Once More Into the Breach

Finding Nonsense and Beating it Sensible

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Location: Virginia

I used to watch TV news and yell at the box. Now I jump up from the couch, sit at the computer and begin to type laughing maniacally saying "Wait until they read this." It's more fun than squashing tadpoles

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Impass in Richmond

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one:
- Thomas Paine.

Every politician should have this tattooed on their right arm. It is this understanding that inspired the founders of our form of government to instal the system of checks and balances. The two chamber congress or bicameral is designed to limit the ability of the legislators to pass or repeal laws. This is a sound concept when one finds that the very act of being elected seems to convince those who benefit from the electorate's favor that any thought coming into their head has great merit. Seldom does the failure of a piece of legislation cause the writers to question the soundness of their bill. More often they find fault with their ignorant constituents or the system they have to work with.

Enter Delegate Mark L. Cole, a Northern Virginia Republican in the Virginia General assembly. He is frustrated with the inability of the state government to pass a transportation bill. Rather that find some workable solution or accept that throwing money at it will be insufficient to remedy the problem, he wants to combine the two houses of the General Assembly to grease the grooves of the legislative process. One can hardly imagine the pocket picking nonsense that would flood out of Richmond from an efficient legislature.

I do agree with his interest in changing the structure of the legislature. The two house system has one glaring redundancy. Both the House of Delegates and the Senate are elected from districts that are determined by population. This makes them essentially the same except that one has fewer members than the other. In the Federal government the difference between the two chambers of Congress is the Senate is elected two from each state regardless of population. This was done specifically to dampen the simple majority protecting the smaller states from being ignored by the larger more populous ones. If our State House were to reflect such a sound construction the Senate would be elected from individual counties without regard to population. This would protect the more rural, less populated areas of our state from supporting to interests of the urban population centers as is the case today.

Unfortunately there will be no consideration of such an idea because the urban centers already have the majority and too many politicians would lose their seat to a bunch of hicks from the center and western parts of the state. This would also throw a wrench into the legislative machine, not a desirable situation for politicians who wish to measure their effectiveness by the number of bills they pass and the amount of money they spend. But even if it were to come about we would still have to keep our hands on our wallets because as Thomas Paine says. Government at best is a necessary evil.



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