Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Some thoughts on reforms - Version 2

What got me thinking about this was the postings at Capitol Hill Blue. The discussion was based around the phrase, "Follow the money." Which in regards to the GOP corruption scandal involving Jack Abramoff, members of Congress and the Religious Reich, uh, I mean Right, is the easiest path to follow.

Yet it brings to mind some ideas. It was noted on the aforementioned site that Congressmen make $165K a year. That's not bad. Four times the median salary in American, with lots of perqs. I say we change that. First, no more perqs than the average person in America gets. You start out with a week vacation, the median salary in America, health insurance for yourself, and if you need it for the family, you can pay the discount price. No gifts from lobbyists. I think though that there ought to be some freedom for allowing Congressfolk to speak publicly and get paid for it. You know, they get flown somewhere, dined, speak, and get a couple hundred bucks before flying home.

No more voting your own pay raise. If the median, not average, wage in America goes up, so does yours. A cost of living increase, and bonus if poverty is dropped, percentages relative. In other words, drop poverty 5%, get a 5% pay raise.

And then there would need to be a rule for at least House members, and some for the Senate, that a certain mnumber of days not present be allowed. But no call no show rules otherwise, and if you need to get fired, then so be it. You were hired to be a Senator or Representative, and you will do the work or you will be fired and the second highest vote getter, first from the same party, and if none, then the opposing party, gets your seat, until there can be an election so the people can speak.

All laws brought to the floor of either house get posted publicly on the internet a week before a vote can be taken on it. So all the Congress and interested public are looking at the same laws. All lobbyist activities are posted on the net as well.

All campaign financing is public. No corporations can donate. If corporations break the rules, they are closed, the managers tried and convicted, and the assets sold off and given to the displaced workers. Also, any assets obtained by managers at the expense of the company are confiscated and sold. Their family can be provided a stipend from their assets to protect the spouse and children. Politicians face the same. They are tried and convicted, and they lose any assets that corruption has gained them.

Basically, of the people, by the people, and for the people.

I've heard some talk from Capital Hill Blue about a couple ideas I'm not sure of. One is term limits. I'm all for keeping that relative to the President. However, the legislature is another matter. At this point the metaphor I use is that of carpentry. After all, it is not unlike either building or remodeling a house. And what would you rather have working on your house, someone who will never have more than 8 years experience, or someone with more? Remember that to attract those interested in public service we suggested lowering Congressional pay to median levels. Mr. Thompson of CH Blue suggested the median pay of the Representative's home district. That would certainly have a rallying effect to improve many local economies! My fear is it would leave the seat empty.

Another idea I am not yet comfortable with is eliminating the electoral college. I would love to reference my pocket Constitution(yes, I carry one), but I gave it to the British woman working at the bank, who said she neeeded to learn it to become a citizen. For the $1.50 I paid for it, it's a minor investment with potentially large gains. Regardless, Amendment 12 says, "
they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;."

The way I read that is that the Electoral College records the person voted for. It doesn't do it's own voting. They "name," or record, someone all ready voted for. That language is also aplied to all those who got Presidential votes, which further substantiates my point. For the language to stay consistent, the Electoral College is supposed to "vote" for the person the population has voted for. Ans as I recall, it has happened twice in our history that they didn't. Perhaps the last one was a huge corrupt gaffe, but two in 43 Presidents, 10 of which had two terms. That includes Nixon who served part of his second term, and our current President. That's a 4% error rate.

Now were it a device such as I use in the fire service that is designed to save my life, I would not accept 4%. However, America is a grand experiment that is on-going, as we have never achieved all that we can under our Constitution. So I think it is a bit hasty to throw out the electoral college based on a 4% error rate, if we want to call it that, and especially when it comes to human endeavors. Wouldn't it be nice if all our government ran at a 96% success rate?


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