Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

One Man, One Vote, Two Covers

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

One Man, One Vote, Two Covers

Article excerpt

A GOOD MANY YEARS AGO THERE was a fire in a subway construction site in New York City. The fire was started by a carelessly tossed match, which ignited some waste materials and then spread rapidly, consuming large amounts of construction supplies and equipment. No one was hurt but the project was set back many months.

A good friend of ours used to use this story to make a point: that from a single, small event, effects can ripple forth in a thousand different directions. For example, construction workers had to be brought in from other projects to help clean up the mess, which delayed those other projects. Extra lumber was needed which caused mill workers to get overtime pay, which meant their families had extra cash, but also meant that some vacations had to be postponed, which caused unexpected cancellations at a fishing camp causing guides to be laid off. The increased mill business also meant more supplies were needed, using up more order forms.... You get the idea.

All that from a single match.

So here we have James Jeffords, elected as a Republican senator from the state of Vermont, deciding to renounce his party four months into the new Congress to become an "independent" -- an act of moral courage or betrayal, depending on your view. From that one act, representing a shift of one vote out of 101, thousands of ramifications have begun to unfold. In the greater scheme of things, it may not prove to be all that significant, yet the ripples have irrevocably begun spreading.

One of them reached our shores.

Two weeks before Sen. Jeffords made his announcement we interviewed the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Phil Gramm. …

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