Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who Represents My Interests?

It used to be that we elected wise and honest men to represent us in government.  Things have changed, and we now see that many elected officials are not wise, not honest, and they certainly don’t represent us --- more often they seem to represent themselves and their re-election needs. 
So what can we do?
I see three alternatives which are technically viable.  (1) Set term limits at all levels of government.  Term limits would minimize actions being done by “our representatives” solely to be re-elected.  No one will be.   (Now granted, this alternative would initially cause some huge confusion for many people in government; they don’t know how else to decide on an issue, except on a political basis.)  Of course, there are those who like our present system.  They would say that governmental actions presently taken with an eye to being re-elected are merely actions that the people want: a poll is taken and that’s how representatives SHOULD vote on new laws.  Perhaps, but that leads to my Alternative (2).
Alternative (2): If Congress or state reps are voting based on polls, cut out the middleman.  Like on the “Dancing with the Stars” television show, have the entire country take internet votes on any new laws.   So, you want only one bullet in a gun, like Deputy Barney Fife, the online voting of Yes or No closes on Wednesday, and the law takes effect on Thursday.  You want “marriage” of significant others: with another guy, gal, dog, or pet rock, the online voting Yes or No closes on Thursday.  You want every citizen to get a check each month for $100,000 from the government, the online voting Yes or No closes Friday --- voting to include non-citizens also, closes Saturday. 
One major benefit of Alternative 2 is that we wouldn’t need elected officials anymore (or pollsters for that matter), and so we’d at least save that money, along with the barrage of election campaign lies we have to face every two years.
And my final alternative to the present governmental situation is to just focus on the major problem:  they spend too much.  Alternative (3) is a constitutional amendment that no law or no contract in the United States can have a commitment length of more than 5 years --- automatic Sunset Laws.  The major debt problems in all governmental areas are unfunded future liabilities.  This Alternative would eliminate the possibility of future liabilities.  A union wishes to negotiate a contract with the government for new pension benefits, say every retiree will get $500,000/year, that is all fine and good --- but the obligation to fund such a benefit is only for the next 5 years; you can’t guarantee that benefit 30 years into the future; it’s illegal.  So when the next union contract negotiation comes up, in 5 years, that pension funding rate is on the table again.  If it was voted for in good times and the money available to fund a big pension, fine, but in bad times it may not be available so the pension contributions will have to be scaled back, for a new 5 year commitment.  This prevents government leaders from voting to “not make waves” on contract negotiations (or citizen’s welfare benefits) but just agree with the unions, since “the costs will be borne by some future government and people”.  No, a government official (even by presidential decree) cannot obligate future government people or citizens. 
But this Alternative (3) would apply to private contracts also.  You wish to buy a house with a 30 year mortgage, to keep your payments on the loan down?  No, you can only contract for a 5 year mortgage; if you wish to keep the payments low, you can negotiate lower payments with a large balloon note due at the end of 5 years --- at which time you can re-borrow and negotiate payments for another 5 years.  In good times, you can negotiate high payments, and in bad times, lower ones.  And banks would have to look at you and your creditworthiness every 5 years: get a promotion? “We’ll loan you more.”  Lose your job?  “Hmm, not so much.” 
Oh yes, this alternative will create more work, with constantly renewing or re-evaluating financial agreements, but it will also have the major added benefit of renewing something that hasn’t been renewed in a long time in this country:  Trust.  In government, in business, and in our homes, our culture seems to have evolved to the point where the only person we trust is ourselves.  Under Alternative 3 that would change – by law.  We’d have to learn to trust our neighbor again.  And who knows, maybe we’d even learn to trust God again.  You never know.
But one thing you would know under Alternative 3: financially, your trust is limited, to 5 years.  Maybe that’s a re-start we need, to start trusting and caring about one another again. 
Or we could do Alternatives (1) or (2) and throw the bums out, or try to run everything through the internet --- or at least until someone hacks into the voting system.  An advantage of these alternatives is that perhaps they might get and keep us interested in what’s happening in our government, and considering our short attention spans, perhaps that would be a good re-start point also.     
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Of course, all of the above alternatives are my tongue-in-cheek wisdom to the problems of this country.  But while each alternative can be laughed at, the results each produces does have some merit.  And maybe re-thinking about results (where we want to get to) might get us to re-think about how we want to get there.  I’ve written many a time here about how the ends and means must both be good, for an action to be considered good.  Too often we look at what we think are good outcomes and will do anything to get there --- which is wrong.  But our country --- and our heads --- seem so screwed up right now that perhaps for this one time we need to look at the ends and means separately.  What are the ends, the outcomes, we REALLY want --- in detail --- and are they good?  And then, what should we do to achieve them --- and is that good?
We’ve got to start somewhere, because right now we’re going nowhere.  (No, that’s not true.  We ARE going somewhere, but that’s also an end no one wants to talk about.)
And I think about this blog:  Do Not Be Anxious.  And I think about Divine Mercy:  Jesus, I trust in You.
And I pray.  At least that IS being done.  And that too, is a start.

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