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Location: Vancouver, WA, United States

There are some things going on in this world that bother me ... that offend me ... that don't make sense, and never will. I dedicate this site to those who seek truth even where it is difficult to find, and who are willing to agree and disagree in principle, while steadfastly refusing to let irrelevant detail overshadow core truth.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time for Congressional Reform

You all know me and you know that I am not a big fan of what are essentially chain letters. Yet I also know that electronic communication is perhaps the most powerful form of communication ever devised ... including the television. I believe that it can be abused, but also that it can serve us well. So I am sending this to you and ask you to read and reflect upon it, whether you agree with any/all of it, or not.

Today there are people camping in some of our major cities, protesting a cultural phenomenon that they believe is driving out country in the wrong direction. They are referring to individual and corporate avarice that is subtly driving this country in a direction that threatens our and our children's future; far away from the founding objectives of liberty and freedom for all. I am sympathetic to their fundamental intent and do NOT see it as a protest against free markets or capitalism, but rather against excessive application of those concepts for the good of the few at the detriment of many.

Each day there anecdotes that speak to this point: drug companies charging up to 5,000 times the cost for life-saving drugs; wall-street creating incredible profits for IPOs, mergers and acquisitions WITHOUT adding real value; our congressional leaders setting themselves above and apart from us, those they are asked to represent while they "play" with our financial future and well being. Bi-partisan politics is non-existent, a joke without a laugh track. Everything is political - and being re-elected is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing to any elected official.

Our founding fathers had a dream and executed it beautifully ... for their time. But, in case you haven't noticed, things have changed in the last 200 years, and we must adapt. If we do not, we stand a chance of setting the record for the fastest rise and fall of any "empire" in history. And I use the word empire intentionally here, because our elected officials seem to assume the emperor persona immediately after the votes have been counted.

I believe that we have taken this whole representative form of government to a level beyond its usefulness and we must rethink it now while we still can. Becoming a member of congress should be like serving in the military, a service that we citizens perform for our country, not a power-grab, nor a means to drive us toward behavior that we don't want or need. Government should provide for the common good (as it says in the constitution), without dictating for us what that good should be. It should be a way we can pool our resources to provide essential elements of the common good - education, roads, essential rules and laws that promote liberty and justice for all ... not just for those who have the financial means and power to pay for them.

As one person (Steve is his name) put it: "Perhaps we need to get back to ordinary (intelligent) people taking a temporary hiatus from their lives to really 'serve' as our representatives. Do you think we'd get more common sense and less politics? "

Please consider the following and, if you believe the message is worth sharing, send this along to as many people as you can think of. I believe we still have a chance to save our system, prolong the goodness that is our country, our home and clear out the cobwebs that have begun to form. But ultimately, we will have to act - create and pass referenda that will become the law of the land, of this great country of ours.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling, "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC.  “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."

It’s highly unlikely that congress will enact some of these on themselves, but we are the people they are supposed to represent and it is time that we establish a baseline for their behavior that we are willing to accept, and to pay for.   History has proven that when we think alike, as a people, we can get things done.

For example:

  • The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!   Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.
  • Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7)  took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

It is said that Warren Buffet supports these thoughts and has asked each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.  In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.

Think about a Congressional Reform Act of 2011 that would include at least the following tenets:

  1. Term Limits: You may be elected as a representative or senator for no more than two terms, each spanning six years (not two, as representatives have today).  Serving in Congress is an honor, and should not be a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
  2. No Tenure / No Pension: A Congressperson or Senator should be paid for his/her work, and therefore collects a salary while in office, but should receive no pay when they have served their term.  
  3. Congress (past, present and future) should participate in Social Security like the rest of us:

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the  American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    Congressional representatives can purchase their own retirement plan, set money aside into 401K’s, etc., just as all Americans do. Perhaps then we will no longer hear an argument for reducing benefits which have been earned and paid for by our own contributions being cut.
  4. Congress will no longer set their own salaries.  Congressional pay will adjust by the lower of CPI or 3%.
  5. Congress drops their current, separate health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
  6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
  7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen, they made them for themselves.


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