Congress just gave themselves a two months vacation after just having come back from a month’s vacation. That made me think about how we can get our government to actually work.
The guys (there were no gals) that designed are Federal System of Government were pretty smart but they could not anticipate the kind of problems we now have where the main job of Congress is being reelected. This is particularly an issue with the House of Representatives which has to run for office every two years. For years I have been trying to figure out how it would ever be possible for Congress to change the election laws that so very much benefit those in office but today I had a breakthrough.
Here is my proposal:
Members of the house of representatives can serve as often as elected, but they cannot serve two terms in a row. Those that serve a term of two years will then receive a paid two-year vacation including all the benefits. They can spend as much of this time campaigning for the next round of elections, or they can spend it at the beach. Senators get elected for terms of six years. At the end of the term, they can not run again but have to wait two years. During this two years, they get paid and get all their benefits. They can use this time to prepare for the next election cycle, or they can sit on the beach. There will be a number of minimum days that members of the house and members of the senate have to work during their terms. If they fail to put in the days, they do not get paid for the time after their term expires.
The President can run for as many terms as he/she wants but can not run for consecutive terms. The President will get paid the normal salary and have full benefits but, of course, can not live in the White House unless his spouse in the next elected president.
Supreme Court Judges will be paid ten million dollars to retire when they reach the age of 80. That amount will be reduced by one million dollars every year they continue to serve.
What do you think?
You’re a smart dude and I value your perspective, but I think we already pay these clowns for too much time sitting on the beach and running for reelection which adds no value as far as the function we elected them to perform!
Aside from that I am fearful that the scheme proposed would just end up with carefully matched pairs of representatives from whatever part owns that district playing touch-tag with each other for decades, not that different than what we have seen with the Bushes and Clintons.
I suggest that the lack of term limits are one of the biggest problems with the house and the senate. The fundraising power of incumbents, the power they accumulate over government spending and other committees, and the gerrymandering of election districts all work against the interests of we the people. Putting a reasonable term limit on both representatives and senators forcing fresh faces into place every 6 or 8 years is bound to shake up the status quo at least a little bit.
I guess I did not make my point. They will never agree to term limits. It is not what we would want ideally that matters. I figured they would vote for this because they get paid to do nothing which is their greatest skill. But they also have to work half of the time.
I also agree that term limits are the best answer; and I would throw in the idea that there can be no recycling at all (one term, that’s it). There is too much talent that cannot get a foot in the door and the idea that being an elected official is a career is, possibly, fundamentally flawed. A government of newbies that must listen to the paid civil service that likely know vastly more about issues would be good. Civil servants would be less “servile” if they knew they only have to wait a few years before some idiot above them disappears forever.
However, your point is that it will never happen. Your point is well taken. Your plan is a clever scheme to transform public service into “the lazy man’s path to power”. It sacrifices the possibility of long term stewardship led by the smart and dedicated in favor of minimizing the damage done by “a layer of concrete” to paraphrase Steve Jobs. I think the founders assumed that the present problem could never fester for long because there was always the ballot box. They could not foresee the nation of mesmerized vegetables we have become.
When the country was first founded, the people in congress actually still had outside jobs but then again many also had slaves.
Those kind of changes would have to be made in a Constitutional Convention, where they’d have no say over term limits. Not only should there be limits, but a prerequisite for the job should be working in real private sector jobs for some period first.
Hate to say this, but I’m very skeptical. I suspect our politics and politicians would start to resemble the Putin-Medvedev tag team approach as a way to subvert what you’re trying to accomplish.
I applaud what you are aiming at and would certainly be willing to try this. I just think it would be defeated by cleverness. Ultimately you can’t save us from ourselves. We’re doomed to a period of gridlock until there’s more urban in the rural-urban split that divides our vote.
in texas congress convenes every two years. they all have outside employment.
they get things done in that time whether you agree with what they do isn’t the point. just saying’
…may be over simplification.