Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm Only Asking for Some Common Sense

I would first of all like to apologize for the long break since my last blog. But I have a good excuse. I was accepting my Noble Prize in Medicine. Yes, I know I am young and have only just begun the process of applying to medical school, but they gave it to me because they thought that maybe sometime in the future I might make an important discovery. But now I am back, so have no fear.

A few weeks ago Republicans in the senate asked for a bill to be instated that would require any non-emergency legislation to be posted on the internet for the public for at least 72 hours before the senate voted on it. This notion was denied immediately. John Kerry, broke through his Botox frozen face to claim that this was just an attempt by the Republicans to try to waste time. Really? What would the purpose of that be Mr. Kerry? Why would they want to vote on Thursday instead of Monday? Or would it be a problem for you if they had extra time to read the whole bill? It would be difficult to sneak in last minute legislation, like the over 250 pages that were added to the Cap-and-Trade bill the morning it was voted on. How can our representatives be voting on things they have not even read? And do not mistakenly think that the only reason they didn’t read it was because of the last minute additions. They hadn’t read the other 1200 pages either. Maybe some of it, but for sure not all of it.

Some democrats gave a reason for not posting the legislation online before the senate voted. They said that the bills were written in a very confusing language and that if people were able to read it, it would just result in them taking things out of context. Is that so? Is it our fault that you are writing bills in a way that we can not understand so that you can fool us into accepting your agenda? Thomas Paine addressed confusing language in legislation in his work Common Sense, over 200 years ago:

Absolute governments (tho' the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies; some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.

So by giving this reason for not wanting us to see the bill they are in fact letting us know that they are even worse than we thought. They are not just irresponsible, but they are also part of a system that is comparable to the one this country was established to avoid. A system where the government has the power, and uses it to control many aspects of our lives. A system where we are kept outside the decisions made by few, that have very personal effects for many. I know that we can not all be present at every vote done by the house, but we should at least have the ability to give some insight to our representatives as to how we feel about the matter. They are there to make sure our voices are heard in Washington. How can they do this if we do not even know what they are doing there?

Our representatives in a way do not really represent us anymore. They spend most of the year in Washington making deals with each other, unfortunately using us as pawns. They have full time jobs in a part time field. They rarely take the time after they are elected to hear what we think. They have so much free time that they can sit there and write 1500 page bills, with confusing language and hidden rules. They can search and search for new areas in which they can write those bills and control our lives. They should be meeting a couple of times a year, to vote on a few issues that have come up since their last meeting. They could possibly present bills at the January meeting, to be voted on in the July meeting. Bills that they have time to read, and time to hear from us what we think of them.

If I were a member of Congress I would do this, and I would try to lead by example that this is how Congress should be run. I would not spend my time writing long bills, and finding new areas of life to regulate. I would not take a salary and work full time. I would keep my job, and be a member of my district. I would go a few times a year, (or more if necessary to fight some possible legislation,) and express the opinions of my constituents. I would have a website, where my people can see the bills I will be voting on, and have ample time to let me know what they thought. Maybe I would even have them vote on the website so I can really see how they feel, and I could therefore truly bring their desires to Capitol Hill with me. Bottom line is that I would be a regular guy just making sure my neighbors voice is heard in Washington.

When people read my plan they will think I am crazy. What I am describing is so foreign that it seems like a joke. But this is in reality how all members of Congress should be acting. They should not be writing legislation so long and confusing that their votes are all based on party loyalty, instead of expressing our, and in some cases even their true opinions. If a bill is so long and confusing they should refuse to accept it until they had time to read it, and speak to us about it. In fact I would say that if legislation is so confusing it should be required to be rewritten in a concise simple manner. In fact I would dare go even farther (which I can for this is my blog,) and say that if a proposed legislation needs a bill so long and confusing to represent it, then that is an area of our lives that should not be governed.

It is things like this that remind me how far we have come from the founding of our country. We are seeing the very same things done by our government that our founding fathers were complaining to the British Empire about. I have said this before, and I will say it again. If George Washington saw this government today, he would not know he was in America. If Thomas Paine could see the way our government was being run now he would write another Common Sense, and the saddest part is that it probably would not be very different then the one he wrote in 1776.

PTP: We elect representatives to make sure our voices are heard in Washington. Do we elect them solely to vote along with the of the majority of his or her constituents? Or by electing them are we saying that we trust them to make decisions for us?

In other words: If a representative takes a poll of his or her constituents, and actually knows what the majority of them want, but feels that they are not correct, and that down the road they would regret this decision, can he go against the majority or must he follow the ‘direct order’ of his people?

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