“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~ Lord John Dalberg-Acton
I don’t care if you’re a conservative, liberal, or libertarian, it’s impossible to ignore the problems we have in Washington.
We the People need to come together to find common solutions to common problems.
What are the common problems in Washington? Greed and corruption. Both sides are guilty!
When the dominant party changes from time to time, nothing ever really changes in the way our government is run because human nature never changes. Both parties are overrun with a lust for power, and in their desire to acquire and remain in power, they use their constituents as tools. Think taxes.
When was the last time our elected representatives genuinely sought our opinion and fought for what we wanted rather than catering (i.e. caving) to special interest groups? They may allow themselves to believe special-interest lobbyists speak for the American people, but they don’t. They have their own agendas.
How much money changes hands each year in the name of lobbying for a particular cause? Every contribution received by a special interest group leads to graft and corruption. Worse, it betrays the American people because most of it’s done behind closed doors.
That doesn’t mean all lobbying is bad. As it stands today, our representatives in Washington are so far removed from the communities they represent, lobbying is often the only way to get their attention.
That needs to end.
Here is my simple solution to end graft and corruption in Washington while solving a few ancillary problems along the way.
First, we should restore the Senate to its rightful role by abolishing the 17th Amendment. States need to appoint their own representatives to represent the needs of each state. We are the United States of America, meaning each individual state joined a charter to form a democratic republic representing the people of the several and separate, independent states.
What are presidents, kings, queens, and prime ministers called? Heads of state. Our governors should be treated with the same respect, as heads of state over the citizens within their respective states. Senators should work with their governors to represent the needs of their state rather than functioning as another body representing the greater will of the people comprising the United States.
As such, their offices should be near the legislative bodies within their own states, so they are accountable to the pressing needs and will of the individuals within each state.
Second, we should send all our congressional representatives back to their home districts, permanently. With the technology we have (Phone, fax, Internet, webinars, Skype, digital signatures, etc.), there is no reason for the added expense of having offices (and residences) in Washington and in their respective home states, complete with the additional staff to run them.
Everything could be done electronically, and if there is a need to meet physically, as the Constitution mandates, the existing offices in Washington could be used as temporary housing for each member rather than having to pay for additional housing.
For those concerned with global warming, the reduced travel should be an extremely high priority because it would greatly reduce each member’s carbon footprint.
Moving forward, no meetings should be conducted in private. Since we have the technology, every meeting should be available via live feed over the Internet, so the constituents can oversee their elected officials in real time as a reminder that they work for us.
We already have C-Span. It’s time to take it to the next level. Complete transparency.
Every individual meeting and every joint congressional meeting should be live. No out-of-office meetings. In fact, the entire office, lobbies included, could be wired for video to create a visual record of each visitor.
No more secret lobbyist transactions. No more backroom deals to get a bill passed. Everything would be above board.
Each representative would be far more productive working from a single location, partly due to the time saved by not traveling to and from Washington, but also due to their accountability and forced transparency. They would also be more productive personally and legislatively because they would be close to their family.
Side benefit: The sexual shenanigans would end, as well, because the representatives would be accountable for their time and location in addition to being on live video feeds.
Third, every bill in the House or the Senate should be single-issue legislation, with strict Constitutional limits: To establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.
Unrelated amendments or add-ons should be banned so each bill may be voted on based on its own merits. And, since everything will be done electronically, every piece of legislation should have a mandatory cooling-off period for public review and comment.
Because of the public, transparent nature of the legislative process, and the proximity of the representatives to the constituents they represent, each representative will be (1) more in tune with the needs of their constituents rather than being insulated and influenced by the Washington bubble, and (2) far more accountable to each constituent.
Fourth, we need term limits for every government position. We already have them for the executive branch. We should also have them for the legislative and judicial branches.
No more career politicians or justices.
Fifth, the tax code needs to be abolished as we know it and converted into a simple consumption tax that is administered by the states, who, in turn, would fund the federal government.
No more income tax!
With the power of the purse taken away from the federal government, power would naturally return to the will of the people.
With a consumption tax, if you purchase something (individually or as a corporation), you pay a tax. If you don’t, you don’t pay a tax. Pretty simple. Everyone would pay their fair share. None of your income, savings (aside from purchases), or inheritance would be taxed, which leads to triple taxation for some people.
Side benefit: Illegal gains would be subject to taxation through consumption, whereas they currently avoid income taxation altogether. Plus, tourism would continue to add value by lessening the consumption tax burden on US citizens.
Without the onerous tax code, political leverage over the populace would disappear, and the positive impact on wealth would be a driver of innovation and jobs.
Done properly, property taxes could disappear, as well. Imagine owning your property rather than just leasing it via ongoing taxation.
By taking these five steps, we will be well on our way to restoring our nation to greatness. We can work on the rest of what’s necessary to repair our economy, monetary policy, and deficit spending after we fix the basics.
What say you?