Mark Cohen takes on James Madison

In Federalist #51, James Madison writes of the need to create laws and instititutions to protect citizens against abuses by ambitious men in government:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

But state Rep. Mark Cohen disagrees, writing:

Deficits in character or judgment … are unlikely to be cured by legal changes in the structure of legislative institutions.

Cohen is responding not to Madison – though I’m certain he is familiar with the Federalist Papers, given his $31,000 worth of books taxpayers bough him – but to Sen. Piccola’s call for a special session of the PA General Assembly to deal with integrity in government.

Cohen thinks that no reform is needed – or would have prevented bonusgate.  Hmm… a ban on bonuses wouldn’t have prevented misuse of bonuses?  What about eliminating the leadership-controlled accounts used to fund the bonuses; that wouldn’t have prevented misuse of those funds?  Both reforms could, along with many others, be taken up in a special session.

Of course, eliminating the leadership-contolled accounts might eliminate Rep. Cohen’s book budget, and maybe why he opposes reform.  Rep. Cohen speaking out against legislative reform is like John Gotti denouncing laws against racketering.