Monday, 16 April 2012
Hi. Sorry if this has been everywhere while I was on holiday, but it's really bugging me:
1. The Supreme Court seems a hilariously undemocratic institution, compared with, say, the House of Lords. Two loads of elected officials put through Obamacare and, basically, the only Supreme Court justice who matters because he's the middle one is in a position where he can decide against it, all because of some weird constitution-fetish? It seems batty. Have people been doing stories comparing these two institutions?
Sub-question: constitution-fetishism: is this a constant in American politics or is it one of those things that look old but is actually cyclical? Would it look weird to our seventies equivalents, who would be amazed at trad-wedding-revivalism and at the turning back of the clock on sexual freedom?
2. And another thing, while we're at it: have you read Parkinson's Law? So much of it has stuck with me for twenty years - not just the bits about work expanding, but the sections on how bureaucracies increase in size because people appoint two deputies on being promoted so their jobs look more important and so no single one can take their job; and on how people argue for hours over small things in committees because they can understand them, and then just let the giant, important, complicated things through without much scrutiny.
Anyway, the bit about organisational bloat was clinging like a burr to my mind the other day when I was thinking about political funding. I think the way money gets called free speech in America while buying influence is disgraceful, and it's getting shittier here too, but is one reason the professionalisation of politics, which is hard to undo? Retinues of self-serving political experts want to make political races and strategies into complicated, manpower-intensive things because that makes their jobs more important. And then congressmen have to spend two hours a day, every day, raising money. It's insane.