Thursday, February 22, 2007

This Would Be Some Real Progress for Congress

I read a great editorial today by a writer named Lynn Woolley, who's evidently a radio talk-show host based somewhere here in Texas. He came up with three great ideas for reforming Congress:

1) Eliminating the income tax code
2) Term limits
3) A lifetime ban on politicians becoming lobbyists

Read the whole thing. I'm totally on board with all of these ideas, and there's not much extra frosting I can spread on this well-made cake. But I will call attention to his reasons for term limits:
The Founding Fathers believed in a citizen legislature in which people served and then returned to the private sector. In fact, the Constitution originally called for U.S. senators to be appointed by state legislatures, placing a tremendous amount of power at the state level.

In a large state like California or Texas, how much direct contact do you have with your U.S. senators? Likely, none at all. But you probably have much easier access to your state senator or representative. So the 17th Amendment gave you the right to vote for your senator directly but in so doing actually diminished your power.

Reasonable term limits could serve to make senators and representatives more responsible. I've suggested 12 years for all elected offices. A U.S. senator would have one term during which re-election would be looming and one term in which it would not matter. It would work a bit differently for representatives, who are elected for two-year terms. Still, they could serve only six terms. The powerful seniority system in Congress would be less important because no one would serve long enough to build a kingdom.

Members of Congress would not spend every waking minute in fundraising or feel the need to buy elections with earmarks – at least, not to the current extent. The power of the incumbency would be reduced, leading to more turnover and fresh ideas in Washington.
Amen, brother. For the same reason that I believe that administrators must teach, I also think that legislators should be regular citizens (which includes being subject to the same health care that we regular Joes can get). I'm all about bursting bubbles and knocking down ivory towers over here.

Now what's the chance that Congress would ever pass this?

Neither rain nor snow nor turn of the century...: A British soldier's postcard arrived at its destination a mere 92 years after it was sent.

City of angels: A new record was set in Bismarck, North Dakota, for the most people to make snow angels in the same place; among the participants was a 99-year-old woman.

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