Posts tagged ‘policy making’

Politicians love spending other people’s money and seeing themselves as heroes

P.J. O’Rourke: The Funniest Man in America

Friends, our governments are broke. We’ve made more promises than we can keep. Neighborhoods are falling apart, even in cities experiencing robust growth, and that’s only going to get worse. It’s the epitome of reckless arrogance for any planner (note: I’m a planner) to project increases in future demand as a way to justify large, public transportation investments when our existing systems are starved for funds, even for their own basic maintenance.

Fix what you have. Make it work incrementally better each day. Squeeze more and more productivity out of your ridiculously unproductive city. That needs to be our obsession, and transit can be part of that, but not the tip of the spear. And certainly not the tip of a ballistic missile.


Also seeBribing People to Move to Your City

“It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.” G.K. Chesterton

“Politics is unalloyed idiocy” Don Boudreaux

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” H. L. Mencken

“The whole point of a free society is to reduce the number of things that are political, particularly at the national level. When everything is considered political, the totality of life is politicized. And that’s just a clunky way of describing totalitarianism.” Jonah Goldberg

“I respect ordinary thieves much more than I respect politicians.” Walter Williams

“The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments.” Ludwig von Mises

Statolatry and Ozymandias

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How Legislators Make Decisions

Congress is both slow and deliberative, by design. When the new government was established in 1789, it was created through the rather elaborate use of a system of checks and balances that were meant to ensure that no single section of government would be able to dominate the process. Although this system can be frustrating, it remains the single most important reason why America has managed to endure for over 200 years.

Creative Commons License photo credit: OliBac

Individual members of Congress must work within this system, deliberative as it might be. At the same time, they must blend their own beliefs within political pressures. A complicated political formula is often used by legislators for deciding when they should vote for or against bills, whether they should oppose or support funding for initiatives, and whether they should cosponsor certain pieces of legislation. When everything else is peeled away, legislators must consider three factors.

First, decision makers must recognize that the decisions they make will affect the lives of others. Toward that end, they are often guided by their own beliefs and value systems. Although there are no hard and fast rules, members of the Senate tend to be more deliberative and thoughtful as opposed to members of the House, which are slightly more prone to being swayed by passions of the public.

Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates, by Brad FitchSecond, members of Congress must also research issues when making a decision. Fortunately, Congressional staffers and members have access to practically every study every written regarding public policy. Independent studies help to guide thinking while also justifying policies.

Third, legislators listen to their constituents when making a decision. In most cases, the personal beliefs of a legislator and the attitudes of a legislator’s constituency are not far apart, which is why the legislator was elected in the first place. Even so, most legislation will not usually affect most of the citizens in a state or a district. Instead, it will impact small groups, possibly in very significant ways.

Legislators assess the political impact of decisions in many ways. For almost every decision, each legislator will generally conduct a personal political analysis regarding the ways in which the perception of voters in his or her state or district will be impacted.

To learn more about about the way legislators approach decision making, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1/2 day course, Congress in a Nutshell, and the 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Citizen’s Handbook, by Bradford Fitch, Chapter 3 How Legislators Make Decisions

Also see

For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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