This opinion piece originally appeared at Reuters.com.
The U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights 1st Amendment says that the people may lobby their government for change and redress. So does limiting our representatives to only accept campaign funds from their constituency, really limit the “people” from lobbing their government? I believe the constitution says nothing of campaign money when any reference is made to lobbying. The exact words are “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”, nothing about using money is said. Therefore, by default the Bill of Rights Tenth Amendment should allow States to regulate this shade of gray corrupting our “American Dream”; what was once a grand experiment of humanity, now gone horribly wrong.
This and this alone, could defang the National Oligarchy. The diffuse number of votes would then be more valuable to those that live in the perspective districts. Our 1/435th congressional vote and our 2/100th senatorial vote(s) will truly wield some political power. It would then force all those lobbyists’ clients to come to our districts, to our communities, to open up shop to establish residency in some form or fashion and convince us the voters, that this is what I want my vote cast for. This would include any…any special interest group; banks, Wall Street, social interest groups, corporations, wealthy trusts of all kinds.
Imagine the strength your small congressional vote would carry when they have to be physically in your district if they want to use money for (yours-or-theirs) influence upon your congressional representative or senator. The charity events, the community gifts such as parks, schools, other civic improvements, and maybe, just maybe corporations would actually be manipulated into opening business satellites in nowhere districts to be qualified to lobby our representative. Deny the powerful & wealthy lobbyists’ clients one stop shopping in Washington D.C. for working on a majority vote. Obviously, these clients would not invest in all 435 districts; however, they would have to lobby 220 or so districts to win legislation. The overlap in districts between these lobbying clients could go a long way to spread the wealth and influence around the country. Because they would be forbidden to contribute to campaigns in the central government setting, politics would have a chance to become local once again.
Corruption will always be present in any money driven enterprise. However, when all contributions have to be personally presented within a representatives district, transparent-see will have a better chance to survive, because people would actually have a chance through proximity to “rub shoulders” with (and possibly confront) both the representative and campaign contributor. This would be especially so for the local oligarchic wealth, people would have a chance of knowing how these people are connected to affluence because they perhaps now know who they are.
This system would still allow lobbyists, corporations and individuals to petition your representative or anyone else’s representative at the Capital in Washington D.C., thus allowing the people access to petition their national government as before. No one can deny these special interests access to anyone else’s representative or ours. It is just that lobbyists would have to sell their ideas and legislation, at the National level, and not be able to purchase, as they did before. Lobbyists could still wine/dine, luncheon, or have breakfast with representatives, it is just that they would have to contribute campaign monies physically in the representatives district and only if they qualified as a resident or business interest of said district.
House Representatives would and should still “horse trade” votes with one another to form collations that would move legislation forward and I believe it would improve these congressional collations by house members, because it would probably lead to regional relationships vs. partisan relationships.
This is the crux of my proposal…controlling the money locally used to influence and write law at the national level. But is this legal? I don’t know if it is for myself…cause I aint no constitutional scholar. The reason that I believe we can do this, is that all States exclusively conduct all elections; local or national. So, if we can do that, why can’t we control the occupational position we filled. Article II Section III states, “The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments”… “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment trial, judgment and punishment, according to law”. I think this says we the electorate cannot fire our representative, the Senate has to. However, we can give cause for impeachment by arrest and conviction by using a body of laws the state can impose on the congressman and senators that represent us.
Why not set the occupational policies that reflect what the majority of us are expected to comply with and have to endure? Let’s start with a 40 hr work week while in session. As our employee, it would not matter that congress is closed on Monday and Friday, our representative would be on the clock at his office working directly with his staff. If our representative worked IN THE CAPITOL BUILDING over 40 hours (verifiable by time a clock) then maybe we could let him have some comp time for long weekends at home. When Congress is not in session, then the representative would have to work 30 hours a week in his district office, being available to his constituents for lobbying and working with staff to craft legislation. We could also directly control our representatives’ ethics, with real penalties imposed through either public referendum or State laws that would be prosecutable in our state court system, not those corrupt, toothless, cronies, “Do Nothing” congressional and senatorial ethics committees.
Furthermore, we could dictate how much the state and national political parties can contribute to our U.S. House of Representatives. Perhaps limiting political parties to only matching $0.50 to $1.00 of the locally contributed monies. We could also enact our own laws disclosing every penny given or used in all our elections. This would greatly reduce the obligation of our representatives to participate in fundraisers for the National Parties and Political Action Committees
I think that a majority of Appalachians (or any regional citizen group) do not care if their representative look like a million dollars, this is not what we see when we look in the mirror. Other representatives might look like a million dollars, and that is ok if their district is full of millionaires, but not ours (we do have Jay Rockefeller, but he has been slumming it here for thirty years or more). One representative may look wealthy and the other look like a Hill Billy, but their vote has the same value; 1/435th or 1/100th of deciding an issue. So why do we allow BIG money to cheapen the value of our representative vote.
Additionally, multi-national corporations, as with all corporations are legally individuals, endowed with all the rights of any citizen, and so they are entitled to representation and being able to lobby the government as we can. With district-controlled finances, the corporations would not be able to buy 10, 20, 40…218 congressional votes at one time. They too would be required to buy influence in the home districts of their legal residency and wielding the same 1/435th or 1/100th representative vote, the same as you or I. Bringing back the politically incorrect phrase “one man, one vote” could be said with a fair and equitable taste to be savored. Focusing that “free speech equals money” or “money equals free speech” argument into a whole another arena: the home district. Perhaps then, “We the People” would have a more level playing field and a greater voice in policies.
terango.lf Love what you wrote,however you should understand this. With who we have in Washington DC now,they are out to Destroy The Bill of Rights and The Constitution in every way they can.You may Agree are not Agree with me on this one,But in 2012 we the people must elected Dr.Ron Paul. Mainstream Media and others don’t want him as President. When a Politician talks about replacing the Federal Reserve because it’s a private owned company owned by the Global Elite/New World Order. It shake people up. The Corruption in this Government has been going on to long.As a American citizen I like my freedoms and liberties.This President said the Founding Fathers made a mistake when they put the 2nd Amend in the Constitution. Basically we are all under attack. As a small business owner I can’t get these brakes.We the people need to stand up for a free nation,not one run by gangsters in three piece suits….
You know there is a problem when the comments are longer thatn the actual article…..terango.
That said, the biggest offender of not paying taxes to this country is GE. Interesting that the CEO of GE practically has a cabinet position in the current administration. But this administration is all for the little guy, middle class American. Yawn.JUST SAYING.
Nothing in this article surprises me. I’ve seen other such data which completely supports it. However, it is a shameful indictment of an America that has been taken over by the rich and powerful while everyone else suffers. Average after-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households has increased 275 percent from 1979 to 2009. Since 1980, the share of the nation’s income for the top one tenth of one percent has increased a shocking 400%. Middle-income households saw just a 40% rise during the 1980 – 2010 period. From 1979 to 2009, the average real income for the bottom 99% of Americans fell sharply by 6.9%, the largest year-to-year decline since the Great Depression. However, effective tax rates on the super-wealthy fell to 16.6% in 2007, from 42% at the peak of U.S. productivity in the early 1960s, and about 30% during the expansion of the 1990s. Conversely, the top 1% owe only 5% of the nation’s personal debt while the bottom 90% owe 73% of total debt. Among that top 1% are most of Corporate America’s top executives. From 1980 to 2010, average CEO pay grew from 42 times average worker pay to 343 times median worker pay – the largest gap in the world. Average CEO Pay at S&P 500 Companies for 2010 was $11.36 million! Compare that to average worker pay of $33,959. Fifty percent of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 in 2010. The top 1% of people in the U. S. control 40% – 50% of its wealth. Just 25 years ago they owned only 33% of the nation’s wealth. The top 20%t of Americans control nearly 85% of the wealth. The top 1% own half of the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds; the bottom 50% of Americans own only one-half of 1% of these investments. Of the 435 members of the House, 244 current members are millionaires — that’s about 46 percen (138 Republicans and 106 Democrats). In the Senate, 66 of the 100 Senators are millionaires (36 Democrats and 30 Republicans). The median wealth of all members of Congress is $911,510. Their personal wealth increased more than 16% from 2008 to 2009, the very year in which most American’s retirement savings, home values, and jobs were disappearing. In 2010, the average winner of a House race spent $1.5 million and the average Senate winner spent close to $10 million. About half of that money, on average, comes from an elite group of very wealthy donors. All to win seats that pay (officially) only $174,000 per year (the leadership gets $193,400 except for the Speaker of the House, who gets paid $223,500 a year. While insider stock trading is normally considered a major crime, there are no laws prohibiting members of Congress from doing it, despite their access to critical information before it goes public. During the financial crisis of 2008 they were getting out of the market before the rest of America really knew what was going on. Sitting members of Congress have outperformed the market by 6% to 12% in the 1980s and 1990s while most Americans have lost much of their life savings. It’s pathetic. CEOs with the most layoffs were paid 42% more on average than their S&P 500 counterparts. Corporate profits reached an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter of 2010. U. S. corporations were sitting on a record $1.93 trillion in cash and similar assets in December, 2010. Instead of investing in growth or hiring, companies have used their cash to buy back their own stocks , enriching executives and shareholders without creating jobs. Stock buybacks are preferred by executives because they increase the values of their own existing shares. In addition, more than one quarter of the Fortune 500 largest U.S. corporations paid little or nothing in federal income taxes during the 2008-2010 period, despite registering profits in all three years. Many had more than one year paying no tax and/or received tax rebates. In 2009 alone, 49 companies earned combined profits of $78.6 billion, yet paid no taxes – and collected tax rebates totaling $10.8 billion. These profits have not produced the job growth traditionally expected when profit pictures improve. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them is that profits have been produced by shedding jobs and increasing productivity (more output with fewer workers). There 13.3 million Americans unemployed. The jobless number spikes to almost 23 million if you count people who have grown discouraged and given up looking for work (1,1 million) , working part-time for economic reasons (8.5 million), or employed as temporary workers with no benefits. Thus, the real unemployment rate is 15.6%. And 32.1% of the 13.3 million unemployed have been unemployed for a year or more. Yet, Congress had not yet come to agreement on extending unemployment benefits. Unless they do, millions more will cease to receive any unemployment income. The Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank, predicts It will take at least two decades until unemployment rates return to pre-recession levels. That means poverty rates and the number of homes foreclosed will continue to rise. The nation’s largest corporations — including General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies, and Oracle, among others — cut their U. S. workforces by 2.9 million people over the last decade while hiring 2.4 million people overseas. The increasing U.S. trade deficit with China has cost 2.4 million American jobs between 2001 and 2008. One in 45 American children (1.6 million) is homeless. That’s up 33% in the last three years. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has now reached a record 46.3 million (15% of the population). Yet, our political leaders have managed to drive the national debt to over $15 trillion. The United States government has been running large federal deficits for most of the years since the Great Depression, regardless of which party was in control of Congress or who was in the White House. On November 21, 2011, the Congressional Super Committee failed to reach an agreement on deficit reduction, mostly due to Republican insistence on defending extending expiring tax cuts for persons earning more than $250,000 a year. Around 75% to 80% of all Washington lobbyists are either former members of Congress, former House or Senate staffers, or former federal government employees. The well known revolving door in Washington moves lobbyists to positions as staffers and staffers to positions as lobbyists and back again. And these facts are only the tip of the iceberg. All current members of Congress should be thrown out of office. A Constitutional Amendment is necessary to prevent any member of Congress from becoming a lobbyist for at least 5 years after they leave office, and barring any member of Congress from taking a job with a company that received a federal contract for which they voted and/or influenced the decision during the previous 5 years. A separate Constitutional Amendment needs to be passed setting term limits for members of Congress and greatly reducing their pension and benefitsw received after leaving service in Congress. Until then, corporations, their top executives, and the uber-rich will continue to control America, corrupt politics, and rape the rest of the country.
Common Sense & Terango: Nicely put….I couldn’t agree with you more! Our government is no longer a democracy….it has become a corprocracy. It is not run by you and I….it’s run by the corporations! Why are we continuing to pay their salaries when they get more from the corporations??? We’re being gouged and paying for individuals who do NOTHING for us any longer!! I think the entire government needs a drastic overhaul!!!
I just read the common sense patriot and it is so depressing that it makes one wonder why it is “ueberhaupt” usefull to become politically active. People are becoming like ducks that can let the bad information drop off their feathers without even registring a reaction. I find it so appalling (sp?) and really don’t know where to turn for any sort of relief! It is really true that comments are larger and longer than the original article. On a very personal basis I made a decision today to seek legal help against a local corporation (here in Las Vegas). Cox Communications is the company through which my household receives “bundled service” (meaning that I pay for a package of TV, traditional landline telephone and internet service). Last Friday our TV went out and since it was tied to the package it had become impossible to make a telephone call and get it repaired. Finally, after borrowing a neighbor’s cell phone to make a call, a repairman showed up, Sunday, who only needed to look at the TV because the phone and internet had come back on line by themselves (?). I’m seeking legal help through a service provided by the city in order to address a problem that has arisen since we signed up with Cox. THEY CHARGE A HIGHER FEE IF YOU WANT TO TALK TO A REAL LIFE PERSON RATHER THAN THE AUTOMATED OPERATOR! That is the most ludicrous stance I have ever encountered!
But hopefully one of the legal staffers can write a letter to Cox and accomplish a “Cease and Desist Ruling”. But I would even be satisfied with a mere letter asking for an explanation that makes some sense in this abominable situation!