We Need Fewer Legislators

A blog about business and economics.
April 4 2013 12:25 PM

Legislator Reform: Better Fewer, But Better

Daniel Schuman wrote a great piece for us earlier this week about why higher pay for members of congress is a good idea. But while I agree with him about this, the basic issue is much more acute at the level of state legislatures. There you all too often have badly underpaid "part-time" understaffed legislators who end up dangerous dependent on lobbyists for basic information and ideas about what to do. You want legislators who are sufficiently well-funded (both personally and in staff terms) to make it possible and desirable for them to really figure out how to serve their constituents effectively and get reelected.

And in the state context, I think there's a relatively easy way to do this—have fewer legislators! At the national level, we have a bicameral legislature because of the overall workings of the federal system. But the non-Nebraska states have bicameral legislatures for no real reason. If you simply eliminated the lower houses, you'd end up with substantially fewer state legislators. Then you could pay them more and offer them more staff. It'd also be easier for citizens to keep track of who their elected officials actually are (can you name who represents you in your state legislature?) and make the electoral competition for the seats more fearsome.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.