So as long as I’m on this kick of inexpertly applying economic theory to Washington, let’s try this one on for size: Does Moore’s Law apply to congressional scandals?
This, as you may recall, was the 1965 observation of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors you could fit on a chip doubles every 18 months. In other words, that every 18 months, you would be able to double the amount of computing power you could fit in the same amount of space, which explains why high-tech gizmos get smaller and smaller.
Here’s why you might argue it applies to Washington: After the Democrats took over the House in the 1950s, it took about four decades for them to become so corrupt that–after a series of scandals that included hot checks at the House Bank, Jim Wright’s resignation, Dan Rostenkowski’s conviction–the public decided to just throw them out.
While not yet as severe, the Democrats’ ethics controversies resemble those of the Republicans when they held the majority in 2006. Connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff led to resignations and even prison; House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) resigned his post amid investigations of his staff, and Rep. Mark Foley (Fla.) resigned after sending sexually suggestive Internet messages to congressional pages. Exit polls showed that those ethics controversies played a role in the GOP losing control of Congress.
“Ethics really matter to voters; they matter almost more than any other issue,” said Melanie Sloane, head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan group. “And you would think that both parties would know that, because Democrats lost in 1994 and Republicans lost in 2006 because of it.”
Too bad Washington has not demonstrated that it knows how to apply yet another principle of economics–the learning curve?