Buy WILLisms

XML Feed

Featured Entries

The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM

Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM

Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM

Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM

Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM

The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM

From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM

Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM



Blogroll Me!



July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004

Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008

Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008

The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006

Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008

Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007

Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006

A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006


Powered by Movable Type 3.17
Site Design by Sekimori

WILLisms.com June 2008 Book of the Month (certified classy):

The WILLisms.com Gift Shop: Support This Site


This Week's Carnival of Revolutions: carnivalbutton.gif

Carnival Home Base: homebase.gif


« Charlie Rangel, Theologian. | WILLisms.com | Comparing Social Security Reform Proposals. »

More On Bhutan's Democratic Reforms.


In March, Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuk announced democratic reforms for his tiny country, which is nestled between China and India.


While some commentators in the region are skeptical about democracy flourishing in such an isolated country, others believe Bhutan displays very real promise.


King Wangchuk, age 49, seems intent on striking a balance between Bhutan's traditional way of life and the fast pace of modern progress, noting:

"The sovereignty, stability and well-being of the country must be placed above everything else. The country is more important than the king."

We're skeptical, given the government's tight grip on cultural matters. But we're not cynical, given Bhutan's subtle advances toward freedom over the past decade.

For now, we'll trust Wangchuk, somewhat.

But, as Ronald Reagan would say, we'll verify.

Freedom House reports that, in recent years, Bhutan has taken strides to improve its political rights and civil liberties, but repression remains high, earning the country a stamp of "NOT FREE":


The move is in the right direct, however, which gives Wangchuk some semblance of credibility.

The BBC notes that exiled Bhutanese groups are even more skeptical of the still-ethereal reform proposals:

The National Front For Democracy coalition said the royal government was trying to impress foreign donors, but was planning only "limited democracy"....

The NFD, a coalition of three exiled Bhutanese political groups, told the BBC there could be no democracy in Bhutan until the refugees returned home.

Meanwhile, recent news out of the Mountain Kingdom involves the implementation of a total ban on tobacco sales in Bhutan:

Along with outlawing plastic bags and secondhand cars, Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom nestled in the clouds between China and India, has become the first country in the world to completely ban tobacco sales. Bhutan’s National Assembly imposed the crackdown last July, and the law went into effect last December....

The problem Bhutan faces is how to enforce the no-smoking policy. There will be a hefty $225 fine for smoking in public or buying or selling tobacco. Bhutanese can bring their own tobacco into the country for use at home, but must pay a 100 percent tax on it.


One wonders whether the ban on tobacco will withstand the test of democracy. Moreover, questions linger as to whether or not democracy itself will be approved by the people.

You can read the entire 54-page document here:

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan (draft, in .pdf format).

Take a look at Article 7, in particular (click for larger versions):





Bhutan's proposed constitution is ambitious, bordering on too ambitious. The beauty of the American Constitution is its relative simplicity, which has helped it stand the test of time.

Bhutan's is certainly more manageable than the voluminous phone book known as the European Union constitution, but it still might face some minor problems due to its broad nature.

For example, preventing "unlawful attacks on honour and reputation" might conflict with the protection of freedom of speech. There are several areas where clear contradictions emerge, but ultimately it seems on the right track.

Secondly, the draft includes far more than the enumeration of rights; it mentions environmental issues like biodiversity and pollution; it promises public financing of political campaigns; and it even declares, "The State shall provide free access to basic public health services in both modern and traditional medicines."

In short, Bhutan's draft constitution is perhaps slightly too expansive, and it could be trimmed here and there, but reading through it often seems like an American civics lesson. It seems, at least, that the document is a genuine and good-faith effort on the part of Wangchuk to smoothly introduce democracy to his country.

Overall, the flaws in the constitution are minimal; if Wangchuk can convince his people to accept it (an irony in and of itself), Bhutan is on its way to becoming truly free and democratic. Another truly ambitious and respectable aspect of the reform is that the draft is "now being sent to all 530,000 adult citizens for their views."

The Indian Express comments:

...King Wangchuk has passed the preliminary test as an aspiring constitutional monarch. The big one, though, lies in ensuring that Bhutan’s democracy is not window dressing for palace rule but a genuine exercise designed to give people a stake in the political processes of their country — from free and fair elections to lively legislative debate and an animated opposition. The king should know that he starts with a credibility gap. This, after all, is democracy introduced from above, in a top-down fashion. But if he brings it off, he will certainly grow in stature in the eyes of the world.

As an aside:

We had planned a better post title but Bloggledygook already claimed use of "Everybody Wangchuk Tonight." Oh well. How could anyone not use that title? It's also far more acceptable than the other obvious pun-based alternative:

"How Much Wang Could A Wangchuk Chuk If A Wangchuk Could Chuk Wang."

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 April 2005 05:08 PM


Damn. What a great post. Very nice job. And although I may have gotten to the most obvious pun first, your riff is hysterical.

There is one more, however...

Posted by: Daniel Berczik at April 11, 2005 06:43 PM