What are the ten most harmful government programs?

Human Events offers a list based on a poll of conservatives.  Social Security comes in first, number five is "contraceptive funding."  Foreign policy aside, what should such a list look like?

At the top I will put our aggregate of health care policies, including Medicare, but without pretending that removing any one of them would solve the major problems.  Many smaller decisions, taken together, have painted us into a box where the incentives are for cost-escalation and burden-shifting at the same time. 

It is hard for me to see social security as such a huge villain.  I’m not going to push Ricardian neutrality, but a lot of it is just dollars slushing back and forth.  It would be better as a welfare program but as is I just don’t see how it has wrecked us.

Farm subsidies are terrible but quantitatively they don’t amount to much in the broader scheme of things.  Therefore my second pick is the aggregate burden of many small regulations.  As with health care, we have no single identifiable villain.  Again many small policies, taken together, make entrepreneurship less dynamic and lower long-run economic growth.  "Small steps toward a much worse world," as they say.

My third pick is the public quasi-monopoly on education.

Your ideas?

Comments

Number one for me is easy--drug prohibition, including the vast resources wasted on law enforcement, the organized crime networks that are created, the countless lives wasted in prisons, the developing countries wracked by the corruption and violence of the drug trade. Compared to the harm caused by all of this, nothing else comes close.

I'll second slocum's nomination of drug prohibition for number one. All other bad domestic policies pale in comparison, so number two is bound to be a distant second.

The FDA perhaps?

I'd have to agree with brock on accounts 1 and 2.
For education I think the best policy is to simply create a simple decentralized framework with a truely independant oversight comitee. There should only be general required guidelines as to what has to be taught, but not methodology or material choices. Likewise the existant hierarchial structure is primarily a way to enrich a truely assinine management class that shouldn't even exist.

Another good way to improve education would be to take property taxes accorded to education and aggregate them into a state-wide pool, thus ensuring schools which are in areas with low property values still have students which recieve good education.

I'd say a good #3 is related to what I mean by "truely" independant governmental oversight bodies. I think congress and the executive branch should be forbidden to appoint anyone to them.
Instead they should be able to hire their own people, with congress and the executive operating as an overisight via bully-pulpit. I think political appointments are one of the major reasons we have so many defective government agencies in the first place.

The above choices are all good. I'd choose, for a top 5,

1) public education
2) drug prohibition
3) safety net (both fails to prevent poverty and overly costly, do something like Kling and Murray propose)
4) medical system
5) lots of good candidates...the tort system, the election system, zoning laws, NIMBY, the tax system, sex laws, Tyler's "little regulations", agricultural subsidies, tarriffs, immigration law...but I want to say something speculative, so I'm going to say direct elections. We used to have indirect Senatorial elections. Why did we give those up? Why have *any* direct elections?

Michael,

are you serious on that last part? We should be having more transparent, and direct elections.
Personally I'm in favor of adopting a switzerland like polity.

I'll put in, for the fourth time, drug prohibition as currently implemented as number one.

It has the following harmful effects:
1) Increases the violence of some neighborhoods greatly, preventing many people from living in them safely.
2) Distorts criminal law; civil asset forfeiture, reliance on coerced testimony and informers, low standards of proof of guilt.
3) Distorts international relations: anyone who is anti-drug is our friend, regardless of the general thuggishness of their policies
4) Destabilizes drug-growing areas: anyone willing to sell drugs can fund a private army, and needs to.

Second on my list would be public educations as currently stuctured; it distorts land-use decisions in favor of sprawl and uniform neighborhoods, it significantly disadvantages stay-at-home parents, and it provides a poor education to those who need and want it.

Third would be the mass of regulations and quasi-regulations; in this category, I would place anti-discrimination law as applied to non-government actors at the top of the list, and strict liability tort second.

Fourth would be the tax system, particularly the corporate tax system. It is incredibly difficult and costly to comply with, and provides very bad incentives in several areas (pensions, financing methods), while raising relatively little revenue. Switching to a system based on GAAP accounting would provide huge savings in compliance and compliance-monitoring, and would reduce the incentives to bad behavior.

I disagree about farm subsidies. I believe that in the broader scheme of things, to include impacts to non-Americans, farm subsidies are extremely harmful by depressing prices and acting as de facto barriers to trade.

A concept so dear to the right and Libertarians in particular. About as useful as Mr. Blackwell's list of the ten worst dressed celebrities.

Don't confound the two-party system's benefits and the duopoloy's negatives. Tour the multi-party states, and examine the business risk associated with the policy upheavals that result. Two parties--electoral college and majority elections--is a good thing. The duopoloy, however, is all bad. Both direct--taxpayer-funded primaries, no signature requirements for nominess of "major" parties--and indirect (incumbent protection)--gerrymandering and most campaign finance laws--policies are direct assaults on popular sovereignty.

Interesting that the title of the article limits the discussion to "programs" while much of the discussion has strayed. I'll try to do better.

1) Gov't education (primary & secondary). Violates freedom of association & freedom of religion.

2) Gov't "charity". Held unconstitutional for 150 years. Robbery by majority vote. Indolence by statute.

3) Incumbent protection. "Who rights the election code" is such a tough problem that the founders didn't directly address it.

4) Federal "safety". While I might be convinced that OSHA or the FDA are on net beneficial, the concept of the federal government as a guarantor of safety at the individual level is dangerous. Strong property law would cover most of this.

5) DARE. I support the concept of impared consent which is behind the outlawing of (many) mind-altering drugs. Teaching children to turn on their parents will destroy society.

6) Federal insurance. Arguably covered by 2), but worth a separate notice.

7) Social security. Separate notice for its destruction of privacy and the implementation of a national ID.

8) Peace corps. Turning patriots of good will into security risks for most of a century.

9) IMF & World Bank. Teaching the rest of the world how to rob the middle class blind.

10) NASA. I went to 10 just so I could put this one in.

Medicare??? Why? Because it's more efficient than private insurance?

"From 1850 to 1950 the modern system operated without most of the regulations you are talking about. Over that era real per capital gdp growth averaged around 1.4%. Since 1950 when the private secotor has had to suffer all these budens you discuss real percapita gdp growth has been 2.1%."

Spencer, I think you need to think carefully about what's going on in the denominator of your variable of interest (per capita GDP) over the two time periods you're considering. From 1850 through 1950, population growth averaged about 1.9% annually, compared with 1.2% since, according to the data I just googled. You're also looking at a massive change in the fraction of activity that's marketized (and thus counted in gdp) since 1950, concomitant with women entering the labor force.

Spencer,

I agree. I think much of our current growth is from the restrictions we place on what is allowable. One of the main problems with de-regulation is that we change from an enviroment where its well know what is inappropriate behavior and the punishment is essentially pre-ordained. Without regulations, we would end up going to court to decide individual instances of wrongdoing on a case-by-case basis. This is the inevitable result of lack of regulation.

When juries decide on a case-by-case basis, its much more difficult to predict if your entire lifes work will be taken away from you. I like to compare it to football. The regulations are what make that game interesting, otherwise it would just be some big guys wrestling in the mud over an oddly shaped ball. With the regulations, its the most interesting sport ever created.

Back on topic.

1. Drug Regulations - they don't work on a number of levels, and like the Onion has stated - 'Drugs now legal if you have a job.'
2. The income classification system for the IRS. Figuring out your tax rate is really easy. Figuring out how to classify income and losses if far too complex, and results in lots of fraud and tons of wasted productivity.
3. The mis-regulations of pension accounting. Its a national embarassment, and is hurting millions.
4. Our subsidy of the oil and gas industry. It didn't boost growth when oil was cheap and misdirected growth into an energy ineffecient society. The 60 years of a subsidies are going to seem very expensive by 2012. We need a Mahattan project level of commiment to alternative energy. If we can spend 200B a year on Iraq, we can spend 1/4 of that on AI. Making gas cheaper in the 60s and 70s is going to make the changes of the 2010s so much more difficult.
5. Our committment to bad public housing. Disenfranchised 2 generations of poor, killed inner cities. Its probably shaved .25 off of GDP for the last 25 years. No, I don't have a solution.
6. Our international tax laws. Encouraged corporations to move production overseas, encouraged them to keep profits in tax havens. A massive export of capital out of the USA
7. Whats legal for lobbyists in Washington, and that we allow former members of governement to be lobbyists.

One more vote for the war on drugs.

The Federal Reserve and activist monetary policy, without a doubt. All other program mentioned above are limited in scope compared with the Fed. fed actions influence credit creation, risk perceptions and spreads, and thereby interfere and distort the capital allocation process itself. While there is a need to take care of overall systemic stability and avoid bank runs. But that can be achieved by a combination of deposit insurance and discount window lending. The case for open market operations and setting fed funds rate (setting a price that should be determined ideally by markets), from a free market perspective, is not there at all.

To compund the problem, the Fed is not directly responsible to the elctorate. Its workings are beyond the understanding of most common people (I would say most monetarists as well). And worst of all, we had to deal with an almost deified leader for nearly two decades.

1. Social Security. I know its not original, but it is the biggest and worst. Cut the green and red wires before the damn thing goes off and kills us all.

2. Medicare/Medicaid. Welfare programs for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, that make medical care unaffordable for the rest of us.

3. Federal involvement in education. Barry Goldwater warned us. The federal government has been mucking around in the educational system for 40 years and produced nothing while making the system more bureaucratic and less educational.

4. Public sector unions. Evil in so many ways. Federal involvement in private sector unions has brought unionism close to complete irrelevance, but that may not be a problem.

5. Agricultural subsidies. The family farmer is dead and gone but the malady lingers on. It may be small beer, but its baleful effects on the poorest of the poor in the third world and its continual justification for rent seeking (of which ethanol subsidies are only the latest example), make this program a top 5 baddie.

Since it seems like this list has brought out mostly the more liberterian Marginal Revolution readers, I wanted to do three things:

1) Register my disagreement with the vast majority of complaints. Many, if not most (I'm not going back through to do a tally) of those programs may be poorly run at present, but nevertheless have benefits greater than their costs and fail to violate anyone's rights.
2) Note my pleasant surprise that no one said the EITC, TANF, or Food Stamps.
3) Robert, when you say "Public Sector Unions" are a terrible government program, what you mean is that the governmental decision to not ban their employees from associating with each other, discussing, and working to change their terms of employment is a terrible policy, right?

The Drug War is #1 by an indisputable margin, IMHO.

Glad to see others have raised this:

#1: The first-past-the-post election system. (Exacerbated by the availability of gerrymandering and by big national parties' ability to strategically allocate funds.) Our founders did a great job designing a government -- for 1776. Today, we know a hell of a lot more about both the mathematics and the sociology of voting, and we have the examples of lots of parliamentary systems working far better than ours to promote nuanced policy debate in the legislature and, by extension, the populace.

Well, Tyler has already said he does not think social security is all that bad,
but some others here have chimed in on how it is. Of course, if one simply does
not like big government programs, it is big, although I only see Dan K here popping
in with the DOD, which is just as big, while these Human Events people seem to see
nothing at all to complain about it.

Anyway, I want to point out two things that are simply idiotic in the original
argument by the HE folks. Their biggest complaint is that somehow this replaces
families. Well, there are a lot of people out there who have no family, some of
whom have one that then disappears through divorce, death, and whatnot in an
unforeseen way. Callous, baby, although I gather these are Christian right types
at HE who really get all excited about anything labeled "family values," no
matter how fatuous or irrelevant it is.

Also, the forecasts of doom for social security are just total baloney, and
anyone reading this blog who does not know better should. As long as the
economy continues to grow at least at a 2.2% rate per year, below both its
current rate and its longer term average, and immigration continues at not
less than half its current rate, the social security trust fund will run a
surplus forever. Although it is widely believed that there is one, there is
no "social security crisis," and probably never will be one. Nothing needs
to be done, unless one is just all bent out of shape over this big program.

Besides DOD, I would agree with the person above who listed farm subsidies,
which along with the ones in Europe are killing any further movement towards
freer international trade. That Bush has just appointed his supposedly
effective trade negotiator (Portman) as OMB Chief is seen as a sign that he
sees no serious progress possible in that arena. I suspect he is right given
the general intransigence by both the US and the EU on ag subsidies. Bah.

Let me see if I understand your theory.

the public decides business is doing something bad and
pressures government to write regulations preventing it.

In reaction, the business interest spend large sums to bribe government and
politicians to look the other way and allow business to ignore the regulations.

But if we eliminated the regulations, business would voluntarily
quit doing the very thing they are now spending large sums to bribe the government to allow them to do and they were doing before the regulation was written.

If you believe this I have some shares in a bridge over the east
river I would like to talk to you about.

Don't underestimate the negative consequences of farm subsidies - they hurt the U.S. just a little directly, but they hurt the rest of the world a lot, which in turn has more negative consequences for the U.S.

Pigouvian? Not in Dictionary.com
On subject: (so called)War on Drugs

Pretty good list. I'd add overreaching and poor evaluation of patents and copyright, from the DMCA to one click.

I'd also say the dealings between publicly funded research and pharmaceutical companies - far to generous to the latter.

1) Ignoring Article I Section 8's enumerated powers

Please note, my 1) kills off Social Security (their 1), Medicare (their 2), Contraceptive Funding (their 5a), Farm Subsidies (their 5b), Medicaid (their 7), most Earmarking (their 9a) (there just isn't a whole lot of interesting earmarking to do under the enumerated powers :) ). The Davis Bacon Act (their 9b) is a lot less interesting under enumberated powers.

Please note, my 1 also kills off most of the war on drugs.

Please note my 1 kills off all federal involvment in education

2) The 16th ammendment (aka, allowing income tax)

Please note my 2) kills off Income Tax Withholding (their 3).

In addition my 1 and 2 together fix *most* of what's broken in health care, as they get both the government and employers out of it. There is little incentive for employer sponsored health care in the absence of the tax advantage. In otherwords, they make the patient the customer again.

3) The 17th ammendment (aka, direct election of senators)
This left the states (a coequal participant in our union) with absolutely NO representation in the federal government.

4) Decent respect for the rest of the bill of rights, particularly the first ammendment (speech), fourth and fifth ammendments (privacy rights), and ninth and tenth ammendments (aka, limits to government).

This would take care of McCain-Feingold (their 4)

Funny, these four fix all but Affirmative Action and Davis-Bacon, which are much less interesting under enumerated powers as there are so few federal contracts to apply it to. It also fixes most of the federal issues folks have complained about here.

So for 5 and on, lets move down to the states.

5) Public provision of education
I'm all for public finance of education, but public provision of it has been an unmitigated disaster. Get goverment out of the school business all together.

Gee... I'm tapped out. 5 changes would fix quite a lot... funny what actually following the constitution will do for you, isn't it...

I don't agree with all of Human Events' selections, but they at least had the good sense to leave off public education. We educate the middle class and above better, in total, than at any point in history--and we educate them very well. We don't educate the poor well, but the poor we have today wouldn't be better educated under any other system. The problem with public schooling of the poor isn't the system, or its standards, but reality.

You could create a top ten list out of nothing more than government programs that are required to regulate or even understand information technology from ICANN to DMCA and beyond.

Spencer said:

"Interesting idea, but if you look at the historic record it does not agree with your conclusions. The modern corporation and modern capitalism in the US came into being around 1840-185, or so. From 1850 to 1950 the modern system operated without most of the regulations you are talking about. Over that era real per capital gdp growth averaged around 1.4%. Since 1950 when the private secotor has had to suffer all these budens you discuss real percapita gdp growth has been 2.1%. So the historic record shows that with these budens the private capitalist economy has experienced about 50% higher growth then without them."

Oh Spencer, you didnt just do what I think you did? You are not going to take into account the two world wars and the great depression when you compare the two time series? Take those three rather sizeable negative effects out of the 1850-1950 equation and growth all of the sudden looks much better. If you think that all of this regulation is ultimately good for growth then what the hell is going on with big European markets right now? Your time series analysis proves absolutely zero causation.

Quadrapole, I disagree with you that all of the things you list in 1) would be in violation of properly narrowed enumerated powers, some would and some wouldn't. Further, I dispute that the existence of income taxes are a bad thing. But I want to leave those disagreements and ask what you think would happen if the 17th were repealed?

My guess is that every single person running for a state legislature would have to either promise to only vote to appoint people to the Senate who had already been chosen by a mock Election of the state's citizen or lose that person would lose their election for the state legislature. This was already happening in a good number of states before the 17th, and now that we're used to electing Senators of our choice that trend would already be exacerbated.

Alan K. Henderson,

Social security is social insurance, not an "investment." Do you expect buying life insurance to beat buying Vanguard index funds on expected monetary rate of return? Actually social security is run very efficiently, given what it is doing. Of course, if you think that it should not be doing what it is doing, that is another matter.

Peter Clay,

Thanks for bringing up the WOT, which is just an extension of the DOD and the mil-ind complex that neither the HE people nor almost anybody else here seems to be bothered by at all, despite its being as big as social security.

Talk about rate of return. Anybody out there keeping track of the $3,000 coffee pots the DOD has been recorded as buying?

In Harrisonburg, VA 12 agencies of the government arrested four Kurdish men four transferring money without a license back to Kurdistan. They did this under the Patriot Act. However, the Kurds are about as anti-Saddam and anti-Osama bin Laden as anybody around, and these four men were doing nothing at all in relation to terrorism. What was this all about? It looks like an enormous national security apparatus with not enough to do trying to prove its worth by arresting somebody, anybody, preferably a Muslim or two, to prove they should continue to get $40 billion per year, or whatever the 16+ intel agencies we have cost, with another billion for the new superstructure created for Negroponte to organize the whole mess. More bah.

Barkley,

I can buy an annuity from an insurance company with a guaranteed positive rate of return that beats social security. Social security is pure income redistribution from the demographically poor young to the demographically rich old, pure and simple.

Dan, on education...

If you think government education is the only thing separating us from mass illiteracy...

The government doesn't run our supermarkets, yet somehow we have high quality, low prices, and amazing variety.

"What would happen to poor blacks if the government didn't educate them?"

My answer: Look what's happening to poor blacks now. They need a different system more desperately than middle/upper class whites do. Blacks seem to agree with me too, given their support for school choice, vouchers, etc.

Americans were not illiterate before government education.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/suprynowicz/suprynowicz40.html

You also might want to check out what's happening with private/public schools in Africa. When they are able to, many parents are choosing private schools. Can't remember if I saw it on marginal, cafehayek, BBC, Der Spiegel, or elsewhere.

quadropole,

BTW, you are perfectly correct that social security is income
redistribution. That is why the whole annuity analysis is irrelevant.
Of course we think this way because it was sold that way, originally
by Bismarck in Germany in the 1880s, with the US plan simply imitating
that one. Welfare for the old was sold as some kind of annuity plan.
Baloney from the beginning.

Now, that does not mean it is necessarily a bad thing, and I do not.
Of course, one can oppose all income redistribution schemes by government,
and if so then it is logical to oppose soc sec as the biggest of them all,
presumably the basis of HE putting it at the top of their list, although
DOD is just as big and is not on their list at all. I realize that it
produces something: war in Iraq, lots of incompetent intel agencies falling
all over each other, national security, and so forth. Frankly it bothers
me more than social security.

Of course, one could cut back the scale of social security, but still
keep it around, but I guess HE just wants it gone.

BTW, did it really slow down the growth of the US economy? Feldstein
claims it lowered our savings rate? Did it? The really big declines
in the US savings rate came after the Reagan and then W. Bush tax cuts.
Maybe we should undo those (hack,cough)...

it is encouraging to read such an enlightened debate. i strongly agree with the suggestions to do away with anti-narcotics policies and the vast over-financing of the military (incontrovertibly dead-end spending).
i thought i would be naughty and point out the following delicate irony: many of those calling for education reform did so in language peppered with misspellings ("truely", "coherant"). these errors speak louder than any argument in favour of reforming the educational system!

Joe,

You suggest Africa as a model of how private education can work. I agree - it's an accurate model, with an overall literacy rate of less than 60%. http://www.silinternational.net/literacy/LitFacts.htm

You claim that Americans were literate before publicly funded education, but the page you cite to shows that, in the South, only 80% of WHITE people were literate (totally ignoring the huge non-white chunk of the population). And we're talking about bare literacy here: these people could not write their own names.

It's interesting that you brought race into the discussion, talking about "poor blacks." Why is education about race to you? Indeed, I find that EVERYONE who talks about "education reform" really has 2 underlying concerns: 1) they don't want their kids to have to go to school with other races; 2) they wish that public schools would indoctrinate kids with their chosen religion.
You have proved this thesis correct: obviously your main concern is with the racial makeup of schools. If that is not your concern, then what is it?? Our system produces the greatest scientists, engineers, mathemeticians, writers and artists in the entire world. In the past 15 years, public school-educated Gen-X Americans like myself created the technology which enabled the greatest increases in industrial productivity since the industrial revolution. Our system allows children to chose whatever path they want without segregating them into pre-destined occupational paths like the system in most of Europe.

Of course, there is room for improvement -- but not by re-segregating by race, class, and religion, which is what all of public education's detractors seem to want... and certainly not by promoting home-schooling (the ultimate in segregation, which obviously will produce socially inept one-sided thinkers).

Dan

You said:
"I find that EVERYONE who talks about "education reform" really has 2 underlying concerns: 1) they don't want their kids to have to go to school with other races; 2) they wish that public schools would indoctrinate kids with their chosen religion."

Wow, everyone I talk to about education reform who actually has kids in the system wants their kids to learn something (which seldom happens in the current system). I actually know folks who actively seek racially diverse private schools for their kids because they VALUE their kids being exposed to children of other races, but they also value them LEARNING something.

Since I don't have kids, but am in high tech, my interest is that I'd actually like to be able to hire people. Our education system prepares people for analytic fields (hard science, mathematics, engineering, cs, etc) horribly. It's just STUNNING the degree to which kids learn NOTHING pre-college in those areas. I also am tired of watching friends of mine who are college age getting killed as they try to pursue their ambition because their pre-college math prep was inadequate for what they'd like to pursue.

Have you ever hung around home schoolers? I have. There are definitely the 'Christ centered' fill in the blank types out there, but there are also a lot of folks who want their kids to be able to learn a foreign language in grade school, learn latin, be doing calc in middle school, etc.

quadropole:

The "one big block, once a year" approach hadn't occurred to me. I had envisaged that each bill with a spending component would go to the taxing legislature, who would then be obliged to fund it, but with complete freedom as to the method. So a Honking Big Farm Subsidy Bill might engender an equally honking big tax on agricultural land to pay for it, which would effectively kill it. A general fund raised through income tax (or sales tax, whatever - we could argue about that, much as we do now) could be authorised to finance uncontroversial legislation - defence spending, State Department budget, that sort of thing, so that Constitutional basics continue to run more or less as they do now, but with inbuilt oversight and control.

Lobbying (at least the corrupt vote-yerself-rich kind that now predominates) would, I think, decline. To swing sweetheart legislation, a lobbyist would have to swing two legislatures with mutually opposing attitudes to spending, rather than just one, more sympathetic, assembly. Campaign finace legislation might no longer be necessary.

The idea is to eliminate the politicians' power to make the usual shifty corrupt bargain with the electorate: "Vote for me - give me power - and I'll use that power to advance your sectional interest, at gunpoint, if necessary, aginst the people who won't vote for me". The determination of the tax-spend equation would be brought out of the control of the political corridor-runners and fixers and further under direct democratic control.

And it's this last point that I think might form the basis of a strategy to turn it all into practical politics. The present arrangement is that politicians determine the tax-spend balance, and inevitably use that power to their own advantage. A dual-chamber arrangement takes that power and puts it in the hands of the people. "Double democracy" can't be a bad campaign slogan.

Do you think the state legislature would send him back if he did?

Yes, they'd have no choice. That is, I think that either a large minority or a majority of voters would single-issue vote on "did that state legislator appoint the person whom a majority of this state's (or that particular state legislator's district) voters most preferred (as they indicated in a non-binding election)." If that is true, and there are good reasons to think it is, then repealing the 17th would have no effect on the output of Congress.

washerdryer,

Riddle me this: what percentage of voters can name their state senators?

Riddle me this: who are you going to campaign with if you are seeking a senate seat (pre-17th ammendment), your state legislators (a few hundred people) or your general populous (millions). Which do you think is most cost effective as a way to get into the senate?

Riddle me this: if I was a state legislature, and I feared the sort of backlash you suggest from my voters, why not hold the senate appointment vote *after* the general election for the state legislature? That give me at LEAST 2 years for voters to forget that I slighted them. I don't think most voters can hold such a technical grudge that long.

I find it much more likely that the party in power would put it's own folks in, beholden to their party, and that would be good enough for most voters. Most voters vote the party line in their state legislatures these days anyway. Do you know anyone who an name, much less point to a single vote of their state legislator? Nope, most folks pull the party lever, and possibly correct one or two votes they differ on.

I think you'd see a big shift in power towards the states if you repealed the 17th ammendment.

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This is going to be my last entry in the "Repealing the 17th won't have the effect you want" sweepstakes, and I wanted to cite to Akhil Amar's latest book in it, but Amazon search-inside isn't enabled. I therefore link you to his posts here here, and here, which make the case far more persuasively than I could.

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