Not all citizens' votes created equal, and study says it shows in funding

May 26, 2011
Political science professor Tiberiu Dragu says some votes count for more than others in many democracies, and a multi-nation study he co-authored shows that some states benefit significantly in federal funding as a result. Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, U. of I. News Bureau

"One person, one vote" is often the rallying cry for democratic reform, suggesting everyone should get an equal say in their government.

Yet in some of the oldest and largest democracies, some votes are worth far more than others by design. A Wyoming voter, for instance, is significantly over-represented compared with a California voter. Each state has two U.S. senators, but California has 66 times more people.

How much does it matter? According to a recent study of decades of data, from the U.S. and eight other countries, it matters a lot when it comes to money.

"Other things being equal, the most over-represented states or provinces can expect to receive more than twice the federal funding per capita as the most under-represented states or provinces," according to Tiberiu Dragu (Tih-BAIR-ee-oo DRAH-goo), co-author of the study with Jonathan Rodden. In some examples from South America, they found a funding difference of five to one.

Dragu is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois; Rodden is a professor of at Stanford University. Their study, "Representation and Redistribution in Federations," one of the few to examine the issue over multiple countries, was published online this month in the .

The authors made use of three decades of data from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S. All are democracies structured as federations, in which partially self-governing states or provinces are united under a central government.

In coming to their conclusions, they account for numerous other factors that have been suggested as contributing to the imbalances in federal funding – among them population density, poverty, economic development, location and past political power (such as a state might derive from being part of the nation's founding).

The relationship between representation and per-capita funding, however, "cannot be explained away," Dragu said. In all nine countries, "the story remains the same: Representatives of over-represented provinces are able to bargain for a disproportionate share of the budget," he said.

Or as the authors write in their paper: "Our analysis indicates that the rules of representation are indeed highly consequential. Controlling for a variety of country- and province-level factors and using a variety of estimation techniques, we show that overrepresented provinces in political unions around the world are rather dramatically favored in the distribution of resources."

The study focused on established federations because they almost always involve some form of unequal representation, often resulting from the political bargain struck at the nation's founding, Dragu said. The imbalance therefore is accepted by the citizens, "shrugged off as a quirky and perhaps inconsequential legacy of a proud history," he said.

The study's results, however, "might have important implications in a wide range of settings where the foundational bargain is neither old nor widely revered," Dragu said. They also could challenge assumptions that such unequal representation is necessary as a "pathway to peace and stability," such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the European Union, he said.

"An important open question is whether the stability of such federations is threatened if citizens of under-represented regions – or ethnic groups, or countries – must provide large, permanent subsidies to those with greater representation."

Explore further: When rulers can't understand the ruled

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FrankHerbert
2.1 / 5 (7) May 26, 2011
In the US this problem would largely be fixed by balancing the size of congressional districts. In order to do this however, the membership of the House would have to increase substantially. The House was designed to have new seats added after every census, as congressional districts were intended to stay within the range of 30,000 - 50,000 people (not the 400,000 - 900,000+ we have today). Seats have not been added since the 1910's, and even then it was done inadequately for the century proceeding then as well.

The Electoral College and the Senate both present this problem as well, but they were for better or worse knowingly designed into the system. The current mess in the House wasn't. The problem isn't just discrepancies in size but also size itself. People lose their internal efficacy when they have to compete with hundreds of thousands of citizens for their legislators' attentions. So even though the Senate is supposed to have unequal representation, the number of (cont.)
FrankHerbert
2.1 / 5 (7) May 26, 2011
...senators could be increased to better allow them to represent their states. Do you really think two senators can adequately represent the 30+ million in California? I personally don't think two senators is enough to represent the 500,000 or so in Wyoming. Personally I think the founders underestimated the ability of the Senate to protect the status quo though. I would just eliminate the whole damn thing.

And earlier I forgot to mention fixing the House pretty much automatically fixes the Electoral College as they are intrinsically linked.
ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (13) May 26, 2011
over-represented states or provinces can expect to receive more than twice the federal funding per capita

In the US, most of these 'over-represented' states are literally owned by the US govt: US forests, BLM land, military bases, etc.
So of course the statistics will be skewed.
Tucson school districts received federal supplemental funding because there are so many govt owned operations that the district can't tax.

As for US senators, repeal the 17th amendment. Senators are supposed to represent the interests of the state and should be selected by the state legislators as intended. This would also motivate citizens to be mindful of their state legislators, as intended by a Constitutional republic.
hopper
3 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
the house reflects the greater population of states like california. the senate gives low population states more equal representation in the legislative body. without the senate the USA would be effectively ruled by California, New York, plus a few other high population democrat blue states. Good for democrats? No? The founders figured as much. That's why they designed the congress that way. A similiar problem is going on in Europe in terms of representing the interests of Czechoslovakia VS Germany or Hungary VS France. If they work in terms of one man one vote in the legislative bodies--then small countries like Czechoslovakia Hungary, the netherlands, Portugal, etc effectively have no say at all in the affairs of Europe.
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (10) May 26, 2011
The Senate was also set up to represent the interests of the aristocracy. The founders wanted an aristocracy. Do we?

The Constitution in some areas was groundbreaking and genius, but it fell very short in others. It is fallible and so were the founders. The Senate in its current form is not fulfilling the function the founders laid out for it, or maybe you could view it as doing its function too well. Either way the Senate is too easily influenced and I don't think repealing the 17th amendment would fix this. 100 people are too few to stand up to the awesome forces of business that exist today. However even doubling or tripling the membership of the Senate would drastically change the nature of the body. Rules would have to change. It would have to operate more like the House.

At that point, I feel like it's better to just get rid of it and put your efforts into the House. Give people efficacy by giving them small districts, a more direct line to one's legislator.
ILIAD
1.5 / 5 (8) May 26, 2011
That's the socalistic vew.

nuf said.
FrankHerbert
3.2 / 5 (9) May 26, 2011
What part of that is socialist?
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (12) May 26, 2011
The Senate was also set up to represent the interests of the aristocracy.

No, it was not. Read up on the CT compromise.
100 people are too few to stand up to the awesome forces of business

One person can stand up the 'awesome' forces of business. Don't buy the product.
The awesome, real power of Congress and the Executive have intentionally pushed their way into controlling business, but you blame business?

Doug_Huffman
2.1 / 5 (7) May 26, 2011
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government, ...
United States Constitution Article IV Section 4
emsquared
2.6 / 5 (7) May 26, 2011
A Wyoming voter, for instance, is significantly over-represented compared with a California voter. Each state has two U.S. senators, but California has 66 times more people.

Nice of them to start off with a complete misrepresentation of facts...

While I don't doubt that some states are "over-represented" (kind of a BS term IMHO), you can't use Senate as the example. Unless of course you have a problem with bi-cameral legistlation, and checks and balances.

Also, considering what Wyoming did/does for our national energy market and economy (their value to our nation's economy and security), they deserve to be funded more per capita, IMHO. It'd be interesting to see what they contribute to the National economy, per capita... The same goes for our bread-basket states.

It's one person one vote, that is the tennet of democracy, not one person one dollar.
FrankHerbert
2.8 / 5 (9) May 26, 2011
So you are advocating one dollar, one vote?

Also Doug, what is not republican about anything anyone suggested? I'm assuming you're referring to my suggestion to abolish the Senate. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. Is Nebraska in violation of Article IV Section 4. (Which is referring to states, not the federal government anyway. Much more stringent guidelines are laid out in Article I for the Congress)
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (10) May 26, 2011
abolish the Senate.

See the US Constitution amendment process to proceed.
FrankHerbert
2.5 / 5 (8) May 26, 2011
Article V: "...no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Article V doesn't say the Senate can't be abolished, only that states must have equal numbers of senators. If every state has 0 senators, this is not violated.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) May 26, 2011
Article V: "...no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Article V doesn't say the Senate can't be abolished, only that states must have equal numbers of senators. If every state has 0 senators, this is not violated.

"Section 3 - The Senate

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State,"
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, "
Knock yourself out.
I'm sure you will get 67 Senators to vote to eliminate their positions or 37 states to reduce their representation in the Federal govt.
FrankHerbert
2.3 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
I'm sure you will get 67 Senators to vote to eliminate their positions or 37 states to reduce their representation in the Federal govt.


I never said it would happen. lol.
FrankHerbert
2.3 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
Anyway, my real problem is with the House because it has turned into a second Senate over the centuries. Unfortunately getting the House to expand its membership is about as likely as getting the Senate to abolish itself.
pauljpease
not rated yet May 26, 2011
In my opinion this is too much discussion on the specific mechanism of government and not enough about what government is supposed to do and what would be the best way to achieve those objectives. What kind of constitution would we write for ourselves, today, with all of the accumulated knowledge and technology of the past 235 years?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
What is wrong with a second Senate?
BTW, everyone in the USA is represented by 3 members of Congress.
ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (12) May 26, 2011
In my opinion this is too much discussion on the specific mechanism of government and not enough about what government is supposed to do and what would be the best way to achieve those objectives. What kind of constitution would we write for ourselves, today, with all of the accumulated knowledge and technology of the past 235 years?

The Supreme Court has been rewriting the Constitution for the past several decades at the behest of the socialists.
It's a 'living' document so why bother to write a new one or rewrite the old one? It will be evolved into a new document as the courts decide.
hush1
3 / 5 (4) May 26, 2011
Diebold agrees. With the title of the article.

Germany, upon seeing this article and this comment, constitutionally anchored a ban against all levels of government electronic voting.
NOT TRUE

(Germany did this years ago).

:)
3432682
1.8 / 5 (10) May 26, 2011
"awesome forces of business"?

How about the awesome forces of government? Govt spending is now $6.2 trillion per year (federal, state, local), or 41% of GDP. Govt regulations are another 20% of GDP. Total govt is 61% of GDP. That's not just awesome, it is sickening and stupid. No wonder we can't generate new jobs.
paulthebassguy
2.7 / 5 (7) May 26, 2011
Okay, so if an individual wants their vote to count more they can move to a less populated state.

That sounds like a win-win to me?
FrankHerbert
2.3 / 5 (6) May 26, 2011
Are you serious paul?

What is wrong with a second Senate?

There was only supposed to be one, and I'm not sure if that's too many.

BTW, everyone in the USA is represented by 3 members of Congress.

The problem isn't how many representatives you have. The problem is the average person's inability to influence his representatives. Representatives would be far more beholden to their constituents if they had fewer of them. Gerrymandering also becomes much more difficult with smaller districts.
Na_Reth
not rated yet May 26, 2011
then small countries like Czechoslovakia Hungary, the netherlands, Portugal, etc effectively have no say at all in the affairs of Europe.

The Netherlands has actually more say than any other country.
Na_Reth
not rated yet May 26, 2011
farmerpat42
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011
While everyone is harping about the evils of the "little states with big power" what would happen if the opposite were true if "big states had big power?" The US constitution was designed for minority representation to avoid majority opporession (minority not being racial, but being local).

"A common government, with powers equal to its objects, is called for by the voice, and still more loudly by the political situation, of America. A government founded on principles more consonant to the wishes of the larger States, is not likely to be obtained from the smaller States. The only option, then, for the former, lies between the proposed government and a government still more objectionable. Under this alternative, the advice of prudence must be to embrace the lesser evil; and, instead of indulging a fruitless anticipation of the possible mischiefs which may ensue, to contemplate rather the advantageous consequences which may qualify the sacrifice." - James Madison, Federalist #62.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (8) May 27, 2011
It seems Frank's complaint about the Senate it is slow to create more laws that interfere and limit the liberty of the citizen.
A House that is too slow is not a bad thing. Trouble is they then fail to do what they are required by law to do, like pass a budget. The democrat Obama regime has not passed a budget for the past two year.
How does Frank propose Congress follow the Constitution?
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (6) May 27, 2011
I shouldn't have gone off on the Senate tangent because it wasn't really my main point, but to answer your question, it's not that the senate is too slow, its too beholden to the status quo. I know you don't agree within my worldview, but within my view it's fairly simple for a corporation to buy off a few senators (or even just one) and have them filibuster a bill the corporation dislikes for example. I think the Senate would operate much better if its rules were changed.

The real problem is the House's incredibly small membership.

"...the House of Representatives will, within a single century, consist of more than six hundred members."
- James Wilson, November 30, 1787, Delegate to the Convention of the State of Pennsylvania, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution.

It's 2011 and we've been stuck at 435 representatives for about 100 years. Not that 435 was enough in the 1910's let alone now. Congressional districts need capped at 50,000 people as the founders intended.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (7) May 27, 2011
its too beholden to the status quo.

That was the intent.
The folks who wrote the Constitution were horrified at what democracy accomplished in France during its Revolution and they wanted nothing to do with it.
Making law SHOULD be a reasoned, deliberative process.
The 18th and 21st amendments testify that it does not always work.
How many more laws do you want that interfere with your life and confiscate your wealth?
Bastiat had it right in The Law.
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (6) May 27, 2011
The French Revolution began in 1789. The US Constitution was written in 1787 and ratified in 1788. You do realize our revolution inspired theirs, right?

Do you realize repealing laws would also be a change to the status quo? You assume I have some desire to make up laws for the hell of it because you don't understand the political spectrum and demonize those whose disagree with you. If I had my way, I'd probably end up repealing many more laws than I'd pass.

Also, not everyone has wealth to confiscate because our system artificially manufactures scarcity.
extremity
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011
@ Hopper,

A similiar problem is going on in Europe in terms of representing the interests of Czechoslovakia VS Germany or Hungary VS France. If they work in terms of one man one vote in the legislative bodies--then small countries like Czechoslovakia Hungary, the netherlands, Portugal, etc effectively have no say at all in the affairs of Europe.


Just one minor thing. Czechoslovakia hasn't existed for nearly 15 years. That country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and been 2 distinctly separate states since the mid 1990's.
emsquared
1 / 5 (2) May 27, 2011
Congressional districts need capped at 50,000 people as the founders intended.

Really, Frank? You sure you did your math here, much less thought about it? If we had a congressman for every 50,000 people, with the U.S. population at 307 MILLION+, we'd have 6,140 congressman, LOL!!! Talk about ponderous slow moving sessions. That's nosensical, you clearly haven't devoted any thought to your statement. Your just crying CONSTITUTION, CONSTITUTION! Because you know people who don't want to think will flock to it.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) May 27, 2011
"It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient. "
http://www.consti...ra62.htm
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 27, 2011
Yes I have thought about this and done the math. The founders intended congressional districts to be between 30,000-50,000 people so it would actually be more than the number you gave. It'd be somewhere between that number and about 10,100 the last time I did the calculation.

You don't understand the House's purpose and rules if you think that many representatives are too many. Debate is very limited in the House and no bill has all 435 members talk. If you think 10,000 are too many, 435 should be too many for most of the same reasons. The framers of the constitution fully intended the House to increase in size without limit.

I have to go to work, but I'll find sources from the Federalist Papers and such later. I'll just leave by saying your common sense is betraying you. There are many good, intuitive reasons for having such small districts.
emsquared
1 / 5 (2) May 27, 2011
There are many good, intuitive reasons for having such small districts.

I wouldn't argue against this principle, however I think our definitions would differ. I would argue though that 30-50,000 is 1.) a number that came from a time in our history when the realities of population density and communication/information technology were several orders of magnitude different than today and 2.) that significantly more people can be fairly and accurately represented by one representative given todays demographics and technology. Have you thought about that? It's like the Bible, not even the Pope claims that it's literal any more, he's rational and realizes that modernity requires pragmatic adjustment.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) May 27, 2011
The authors of the Constitution expected the Congress to really do very little work. After all they created a FEDERAL govt of united STATES.
They expected much more vigorous political activity to occur at the state level.
Sounds like Frank is reinforcing the Federalist's argument.
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (6) May 28, 2011
I would argue though that 30-50,000 is 1.) a number that came from a time in our history when the realities of population density and communication/information technology were several orders of magnitude different than today

Exponential population growth was well understood by the framers.

"It will not be thought an extravagant conjecture that the first census will, at the rate of one for every thirty thousand, raise the number of representatives to at least one hundred. At the expiration of twenty-five years, according to the computed rate of increase, the number of representatives will amount to two hundred, and of fifty years, to four hundred." - James Madison, Federalist 55

and 2.) that significantly more people can be fairly and accurately represented by one representative given todays demographics and technology.

The issue isn't how many reps a person has. It's the person's ability to influence the rep. 700,000 people (the average) all drown each other out.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
For example, say you have a district with 1,000,000 people. 400,000 of these people are Optimates, and 600,000 are Populares. The Populares will almost always elect the representative they want, while the Optimates are left without a representative that shares their views.

Now let's split our district into 10 different districts. It would most likely be very difficult to benevolently gerrymander into 4 districts with 100,000 Optimates each and 6 with 100,000 Populares each. It also stands to reason it would be very difficult to malevolently gerrymander 10 districts with 60,000 Populares and 40,000 Optimates each. So it isn't guaranteed that with 10 districts the Optimates will have 4 reps and the Populares will have 6. It's also highly unlikely that the Optimates will have no reps. So should the Optimates win even one district, they will have much more representation than they would in the original scenario. Small districts protect minority rights, the Constitution's main purpose.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
Have you thought about that? It's like the Bible, not even the Pope claims that it's literal any more, he's rational and realizes that modernity requires pragmatic adjustment.


I definitely get what you are saying. The Constitution tends to have for lack of a better word, a cult around it. I am honestly not trying to exploit this. I tend to use the words "founders" and "framers" a lot, but this is just a convenient shorthand for "the men who wrote our founding documents."

Unlike the Bible, the people who wrote the Constitution didn't claim its infallibility. The fact the Constitution allows for amendments is testament to this. The document is designed to change.

A perfect example of this is slavery. I'm sure someone will argue the Constitution didn't advocate slavery but that's total BS, and beyond the next sentence I'm not acknowledging it. 3/5's QED.

The topic of legislative body size isn't some silly anachronism like people wondering if surpassing 20 mph was possible.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
The Constitution's main purpose was to LIMIT the power of the federal govt.
NH has 400 state representatives that are paid $200.
Why does Frank what to expand the size and scope of the federal govt even more?
FrankHerbert
2.3 / 5 (6) May 28, 2011
The authors of the Constitution expected the Congress to really do very little work. After all they created a FEDERAL govt of united STATES.

I agree with you and the Federalists on this. I'd like to see a large body (okay well maybe you don't agree with that) of part-time yeoman legislators.

They expected much more vigorous political activity to occur at the state level.
Sounds like Frank is reinforcing the Federalist's argument.

If you'll recall it was the -Federal-ists that sought to increase the power of the -federal- government (evidenced by the very fact they created it). Beyond creating the federal government, upon ratification the immediately set about having the Constitution interpreted in ways that would strengthen the new government. Alexander Hamilton (Washington's Karl Rove/Rahm Emmanuel) inserted the "Necessary and Proper" clause into the Constitution to immediately begin consolidation of federal power upon ratification. Probably the greatest rider ever.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
The Constitution's main purpose was to LIMIT the power of the federal govt.

You are right and I never said otherwise. How does increasing the number of legislators increase the power of government? This is diluting a commodity. How does diluting a commodity increase its value?

NH has 400 state representatives that are paid $200.

This is great. Let them volunteer for all I care. But let's take it to the obvious extreme you implying.

US POP (307,006,550) ÷ DISTRICT SIZE (30,000) = 10234 Reps

10234 Reps * $174000 (Rep salary) = $1,780,716,000

Let's just throw on an extra billion or so for airplanes and shit.

So our fictional House with adequate representation burns about $3 billion dollars a year. How many knee-jerk decisions has the Congress made that have cost us more than that? I bet they make more than one per year.

Why does Frank what to expand the size and scope of the federal govt even more?

I don't. Try engaging me instead of divining my goals.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
Addressing emsquareds concern that 30,000 person districts are made obsolete by technology, heres an example of why technology isnt a factor.

We could theoretically have a non-contiguous district where the two halves of the district are on opposing sides of the state. This is something that would have been impractical in the 18th century. Technology allows this.

Technology doesnt make representatives listen to their constituents. This is the reason for concern about size. The framers werent concerned about districts getting out of hand geographically, they were worried about districts getting out of hand demographically.

In such populous districts as we have today, representatives can just pop up in their districts every 2 years, spout some talking points, and have the districts majorities reelect them. Incumbents are reelected, what, about 98% of the time? I know its in the high 90s.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
Smalls districts allow people to influence their representatives in an adequate manner. Say a representative reads letters from 1,000 constituents per year. In a district with 700,000 this is 1/700th of the district. In a 30,000 person district this is 1/30th. Which seems preferable?

Say you have a representative that the people really dont like but keep reelecting for lack of a better choice (Harry Reid). In todays system, Id say this happens quite often as the process of running for office has devolved into a very expensive popularity contest. Many of the best qualified simply dont feel like going through the hassle and expense. In a 30,000 person district (particularly in an urban area), a candidate could successfully run a campaign on foot. In a dense city, this would only be several blocks. An inclined person could run a successful campaign on a middle class salary and the donations of his neighbors. This simply does not happen very often today.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
I hate to quote bomb you, but this is an important event which I would not likely word any better.

"A republican government is one in which the people ruleindirectly. How, not if, the people should be represented was one of the vexing questions faced by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Especially tricky was determining the size of the House of Representatives, the topic Madison takes up in Federalist 55.

Until the very last day and hour of the Conventions debate in 1787, the consensus opinion of delegates was that there would be one member of the House for every 40,000 American citizens. On September 17, what we now know as Constitution Day, the final day of deliberations, Benjamin Franklin made a last plea for unanimity in the signing of the document. It was a dramatic speech, and might have made a fitting coda to the Convention but for one last interjection.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2011
Nathaniel Gorham, from Massachusetts, motioned to peg the ratio of each House member per people represented at 1:30,000 instead of 1:40,000, hoping that the new figure might bring on board a few more dissenters who wished federal elected officials to be more accountable to the people. After the motion was seconded, George Washington, who up to that point had not spoken at all during the Convention, despite presiding over it, intervened to offer his own, weighty, second to the motion. The new ratio passed unanimously (even if the Constitution did not)."

http://www.consti...-colleg/

This correction can still be seen today as the Constitution was already written when the change was made.

http://www.thirty...udge.jpg
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 28, 2011
10,000 Congressmen is not an expansion of the Federal govt?
It's not just their salaries, it's also their staff and their earmarks and their sub-sub-committess....
Unless you FIRST limit the socialist power of Congress, the concept will not increase the liberty and prosperity of the USA.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 28, 2011
Okay, I hadn't thought about the staff, but that is still fairly trivial. Throw on another billion. It's a small price to pay for quality governance.

You are really viewing this incorrectly. What you are doing is assuming that increasing the number of legislators increases the power of Congress. Think about it; this is exactly wrong. What do you call a system with just one legislator? A dictatorship.

What increasing the House's membership would do is erode the power of individual lawmakers. Wouldn't this be a good thing? You have to have some measure of influence in the House to get earmarks.

People generally loathe earmarks. It stands to reason a House that actually represents its constituents rather than worrying about the reelections of its members would follow the people's will and abolish earmarks.

When you no longer have to bribe your constituents to win elections, the idea of earmarks become kind of silly, doesn't it?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 28, 2011
What increasing the House's membership would do is erode the power of individual lawmakers.

Why? There would still be a Speaker and their would still be two parties. And to buy those extra thousands of votes, the leaders would need to bribe EACH of those thousands of Congressmen with more earmarks.
People generally loathe earmarks.

Not when they subsidize jobs in their district.
When you no longer have to bribe your constituents to win elections, the idea of earmarks become kind of silly, doesn't it?

Why would that stop?
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) May 29, 2011
Yet in some of the oldest and largest democracies, some votes are worth far more than others by design. A Wyoming voter, for instance, is significantly over-represented compared with a California voter. Each state has two U.S. senators, but California has 66 times more people.


Gee, the difference between a Republic (or Representative Democracy, if you prefer) and a Democracy.

Every single democracy, ever created, inevitably falls into dictatorship. Republic, if you can keep them from turning into democracies, remain free.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet May 29, 2011
Gee, the difference between a Republic (or Representative Democracy, if you prefer) and a Democracy.
A Republic is Rule by Law.

A Democracy is tyranny of the majority.

A Democratic Republic is tyranny of the majority tempered by the Rule of Law so that the individual isn't trampled by the will of the majority and the law can be changed to prevent the subjugation of the citizenry. It is a good balance between the excesses of the two.

It gets to be a problem when the majority wield the law like a weapon to reduce the rights of the minority. ie: the anti-gay marriage regulation nonsense, and the war on drugs.
Na_Reth
not rated yet May 29, 2011
A Democracy is tyranny of the majority.


You are so wrong. Minorities still have a position in government. Its called cabinet and opposition.

Clearly you do not grab the concept of democracy, but hey Americans...
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) May 29, 2011
Minorities still have a position in government.

Based upon what?
What if the majority refuses to acknowledge minority rights?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) May 29, 2011
"With only a three-vote majority, Democrats, led by Harry Reid, are understandably fearful about losing the Senate next year and have decided that treading water is better than taking a showy but risky dive. "
"Democrats avoided passing appropriations bills last year for similar reasons, and that failure almost led to a government shutdown this year when Republicans exploited it. They avoided a vote on the expiring Bush tax cuts for the rich, and paid dearly a few weeks later when President Obama agreed to keep taxes low for everyone. "
http://www.nytime...=opinion
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 30, 2011
You are so wrong. Minorities still have a position in government. Its called cabinet and opposition.

Clearly you do not grab the concept of democracy, but hey Americans...
Then tell me how that Harper government is working out for the Canadians, or the Conservative take over in France has worked out for Muslims.

Moebius
1 / 5 (3) May 30, 2011
This article points out the problem with one person, one vote. The principle gets twisted and our votes are not equal. That is what the rule of law is all about. Laws are just guidelines on how to circumvent the intent of the law because we worship the letter of the law and not the intent of the law.

One man, one vote is baloney anyway. We aren't equal, why should we have an equal vote? Why should the vote of a person with multiple PHD's count no more than the homeless person living in a box who doesn't have a high school diploma? The idea is ludicrous. That homeless person should have a vote. But to be fair the person with several PHD's should have a 100. His opinion is at least 100 times more informed and thus more important. We should earn our votes, not arbitrarily be given an equal vote. We are not equal and modern society has made us all even more unequal.

Why should the opinion of the legion of college graduates in the US count no more than a like number of uneducated?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 30, 2011
But to be fair the person with several PHD's should have s 100

Why?
"Hayek argues that exceptionally intelligent people who favor the market tend to find opportunities for professional and financial success outside the Academy (i.e., in the business or professional world). Those who are highly intelligent but ill-disposed toward the market are more likely to choose an academic career. For this reason, the universities come to be filled with those intellectuals who were favorably disposed toward socialism from the beginning."
http://mises.org/daily/2318
Unless those PhDs have earned their way in the marketplace, they should NOT be allowed to vote.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 30, 2011
Unless those PhDs have earned their way in the marketplace, they should NOT be allowed to vote.
So the great "libertarian Marjon, proponent of rights" wants to restrict the vote. How hilarious.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 30, 2011
I certainly understand the original intent of the Constitution that only allowed male property owners to vote. Today, I would argue only taxpayers should be allowed to vote.
""See, this proves you are ignorant. You don't know the answers to any of the questions we ask you." Henry Ford reportedly replied, "I don't know the answers because I do not need to clutter my head with the answers you seek. I hire smart young people from your schools who have memorized information that you think is intelligence. My job is to keep my head clear of such clutter and trivial facts so that I can think." At that point, he asked the smart people from the world of academics to leave. For years, I have committed to memory what I believe is one of Henry Ford's most important sayings: "Thinking is the hardest work there is. That is why so few people engage in it.""
http://finance.bn...=2733826
Ford didn't graduate high school. Moby doesn't think Ford's vote that important.
eachus
not rated yet May 30, 2011
Back to the original article, it is actually very flawed. They needed to do multifactor analysis. To take just one example, the Interstate highway system was and has been a huge Federal program. There are more miles of Interstate highways in say, New England per thousand square miles than in Montana. However, for Interstate 90 to have gaps in Montana due to the lower population density would be silly. Most of the benefit of the Interstates go to population centers along the roads, and that there are some (long) stretches of Interstate that go through very rural areas is very obvious to anyone who has driven long distances on one. This is true even in New England. The cost of building the system would have been unsustainable if the routes had been chosen to go through, not near, every city along the route.

How does that affect voting patterns? In the US it means that square miles effectively get some votes.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) May 30, 2011
What do you think trucks carry on I-90 and I-94 as they pass through ID, MT, ND, SD, MN, ....?
Most of the benefit of the interstate system are those in the cities who have lower transportation costs for their products.
astro_optics
1 / 5 (2) May 30, 2011
What...science....
Moebius
1 / 5 (2) May 31, 2011
The original intent of the electoral college was to prevent uneducated fools from directly electing the president. So these days we have a lot of educated fools. But I would rather have the opinion of an educated fool than an uneducated one.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
The original intent of the electoral college was to prevent uneducated fools from directly electing the president.

No, that was not and is not the intent.
emsquared
not rated yet May 31, 2011
Was gone for a number of days, sorry to drag this back out, but:
Exponential population growth was well understood by the framers.

But future technology, especially information and communication, they had no clue about. And these advances directly increase a single person's, or a group of like-minded people's, ability to be heard. Blogs, petitions, group support, organization, these are the new fundamental mechanisms.
The issue isn't how many reps a person has. It's the person's ability to influence the rep.

This is why people are allowed to organize and lobby. Of course, one person isn't going to be as important the larger the pool, however the larger the pool the more like-minded people there are. It's those people's responsibility to organize if they wish to be heard.
Small districts protect minority rights, the Constitution's main purpose.

Yet you're arguing against what is a protection of states with a minority of the population? There's a disconnect here.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
But future technology, especially information and communication, they had no clue about.

I wouldnt be so sure about that. There was at least one prolific inventor at the Convention. Another prolific inventor/founding father, though in France at the time, would go on to become President as well.
And these advances directly increase a single person's, or a group of like-minded people's, ability to be heard. Blogs, petitions, group support, organization, these are the new fundamental mechanisms.

No they dont! You could have your Senator's cell phone numbers, but I doubt they'll pick up! The Postal Service was established very early on in the US's history. I seriously doubt any politically inclined person had trouble contacting his lawmakers. The only new mechanism you listed is the blog. You really think blogs are the savior of the Republic?
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
Have you read Federalist 10? One of the main goals of the Constitution is to balance the power of all the different interests of society so that no one is capable of gaining tyrannical control. This includes balancing the individual against the group. The government needs to err on the side of protecting the power of individuals. Groups naturally have more power (as you stated) and will always succeed against the individual. Groups will naturally lobby to have the power of individuals decreased leading to a positive feedback loop. The only way such a loop can be avoided is to bolster the individual.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
This is why people are allowed to organize and lobby. Of course, one person isn't going to be as important the larger the pool, however the larger the pool the more like-minded people there are. It's those people's responsibility to organize if they wish to be heard.


By organize do you mean all move to the same state and take it over? This worked well for Kansas, didnt it? The problem is districts act as a reduction valve. This is necessary as not every individual can propose pet laws. However, our valve is nearly closed and only a few (generally poor) ideas are able to trickle through. The flow of the valve is controlled by the ratio of constituents to lawmakers. Increasing the number of legislators a sufficient amount would break the back of the two-party system, which was never intended to exist in the first place.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 31, 2011
Yet you're arguing against what is a protection of states with a minority of the population? There's a disconnect here.


Are you referring to my tangent about the Senate earlier? I dont oppose the idea of the Senate having equal representation among states. I have a problem with Senators being bought and sold by corporations. I have a problem with the revolving door. If this can be fixed fine, keep the Senate. Im not sure repealing the 17th amendment would accomplish this.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
No they dont!
...
The only new mechanism you listed is the blog.

Oh come on, ever heard of Egypt and the Arab Spring? The internet and cell phones make it so much easier for people to communicate and organize and to have a voice that get's heard on a much wider basis. This is undeniable. Does it translate to more political effectiveness for the individual? Absolutely.

All of those mechanisms I mentioned were in the context of the internet and modern communication technology, these traditional venues of political activity have been revolutionized time and again in the last 2 decades.

By organize do you mean all move to the same state and take it over?

C'mon, you're more intelligent and a better debater than that, don't put words in my mouth or employ reducto ad absurdem.

Organize. The Tea Party, for example. Unions. Political Organizations. Too many people for one representative to hear anyone? They need to organize and it's easier to do that than ever before.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
This is necessary as not every individual can propose pet laws.
...
The flow of the valve is controlled by the ratio of constituents to lawmakers.

Finally, the crux of the biscuit. Here, you're admitting that even with 30,000 people to a district, the point is not so that individual voices can be heard. Then it is any given person/groups ability to organize that is the key to it's effectiveness in any given district, just as it should be. Assuming districts are laid out to be politically competitive (which yea this is a big-ass assumption, but no less relevant with many smaller districts) then the size should be moot.
Increasing the number of legislators a sufficient amount would break the back of the two-party system

This is 100% speculation and not a valid argument.
I have a problem with Senators being bought and sold by corporations.

What you, and I, have a problem with then is campaign finance.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
Ultimately, we either have 1,000,000 people in a district drowning themselves out to a representative, or 10,000 representatives drowning themselves out to the legislative process. I'd rather pay fewer people to do nothing than more people to do nothing.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Oh come on, ever heard of Egypt and the Arab Spring? The internet and cell phones make it so much easier for people to communicate and organize and to have a voice that get's heard on a much wider basis. This is undeniable.


The internet isn't what allowed them to organize, it was what allowed them to get the information that made them want to organize. The regime had suppressed information that was spread via Facebook. Once the people poured into the streets the internet had fulfilled its roll in the revolution. Pamphlets may be slower than Facebook, but that didnt stop them from sparking a revolution in 1776. Besides we are talking about representation, not revolution.
Thrasymachus
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
When you have fewer legislators, it's easier for lobbying groups to influence enough legislators to pass legislation. Individual constituents of very large districts get drowned out not by the clamoring of other constituents in their district, but by large, well-organized and funded advocacy groups.

When you have more legislators, it's harder for lobbying groups to influence enough legislators to actually get their pet legislation passed. Legislation that does get passed has to be consented to by a larger coalition of legislators, and it is more likely that such a coalition is not entirely driven by a large, well-funded advocacy group.

If you're in favor of government doing less, and helping to make sure that what the government does do is more in-line with the (self-perceived) interest of its constituents, you should favor a bigger legislative body, with a smaller ratio of represented/representatives.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
C'mon, you're more intelligent and a better debater than that, don't put words in my mouth or employ reducto ad absurdem.

Sorry, I shouldnt have been so snarky. Paulthebassguy virtually suggested what I ended up putting into your mouth. Though I meant it as a serious point. Kansas is an actual historical example of this that played out very poorly for many people. Even now Ive heard plans of Libertarians strategically inhabiting Vermont in an effort to take political control. IIRC, they claim they need only (coincidentally) 30,000 people to do so.
Thrasymachus
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
In other words, emsquared, your choice isn't between having more legislators doing nothing or fewer legislators doing nothing, it's between having fewer legislators doing more things because of lobbying and the relative ease of gaining a consensus, or more legislators doing fewer things because of relative difficulty of influencing enough legislators to gain a consensus.

1:30,000 is probably a bit too low a ratio in modern times. At some point, the legislature is going to hit a critical mass where consensus becomes impossible except for things that are virtually universally agreed upon. The legislature has to be small enough to be able to actually pass laws and govern, but big enough that it can't be easily pushed around by special interests. I'd suggest starting the House of Reps at 1000 members and see whether that's too many, or not enough.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Does it translate to more political effectiveness for the individual? Absolutely.

All of those mechanisms I mentioned were in the context of the internet and modern communication technology, these traditional venues of political activity have been revolutionized time and again in the last 2 decades.

Organize. The Tea Party, for example. Unions. Political Organizations. Too many people for one representative to hear anyone? They need to organize and it's easier to do that than ever before.


The problem isnt that people cant organize; they can. Technology does make this easier. But how large does an organization have to be for it to have political clout? The problem is the ratio between representatives and constituents is so out of whack that only the most extreme, interested ideas are able to make it onto the floor.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
(cont)

The gigantic districts we have essentially limit membership of the House to two organizations. The Democrats and the Republicans. Small districts make it much easier for average people to run campaigns.

The main reason for the existence of parties is to fund the campaigns of their members. If the average (or even upper middle class) person could wage a successful congressional campaign with little more than the donations of his neighbors without this being an exceptional event, it would drastically reduce the power of the parties. Not just that but it would reduce the power they wield over the members they manage to keep.

There would be more parties as the threshold for representation would be at much smaller groups than the current two parties (tens of millions of members each).
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Madison makes it obvious in Federalist 10 that the solution to faction is faction. So speaking about parties, the Congress must have either 0 or many. Two parties is the absolute worst situation the founders would have feared. Many of them lived to see it happen.

The partisan atmosphere we suffer today breaks the political system. Look at any literature from the time of the Constitution. Every person defending the Constitution went out of his way to insure no such thing would happen, and every opponent made damn sure to try and convince you it would.

The framers left the upper bound for districts out of the Constitution because it was such an important aspect of the new government that they believed it needed further deliberation. In the interest of expediency they sent the Constitution for ratification with the explicit promise to the states that during the first round of amendments an upper bound would be established.

This is known as Amendment the First. (cont.)
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
, it's between having fewer legislators doing more things because of lobbying and the relative ease of gaining a consensus, or more legislators doing fewer things because of relative difficulty of influencing enough legislators to gain a consensus.

Neither is really what I'd like to see :P You both have valid points and I wouldn't be opposed to more than the 435 we have, but I think several 100 more would quickly negate the voice of less populous states.
The problem is the ratio between representatives and constituents is so out of whack that only the most extreme, interested ideas are able to make it onto the floor.

How is this any different then your ideal, where we'd have 3 or 4 representative bringing an idea before 10,000 other people who don't care? There's no more political effectiveness there. Sure, it may give constituents warm fuzzies, but nothing would be different.

Again, it sounds like your problem is with campaign finance and the nature of modern lobbying.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2011
Amendment the First is the very first proposed amendment to the Constitution. It also happens to be the first amendment on the Bill of Rights. What we know of as the Bill of Rights today are actually amendments 3-12 on the actual document. 1 was never ratified (it was and wasn't...) for reasons I'll explain. 2 was in limbo for 200 years until some law student dug it up in 1992 and got it ratified as the 27th amendment.

So let's just look at this for a moment. It was not coincidence that this amendment was first on the Bill of Rights. This was a deliberate act. Capping Congressional districts at 50,000 people was believed more important than free speech, freedom of religion, protection from: torture, illegal searches and seizures, and double jeopardy, trial by jury and everything else in the Bill of Rights. This was most important.

How important? The states would never have ratified the Constitution if they knew this amendment would not be passed.

But why wasn't it passed? (cont.)
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Sabotage.

One word in the language of the amendment was changed from "less" to "more." This change, which slipped right on through into the final copy of the Bill of Rights, rendered the amendment mathematically impossible to execute.

Here is the text from the Bill of Rights. "More" in the last clause should have been "less" like the House version.

After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2011
There would be more parties as the threshold for representation would be at much smaller groups than the current two parties (tens of millions of members each).

It's a possibility this would be the outcome, but I think it would had to always have been this way. Can you envision a realistic transition to something like what you're proposing? Politicians these days, and probably most constituents, don't want a multi-party system now. They want to have their good guy and their bad guy and the money behind it all definitely doesn't want a multi-party system.
The partisan atmosphere we suffer today breaks the political system.

On this we agree, however I think the only thing that can stop this is a change in culture, people actually giving a crap and refusing to fall into that rhetoric.

I could get behind smaller districts to a point, but I think having a linear increase in representation is not realistic or necessary and not desireable.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Every state except Delaware went on to ratify Amendment the First until the defect in the language was discovered. This was more states than required to ratify the amendment. Upon the discovery of the defect, some of the states repealed their passages of the amendment, a right states would later be denied.

After the failure to ratify this amendment, the subject of the very first presidential veto would also be congressional apportionment.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
"He vetoed the amendment on Constitutional grounds and given that he presided over the Constitutional Convention President Washingtons opinions on this subject bear great relevance.

This veto occurred 2½ years after the first Congress proposed the twelve amendments for the Bill of Rights. Given his considerable aptitude for math, George Washington would have certainly understood the mathematical defect contained in the proposed first amendment, and therefore realized it was unlikely ever to be ratified. Perhaps he saw his veto the very first Presidential veto as an opportunity to establish an important precedent.

His primary objection to the proposed amendment was that... the House districts were too dissimilar with respect to size. Today this very same test is understood as the fundamental requirement for meeting the one person, one vote rule."

http://www.thirty...II.htm#B
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
but I think several 100 more would quickly negate the voice of less populous states.


No it wouldn't. This is the entire reason for the existence of the Senate. Population is the only concern when deciding who gets what representatives. If the House were intended to protect the rights of small states -in anyway- there would be a higher minimum than one representative for a state.

How is this any different then your ideal, where we'd have 3 or 4 representative bringing an idea before 10,000 other people who don't care? There's no more political effectiveness there.

There are very few incentives for lawmakers to agree today. For example, look how Republicans are running away from their own ideas on healthcare now that Democrats have adopted them. Politics is a business for the two parties. If you destroy the environment that allows them to conduct business, they'll go broke or find another way to raise money (actually representing people).
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Emsquared:

Also, large districts dont necessarily protect the interests of small states. Just as Wyoming has one of the lowest ratios between constituents and represention, Montana has one of the highest. Montana has one representative for its 989,415 people. For contrast, Californias ratio is 1:702,905.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2011
This is the entire reason for the existence of the Senate.
...
If the House were intended to protect the rights of small states -in anyway- there would be a higher minimum than one representative for a state.

A hard point to argue against, and I knew that when I was writing that response, but I still can't help but believe that such utterly overwhelming majorities of representation in the House being centered in very small geographic areas would bleed over as influence on the Senate and certainly the President. Sucks not having a valid counterpoint other than "I feel" but it's all I've got :P, I can't imagine there being a functioning balance anymore to 1,000s of representatives. Ideally the diversity of such a large body would be a balance on itself I guess too, but I can't help but feel that it seems off-kilter.

Having said that, again, I'd back a more balanced representation than we presently have, you've convinced me of that much, but it seems a slippery slope.