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Friday, November 25, 2011

Constitutional Amendments 15 Public Commissions To Cut Wasteful Government

 Heinlein once said that the way to be a successful writer was to take ideas from other genres, take them across state lines and file off the numbers (actually his SF could never owe anything important to another genre). In that spirit I am taking an idea straight from Jerry Pournelle and translating it into British:

Establish two commissions whose job is to recommend practices that ought to be eliminated on the grounds that we can’t afford them, or never needed them in the first place.

1 - The commissioners should not be government employees, and ought to be paid no more than £100 a day consulting fee and £30 a day expenses. Let it be a typical commission, with 2 members appointed by the Prime Minister, 1 each from the 3 most important parliamentary committees, 1 by the house of |Lords and one by the finance minister of the fastest growing Commonwealth country (aka Singapore). The whole thing shouldn’t cost more than $2 million a year. Any federal position that a majority of the commission recommends for elimination is automatically unfunded unless explicitly refunded by Parliament. If Parliament doesn’t restore the position, that position is redundant and that task is no longer performed.
2 - A second Jobsworth Commission. This one is to consist of 100 persons, the first 50 chosen to match the population distribution and other fifty to be selected with no such loading. They are to be selected by lot from a pool of volunteers who have high speed Internet connection. The Commission meets on-line once a week for four hours. Once a year it meets in London, expenses to be reimbursed. Each commissioner gets a laptop computer and conferencing software, and the government pays for high speed Internet connectivity for the year. Same rules: if 51 Commissioners agree that a government regulatory activity is needless, then that activity is defunded, and those who perform that service are declared redundant. (Civil service rules for redundant employees apply.) Parliament can restore any of those activities and positions, but if it does not, it goes.

The Commissions probably won’t do a lot, but they will at least get rid of the ridiculously obvious, and over time the various government activities will be examined and debated.

Because so much of the benefit is over time it must be a permanent feature of our constitution.


  In the same post Jerry also suggested this.

change all the rules for small business exemptions from regulations by doubling the maximum number of employees you can have for the exemption. There are a number of regulations that apply only to businesses with fewer than 10 employees; make that number 20. There are other regulations that apply only to this with more than 50 employees. Make that 100. Etc. The first time I proposed this I got mail saying it was useless because there aren’t any successful small businesses willing to expand but prevented by the threat of regulation. I have considerable evidence to the contrary; and besides, if there are no such businesses, then there won’t be any consequences of adopting this. In fact, though, I am quite sure there are many businesses successful enough to expand that would do so if the regulations weren’t so onerous.

  I did enthusiastically agree with this, which quite obviously would be simple; probably very effective; and even if it wasn't, have no economic downside (like X-Prizes). It was gently explained to me that this would be entirely impossible because most of these are required or supported by the EU and they wouldn't allow it.

   I accept the logic of that and consider it further proof we would be better off out.

PS When I started this series it was aimed at the US Constitution. However our political system only diverged from their's in 1776 and it fits well here and over time the focus has shifted to what we shoukld be doing. This makes the title outdated but so what.

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