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That old axiom about politics & sausage making is offensive to sausage makers.

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Clio the Leo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-06-10 11:20 AM
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That old axiom about politics & sausage making is offensive to sausage makers.
If Only Laws Were Like Sausages
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: December 4, 2010

LANDOVER, Md. In defending their work, members of Congress love to repeat a quotation attributed to Otto von Bismarck: If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.

In other words, the legislative process, though messy and sometimes unappetizing, can produce healthy, wholesome results.

But a visit to a sausage factory here, about 10 miles from the Capitol, suggests that Bismarck and todays politicians are mistaken. In many ways, that quotation is offensive to sausage makers; their process is better controlled and more predictable.

Im so insulted when people say that lawmaking is like sausage making, said Stanley A. Feder, president of Simply Sausage, whose plant here turns out 60,000 pounds of links a year.

With legislation, you can have hundreds of cooks members of Congress, lobbyists, federal agency officials, state officials, Mr. Feder said. In sausage making, you generally have one person, the wurstmeister, who runs the business and makes the decisions.

Sausages are produced according to a recipe. And while plenty of pork goes into many sausages and laws, the ingredients of the edible product are specified in advance, carefully measured out and accurately identified on a label. An inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture visits the plant every day.

At Simply Sausage, the bones and other inedible, indigestible, unsavory parts are dumped in a big garbage pail and discarded. On Capitol Hill, stale old ideas are recycled year after year.

Granted, Simply Sausage is a small, artisanal sausage maker, not an industrial-scale slaughterhouse. But the comparison is still faulty, said Mr. Feder, a political scientist who took up sausage making after retiring from the Central Intelligence Agency.

<snip>

Republican and Democratic leaders have endorsed similar ideas in the past, but often decided, in practice, that achieving their political objectives was more important than observing the niceties of parliamentary procedure.

Alan Rosenthal, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University and a former director of its Eagleton Institute of Politics, said the sausage metaphor was less apt than ever.

In a real sausage plant, Professor Rosenthal said, everybody is on the same team, trying to produce bratwurst or knockwurst. In the legislative sausage factory, at least half the people dont want to make sausage. Or they want to make a different kind. For the last few years, Republicans have said, We wont make sausage unless we control the recipe.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/weekinreview/05pear.html?_r=2

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