting with the death of Rabin and ending with the travesty that was Barak’s brief stay in power. So long as things stay the way they are, Sharon and Likud will be given the benefit of the doubt, given if they slip in the polls."
And my response:
"I think the only factor that perplexes me is the fact that Labor has its warriors, too.
Barak, Rabin, Peres, the current MoD Ben-Eliezer, Moshe Dayan, etc., etc., it's not like Sharon was the only general pushing the Arabs back in '67 and '73. "Old" Labor is still very much hawkish, not "greater Israel" hawkish, but hawkish nonetheless. With all of that in mind, you'd think Labor as a whole would know better than to trust Arafat. Maybe there's another Palestinian that they can deal with, but since the PA is a thug kleptocracy, how can the Israelis ever find that person?
If it weren't for the way Barak called elections, Netanyahu would have been the Likud's man in office right now. Maybe I'm a bit too taken with Bibi, but I think he's better equipped to deal with the "reality on the ground." He strikes me as more articulate and capable. I think Sharon is too old and too myopic at times to be effective.
As you've seen from my howtizer-pounding in ZoNotes lately, my opinion is that it's not the Palestinians who are the mortal problem, it's the Syrians. Israel gave up the Sinai, and it made astonishing concessions before the second intifada. But the Heights, the Heights are too much to give up. Can you imagine Hizbollah planting Katyushas up there? Or worse, regular Syrian artillery?"
"The longer the title, the less power you have."