Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free: Civilian Side

Note, this is an email I sent earlier today. I copy and paste it here, spelling mistakes and grammar glitches intact due to lack of time to fix them.

I got the following email today, and I have to admit, this kind of thing waggles me enough that I can't help but respond:

Here's the email:

Congressional Reform Act of 2010
We need to get a Senator to introduce this bill in the US Senate and a Representative to introduce a similar bill in the US House. These people will become American hero's..

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

And my answer:

I just can't agree with you. Think about it for a minute. Right now, the Gulf of Mexico is going under, as oil burbles to the surface, killing the envirnment, killing tourism, killing jobs, killing the fishing industry..and...need I go on?

Now, how was that allowed to happen? Answer: Short and Sweet...NOT because of TOO MUCH GOV'T ...but too little, and what there was was BAD. Bad Gov't in that the Republican Congress of the early 2000s and the Republican administration took BP's word that they had a safe rig and adequate safty plans in place...

The economic crisis? Same thing..not too much gov't, but not enough. Where were the lawmakers? Where were the regulators...answer? Off cheerleading for big business.

The article you forwarded talks about term limits. We already HAVE term limits...they are called "Elections"...if you don't like your current Senator or Congressman, campaign against him. Knock on doors, write emails, join citizen's groups, contribute small amounts to his/her campaign. Anyone who tells you that it won't work is wrong...

But as for me, I happen to really appreciate much of the work of my current Congressman, Tim Walz, here in Minnesota. I think our Senators Amy Klobucher and Al Franken are doing a great job.

And back home in Vermont? Well, Patrick Leahy is head of the judiciary committee...and Bernie Sanders, god bless his loudmouthed soul, is raising holy hell right now, demanding that BP and not the Taxpayer be forced to pay the tab for this clean up.

Leahy has been in the Senate since the 70s and I hope he NEVER retires. Because when BP, or AIG send polished, slick, smart and crafty executives who have experience stretching back 20 to 30 years to a Senate hearing to testify about how what they are doing will be so great for the American people, I want them to be questioned and held accountable by a smart, sassy, experienced Senator who is ALSO wise in the ways of the world and who knows what questions to ask...I do NOT want my safety and quality of life left in the hands of some greenhorn who just arrived in Washington last week with 50 other greenhorns who don't know (pardon my french) shit from shinola.

Talk about the guinea pig guarding the hen house.

As for the pay issue...again...the United States is the biggest organization in the world. If you expect intelligent, qualified people to do the job, then you've got to pay them what they are worth. As it is, the monetary compensation of gov't work are such they are already paid MUCH less than their counterparts in the private sector...

This note talks about the founding fathers wanting "citizen" legislators. Okay, there may be some truth to that actually, but keep in mind that with VERY few exceptions most of the founders were VERY wealthy men. They did not envision that anyone BUT the very wealthy would ever participate in government...so they could afford to be "citizen legislators....but as for the idea of Term Limits? Forget it. The founders KNEW they were the most qualified boys on the block to run the show, and do any less but continue to serve throughout their adult lives would have been repugnant to them.

George Washington was first elected to the Virgina House of Burgesses in 1758...he ended his political career in 1797 That's a political career just short of 40 YEARS...

John Adams, who perhaps did more, politically, to get the Declaration of Independence drafted and through the Continental Congress and who went on to be the second president, began his career as an elected official in 1770 and left the White House in 1801-- that's a political career of 31 years. He would have gladly served longer but he lost the presidency to...

...Thomas Jefferson, who began HIS political career 1769 left the White House in 1809--another 40 year political career.

Ben Franklin- first elected to city council in 1748, elected to colonial Pennsylvania Legislature in 1751, and served in various diplomatic and political roles until his death in 1790.

Let's talk about some other great Americans. Abe Lincoln is often thought of as the Log Cabin President, and most people seem to imagine that he came from nowhere...not so...Lincoln ran for office the first time in 1832, served in the state legislature, was elected to the US Congress for a term, and ran, unsuccessfuly for the US Senate...all the while remaining a very powerful political figure in his home state of Illinois...his career ended in 1865 upon his death. His political career, which was cut short, lasted 33 years.

Teddy Roosevelt? Started in 1881 with his election to the NY state assembly....left the White House in 1909...ran AGAIN for the Presidency on a third party ticket in 1912. 31 years.

None of these great American leaders would have developed the experience they needed to be great American leaders if they had been subjected to Term Limits.

Term limits is a cry taken up by two kinds of people...the far right, who just can't understand why most Americans, despite their mild conservativism, won't agree to cut their own throats and throw away all the progress that we've made...so they blame "congress" because they can't get their guys elected.

The other kind of person who espouses term limits is, in my opinion: Just Plain Lazy. They often say that "Freedom isn't Free" and usually, they are talking about the military. But it's just as true on the civilian side...as I've noted before, the US is the largest organization on the face of the earth, and as citizens- WE are actually the ones charged with running it. Sure, we have representatives, because 300 million people can't all talk at once- but it's OUR job to pay attention. It should be our job to spend at least one hour a week staying informed, going to public meetings, writing informed letters to our representatives, and volunteering for the campaigns of those who wish to represent us.

Instead, however, lazy people who don't want to watch carefully those people they've hired to represent them, want to have some kind of automatic system.in place to do the job for them....and, the biggest irony is, that system won't even work.

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