Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Three simple steps to fix government with frameworks

on 2009 June 7

Most legislation should be done as frameworks rather than specifics. Examples of framework legislation include the ADA, the NEPA, and the various -TEA transportation bills. In those cases, Congress sets forth goals and procedures, not specific allocations. In many cases, compliance is local, and can be court-reviewed.

Nearly everything complex – financial, environmental, health, and so on – can be developed into a framework. The framework has goals (health, climate stabilization, peace, etc) and allows for numerous alternatives to be proposed, a procedure for evaluating alternatives against the goals, and finally (in some cases) further legislative action to choose the alternatives to fund after the executive has done all the detail work.

The requirement to approach lawmaking as frameworks can be codified as law and should itself be open to court review. Several other aspects would need to be worked out to make it solid, such as elimination of riders.


1. Executive power is too strong, and leads to abuses.

2. Government by nature is not creative. The legislative branch by nature lacks visionary coherence. This proposal works around that natural limitation, by preventing the consideration of an idea in isolation. It forces the question of “why” we want to do X, and what other ways are available to do it, and why would be choose one way vs. another way. That is the essence of creativity as it works in the private sector.

3. Making the last step (selection of an alternative) legislative ensures that the power remains distributed democratically.

4. Major public decisions should be determined by the legislative branch, not by “public participation” in the executive. The idea of “public involvement / participation” is anti-democratic in the sense that government should be by the people 100% through representation, not a thing that people can be partly involved with. When we beg only for participation, we’ve given up ownership and democracy is lost.

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