Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rational government

Please read this post in conjunction with my basic position paper "What is this blog all about?".

We will never have rational government in Washington unless we put in limits to terms of office.  During the hard work of creating a new government, the founding fathers considered limits to terms of office.  However, this issue did not get included in the final version of the documents.  The founding fathers made a huge mistake in not incorporating limits to terms of office.

We have limits to terms of office for the office of the President.  It is very good that we have this.principle that applies equally and fairly to every president.

For example, consider President Reagan.   Approaching the end of his second term, without a term limit there would have been discussion of a  third term, and serious concern as to whether his health was adequate to continue.  It would have been very embarrassing to get into public arguments related to his health.  With a term limit in place, the issue did not come up.  President Reagan retired gracefully because of the constitutional amendment limiting the President to two terms, not because of any question related to his health or age.

Without term limits, members of the Senate and House of Representatives stay in office for 30, 40, or even 50 years.  The one goal of each member is to stay in office.  All of his or her actions are considered in terms of getting re-elected, not in terms of what is best for the country.

I propose a term limit in Washington of 12 years, with the time divided in any way between the Senate and the House.  In this arrangement, there would be a very clear signal that people are in the Senate and House for a relatively brief period and their focus is principles and what is best for the people of the United States.  It would be a clear signal that people are in Washington for a brief period of service to the country, not for a life-time gravy train.  

With term limits in place, it would be a lot more difficult for special interests to gain control of enough members to have an effect on decisions.  No sooner does a special interest get a senator in its pocket than the senator's twelve years are up and he returns to his home state!

Many more people would have a chance to serve in the House and/or the Senate, a tremendous boost toward true democracy.  Because of the term limit of 12 years, it would not be worthwhile for anyone to spend millions to try to get elected.  People with modest means could get elected, a further big boost for democracy. 

When I mention limits to terms of office, often people say to me "But what about the GOOD politician?"  My answer is let the good politician return home and do more good things at home, rather than staying in office in Washington until he becomes drunk with power and self-importance, turns crooked, and ultimately returns home in disgrace!

I believe that with limits to terms of office in place, many members of House and Senate, free to think and follow their consciences, would have objected to closing factories and sending the jobs to China.  They would not have accepted the fallacious explanations and  justifications for sending manufacturing jobs to China and other overseas locations that don't buy balancing amounts of manufactured goods from us.

Everyone with common sense is very concerned about keeping our manufacturing jobs.  Many states and cities have advertising campaigns aimed at enticing new business firms.  It is ridiculous that while states and cities are operating these programs, the Federal government makes no attempt to stop transfer of millions of jobs to overseas locations.

To illustrate how universal is the understanding (except in the Federal government) that we must create and retain manufacturing employment, we can refer to a fictional story written by a famous novelist.

The setting is England in the 1930s, with the depression crushing everything.  A businessman is travelling.  As he goes through one particular town, he becomes seriously ill.  He is taken to the local hospital.  He receives excellent care.  One of the nurses takes a special interest.  He recovers to normal health.  He resolves to help this town that saved his life.  There is a desperate need for employment.  Through business contacts and wheeling and dealing, he wins shipbuilding contracts for the town.   However he is accused of some illegal actions in the process.  Whether he is innocent or guilty is not clear but he is sentenced to three years in jail.  The nurse stands by him.  When he gets out of jail, she is waiting for him and they live happily ever after!

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