Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recently created the bipartisan Commission on Local Government Reform. In recent remarks, the Governor noted: “For its size and population, Indiana has far too much local government. Indiana has some 2,700 local units of government authorized to levy property taxes. Governing these units are more than 10,700 elected officials, 1,100 of whom assess property. Few other states have as much local government.”
Perhaps not; but there are more than 500,000 elected officials in the United States, 96 percent of whom serve in local governments. The remarks are correct insomuch as electoral density—the number of elected officials per capita or per governmental unit—varies greatly from place to place. The most electorally dense county has more than 20 times the average number of elected officials per capita.
How would we know whether Indiana or any other state has too many local governments or too few? What is the benchmark for deciding whether there too many elected officials in a jurisdiction or not enough?
Continue reading "Too Much Local Government?" »
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Alberto Gonzales’s sorry tenure in the Bush administration would seem to give credence to Shakespeare’s oft-cited incitement against the legal profession.
The primary responsibility of the Attorney General is to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States in a fair and even-handed manner. In failing to comprehend this responsibility, Alberto Gonzales compromised himself, his office, the Constitution, and ultimately even the President who appointed him.
Continue reading "The Gonzales Legacy" »
Papua, Indonesia, says that if other countries are concerned about global warming, they should pay Papua not to cut down its forests. For Papua, short-term development is more important than the long-term cost of global warming. China has made a similar argument. Global warming is a serious problem but China has a “right to development,” and until hundreds of millions of Chinese make more than $1 per day, China is right to avoid being entangled in international climate control commitments. If the rich countries want to avoid being swamped by rising seas, they will have to pay China to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
Continue reading "Climate Change Justice" »
On May 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. The Senate will take up a companion bill, known as the Matthew Shepard Act, when it returns from its summer recess. If enacted, this law would authorize the Justice Department, in certain narrowly defined circumstances, to criminally prosecute an individual who “willfully” causes bodily injury to another person or, “through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive ... attempts to cause bodily injury” to another person, because of that person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Continue reading "Hate Crimes and the Gospel" »
The recent Tour de France melted down day-by-day as yet
another race leader left the race facing accusations of doping. We still aren’t
sure who won last year’s race, as the inquiry regarding Floyd Landis’s alleged
cheating is still pending. And in baseball, Barry Bonds has passed Hank Aaron’s
all-time home run record amidst a drumbeat of rumors that his performance has
been enhanced by steroids. We seem to be at something of a crossroads: we can
enhance athletes, but will that improve competition itself? It won’t: my pills will
match your pills, so the games themselves won’t change, but pill-popping will
saddle our heroes with a lifetime of possible medical problems.
Continue reading "What Are the Limits of Competition?" »
Adrian Vermeule and I are defending our book, Terror in the Balance, in an online symposium over at Opinio Juris. Below is a taste. If you have comments, please post them at Opinio Juris, where the debate is in full swing.
Continue reading "Symposium on Terror in the Balance" »