Commissions Represent Congresspeople, Not the People
Upon becoming speaker, Mike Johnson told the current house of representatives, “We are going to establish a bipartisan debt commission to begin working on this crisis immediately.”
But commissions are problems. The key to rapidly surfacing better information and increasing freedom is well-advised extensive change, rapidly performed. Commissions are substitutes for action.
Even simple actions that would just move the Overton window towards freedom would beat freezing that window into place right where it is.
Making a commission bipartisan makes it even more intransigent. The 1981-1982 Gold Commission produced a superb minority report but was compromised in a way that was bipartisan—it was compromised both by its Democrats and by its Republicans other than Lewis Lehrman and Ron Paul.
Spending, debt, and other deprivations are the work products produced by the majorities. For a commission to be high-functioning, the commission’s majority would need to be made up of people who are currently in the minority. These people must be intellectually prepared to understand what to do, and emotionally prepared ready lay it out.
In commissions, like in all committees, the more-principled members compromise their principles to cater to the less-principled members. Committees bury accountability. They help make problem behaviors continue forever.
President Reagan would have done far better to have just convened both houses of that earlier congress and insisted that all of them on one side, versus the Gold Commission’s expert witness Murray Rothbard on the other side, simply debate what legislation would best deliver the gold standard that the Constitution already requires.
If Johnson is determined to have his commission, he must staff it so its majority is drawn from the minority of members who will advance actions that the current majority would block. Also, he should commission it to focus not on the symptom, debt, but on the cause, spending.
An honest appraisal of the problem has to begin with coming clean that governments are the ultimate free-riders. They take enormous fractions of the value we produce. They produce very little. They do this inefficiently, not disciplined by customers. Even at the most elemental level of criminal justice, they at best block proven private adjudication and substitute their monopoly justice. They are parasites.
Across 235 years, congresspeople, both using smaller committees and as committees of the whole, hav
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