Friday, March 05, 2021

The Horror ... The Horror ...

Alex Pareene says that requiring legislation to be read on the floor of the US Senate before voting on it is a "stunt" or "antic" and that the Senate should change its rules so that one Senator can't force the issue. Pareene's complaint is, in the moment, about the COVID-19 "relief" bill, which is 600-700 pages long and will take several hours to read aloud.

I think that the Senate should change its rules, too -- so that even with "unanimous consent," no bill can be voted on without a full public reading on the floor, period.

Requiring a full public reading would discourage long, complex bills (often hundreds or even thousands of pages long) with all kinds of weird and evil crap buried in them. Or, alternatively, it would mean the Senate would pass far fewer bills.

Many years ago, the city council of the eerily Pyongyang-like (in terms of governance) town I lived in added an ordinance adopting the New York City electrical code to the agenda for their next meeting. As a city resident who attended council meetings, I showed up at that meeting and in the public comment period noted that their own governing ordinances required them to read it aloud before adopting it. Twice. All 100,000 pages or so of it.

Unfortunately, my objection had neither the effect of forcing them to read the fucking thing aloud twice, nor the effect of moving them to reconsider the question of whether a town of 310 households really needed an electrical code written for a city of millions (the town already had more ordinances than people, including, I shit you not, one prescribing the number of holes per square inch required in window screens). Instead, they just voted on a resolution that their own rules didn't apply to them in the matter.

If you want to govern, you shouldn't be too lazy or secretive to do something as simple as having a public reading of what you're about to do. If you are that lazy or secretive, get a job in the productive sector.

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