Friday, March 20, 2009

Shouldn’t government downsize?

Shouldn’t government downsize?; Angie Richardson

Did you hear that Congress’s January pay raise increased members’ average salary to about $174,000, up 2.8 percent? Sure, the most recent huge spending bill denies them a raise next January, but after that they’ll just keep getting automatic pay hikes.

In light of that news, a Jan. 31 article, “The Proposal,” by Libertarian Steven A. Castleton, now seems to me to contain a brilliant solution to America’s current economic woes.

“When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen is they reduce their staff and workers. The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well. Wall Street and the media normally congratulate the CEO for making this ‘tough decision’ and his board gives him a big bonus.

“Our government should not be immune from similar risks.

“Therefore: Reduce the House of Representatives from 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50 (one per State). Also reduce remaining staff by 25 percent.

“Accomplish this over the next eight years (two steps/two elections). This would require some redistricting.”

Castleton points out some astonishing yearly monetary gains, concluding, $8,073,383,400 per year estimated total savings. Big business does these types of cuts all the time.”

Too bad it can’t be done. What stands in the way? The employees who would be cut. Unlike you and me, they can block any attempt at downsizing simply by doing less.

How? In 1912 the Senate passed the 17th Amendment, transferring Senator selection from each state’s legislature to popular election by the people of each state. Most profitably, the 17th Amendment made our Senators elected instead of appointed, as the Constitution prescribes, by the States whose interests they were supposed to be protecting. It’s the day the Senate realized how to hack the amendment process and stay incumbent forever.

And, because everyone who stood to benefit from it rushed to pass that Amendment, it is now next to impossible via ordinary politics for Americans to exercise a right stipulated under the First Amendment, “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” and get something like this done – ever.

Cicero probably said it something like, “Laws that reduce the Senate’s power never even come to a vote.” Too true. So it would have to be either an Executive Order/Demand or an amendment to the Constitution by unanimous public demand (though probably not on any poll you’d see on CNN).

Castleton’s piece concludes, “If Congresspersons were required to serve 20, 25 or 30 years (like everyone else) in order to collect retirement benefits there is no telling how much we would save. Now they get full retirement after serving only ONE term.”

And after they die their spouses keep getting that retirement income.

As Jefferson said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

I wonder: If he believes that government really should set an example for the world by walking in the voters’ shoes, is President Obama brave enough to do this right thing?

Angie Richardson, a freelance voice talent and editor, has lived in the Azle area 26 years.

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