Why legislative gridlock may be better than, well… actually legislating

A post I started several months ago and never finished. Apologies for the late posting, but it’s still probably worth while.

There’s an interesting post at the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, by Stanford University’s Morris Fiorina. The article makes the argument it may be better if it is difficult for government and legislators to implement their agenda. I think it’s a timely read for Australians, with a few commentators and business interests lashing out at gridlock lately. The argument is often that the government should be able to push a “reform” agenda* through parliament no matter the opposition is unfortunately alive and well in Australia. See here and here for a few examples (maybe not the best ones, but the best I could come up with in a few minutes).

Since the Australian example include successive Australian governments deciding it is a good idea to pay people to buy homes, have children, give them even more money to have children (especially if they’re wealthy) and sending them vouchers for counselling when they  get married (okay, the last two haven’t happened, yet – but would have if government had its way) it may not be a bad thing if their planned legislation is required to go through a little gridlock to stress test it. That being said, there is likely an optimum level of gridlock, where legislation is difficult enough to pass that it weeds out some of the weaker initiatives and improves the rest, but not so gridlocked that very little is passed at all.


*with reform often used to mean any policies the proponent believes are good.


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