When we last tuned in, I was ranting about how our friends in Washington are tightening his belt, “friends” who view our economic catastrophe as an academic exercise and who have no skin in the game, other than to get re-elected and stay on the ol’ government gravy train.
Our system of elected representatives, three branches of government, and checks and balances was brilliant when conceived two hundred and thirty-five years ago. And, it has generally worked well until the past couple of decades.
The traditional American system of representation is now broke, really broke! Our elected representatives are no longer capable of executing the will of the people. As we head toward a fifteen trillion, strike that, make it $15,000,000,000,0** (sorry, the “0” key on my keyboard just wore out) deficit, there are certain steps that fall into the “no-brainer” category to get fiscally on track:
Subsidies of all kinds must be eliminated. Let the free market decide: is ethanol a smart use of our corn crop; should we need incentives to purchase hybrid cars; and, is video taping San Antonio school kids eating lunch critical to our nation’s health? Particularly galling are the multi billion $$$ Oil and Gas subsidies at a time when the industry is recording record profits.
The military calls the shots on defense spending! When the military says they don’t need something, how in the world can they be over-ruled by a congressman or senator? Vested interests, that’s why. Can you imagine an antique dealer from Easton, Maryland getting elected to Congress (Wow, that’s a scary thought) and instantly being able to tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff what kind of missile system to purchase, from whom and for how much?
The “Untouchables” are going to be Touched. Ok, the elephants in the room are social security, health care and pension benefits of all kinds. Any rational human being knows that these programs require serious adjustment NOW, not in 2024 or some non-threatening future date. I’m not smart enough to come up with a solution, but I’ll bet its some combination of benefit curtailment, need based benefits and realistic retirement age.
Each of you can add several more items to the list that are probably more important than mine – that’s not the point.
The point is that our elected representatives are totally incapable of making rational decisions on how to get us out of this mess. The “Washington mentality” infects everyone we elect. Lobbyists, PAC’s, Unions and other big contributors have hundreds of times more clout than we in the hinterlands. Back Scratching, Pork, Earmarks, and Political Trade-offs are the name of the game. Do you really think that’s going to change in our lifetime – or in our children’s lifetime?
Imagine firing every one of our 535 elected representatives. As the Brits say, we would officially make them redundant; they have been unofficially for years. Think of the potential savings: nearly $200k each in annual salary, untold staff salaries, office allowances, travel and expense allowances, and, all of that wonderful office space that could be converted to hotels – high end naturally.
Can you imagine each of our 150,000,000 registered voters casting her or his ballot directly on the issues that affect our lives? I’ll bet we could make some real progress in winnowing down local, state and federal government and turning the deficit into a surplus. And, I sure trust the mid-western farmers, the southern gentlemen, the conservative New Englanders, the New York liberals and the California activists to decide my future more than I trust our elected representatives. Well, maybe not the California activists.
And, the lobbyists would have a booger of a time wining and dining 150,000,000 of us rather than just 535. What a boon to the restaurant and bar business! I may open a Gentlemen’s Club.
Anyone interested in a real thriller that carries this conversation to a scary extreme should read Vince Flynn’s 1997 novel “Term Limits”.