A parliament of a million

By Friday, May 4, 2012 0 No tags Permalink 0

One thing that people skeptical of government often miss is that less of government is not always a good thing. Big government is a bad idea when we refer to the growth of agencies and new government spending, but big government as in big parliaments is not necessarily a bad idea. Now, hear me out. The reason I think we should revisit the notion that parliaments should be small, for example, is that I think the size of a parliament directly affects special interests’ ability to influence the parliament. If you are A Big Company and decide to spend X million on lobbying you will have to divide that over the decision makers. If there are 100 of them you can exercise quite some influence, but what if there were a million of them, distributed in a network of national reach? A decentralized and distributed parliament would actually be harder to lobby than a concentrated one.

So rather than a parliament of 349 or less we could construct vast influence-resilient network parliaments that would be intrinsically much harder to lobby than the ones we have today. Anyone seriously interested in lessening special interests and incumbent influence should revisit the notion that fewer elected parliamentarians are better. There may even be an equation here where money spent on additional parliamentarians and the pulverization of power actually serves as an inoculation against special interests influence. When you increase the size of a parliament by an order of ten you may well reduce special interests capacity to influence that parliament by an order of a 100, say.

And the cost for large parliaments have gone down radically with new technologies, of course, resetting the transaction cost argument soundly.