Please: read, think, enjoy, and possibly learn.
Disagree or agree, and comment at-will; I welcome discussion.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Congress and budgeting. Or not budgeting, as it seems...

I’m no fool, and neither are you. Yet, we both allow our elected officials to skimp on their most basic of duties.

For some reason, balancing a budget is the hardest thing Congress can do (or don’t do, as is the case on a regular basis). I get that – somewhat – but I find it totally inexcusable for the House and Senate to blatantly decide not to even put a budget together, or hold it off for a later date.

What benefit does this have for the American people? Why choose to pass a stop-gap budget? I understand the need: because Congress doesn’t do their job properly, spends money they do not have, and forces the American public to live beyond their means.

Now, if you were to do this, you’d probably be in jail by now. No person can continue to rack up such debts and spend an absurd amount more than what they take in for income. Eventually, your bills would catch up to you and you’d go under, so to speak.

Fortunately though, our government gives its best attempt at running like a business – although it can’t run as efficiently or effectively as a business – because it’s too big. There are too many parts, too many people, and too large of an organization to get in order. Fortunately the government can take out debts, much like a business; unfortunately the government can’t control it’s spending habit, much like business can.

Many, if not most politicians are not executives of anything. Sure, they run an office. Sure, they ran a campaign. Sure, they can lead a team. Sure, they may have been a doctor, or a lawyer. But many doctors and lawyers will tell you: “I’m not a business person, I’m a doctor/lawyer.”

I’ve gone on my tangent long enough; I hope you get my point.

We need to seriously consider who we elect to represent us and run OUR nation. Leaders and representatives who have even a little executive experience is better than one who has none in my opinion. At least they can say for a fact they have experience in particular areas and know what it’s like – opposed to simply “hearing” what it’s like from others.

We need to start taking seriously our local and national politics; we’re getting to an age of celebrity representatives, a condition that has little benefit to our country and the American people.

We need to, at the very least, hold Congress accountable and demand they perform the most basic of their duties:

1) Make a budget.

2) Balance it. Or make it look like you’re trying.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Issue of Term Limits

Term limits is a subject of great debate and political thought. Though there has been significant discourse throughout the history of the United States, most recently to note in the 1990’s, there still lacks a rule of law.

While the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution poses term limits on the office of President, and a sizable portion of state legislatures have a provision within state constitutions or through statutes for term limits on its members, and many local-level government bodies have laws in place which limit terms of a political office, the largest and most powerful governing body in all of the US, the United States Congress, does not.

Note that the terms of state Governors are more readily regulated throughout the US than those of Congress. This may quite possibly be due to the fact that the position of Governor is most like that of President, whereas the positions within Congress are not like that of President (one is an representative; one is an executive).

Also note that a person who is not well-educated on the topic of term limits, admittedly such as myself, would have a difficult time researching the subject in order to find the real reason for or against Congressional term limits, or to find any mention of the subject at all (outside of those mentioned above).

Logically speaking, because the positions within Congress are not executives, but instead representatives of the public body, perhaps they should not be limited on the number of terms they serve. After all, each member of Congress is effectively chosen, or dealt his/her term limit, every two or six years (US House of Representatives are elected every two years; US Senators are elected every six).

Yet, it still seems desirable to have term limits for this level of government. Political corruption, growing out of touch with constituents back home, and becoming too comfortable with the power and position within Congress are just three reasons why term limits are desired - not to mention the benefit of having fresh faces and ideas representing the public in Washington, DC.

I, for one, sway between the two logics above; I can see value on both sides of the issue. On one side, voters have a choice of who they send to Congress and are able to elect a different person to represent them in Washington every two or six years; on the other side, members of Congress may develop undesired habits while serving in Washington (which the public may be unaware of) and out of an abundance of caution should be forced out of office, in good faith, when they reach the limit of their term.

However, after presenting out the two sides of term limits above, and when looking at the political realities in today’s environment, perhaps the ‘abundance of caution’ reasoning is the most reasonable of roads to choose in the argument. What harm can be done if we were to limit the number of terms a member of Congress may serve?

At least for now, fortunately, there is in effect a referendum of the record of each member of Congress every two or six years; a real opportunity for the people’s voices to be heard, and a regularly-scheduled opportunity to enact change and rid Congress of undesirable members.

Please exercise your unique right to vote. Please perform your due diligence on those whom you vote to elect. And please engage in your local, regional, and national conversations – our country will be better for it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Stephen Colbert Debacle

Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central host of The Colbert Report, made an appearance in Washington today… right in front of Congress.

Apparently, Mr. Colbert was asked to testify in front of the House Judiciary subcommittee by its chairwoman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., to discuss his one day (yes, one day) in the shoes of a migrant worker in NY state. Somehow, Rep. Lofgren saw him to be a fitting match as a so-called expert on migrant workers and immigration, with the keen ability to offer his personal experience and thoughts on the AgJOBS bill and the like.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Colbert was testifying before Congress – in character… the very same satirical character he plays on TV. Why Rep. Lofgren felt this was appropriate is beyond me.

So what came of this event?
1) Mr. Colbert offered images from his colonoscopy to Congress
2) The statement he submitted to Congress prior to taking the floor was allegedly much different than his in-character speech
3) Made a mockery of Washington (quite possibly mostly-so of Rep. Lofgren, D-Calif.
4) Turned a Congressional subcommittee into a visible joke
5) (Expectedly) turned the event into a publicity stunt, and most importantly of all:
6) Wasted your and my money

I submit to anyone who was ‘for’ Stephen Colbert testifying before Congress on this matter: how could you have expected anything else? Did you really think such a character would be a productive addition to the immigration discussion?

Mr. Colbert lacks expertise and real knowledge (other than the one day spent on a farm, and other stories he’s possibly heard) that should be required in order to testify on the subject of migrant farm workers and immigration. Mr. Colbert lacks the status, experience, and expertise which many other celebrities exude (such as Bono) which would warrant his testimony on the matter before Congress.

Dear, Mr. Colbert: Thank you for your jokes and a the few laughs I expressed when listening to your testimony. While I agree that you are a comical, satirical character which I enjoy to watch on TV from time to time, I just wish you hadn’t made a mockery of an institution that is already so heavily mocked, wasted the time of Representatives, and subsequently wasted taxpayer money. Please refrain from conducting similar stunts in the future, and please reserve your comedy for our televisions… or anywhere other than a Congressional hearing.