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Two things I’ve noticed about Americans, particularly the conservatives, which includes a fair number of libertarians. The first is that they have an overwhelmingly strong attachment to the political philosophy and constitution of the Founding Fathers. The second is that many of the flaws of the constitutional modal in the United States are seen as features.

One such flaw/feature is how prone legislatures within the United States (and the federal Congress in particular) are to deadlock, and how disconnected the electorate is to their elected legislature. The argument goes that people are stupid, they will elect stupid people, and most bills presented are stupid. Therefore making it difficult for stupid bills to be passed is a Good Thing.

Instead, what happens is a conglomeration of stupid bills into one Awesomely Bad bill, filled with enough pork to fatten it up so that it can passed both houses of legislature and signed into law. I don’t think you could find the scale of interest groups and lobbyists influencing legislature as in the United States in any other Western liberal democracies (especially the more representative ones).

Moreover, I don’t think it safeguards freedom. In terms of economic freedom, of the top ten liberal democracies making the list (i.e. the top 12 minus Singapore and Hong Kong), all but two have parliamentary systems. Only three uses a single member, first part the post system, only one with no mode of national referendum. This means that the United States is most prone from the lot of getting stuck in political impasse, and least representative of their electorate, and most prone to corruption (not just in interest money, Westminster’s recent parliamentarian spending scandal will barely register a blip in the United States – take Pelosi’s heavy use of the Air Force).

It would matter if the quality of legislation is better. But compare for a moment the various bills in both House and Senate for healthcare reform with, say, Netherlands’ 2006 Zorgverzekeringswet or Zvw (Health Insurance Act). Regardless of your policy preference, Zvw is simply a lot better – it is more parsimonious, lack all the requisite special interest provisions and also very likely the Act’s main sponsors actually read it.

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