Mar 02 2014

Government-less

Published by at 9:01 am under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

“NO WORK EXPECTED
FROM CONGRESS
REMAINDER OF 2014″

That“Washington Post” headline of a week or two ago struck me on two counts: it was some experienced observer’s recognition we have a totally ineffective branch of federal government – as I’ve speculated for some time; it was not unexpected news.

Both the conclusion and the fact it was not unexpected combine to make a powerful statement that this nation – for all intents political – is blind, lost and leaderless in one-third of the constitutional government we’ve been taught to respect. In reality, the U.S. Congress has become an employer of last resort for too many folks incapable of doing – or even understanding – their jobs.

That headline was further reinforced last week when the U.S. Senate was unable to pass a bill to put $21 billion on the table to provide additional education benefits, an unemployment extension and badly needed improved medical care for veterans of our most recent unnecessary wars. Democrats put up the legislation – Republican killed it. They did so despite the fact it was Republican presidents who got us into those wars-of-choice.

Can you come up with a single, acceptable reason why the people who got us – and those veterans – into extended, unwinnable wars in the first place won’t honor the other side of the accompanying commitment to provide the best possible support for those we sent onto the battlefield? I can’t!

Veterans aren’t the only Americans being screwed by their own elected government. You can add millions more who’ve lost food stamps to help with basic family needs – long-term unemployed who’ve been unable to end the downward economic spiral many got caught in through no actions of their own – elderly who’ve lost housing and even food program assistance they need to survive – school lunch programs on which millions of kids rely for at least one good meal a day – local government infrastructure assistance for highway construction, updating sewer and water systems, law enforcement, environmental programs and more.

All of these things – and many other necessary if not outright life-saving government programs – have been decimated by members of a congress so wrapped up trying to stay publicly employed that the needs of their own constituents have been ignored.

The story under that despicable headline went on to say the basic “reason” for the projected inactivity was the 2014 election. And 2016. Already. Seems nobody wants to piss off anybody so they wind doing exactly that by doing nothing for everybody – except PACS, Super PACS, anti-government wacko organizations, the Koch’s and any other money faucet they can find.

The founders of this nation were mostly businessmen and professionals from various fields. Before their political midwifery attempts to create a new nation in Philadelphia, they had lives of their own. And, for the most part, careers. They were doing their “good citizen” stint birthing a nation in addition to otherwise normal lives. They intended to create a “citizen government,” not one of perpetual politicians. No, they didn’t make this congressional litter box for ego-driven feral “cats.” We did that on our own.

The lengthy perpetuation of people in public office is a cancerous concept that often ends up badly. Like ticks. Once in, hard to get out. Yes, institutional memory is important to the concept of good government. Yes, we get some good ones now and then who belong on the Potomac River banks because they’re effective. And, yes, we might sometimes throw out both baby and bath water.

But – term limits are not the answer. Term limits would only create new and likely more unacceptable problems than we have. They would – among other things – create a government of supra-bureaucrats with more lasting power than the elected who come and go through the electoral revolving door. If anyone should fear the long-term affects of term limits, it should be the Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, Americans for Freedom and all the rest of the whirly-gig, tinfoil hat crowd.

The only acceptable answer to me is a better-informed electorate – a smarter electorate that takes the time to do its own vetting of people who want to be elected to anything. But that takes work. That takes some concentration and some diligence on our part. The current crop of government wreckers and the intellectually-vacant shows we haven’t done enough of those things.

That Washington Post headline should frighten a lot of us. To look ahead nearly a calendar year and expect 535 members of Congress to do absolutely nothing in the performance of their duties – to accomplish nothing – to allow our continuing national problems to fester and worsen – to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to simply a government employment program we call “elected office” – to allow millions of our fellow citizens to suffer by withdrawing the badly needed support that good conscience would dictate we underwrite – all of that and more reflects a national shame. Not a national pride.

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