Government Out of Control

Sorry for being gone so long. I got busy with some other projects. That’s not a good excuse, but it is what it is. Lately, though, I’ve seen so much abuse by our Federal Government that I cannot remain silent any longer.
The Constitution requires that Congress convene at least once a year. What that means is the authors of the Constitution didn’t expect Congress to have all that much to do. They wanted to make sure the lawmakers got together annually to handle anything that came up.
Additionally, they expected the lawmakers to be volunteers and not make a business out of it. From that point of view, it was expected that their time would be donated and they would serve for a short time, then return to their communities, their businesses, and their families.
I’m not sure who said it – it was credited to Thomas Jefferson by some – but someone wisely said that we would be able to keep our Republic until the politicians realized they could bribe the people with their own money. Seems to me there is a lot of that going on now and there is much evidence that most elected officials are using their positions to enrich themselves.
I think much of this abuse could be curtailed with a few clear modifications of the regulations around our elected officials. All are related to the ability and motivation for our elected officials to accumulate wealth and power. In my humble opinion, this is not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.
Let us resolve today to fix this. Let’s make government service exactly that – SERVICE – not a business. Let’s take away all the noise and stop the abuse in it’s tracks.
All that said, here’s my thoughts about what we need to do to fix this:
1. Implement Term Limits – Our elected officials become like royalty when they are in government for the long term. They have become America’s royalty – Lords and Ladies. Though some would recommend even less time, I recommend that twelve years for both Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court is about right. This gives them enough time to make an impact, but not a legacy.
2. No Congressional Pension – Members of Congress were granted pensions because it was thought to be unseemly for an American legislator to be living in poverty. I have not heard that this ever happened – it was just set up, just in case. Here’s my thought – If they are smart enough to get into Congress, they are smart enough to make a living somewhere.
3. No Congressional Exemptions – Congress cannot make any laws from which its members are exempt. Every law they make applies to them, just like everyone else – while in office and after they leave. No special healthcare and no special arrangements of any kind.
4. No ability to influence personal assets – This applies to all elected or appointed positions in all three branches of Government – Judicial, Executive and Legislative. Upon entering government service, all applicants must release a full accounting of their financial position and then agree to having all their assets placed in a blind trust where they cannot direct their investments based on their inside info. They must live on their government salary.
a. They should have the choice of leaving their investments exactly where they are for the duration of their service or in an index fund tied to the Standard & Poor index (so the better the economy performs, the better off they are). Some might say this is an invasion of privacy. If making your finances public bothers you, don’t get involved in government.
b. Any elected or appointed official who is found to be influencing their own portfolio or accepts (or solicits) gifts of any kind over $50 from any entity attempting to influence them, is suspended from service and all voting rights.
c. I admit this will be hard to implement and police, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If men and women can use their position to enrich themselves, they will do it.
5. Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment – This amendment took the election of Senators away from the State legislatures and gave it to the popular vote. This erodes the power of the States in Congress and forces Senatorial candidates to align with political parties for support and funding – an effective transfer of power from the States to the Republicans and Democrats. The House of Representative is the “People’s House” and the Senate is supposed to be the “States’ House”. While there is still much politics involved, I think generally the state legislatures are more in tune with the needs of their state than the average voter. Let’s put it back like it was.
So those are my ideas. I believe these changes will change who decides to run for office. If we change public service so that it isn’t so lucrative, maybe the greedy will find another home and the jobs will attract folks who are truly in it for love of country.
Let’s have an honest, positive exchange of ideas about this. Everyone complains about the dishonesty of politicians and the overreach of our Government. Let’s get people talking about this and maybe we can help our nation change for the better. Your ideas count. Speak up.
Saint Leo