If bridges & everything else will be decided at ballot box, do we need a legislature?
Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun wants voters to a pass a referendum this November that would require future referendums to approve any new bridge to Canada not built by Matty Moroun.
Sure, why not? Moroun’s proposal is a bloody awful idea, yes. But every other dumb thing seems destined for the ballot, why not this one as well? According to the Detroit News, ten groups currently are circulating petitions, hoping place everything from marijuana to casinos to renewable energy before voters this November.
It raises the question as to why we we bother to pay a legislature to sit in Lansing. If the major issues of the day are to be decided directly at the ballot box by software designers, stay-at-home moms, chartered accountants, and Jiffy Lube technicians then what’s the point of keeping Dave Agema and Coleman Young II around? Why do they exist, if not to handle things like building a bridge to Canada supported by by everyone from John Engler and Rick Snyder to Jim Blanchard and Jennifer Granholm, as well as the Big Three, the UAW, Amway, three Canadian political parties, Ohio's Republican-controlled state senate, and pretty much every Chamber of Commerce in the state?
The concept of representative government is pretty simple. Representatives, chosen by the people, would as their vocation make informed policy decisions on behalf of those who elected them. Economists call this a division of labor. The people elect legislators to legislate so the people are free to write code, raise children, crunch numbers, and change oil filters.
Yet, come November we’re poised not only to vote for President, Senator, and an assortment of lesser offices, but also to potentially decide if Michigan should have more casinos and a half-dozen other things that we already pay a legislature to handle for on our behalf.
If we need to elect a better class of legislators—you’ll get no argument from me on that point—then as voters let’s do a better job picking representatives. But expecting complex and important matters of policy to voters while Lansing is spins its wheels is just dumb.
As to the bridge issue itself, self-proclaimed free marketeers want to block approval of the New International Trade Crossing because these supposed adherents to Adam Smith’s economic philosophy believe the government has no business building a bridge to Canada.
Of course, these Adam Smith-ites have either never read Smith, or they are deliberately perverting his fine and noble ideas for the benefit of a monopolist profiteer.
Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expense of carriage, put the remote parts of the country more nearly upon a level with those in the neighbourhood of the town. They are upon that account the greatest of all improvements. They encourage the cultivation of the remote, which must always be the most extensive circle of the country. They are advantageous to the town, by breaking down the monopoly of the country in its neighbourhood. They are advantageous even to that part of the country. Though they introduce some rival commodities into the old market, they open many new markets to its produce. Monopoly, besides, is a great enemy to good management, which can never be universally established but in consequence of that free and universal competition which forces everybody to have recourse to it for the sake of self-defence. - Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations
Constructing and maintaining transportation infrastructure is one of government’s primary functions. At least that’s the crazy thing the founder of free market capitalism thought.