It's Not Rocket Science
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Full disclosure: I have never held political office nor have I ever worked inside the Washington Beltway, so my proposed remedies for fixing the problems with our federal government may sound overly simplistic. Then again, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones…and the easiest to implement. And so, at the risk of being called naïve, here is my 5-point plan to get Congress – and the rest of our country – firing on all cylinders.
1. Enact term limits for all federal officeholders. We already have them for the Office of the President, and most states have them for their elected officials. Public service was never meant to be a career, so let’s help our Senators and Representatives “move out and move on” since they are obviously unwilling or unable to do it themselves.
And please don’t tell me that we already have term limits at the ballot box. Between franking privileges, special interest money, and gerrymandering, it is almost impossible to unseat a deeply entrenched incumbent. There’s a reason why Congress maintains an 8% approval rating, but a 92% re-election rate.
The private sector continues to benefit from a regular influx of new blood and fresh ideas. So would the public sector if we gave it a chance.
2. Eliminate retirement benefits for elected officials. Something tells me that people like John Dingell (59 years); Robert Byrd (57 years); Carl Hayden (56 years); and Daniel Inouye (53 years) would have called it quits a lot sooner if they weren’t accumulating a pension that was piling up faster than a January snowstorm in Buffalo NY.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, public service is a privilege…and you shouldn’t get a pension for exercising a privilege.
3. Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. Many states and other jurisdictions have this requirement, and so should our federal government. Borrowing from our grandkids’ piggy banks – and saddling our great-grandkids with mountains of debt – is immoral and unethical. It is also economic suicide and puts our national security at risk. If China and Japan call in their loans tomorrow, we’re doomed.
If Congress can’t say no to the special interest groups and stop spending money we don’t have (in order to buy votes), we need a Balanced Budget Amendment that forces them to do so. Time to put on your big boy pants, gentlemen!
4. Require Prospective Voters to Pass a Basic Civics Test. I realize that I’ll take some heat for this one, but I stand by my argument. After all, no one hands you a driver’s license simply because you turned 16 or 17. First, you have to demonstrate a proficiency operating a motor vehicle. The same goes for airplane pilots. And yet, we allow virtually anyone to cast a ballot regardless of whether they know anything about the candidates, the issues, or the history of our country.
I am not talking about an extensive or elaborate test here. Just prove that you know who George Washington was, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, what issue the Civil War was fought over, how many amendments are in the Bill of Rights, and what the three branches of the federal government are… and we’re good to go. Throw in the name of the current vice president for extra credit.
Seriously, we require people applying for U.S. citizenship to pass a civics test, so why not hold naturally born citizens to the same threshold? Let’s raise the bar for everyone. An educated electorate is a better electorate.
5. Limit Voting Eligibility to Taxpayers Only. Our Founding Fathers originally wanted to limit voting rights to property owners for two reasons. First, they assumed that if you owned property, you were probably somewhat educated. And second, they wanted people to have “skin in the game.” Today, roughly half of the American electorate pays zero income tax and yet, they can cancel out the votes of those of us who do.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.” Even Karl Marx agreed with that principle, saying, "Democracy is a form of government that cannot long survive, for as soon as the people learn that they have a voice in the fiscal policies of the government, they will move to vote for themselves all the money in the treasury, and bankrupt the nation."
If you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t be allowed to decide how those taxes are spent and who allocates them…period.
So, there you have it, folks. My 5-point plan for making America great again. Oh, wait a minute, that slogan was already taken…