The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is bad about professionalism?

From time to time I see editorials, columns, or postings which bemoan the professional politicians who populate our State and Federal governments and want to go back to the idea of part-time politicians who serve a few years and quit politics (often, in fact, they advocate term limits to make politicians quit after serving a few years). Frankly, I see no sense in such proposals.

For one thing, anyone who is a full-time public servant is going to understand how to do things better than someone who comes in for a few hours, and then goes home to running a used-car business or a clothing store. I can only assume that people making proposals like this figure that because they want more limited government (a concept with which I agree), they believe that amateur politicians with only a few hours a week of political duty are going to want to do less. But one can easily find people who have never spent a day in a political office who still want an all-powerful government. A person's political philosophy will count for much more in this matter than whether they are full-time or part-time.

And I think that no matter what task you want to assign to someone, you'll get a better job done if you have someone do it who understands the job. I would rather have a professional legislator write a bill, for example, so he knows what his words will mean in practice, than an amateur who might put in some vague phrase that a court subsequently will interpret in a totally unexpected manner. So I would prefer a person who thinks of his job as a full-time one, who has taken the time to study the rules of the legislative body in which serves, and who knows what the existing laws are and how the courts have interpreted them, rather than an amateur who, for most of the year, is running his own business and just came over to the State Capital or to Washington, D. C. long enough to file a couple of bills, vote on them, and go home. In fact, in States that allow initiatives, written by non-elected amateurs, sometimes some crippling rules get put on the books because the people who wrote the initiative don't understand the consequences of their words.

The worst idea of all is term limits. Preventing a person who has shown that he recognizes the interests of his constituents and is willing to represent those interests from doing so, the only result of term limits, seems to me to be the stupidest, craziest idea. An elected official who is not representing hius constituents' interests can simply be denied re-election, or in some jurisdictions even recalled. And an elected official who knows that whatever he does, no matter how good or bad his constituents think it is, cannot affect his future because he will not be re-electable even if they like him, as more likely to do crazy stuff than someone who wants to be re-elected and so will try to please his constituents.

In short, what do these people who wish a part-time, amateur legislature, hope to accomplish? I can't see it as anything I would desire.

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