Another Anecdote in Support of Limited Government

Some news stories, like this one below about the just-passed Omnibus bill in Congress, need no further commentary:

[South Carolina Senator] DeMint’s office put a finger in Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) eye last night:
Durbin: “For 46 hours and 8 minutes—the Senator from South Carolina has had an opportunity to go to the Internet and see this bill in its entirety, with his staff, and to read every page…Please, do not come to the floor and suggest that this is a mystery bill which no one has seen. For 2 days, this has been posted on the Internet . You have had your chance. Every Senator has had a chance.” – Senate Floor, 12/18/07
According to Senator Durbin’s math: Every Senator had 2,768 minutes to read 3,417 pages of legislative text that included next year’s spending for every domestic program of the entire federal government and many new policy changes.
According to Senator Durbin’s math: A Senator that downloaded the bill when it was posted at 12:15 a.m. Monday morning would have had to:

  • Read nearly 1.25 pages of the bill every minute for 46 hours and 8 minutes,
  • Not sleep,
  • Not eat,
  • Take no bathroom breaks.

After Durbin’s speech last night, DeMint asked him on the floor if he’d read the bill. He did not answer.

And some people are silly enough to think that a public sector filled with politicians like Senator Durbin and unelected, unaccountable, physically remote, and faceless bureaucrats have only pure motives and are capable of solving our national problems!
It is always worth reminding ourselves that it is the underlying incentives created by policies, not the publicly-stated goals, which drive actual behaviors long after everyone has forgotten about the legislative details. See the first part of this post and pay particular attention to this important post.

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