Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Archive for January 10th, 2009

Term Limits: Good for America

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/01/10

George Washington prophetically warned about life-long politicians. He tended to give the benefit of the doubt to people in politics, from what I have read. And yet, he still gave warnings about various political trending eventualities, among those being the long-staying politicians (which did not yet exist in the US, as it was in its infancy).

Washington’s warnings in regard to life-long politicians were in regard to the extended loss of intimate contact with those who lived under the laws the politicians created. Politicians are insulated from the effects of their decisions so long as they remain politicians. Once a politician returns to the world of “everyday people,” the politician feels the effects of those decisions. But a lifelong politician will never feel those effects and will never truly know the true nature of the cause/effect of the decisions.

Washington was very strident in his advocacy of “citizen statesmen,” an idea many living in the 18th century found to be foolishness. After all, they posited, ordinary citizens would not be knowledgeable enough nor would they be astute enough to handle all the various machinations of better-learned folk. They also would be unable to deal with the minutia and cloak-and-dagger of the nefarious within and outside the US. Washington was steadfast in his advocacy.

A career politician, even one of pure heart, is much more easily swayed than a citizen statesman. While a citizen statesman will necessarily have his own “after politics” life and the lives of his constituents in mind, a career politician will be swayed by “power intoxication” and the need to maintain his livelihood. While a citizen statesman knows he will soon be placed under the laws he creates, a career politician doesn’t have this knowledge as a hedge against improper laws. With the constant influx of new citizen statesmen and departure of old citizen statesmen, bad laws will much more readily be removed from the books.

Despite Washington’s warnings, our country is full of career politicians. It is extremely difficult to vote an incumbent out of office. A major reason for this difficulty is human nature. It is very difficult for we humans to actually change course. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” We desire stability and will act to maintain it. And politicians know this. And exploit this to the fullest extent possible.

With career politicians, we have huge numbers of pet projects designed to garner votes. “I got you that dam you wanted.” “I got that huge ship-building contract for you so you and your family can eat for the next ten years.” “I got jobs for your teen-age children.” All sorts of budget-busting spending has been attached to all sorts of congressional bills in efforts to garner “votes next time.” The “citizen statesman” philosophy prevents the vast majority of this because the citizen statesman will have to earn a living after leaving politics.

THE CALL FOR TERM LIMITS

With the benefit of over 200 years of 20/20 hindsight, it is abundantly clear politics in general has been tainted by power-brokering. The vast majority of the general public has been permanently jaded. “All politicians are crooks.” “All politicians are out for themselves.” “Once a politician takes office, he immediately starts campaigning for re-election.” All these opinions are signs of massive disdain for politicians, yet incumbents get huge benefits of the doubt. As I stated above, people resist change. Also, as I stated above, career politicians dump OPM (other people’s money) into their own districts. Whether the reasons for pumping OPM are out of genuine belief it is right or out of a desire to “buy” votes becomes irrelevant. The effect is the same: the incumbent wins many votes on that alone.

It is abundantly clear a majority of those in the US Congress are lifetime politicians. It is also abundantly clear those politicians do not intend to spend their after-congress careers doing “everyday people” jobs. Once a politician leaves office, it’s off to the lucrative lecture tour. Or it’s off to the retirement scene, with the abundant retirement perks of a former congressman.

With term limits, many of these egregious actions will be immediately eliminated. No longer can a congressman retire with an annual 6-digit retirement income. No longer will the new congressmen be able to expect such a huge lecture income after politics. And so many of these bad laws foisted on the “unwashed masses” will be railed against by former politicians who voted for them that it will make your head spin. Instead of what we have now, where bad laws only get worse and bad money is chased by more money, bad laws will be eliminated and bad money will be inverse-exponentially reduced.

An amendment to the Constitution forced term limits on the President of the US, and has guaranteed a constant change in the presidency. The US has not fallen apart because of this amendment. The US, while definitely swinging back and forth in the eyes of the citizenry, has remained relatively stable and consistent in world view. No cataclysmic events have occurred with the change of president as required by the amendment, contrary to the dire warnings of those against term limits. Yet the lack of congressional term limits has led to a continuous downhill slide in multiple facets of US life.

Term limits are imperative for members of both houses of the US Congress. I am not naïve enough to believe a mere law requiring term limits will pass congress, due to the selfish nature of many of those in congress and due to the corrupting power congress provides. Even if such a law passed congress and was signed by the sitting president, I am not naïve enough to believe it would survive the guaranteed challenge in the courts. I guarantee such a law would be overturned by the US Supreme Court.

An amendment is mandatory to force term limits. I believe it is possible for each state to pass a “term limits” amendment to its constitution that fits within the US Constitution, but I am not naïve enough to believe such an amendment will survive the Supreme Court, despite the tenth and eleventh amendments to the US Constitution. Despite my belief such state-wide amendments would fail the revisionist nature of the Supreme Court, I strongly advise each state to pass amendments restricting terms in each of the various offices for its citizens.

Since the Supreme Court will ignore the tenth and eleventh amendments in this regard (the eleventh amendment is by far the lesser amendment in this regard), an amendment to the US Constitution is necessary. I am not naïve enough to call for a constitutional convention as such a convention would inevitably destroy the securities provided by the current constitution, given the power-corrupt nature of today’s politicians and the complicit nature of today’s mainstream media. It is necessary for congress itself to call for this amendment. And obviously, I am not naïve enough to believe such a call will come from today’s congress—unless extreme pressure is laid upon the heads of congressmen from all the states. And this is the most difficult task of all. This is the task we are faced with if we want to return to a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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Posted in Constitution, politics, term limits | Comments Off on Term Limits: Good for America

The USO, A Friend in Need

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/01/10

There is a saying: A friend in need is a friend indeed. And that is exactly what the USO is to our troops. While the US government created the USO years before I was born, the USO is not, I repeat not a government entity. The USO is a private, non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to be a “friend indeed” to our uniformed citizens and their families.

Having been in the military myself 20 years ago, I can say without a doubt I appreciated the USO’s presence. It provides military folk a place to relax and recreate as well as many “above and beyond the call” forms of support and aid, best described in the above link. Those of you who have ties to the military and seek information or aid could be well served in checking with the USO.

Since it is a non-profit organization, the USO uses many volunteers to augment its paid staff. It is also able to take donations to help keep it strong in support of the common soldier, marine, sailor, airman, etc. I strongly urge you to consider the USO when deciding which charitable organizations to support with your time and donations.

Posted in charitible organizations, military | Comments Off on The USO, A Friend in Need

 
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