An Excellent Anti-Black Swan Proposal: No Laws can be passed between midnight and 8 a.m.

March 16th, 2012

Brilliant proposal from three lawmakers in New York:

Three lawmakers have a plea for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the leaders of the State Legislature: No more all-nighters.

What they are tired of, they say, is the kind of caffeine- and pizza-fueled marathon seen at the Capitol this week, when the Legislature worked through Wednesday night into Thursday morning to pass a package of measuresdealing with pension reductions, redistricting and casino gambling.

Every vote happened under the cover of darkness – with the exception of the vote to approve pension changes in the Assembly, which finally adjourned at 7:26 a.m. as the rising sun began to flood the high-ceilinged chamber. . . .

So Mr. Tedisco and two fellow Republican assemblymen from the capital region, Steven F. McLaughlin and Tony Jordan, are drafting legislation to end the practice. Their measure would ban the Senate and Assembly from passing legislation between midnight and 8 a.m.; an exception would be made for emergencies.

Now their rationale is they don’t want to pass stuff when they are sleep deprived.

“Sleep deprivation is something they use in warfare to confuse people to get them to do inappropriate things,” said one of the lawmakers, James N. Tedisco, a Republican from Schenectady, who, like many at the Capitol, was still recovering on Friday from the toll of the all-night session.

“When it’s 3 or 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, you want to get home and get to your family and go to sleep,” Mr. Tedisco said. “People lying on couches asleep — that’s not the way to govern.”

This is fine, but really, the damage is done when laws are passed without adequate consideration!

The governor’s response epitomizes what is wrong with the deliberative process:

“Government is about action,” Mr. Cuomo said in a radio interview on Thursday. “It’s not a debating society.”

And this stresses what I see as an inevitable objection–people want government to act, not to act smartly.

I suppose a similar bill would provide that no laws could be passed in last X hours (24, 36?) of a legislative session. This makes sure things aren’t crammed in at the very end when no one is paying attention (or has time to pay attention). That would have prevented PPACA from passing in the dark of night before the winter recess.