Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Direct Democracy Doesn't Work

When the Central Arizona Project began bringing water to Tucson in the 1980’s it was decided by our elected representatives to put that water into the ground and remove it as needed using the existing groundwater system. Filtering it down through the ground would help to clean it up and putting it into the existing groundwater would help alleviate the problem of its “hardness,” as it would be mixed with the greater volume of groundwater.

Some “concerned citizen” became worried that the CAP water would not stay in place, but thought that it might move underground southward into Mexico, and a heated public discussion erupted about not letting the Mexicans get our water, that we should inject it directly into Tucson’s water system. Our elected officials reminded us that this was water which had come across 330 miles of desert, evaporating on the way and becoming much “harder” in the process, and that a great many animals had fallen into the water and died with the consequences you can imagine, and that we really should recharge it.

The public, of course, did not trust our elected officials and did not listen to them and demanded a public vote. They got it and voted to inject the water directly into the city water system. The result was disastrous. The water was so bad that people would not even bathe in it let alone drink it or cook with it. You could not wash your car with it, as it would eat the paint off your car. It was good, actually, only for watering your lawn, and very few people in Tucson have lawns.

Within a few months the recharge plan was revived, but not before the water did $millions of damage to the city’s water delivery system and cost the citizens $millions more in the purchases of bottled water.

This is one small example of why direct democracy doesn’t work. The state of California is approximately 2000 square miles of illustration of the disastrous effects of direct democracy, in this case $19.3 billion of red ink. Right now there’s a guy in front of the grocery store with a petition to “stop internet sales tax.” I’m sure local merchants are thrilled with him.

When we elect officials to represent us, we need to leave them the hell alone and let them represent us, not organize massive call-in campaigns to tell them what to do every time some “concerned citizen” thinks they know how something ought to be done. If they are doing it wrong, then vote them out of office at the next election. This nonsense of repeatedly calling and telling them how to vote on issues, and then reelecting them at the next election cycle is ridiculous, and it’s not working.

We don’t elect these people to be poll takers or vote counters, we elect them to be decision makers. If they won’t make decisions then why are we reelecting them again and again and again? Boot them the hell out and elect someone who will. But when you hire someone to do a job and he doesn’t do it the solution is not to do the job for him, it’s to fire him and hire someone who will do the job.

It’s clear to me that we need to elect 435 new representatives to the House and as many new Senators as we can. Fire all of them, regardless of party affiliation, and start with a new crop. God knows, a new crop can’t be any worse than what we have.

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