Balance Between the Branches of Government is not the Issue

I’d rather say the overall government size is small but the ratio between the size of the legislation or administrative or juristic shall remain a reasonable or most fitted value.

What I am talking about is a libertarian style government. And my criticism is not really about the balance between the branches of government. The problem I describe does not arise because the power between the branches is tweaked appropriately.

I think this is where a lot of thinking about politics go astray. In the traditional separation of power thinking articulated by Montesquieu, little to no regard is paid to the balance of power in the population at large. The wealth donor class is simply not part of the equation. It is assumed to not exist.

But of course it is a powerful part of the social, political and economic system of a country. You cannot balance the power of the powerful donor class by tweaking the relative power of the legislation, administrative or judicial branches of government.

We can just look at how that power is used today in the US. The donor class act as a filter, selecting who runs for office. It is similar to how the priests act as a filter for who can run for office in Iran. On paper Iran is a democracy. But since only conservative islamists can run for office people don’t have any real choice. It is not a real democracy.

The US is in the same situation. Anybody running for office in the US spends 70% of their time talking to donors. Anybody who has very different views from donors is going to have a hard time running. You need some exceptional political talents like Bernie Sanders or AOC to counter that.

Politicians who won feel an obligation to serve their donors. Donald Trump even openly said this to the cameras, what most will not admit. That when he pays a politicians he expects favors back. Clearly this is a well known game and that is how it is played. Ironically Trump gets away with being a corrupt crook by openly admitting it on TV. We are so used to actual crimes not being openly admitted, so when somebody does admit it openly we get this psychological reaction where in our heads it becomes okay.

Donors are of course served in many ways. One of them is by politicians letting their guys into departments to write regulation affecting their industry. This is technical stuff that most people don’t care about. And if they do, well there is an army of journalists and media working for the rich donor class who will make sure the significance is downplayed.

The result is that many companies are able to develop highly profitable monopolies or duopolies, due to legislation written to serve them. There is a simple proof of this: High profits.

In a market with real competition profits should be close to zero. That is what economic theory tells us. If profits are high, that points to poor competition.

To summarize. The affluent class is able to own the media and to a large degree select who gets to run for office. In this way they are able to control the political system.

To counter this you cannot simply tweak the relative power between branches of government. You got to tweak the power of the rich. The way you do that is by:

  • Limiting the use of ads in elections, so money matters less. E.g. you could do like Norway and ban TV ads. You can do like Canada and limit the time period where you can campaign.
  • Wealth redistribute, to avoid too much power accumulates among a few people.
  • Government should support or partially finance independent media, so that not all media is controlled by the most affluent.
  • Equalize the school system. Elite schools is a good way for a rich elite to perpetuate their power.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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