Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Infernal Commissions of Elites Should Give Way To One of Real People [Anthony McCarthy]

Government by a panel of wise men is an elitist dream going back to Plato. Its most notable feature is that from the time of Plato it has been in aggressive conflict with democracy. When it comes to elites of all times and places, “wise men” are invariably wealthy or having had a history of sharing the common received attitudes of the wealthy and/or a history of servicing the rich.

The catfood commission has failed to force a vote in congress on its abominable report, which is good.

What isn't so good is that Obama and Reid have both made sounds of trying to pass some of it into law. It would depend on what they chose but, considering their track record, it's likely some of its worst junk will be pushed.

The practice of appointing commissions has a bad enough history that it, rightly, inspires deep suspicion on the left that there's a sell-out or cover up underway. They always appoint large numbers of insider hacks and creeps who have records of service to elites to these things nowadays. I thought that Barack Obama's choice of David Cote, CEO of Honeywell and also a board member of Morgan Chase and who is also involved in Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts was disgusting. But he also appointed Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. The results are notably skewed in favor of sticking it to the middle class while benefiting the elite.

One of the reasons it failed was that Nancy Pelosi's appointments weren't the sell out type. But I think people here know enough of my great respect for her and her progressive colleagues in the House. Dick Durbin's endorsement of the catfood report pretty much ends whatever respect I used to have for him. I don't think he'd make a good replacement for Harry Reid. But that's for another time.

I would like Barack Obama to do something entirely uncharacteristic.

President Obama, appoint another panel of American citizens who have never had an income of more than $30,000 dollars, 18 or more of them. I'd require that they have a proven ability to read a budget and to not be afraid of mathematics. I'd require representation of public school teachers, first responders, non-profit health professionals and others with a professional or avocational experience in providing disinterested public service. Let them come up with proposals to make cuts and rearrange things. Make it regionally representative. They should be required to sign contracts to prevent them being bought off by the elites that would try to corrupt them. Give THAT commission a staff of real, non-DC insiders, an adequate budget AND THE AUTHORITY TO FORCE A VOTE IN CONGRESS THAT THE ELITE COMMISSION HAD.

I'm sure that the DC beltway elite would scorn and ridicule the very idea of a commission of those kinds of Americans. The idea would be attacked and mocked, their product discounted as the product of ignorant stupid people. Sally Quinn, David Broder and just about every one of the known presstitutes would attack them. The idea that a commission of modest, middle class professionals should get so close to writing legislation that has to be acted on by the House and Senate will horrify the connected elite and the media that serves them.

Of course, it would take real political courage and moral conviction to form a commission like that and there isn't much evidence that there is any.

I dare Barack Obama to do it. I dare the Democratic leadership of the Senate and House to propose it, now, before the Republicans take over the House.