Size isn’t the answer

Former state representative Ed Emery has a guest column in today’s Joplin Globe differing with those in the legislature who think shrinking the size of the Missouri House would do anything at all to make government smaller. Emery was promoted to civilian life by voters last November after serving the limited four terms in the House and failing to win a state senate race.

Emery argues that the cry for smaller government isn’t about the number of people who represent us. Instead, he says, the “smaller government” philosophy should focus on less governing, not the numbers of people doing the governing.

He cites this statistic: The state with the largest House of Representatives is New Hampshire, which has 400 representatives and also, says Emery, has the lowest state and local tax burden in the country, the lowest crime level in the nation, and the second-lowest level of dependency on federal spending. Each New Hampshire representative represents about 3,100 people.

Missouri has 163 representatives representing about 37,000 people each. By inference he asks, “Which House is more likely to really be ‘the people’s house’?” His answer–the larger the constituency, the more powerful and arrogant the politician. Shrinking the size of the Missouri House, therefore, is a step in the wrong direction. Instead, he says, the answer is electing the right people, not fewer people.

Emery believes the true role of government is to protect the people FROM government. He doesn’t address in his article where the proper balance is between government and personal liberty. But he suggests shrinking the numbers of people involved in one does not necessarily increase the amount of the other.

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