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February 2nd, 2013:

The day parliament jumped the shark

Fans of ‘Blackadder the Third’ will remember Baldrick’s election to the rotten Borough of Dunny-on-the-wold, the only voter being Blackadder himself.  This was first aired in 1987 and was my first introduction to the concept of the rotten borough.  It was a pretty amusing episode lampooning the archaic nonsense of the past which claimed the democratic legitimacy of parliament despite their being a cynical imbalance in the number of voters in each constituency.

I laughed that night, safe in the knowledge that something called the boundary commission ensured that past abuses could not happen again.  As I began to learn about British history, I realised that one of the seminal moments was the 1832 reform act.  Remarkably this was passed without great violence or revolution and it is seen by some historians as the launching of modern democracy in Britain.

To ensure that our electoral boundary maps don’t become obsolete with the passage of time, and we don’t end up back with rotten boroughs, we have something called the boundary commission.  This is an independent body which perdiodically re-draws boundaries along two basic principles;

- first, the electorate of each constituency must be within 5% of the United Kingdom electoral quota. This number is the total mainland electorate divided by the number of mainland constituencies.  Simply put, it is the average electorate of a mainland constituency.

- second, the area of a constituency must be no more than 13,000 km

There are some island and rural exceptions, Northern Ireland is a law unto itself, but fundamentally, this is how the playing field for mainland UK is set.  Or perhaps I should now say, was set.  On Tuesday the 29th of January 2013, that concept died.  Despite the boundary commission making available re-drawn maps, the 2015 election will use the old constituency maps.  Some of these will have close to 100,000 electors in one constituency and little more than 40,000 in another.

Shamefully Labour opposed the adoption of the new constituency map, but it was only able to vote down the proposals with the help of the ever admirable Nick Clegg.  Both parties seem to have calculated there would be some electoral advantage in the old maps.  Now I pretty much take a voluntaryist position, arguing liberal democracy has failed and is anyway philosophically unsound because it is reliant on the threat of violence.  Those who argued for parliamentary democracy could at least claim the situation was numerically balanced.  No more.  For me, this was the moment parliament ‘jumped the shark’ and is now in the same ballpark as gerrymandering African dictators.  Mother of parliaments be damned, MP’s are displaying Oedipus complex.  So keep your laws and don’t talk about democracy anymore, because this isn’t it.  If you are an MP or defender of the House of Commons, know yourself for what you are.

And if anyone reads this who is in law enforcement, the military or is involved implementation of any state edict or ban, consider you are now nothing more than the functionary who does what they are told.  There is no validity, no democracy, no legitimacy of any kind in your orders.  Your just enforcers, so run along, I am sure there will be plenty of sticks for you to chase.  Tom Paine must be spinning in his grave.

Richard A. Epstein, interviewed for Reason TV

Richard A. Epstein, interviewed by Nick Gillespie of Reason TV on Obama Itself, a practical flaw at the heart of the regulatory regime, and ObamaCare in particular. ~12 1/2 min.

Excerpts from a relatively long Description; then, below the URL, one of the Comments.


Uploaded on Nov 22, 2010

Few legal scholars have blown as many minds and had the tangible impact that Richard Epstein has managed. His 1985 volume, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain is a case in point. Epstein made the hugely controversial argument that regulations and other government actions such as environmental regulations that substantially limit the use of or decrease the value of property should be thought of as a form of eminent domain and thus strictly limited by the Constitution. The immediate result was a firestorm of outrage followed by an acknowledgment that the guy was onto something.

As Epstein told Reason in a 1995 interview, “I took some pride in the fact that [Sen.] Joe Biden (D-Del.) held a copy of Takings up to a hapless Clarence Thomas back in 1991 and said that anyone who believes what’s in this book is certifiably unqualified to sit in on the Supreme Court. That’s a compliment of sorts…. But I took even more pride in the fact that, during the Breyer hearings [in 199X], there were no such theatrics, even as the nominee was constantly questioned on whether he agreed with the Epstein position on deregulation as if that position could not be held by responsible people.”

. . .

Reason’s Nick Gillespie interviewed Epstein at NYU’s law building in October. The conversation was wide-ranging and high-energy–another Epsteinian virtue. They talked about legal challenges to ObamaCare, the effects of stimulus spending and TARP bailouts, and a former University of Chicago adjunct faculty member by the name of Barack Obama, with whom Epstein regularly interacted in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“He passed through Chicago without absorbing much of the internal culture,” says Epstein of the president. “He’s amazingly good at playing intellectual poker. But that’s a disadvantage, because if you don’t put your ideas out there to be shot down, you’re never gonna figure out what kind of revision you want.”

I think Prof. Epstein is inherently a Nice Guy, and that although in some respects he had the Sith’s number all along (“No!  He has a good mind for some things, but it’s not a first-class intellectual mind”–paraphrased from, some comment he made somewhere), even as of this interview I think he was too inclined to believe the “ignorance” as opposed to the “willful, planned destruction” interpretation of Its ruinous “presidency.”


SB87JB 2 months ago [i.e. ~ 12/1/12 --J.]

. . . Yeah sure it’s embarrassing that [pre-Obamacare] people will die from no health insurance, but now people will die from no health insurance after being forced to pay a fee to have no health insurance because they can not afford the “cheap” universal coverage, which only offers 60% coverage for the lower class. It honestly makes our old corrupt corporate healthcare system look utopian.

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