Balkinization  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

So which state really is "the worst of the worst"?

Sandy Levinson

Illinois attorney C. E. Petit sent me the following post after reading my posting below on the New York and California legislatures:

Hey, I sort of resent the implication of your piece this morning onBalkinization that Illinois isn't even in the running for the most ineptstate government. We have a proud tradition here of extolling, not just tolerating, our political corruption! If you think it's tough to lose a legislative race in the New York statesenate, try losing one in the Illinois State Senate if you've got party-leadership support. And if you think the chamber leadership in NewYork has a stranglehold on things, remember: Here, the daughter of the Speaker of the state House is the state's elected Attorney General and a leading candidate for governor in the 2010 election to replace Rod Blagojevich (and the creature who lives on top of his head).


I certainly don't want to be "unfair" to Illinois, which seems to have a habit of electing governors who turn into felons, not to mention the bizarre appointment of Sen. Burris this past January (though I continue adamantly to oppose the proposed Feingold amendment to require popular election of any and all senators who are filling vacancies). I am genuinely curious, though, how much of the Illinois situation is the result of an arguably defective state constitution--and whether there is any pressure buildling up for a rewriting of the document--and how much is attriutable, as Mr. Petit suggests, to the hammerlock enjoyed by party leaders, which may or may not be correctible through structural reform of the constitution. And at least the Speaker's daughter will have to run for election, unlike Lisa Murkowski, who got to the US Senate from Alaska, by appointment of her father, the Governor. Nebraska's unicameral legislature is, I believe, notionally "non-partisan," but I'm also quite confident that candidates are readily identifiable as linked with the Democratic or Republican Party (as when they run for the national House or Senate). I'd appreciate any input from Nebraska readers as to their perception of their state government.

Certainly partisans of other states might want to be heard. Texas is unusually dreadful in failing to have anything close to a professional legislature--it meets for 140 or so days ever two years, and legislators are paid $7200/year. Moreover, the governor, who is otherwise fairly weak (a fact that Al Gore never was able to bring to the voters' attention in 2000) has the powers of a constitutional dictator with regard to the ability to veto any and all legislation upon the departure of the legislature, which has no opportunity to override these vetoes. And, of course, we elect every single judge, for four- or six-year terms, in partisan elections. (I confess to having mixed feelings about the ostensible merits of an appointed judiciary over an elected one. There is certainly no reason to believe that the appointment process of federal judges is less "political" than are elections; it's simply that the politics of the latter are far more transparent.) And, of course, Louisiana almost always provides examples to warm any cynic's heart. Again, though, I'm primarily interested in defects that can, as in Texas, New York, and California, be directly traced to hard-wired aspects of the state constitutions.



Comments:

Before we can discuss relative merits, we need a metric. Otherwise, it's all anecdotal.

Got any suggestions?
 

C2H50H said...

Before we can discuss relative merits, we need a metric.

Taxes per capita.

Spending per capita.

Debt per capita.

Bond rating.

Unemployment ranking.

Migration of state natives to other states.

CA, NY and IL all come out badly.
 

thanks
 

Bart,

Some of your suggestions might have merit, but:

Spending, Taxes, Debt, and Bond Rating all are related to one another and bound up into the same thing, which -- I would argue -- the state government and constitution in many, if not most, cases have relatively little effect upon.

As for emigration, if we take that as our metric, for the overwhelming majority of the life of California's present constitutional structure it would be hands down among the best states.

This is also true of unemployment. That's hardly in keeping with the clear intention of your comment.

I would suggest that, if you want to focus on financial issues as the end-all and be-all of state government (as your list suggests you do) that the number of times per decade the state government has been in crisis over tax and spending issues would be more appropriate.

Of course, by that measure, Louisiana does quite well.

I would suggest opening the window a little wider. What about the size of the state bureacracy relative to the population? What about the number of lawyers relative to the population? Number of words in the state legal code? Number of constitutional amendments per decade? (Just to throw a few a few things out.) These would, it seem to me, capture something about the effectiveness of the state constitution and governance.
 

If CA doesn't "win" for the length of its state constitution, I pity the state which does.
 

Some people here have individual biases, given we are residents of states like NY, CA, and TX.

But our resident alcohol has a point. We need some context. This is so particularly since SL is biased:

I'm primarily interested in defects that can, as in Texas, New York, and California, be directly traced to hard-wired aspects of the state constitutions.

Putting aside -- which I continually believe he does -- the chicken/egg nature of that construct,* is this really the best way to determine "worst?"

What if a state has lots of flexibility in their constitution (it is ironic that SL at times seems to think there is less flexibility in the text than some), but just lousy leadership or political tradition overall?

And, if a state is big and has many problems to handle, should this be factored in? I assume it is easier for let's say Vermont to be run well than CA or dare I say NY? Some grace should be given therefore.

---

* Does the "hard wiring" come from the Constitution, or does it come from a tradition/nature of the people that would act similarly even without clear constitutional command? Or, even commands that appear to go the other way, if read a certain way. Cf. 1890s blacks in the South.

For instance, Nebraska is a state with less people than parts of NYC. It is 92% white. It has a progressive tradition and its unicameral path reflects a moderate path one might expect from such a Midwestern state.

The unicameral legislature (see its website) arose when the great senator George Norris ["New Deal Republican"] pushed for it during the 1930s. Clearly, the nature of the people, the small "c"onstitution influenced all of this. No matter what was "hard wired" into the text.
 

C2H50H:

Allow me to explain my metrics and how they relate to good state government:

Spending per capita

Taxes per capita.

Debt per capita.

Bond rating.


These are core state government functions, all of which can be controlled by constitutional provisions like balanced budget, spending cap and taxing cap provisions.

Unemployment ranking.

Governments do not create jobs. The money spent on public employees is taken from the capital which would otherwise create private sector jobs.

Governments do destroy jobs, though, by adding to the cost of doing business, which again takes away the capital which could go to job creation.

Migration of state natives to other states.

This is known as voting with your feet. If the folks who were born and raised in your state are leaving for greener pastures, state government ought to take a hard look to see if it is the reason why the state's formerly green pastures are turning brown.

Attracting poor illegal foreign immigrants into your state with a bloated welfare state to make up for the loss in natives is not an even trade as poor immigrants are a net drain on state services. CA is Exhibit 1.

Anyone intent on redesigning a state constitution ought to look at state government as a business and the citizenry as customers. The customer is always right. State government should be dedicated to providing services for which the citizenry is willing to pay in the most cost effective manner. To determine what the customer is willing to buy, all spending, taxing and borrowing increases should be submitted to the customers for a vote. If the customers vote no, then the business should cut back without whining to provide only those services for which the citizenry is willing to pay. If the state serves the citizenry rather than the other way around, there is no reason for people and their businesses to vote with their feet and leave the state.

There is nothing in my model that prevents a leftist welfare state from succeeding so long as that is what the people want. A leftist welfare state will only get into trouble when it overreaches and takes more than the citizenry is willing to give. My suggested constitutional model makes such overreaching difficult.
 

Joe,

Clearly, flexibility is both an advantage and a danger. At the present time, it's an advantage, in that states without a balanced budget requirement can maintain state services through borrowing, while those with one will have a "bust" and have to rebuild from scratch when the economy comes back.

Of course, that only matters if the government follows the strict wording. We see, for example, at the present time, states which are forbidden from borrowing issuing bonds under the pretext that, if it's not called a loan, it's not a loan. Also, raising fees on licenses and permits, and creating new "permits" to sell a product or offer a service, but pretending these are not taxes.

Frankly, I think constitutional balanced budget provisions matter a lot less than people imagine (see below).

Bart,

I understood your comment perfectly the first time. In fact, I could have predicted it with near-perfect accuracy ahead of time.

Actually, no, balanced budget requirements do not guarantee good government. Take a look at Minnesota. Unless you think "good government" means letting bridges fall down, education go down the tubes, and cutting off medical care for the poor so they overrun emergency rooms, the current situation is hardly "good".

Oh, and by the way, MN is one state where, although the budget is required to balance, this will not be strictly true, unless one counts revenues from bonds sold as income but does not count them as debt.

I fail to see any correlation between constitutional provisions and immigration, state to state. I notice that you didn't answer my observation of the historical immigration patterns into California and New York. Perhaps you should examine the great migrations of the 1800's through the 1950's. I'd say it blows your "model" out of the water.

In fact, what state or states have, for a generation at least, practiced the kind of draconian government you propose, and how have they done? Remember, the current financial crisis may take a few years to subside, but a constitution will typically operate for centuries.
 

Our resident LLB* makes these references:

"There is nothing in my model . . . . My suggested constitutional model . . . ."

Perhaps an application of this model (or is it models?) to a mythical (or actual?) state could serve as a test of its validity?

As to constitutional competition between states and "voting with your feet," this may be somewhat like market timing, which very few seem to be able to pull off successfully.

Might this be a second work of fiction for our literary resident LLB*?
 

Bart said:

Anyone intent on redesigning a state constitution ought to look at state government as a business and the citizenry as customers. The customer is always right. State government should be dedicated to providing services for which the citizenry is willing to pay in the most cost effective manner. To determine what the customer is willing to buy, all spending, taxing and borrowing increases should be submitted to the customers for a vote.

By that metric, California should be rated highly. The problem has been that through the initiative program, Californians have both voted for more services and fewer or lower taxes. The customer is not always right.

I would also disagree with some of your other metrics. Is the state government of Michigan responsible for the accident of history that placed most of the American automobile industry in that state? Michigan did well when the industry was dominant, but not so well since foreign auto companies started capturing more of the American market.

State governments which bring in industry by giveaway tax breaks, or by lowering pollution standards may do well in the short term, but are setting themselves up for long term problems. Air and water pollution have a cost that will eventually have a reckoning.
 

Joe said:

For instance, Nebraska is a state with less people than parts of NYC. It is 92% white. It has a progressive tradition and its unicameral path reflects a moderate path one might expect from such a Midwestern state.


Generalizing, we could probably say that:


1. Smaller populations are easier to govern well than larger populations.

2. More homogeneous populations are easier to govern well than more heterogeneous populations.

3. Affluent and educated populations are easier to govern well than impoverished and uneducated populations.

4. A history of control by political machines (New York, Illinois) or political families (Louisiana) does not bode well for good governance.

5. A history of political bipartisanship is an advantage.


I would think metrics on state tolerance for organized crime and government corruption would also be useful, if you could find objective measurements.


I don’t imagine any of these really address Professor Levinson’s questions about state constitutions, but I’m not sure the constitutions are as important as the state’s political traditions.
 

Hank is raising a very important point: how do, if at all, we actually figure out the "real importance" of constitutions, as against political cultures and the sheer accidents of history, such as the rise (and now fall) of the auto industry in Michigan? There may, of course, be certain interactive affects, though presumably they me hard to measure. But the central paradox is this: One cannot praise the United States (or any other) constitution for all the good things it allegedly has contributed to--stability, economic growth, winning various wars are usual candidates--without addressing the proposition that it has also contributed to a number of far more negative outcomes, beginning, most prominently, with the dissolution of the country itself in 1861. Still, even I happily concede the importance, say, of demographics or political culture, that some societies can withstand the worst of formal constitutions, even as other, highly more fragile, orders can't be successfully governed even by what might seem the "best" constitution. What we're inevitably talking about is the vast middle, where, presumably, constitutions play some (though exactly how much is the great unknwown) influence.
 

But the central paradox is this: One cannot praise the United States (or any other) constitution for all the good things it allegedly has contributed without addressing the proposition that it has also contributed to a number of far more negative outcomes, beginning, most prominently, with the dissolution of the country itself in 1861.

This is not convincing.

First, I believe it sets up a strawman if it suggests the discussion is one way. That is, those who praise don't also criticize. Some, let's say Arne, thinks the balance is the best we can basically expect.

Second, what is with this "allegedly" business? Why the use of a qualifier? It suggests he finds it hard to even accept parts clearly contributed to some good. After all, the negative stuff is assumed, not "alleged."

Finally, I disagree that on balance the Constitution did more harm than good. To the degree it is the framework of our governance, yes, it "contributed" to various bad things the government did.

But, take the Civil War. The Civil War was a result as much or more, the whole chicken/egg issue, of societal problems. Society at the time was local, in part because of communication and transportation limitations.

This even factored into the membership of the Supreme Court, the five Southern justices appointed to represented large chunks of territory, though a minority of the population.

Are we to blame the Constitution for that? Should we blame it too for allowing slavery in 1789, an institution that was found in many Northern states, including NY?
 

"Society at the time [of the Civil War] was local, in part because of communication and transportation limitations."

But it was much less local in 1861 than it was in 1789 with respect to improvements in communication and transportation as well as other technologies.
 

Yes, it was less local, but it still was quite local -- more so in the South -- all the same.

The country was in the middle of great change, and the Civil War was in part a rebellion against that. The South saw how things were going, including on the slavery issue.

But, a lot of water was already under the bridge by this point.
 

Bart: These are core state government functions, all of which can be controlled by constitutional provisions like balanced budget, spending cap and taxing cap provisions.


But just because they can be controlled doesn't mean that they are controlled, or that such structures are a major factor in the outcome. I can easily see high spending and low spending states, high debt and low debt states, with identical governance structures but differing in who happens to be in the legislature and the nature of the population voting for them. Actually, I wonder if any of the metrics mentioned really have much to do with structural issues.

To determine what the customer is willing to buy, all spending, taxing and borrowing increases should be submitted to the customers for a vote. If the customers vote no, then the business should cut back without whining to provide only those services for which the citizenry is willing to pay.

If only the same standards were applied to tax cuts as well: any tax cut which is not offset by a program cut should be denied. The failure to have the state "customers" take responsibility for their budgetary decisions is hardly confined to one side of the political spectrum. It's quite bipartisan.
 

C2H50H said...

I fail to see any correlation between constitutional provisions and immigration, state to state. I notice that you didn't answer my observation of the historical immigration patterns into California and New York. Perhaps you should examine the great migrations of the 1800's through the 1950's. I'd say it blows your "model" out of the water.

My point concerned migration from not foreign immigration into a state. A state government that compels its citizens to leave is by definition a failure.

California and New York between the 1800s and 1950s kept their populations and added more. Of course, this was prior to the advent of the bureaucratic welfare state.

In fact, what state or states have, for a generation at least, practiced the kind of draconian government you propose, and how have they done?

What is remotely "draconian" about obtaining the permission of the voters before taking their money and spending it? I think the word you are looking for is democracy.

The only state that comes to mind whose constitution requires a vote of the people to raise taxes, spending and debt is my state of Colorado. I would be glad to compare our performance with that of CA, NY and IL.
 

Hank Gillette said...

BD: Anyone intent on redesigning a state constitution ought to look at state government as a business and the citizenry as customers. The customer is always right. State government should be dedicated to providing services for which the citizenry is willing to pay in the most cost effective manner. To determine what the customer is willing to buy, all spending, taxing and borrowing increases should be submitted to the customers for a vote.

By that metric, California should be rated highly.


California can and has raised taxes, spending and debt with abandon and without a vote of the people.

The problem has been that through the initiative program, Californians have both voted for more services and fewer or lower taxes. The customer is not always right.

I went through this with Dilan. California can pay for ALL of its constitutionally mandated spending and have billions left over. The fact is that California government spent like crazed maniacs for the past several years. Staying within their current revenues merely returns CA to where it was only four years ago.

I would also disagree with some of your other metrics. Is the state government of Michigan responsible for the accident of history that placed most of the American automobile industry in that state? Michigan did well when the industry was dominant, but not so well since foreign auto companies started capturing more of the American market.

Yes indeed.

If Michigan was a right to work state and GM, Ford and Chrysler had the same labor costs as foreign auto companies building their cars in non union American plants down South, the Big Three would be very competitive and Michigan would not be a complete economic basket case.

Michigan is a perfect example of what life is like when Dems get everything they want.
 

dsimon said...

Bart: These are core state government functions, all of which can be controlled by constitutional provisions like balanced budget, spending cap and taxing cap provisions.

I can easily see high spending and low spending states, high debt and low debt states, with identical governance structures but differing in who happens to be in the legislature and the nature of the population voting for them.


Without the constitutional limits I proposed, the ideology of the government does result in substantially different results. With the proposed limits, it matters not which ideology is in control because no new spending, taxes or debt gets enacted without the approval of the people.

Colorado is a perfect example. While the politics of the state has gone from red to purple to blue, nothing much has changed because the our citizens will not approve new spending, taxes or debt.

BD: To determine what the customer is willing to buy, all spending, taxing and borrowing increases should be submitted to the customers for a vote. If the customers vote no, then the business should cut back without whining to provide only those services for which the citizenry is willing to pay.

If only the same standards were applied to tax cuts as well: any tax cut which is not offset by a program cut should be denied.


Under a balanced budget requirement, this is mandated.
 

Briefly to follow-up, I did not mean to imply the localism issue was the cause of all the problems. It was meant to be one example.
 

Slavery was the major problem, festering for decades and then exploding starting in 1850 with the new Fugitive Slave Law, followed by other actions to undo the elimination of slavery in the territories in order to maintain the balance between slave and free states, culminating with Dred Scott. Anti-slavery forces in the free states had seriously considered secession. But the political tides turned and slave states seceded as the trigger. It was slavery at the core, the flaw in the Constitution even though it avoided the words "slave" or "slavery."
 

"flaw in the Constitution"

I would say the flaw in the nation that the Constitution had to accept if it had any chance of passing.

I'm reminded of a scene in "1776" where Ben Franklin reminds John Adams that "we are not gods," when he was upset that Jefferson's strong denunciation of slavery in the DOI was rejected.

It is ill advised to focus blame on the "Constitution" as SL seems to do here when we recall such facts like Lincoln receiving 40% of the popular vote in 1860. I'm unsure how much the "Constitution" contributed to the Civil War. The focus here seems skewered to me.

Surely, it matters. But, how much? I say this particularly since, as others here note, when looking for solutions, constitutional change has to be seen realistically and practically.
 

What about quality of life? (Although, again, there's some question as to whether that's correlated with state government or state constitutions.)

I can think of a few more metrics. I don't know if these have been suggested by others elsewhere, but:

-- the ratio of state supreme court cases which are narrowly decided relative to the whole case load

-- poll the lawyers who have brought cases before the state supreme court to obtain a measure

For the record, I tend to agree with those who have commented that state traditions and the particular ethics and comportment of the states' politicians make more difference than the constitutions, in most cases.

In fact, I would say that, if we regard NY, IL, and LA as poorly governed, it's because of their traditions rather than any flaw in their constitutions. In the case of CA, however, it appears clear that their constitution has a serious problem. Else, why all the propositions to fix it?

Bart,

I find your fixation on monetary and population metrics questionable, and I frankly don't see any evidence that they are well correlated with good government.

Colorado became this paragon of good government in 1992, or 17 years ago.

We can't really find state to state immigration numbers. We'll have to just use census numbers as a rough estimate. I suggest that it's equally valid (or at least not remarkably more stupid) since, presumably, those immigrating from wherever, according to your theory, would have chosen where to go on the basis of perceived opportunity.

In 1900, the populations of California and Colorado were 1.5M and .5M, respectively (using earlier numbers takes us into frontier days). In 1992, they were 31M and 3.6M, respectively, or increases of 20 and 7-fold, respectively. By your metric, California was three times as good, government-wise, as Colorado, over that range.

There really hasn't been enough time since 1992 for a real trend to be established, but, since then, populations have increased 11 percent and 18 percent, respectively. If that continues for another 70 years, Colorado's population increase will have about matched California's (assuming California's continues to lag.)

Wake me up then to crow about how well Colorado has done.

Since California upset their applecart in 1978, there's been time for the pigeons to come home and roost. I think it quite likely that, over the next decades, Colorado's inability to fund education will result in a relative loss of the high-tech jobs that will be so crucial in the future. Time will tell.
 

C2H50H said...

Bart, I find your fixation on monetary and population metrics questionable, and I frankly don't see any evidence that they are well correlated with good government.

Are you suggesting that a state constitution also place limits on what types of policy can be enacted? That goes a bit far IMHO.

To the extent that you are suggesting a structural reform that would have an impact on policy, I could support a requirement that unelected regulatory agencies must submit all regulations to the legislature for enactment. The more accountability to the People, the better.
 

Bart,

I'm trying to understand how a constitution could avoid setting limits on the policies a state government could enact or implement.

Perhaps it would be simpler to simply make tax increases or spending increases unconstitutional. That's the practical effect of requirements for 2/3 majority or citizen approval by vote for these things, as, in any such election about 1/3 of the populace will mindlessly vote "no" (but make sure you avoid shenanigans by clever and unscrupulous people who word the measures so that a "no" vote approves the proposition).

Would unelected agencies also have to submit reductions in regulations to the legislature? Legislatures seem already strained to the limit of their abilities without the extra work.
 

Via Legal History Blog, I linked to and downloaded Prof. G. Edward White's "Revisiting the Ideas of the Founding," available at:

http://law.bepress.com/uvalwps/uva_publiclaw/art132

This article (based upon a recent speech by White) is relatively short, 30 pages double spaced, that might serve as a reminder of what can happen at a constitional convention, by focusing on what was on the minds of the Founders. Here's his closing paragraph:

"It is, of course, appropriate for scholars and others to consider the founding period against the backdrop of all that has occurred since. One might argue that it is particularly appropriate to consider the constitutional ideas of that period from a 'holistic' perspective, since the Constitution was designed to be a document capable of enduring over time, and being adapted to 'the various crises of human affairs.' But it is one thing to consider the interesting and sometimes distressing contrasts between the conceptions of liberty, or equality, or eligibility to participate in civic affairs, held by the framers and those of our own; and quite another to transpose our contemporary assumptions about sovereignty, or liberty, or property, or equality, onto a recreation of the ideas of the framers about those subjects, so that we 'discover' the founding generation as being strange, or benighted, or discordant. Whatever one may think of such a transposition as a normative exercise, it is anachronistic history. The paradox of undertaking historical recreation of the central ideas of the founding period is that the more we remember about what has come after the time in which those ideas were in ascendancy, the harder it becomes to understand them."

And "stuff" is just so much more complex today, or so it seems.

By the Bybee, in his discussion on the Bill of Rights, White does not touch upon the Second Amendment.
 

Democrat California state assembly speaker, Karen Bass, letting voters know exactly what she thinks of them during a LA Times interview:

How do you think conservative talk radio has affected the Legislature's work?

The Republicans were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: "You vote for revenue and your career is over." I don't know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it's about free speech, but it's extremely unfair.

The only folks who can cast ballots to recall an assemblyman or woman for voting to raise the tax burden yet again are their constituents.

Damn terrorist voters!

I am unsure how the California constitution can be amended to address this kind of fascist entitlement thinking.
 

Bart,

It's pretty obvious she was referring to conservative talk radio as being the "terrorists". Or perhaps you will assert that conservative talk radio has no effect on elections in GOP districts. So she has some kind of point in there, if a somewhat anti-democratic one.

I'll grant that the average level of the political talk today is mind-numbingly stupid, and her comments were pretty much on the low side of the bell curve.

Whatever. If a constitution requires either intelligent behavior, honesty, or a total commitment to democratic ideals and methods, all constitutional democracies are doomed.

Especially if today's GOP is one of the parties involved.
 

C2H50H said...

It's pretty obvious she was referring to conservative talk radio as being the "terrorists".

Talk radio cannot recall anyone. That takes petitions signed by voters and an election with ballots cast by voters.

It is possible that this woman is so dirt dumb that she actually believes that listeners to conservative talk radio are "mind numbed robots," which would be humorous given that Limbaugh and PBS attract the same education level in their audiences.

However, I doubt that someone who worked up to the level of speaker is stupid. Rather, Bass shares the same fascist belief as do the Iranian mullahs that they are entitled to power and democratic elections that threaten that power are akin to terrorism.
 

Our resident LLB* sets up strawmen and strawwomen as he regurgitates right wing vile talking points while informing us:

" . . . given that Limbaugh and PBS attract the same education level in their audiences."

without a cite in proof of his efforts to elevate the educational level of right wing talk radio audiences. Perhaps the Sesame Street PBS audience brings the educational level of PBS audiences down to the depths of that of Limbaugh's listeners.

Then our resident LLB* goes Bass-fishing with this right wing bait:

"Rather, Bass shares the same fascist belief as do the Iranian mullahs that they are entitled to power and democratic elections that threaten that power are akin to terrorism."

But our resident LLB* cannot set the hook, let alone reel in Bass with the situation in Iran, as he casts his right wing net willy, nilly. Perhaps we should compare our resident LLB* and his ilk with the gun-toters in Honduras trumping free speech with weaponry.
 

Shag:

Perhaps the Sesame Street PBS audience brings the educational level of PBS audiences down to the depths of that of Limbaugh's listeners.

Well, I could give the speaker the benefit of the doubt for not being dirt dumb, but when all doubt is removed.

Compadre, see the 2006 Pew Survey and scroll down about half way on the left for a chart entitled "Education, Age and Knowledge."

Both the Limbaugh Show (37% and NPR (38%) have nearly identical percentages of college grads, although Limbaugh's audience is far, far larger. However, Limbaugh's listeners (48%) are far more likely than those who listen to NPR (39%) to demonstrate "high knowledge" about current events. Among all major media news outlets, Limbaugh's audience comes in second in knowledge, a nose behind the readership of the Weekly Standard. In contrast, NPR is back in 8th place, nosing out the Daily Show.
 

While our resident LLB* initially identified PBS in comparison to Limbaugh without cites, he responds with cites that reference NPR instead, which is a tad different from PBS. Our resident LLB* provides from his Backpack of Lies his "P-U" survey that doesn't pass the smell test. Maybe our resident LLB* relies upon his crystal radio set.
 

Unless there are statistics that give, by state, the percentage of the population that listens to Limbaugh, it is totally beside the point whether, in fact, in 2005, a poll found that Limbaugh listeners were relatively well-informed and educated.

Personally, I'd suggest that talk radio listenership to national media is a metric nearly orthogonal to how badly the state government is run.

Bart's example of the California legislator saying something stupid may have more relevance to the issue, as, thanks to term limits, the relative professionalism of the California legislature has certainly declined.

And, in a chicken and egg situation, to decide whether having a "professional" legislature, with experts at getting elected and making state government at least appear to work is good or bad, we would first need to produce a metric measuring whether a state is good or bad, and then correlate it with term limits.
 

What if each of the 50 states called for a constitutional convention for its state constitution at the same time. And what if there were a call for a federal constitutional convention. What might result? Would one state's convention look at the other states' conventions? Would the federal convention look at the states' conventions? Might such end up somewhat like the EU (except for common language)? And superimpose upon these conventions the Internet, tweeting, etc. I'm all a-twitter just thinking about this.
 

Let me pass this on from Truthout:

Michael Winship | My State Legislature's Crazier than Yours. Oh Yeah?
http://www.truthout.org/070309A?n
Michael Winship, Truthout: "California should just be done with it and rename the entire state 'Neverland Ranch.' This serves several useful purposes. It would be the ultimate tribute to Michael Jackson, pleasing his most ardent and bereft fans. Further validate the state's Cloud Cuckoo, fairy tale reputation, thus probably promoting additional, revenue-generating tourism. Stand as an accurate metaphor for the state government's airheaded inability to cope with its current financial disaster."

Let's hear it from New York.
 

California GOP gubernatorial candidate and former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, has come out in favor of a constitutional convention and other reforms. However, somehow I suspect that Whitman's common sense suggestions are not exactly what Sandy has in mind.
 

If this is a Whitman Sampler, I'll take M & Ms as having more common sense. Perhaps Meg is replacing Sarah in the hearts of desperate (or is it disparate) Republicans.
 

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harika Duvar Kağıtları bunlar
tamamen ithal duvar kağıdı olanlar var
 

The real test of friendship is can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy those moments of life that are utterly simple?
Agen Judi Online Terpercaya
 

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