Of the days of the day

Post of the day, U.S. 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary division: Alex Massie, on the hypothetical universe wherein Sen. Clinton skipped campaigning for the Iowa caucuses. He provides exactly no reason to believe the central speculation of his post, namely that John Edwards might have won Iowa if Sen. Clinton wasn't running there, but the parts after that, where he explains why an Edwards win in Iowa would have redounded to Sen. Clinton's benefit are very interesting, and an argument could certainly be made that Clinton cut more into the Edwards' vote than she did into the Obama vote.

Note of the day, U.S. 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary division: I think everyone knows this, but just in case: if you check out the spreadsheet attached to the Wednesday 5/14 post you'll see that the numbers for Barack Obama's # and % of not yet pledged delegates needed to win a majority of contested delegates have both become negative because he has in fact won a majority of contested delegates. This is somewhat anti-climactic because anyone who wanted to count knew as of, at the latest, the Indiana and North Carolina results on May 6th that Obama would lock in the pledged delegate majority last night. Congratulations to Hillary Clinton on her victory in Kentucky last night and a phenomenally strong campaign in general.

Thought of the day, U.S. governmental structure in general division: Among the many structural reforms the U.S. government, and correspondingly in this case the American people, could benefit from, raising the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives from its present, scandalously low number doesn't get enough attention. The spreadsheet below displays the population of a country, the number of members in the branch of its legislature with the most members, and the population per member. Of the countries listed, only India has a higher ratio than the United States. It also shows what number of Representatives the U.S. would have if we matched the ratio of each of those countries. I'd advocate for somewhere above the Japanese ratio and slightly below the German one, but that's just based on glancing at the numbers.

The comparative point isn't that strong however, as the bare fact that other countries do things a different way doesn't tell you how the U.S., which is different in so many ways, should do things. So, the positive case: More finely grained districts might mean that districts actually cohere with existing communities and aren't just random lines on maps. Personal relationships between an individual and their Rep. become more feasible (how much more depends on how much we change the ratio by). House elections become much, much cheaper to run. Partially because of this cheapness factor, fund-raising becomes less important and therefore Representatives have to pay more attention to their lower socioeconomic status constituents in order to hold office.

The main counterargument to this is that too large an assembly of people just can't accomplish anything, but I don't know of any evidence that we're approaching that number.

I discussed this topic on the blog previously, where I mention that at the outer limit (far, far beyond anything I'd advocate), the Constitution places a cap on the number of Representatives at 1 per 30,000 people, or 10,037 at the current population. The Constitutional framers expected this ratio to be reached in the first congress after a census was taken.

This post would probably be easier to read if it were two or three separate posts. Oh well.