Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Opposite of Progress Is...

I've been disappointed in the government many, many times over the years, but now I'm thoroughly disgusted at more than a few members of Congress. According to CNS News (via NewsAlert, h/t Instapundit), the House Majority Leader openly admitted that very few in Congress actually read bills before voting on them--even the really big ones like the health care "reform" bill that's winding its way through the process:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the health-care reform bill now pending in Congress would garner very few votes if lawmakers actually had to read the entire bill before voting on it.

“If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,” Hoyer told at his regular weekly news conference.

Hoyer was responding to a question from on whether he supported a pledge that asks members of the Congress to read the entire bill before voting on it and also make the full text of the bill available to the public for 72 hours before a vote.

In fact, Hoyer found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. “I’m laughing because a) I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,” he said.
This is an outrage. In a just world, Hoyer would resign immediately after owning up to this garbage (or his constituents would kick him to the curb in the next election), and the same would apply to anyone else who voted on something without reading it.

And for those who might say that there wasn't time to read everything before it's voted on, my reply would be to make the time. After all, that's your job--not enriching your own pocketbook, or getting reelected, or stroking your own ego. We pay you way too much of our money for you to give anything else than your maximum effort. You are here to serve, and it's high time you start acting like it.

Obviously, I am in complete agreement with the above pledge, which every member of Congress should be required to sign at the beginning of each session, with criminal penalties for lying about it. (Yes, this is hardcore, but I believe in holding those who are paid by public funds to even higher standards than those in the business world.) And I also think that the member-by-member results of every vote should be available online within an hour of its taking place. (And while I'm on a roll: No riders to bills. Each proposal is voted upon strictly upon its own merits; no more stunts like trying to sneak an environmental proposal into a funding bill for troops in Afghanistan.)

If all this sounds unrealistic, because it would cause a lot less to get done during any session of Congress, well....I consider that a feature, not a bug. I don't want Congress to spend all of our money (and then some) every session; I want them to carefully pore over every detail of any piece of legislation they intend to pass. In other words, I want the exact opposite of what's been happening now to occur in the future.

And if these kind of constraints would appear to discourage people from entering a career in government? That's the idea as well. The Founders never meant for anyone to spend an entire career at the public trough. My idea, as previously stated here, would be for anyone desiring to work in government to first learn a useful skill and find employment in the productive class, then lend that expertise to government for a brief time (no more than ten or twelve years) and then return to the productive class afterwards. That way, nobody gets drunk with power, and their time spent in Washington is actually put towards public service instead of self-service.

That's my vision of America. Who's with me? (And hey, Marylanders: Please do us a favor and send Hoyer home next time. No amount of pork brought to your home district is worth the type of damage that he and his ilk are doing to the country.)

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