Liberté, Égalité, Vaseline  

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One of the things I've been doing with my life lately is moving to a more “mobile lifestyle” (or “nomadic”, as a friend has described it), which includes digitizing my paper archives and moving everything online. Obviously, this involves some sort of encryption before moving stuff to the cloud, but for now, let's have a look at my old passports, which somehow makes me talk about representative democracy and its inherent corruption.

LVvisaI must’ve been in Brussels or Switzerland (or Amsterdam) when I sorted out the visas for the Baltic countries. Back then, Canada didn’t have reciprocity with most of the Baltic countries (even with Czech Republic, as I recall), so to get a free visa I had to use my Romanian passport. I still remember the ladies at the Latvian consulate asking for money for my Visa almost with hostility, and upon learning that I have dual citizenship (i.e., also a Romanian passport), relaxing in laughter and telling me I’ll get my Visa for free, or faster, or I can’t remember.

Relaxing with laughter is something I’ve done often with my Latvian friend. One thing we’d often talk about is how small her country is and how big is mine – hers supposedly had a parliament with only 10 people, who were very lonely and friendly to each other. Anyway, this imbalance is better among friends. Our friendship is a bit unusual; when, like any good friend does, I insisted that she goes out with some other guy, she came back telling me, almost reprehensively: “we went to Hanlan Point and I’ve seen his penis.”

Wikipedia (wiki-legislist) tells a different story nonetheless. Latvia has a unicameral parliament with 100 seats, 20703 people / seat and US$349 million GDP/seat. In contrast, Romania has 326 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (lower), with 58416 people / seat and US$819 million GDP / seat + the Senate (upper), with 137 seats, 139000 people / seat and US$1950 million GDP / seat. For a clearer picture of the situation in other countries, see a resume done by the Economist, ec-parliament (for a more academic discussion on Romania, see Ionut Apahideanu’s paper, acad-db8).

The comparison is quite apt, as most forecasts see Romania approaching the current Latvian population in a few decades. This may change, but the Latvian example is pretty much Romania’s future. To compare apples to apples, I will (re)calculate the above Romanian numbers for the legislator totals, since both chambers do the same thing in Romania. We’ve had this painful “debate” on this blog in 2009 – unicameral & prisonmeral. Latvia is similar to Romania in other economic indicators – see sources for details.

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Here in Canada, the unelected Senate is a constant source of scandals. Recently, the current leader of the opposition attempted to get rid of some, but without much success (inbo-trudeau).

The number of Romanian legislators seems to be expanding even while the population is decreasing. The arguments I made in the past still stand, but here is the crux of the matter.

  1. As explained in the Atlantic (inbo-case4corruption), corruption is a necessary and unavoidable part of representative democracy. Representatives need money to be elected and the more money they raise, the better their chances of (re)election.
  2. Money tends to be held by people who have “special interests” and as such are likely to want to spend it for their own good, which may come into conflict with election rules, ethics, or the general (“public”) interest.
  3. Representative democracy creates a very strong incentive to corrupt legislators (or the president), as it is always cheaper to “convince” one person to do something benefitting the few rather than the many, than it is to convince all the people who are supposedly being represented.
  4. There are 3 solutions to this plutocratic state of affairs: a) Libertarianism / anarchy, b) fixing an election budget given by the state and policing spending, c) direct democracy (cut the middleman). Nobody understands a), people are against b) because they think politicians will steal anyway, and Romania, with some of the proportionally greater, poorest and most isolated rural population in EU is not prepared for c).
  5. At the very least, we need to control the ever-expanding number of “representatives” by abrogating the Romanian Senate and reducing the number of deputies in the lower chamber.

My point is, the problems are clear and obvious and solutions exist – what we’re lacking is a clear mind and the will to implement any.

liberte-egalite-vaseline-gifI will leave you with the photo that inspired the title of this article (which is pretty much what Mencken was saying).

Sources / More info: wiki-legislist, wiki-prop, ec-parliament, acad-db8,, inbo-lv-arch, inbo-lv-beach, zamo-lv-funding, zamo-lv-subsidies, zamo-lv-air, inbo-case4corruption, inbo-crony-capitalism, inbo-trudeau

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Thursday, September 04, 2014 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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