Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Anybody But The Incumbent
Our US political system is broken. Most politicians admit that. When approval ratings for Congress is below 20% - it is very, very obvious our system is in need of serious repair. "Politicians for Life" treat our government as their own personal honey pot while simultaneously avoiding responsibility:
We’ve allowed unbridled capitalism to corrupt politicians and the process beyond repair. What can be done? For one thing, “we the people“ must get more involved in things. We must shine a bright spotlight on the deficiencies and make sure the public is aware.
Another part is motivating the public to do something. So what can we as individuals do?
I once had an acquaintance who declared his political philosophy was always to 'vote the SOB’s out!', referring to any incumbent. 25 years ago I thought his attitude was incredibly simple minded. But almost anyone today will admit that would be a better situation than we now have.
My wife says all political offices would be better served by a lottery system - sort of like a military draft, and I tend to agree with her more every day. Such a system would certainly be no worse than we now have, save untold amounts of money and completely remove special interests from the political equation. Partisan craziness would be just another bad memory of the past!
Office holders would be prevented from becoming political royalty with a lifetime sinecure to be used to their personal advantage. For example, it might well have kept Representative Dennis Hastert from parlaying a $250-300,00 net worth to well over $6 million in the nineteen years he's been in office. At an annual 10% return Hastert should have been at about $1.35 - 1.5 million for example. Instead, he's increased his net worth by an average of over 16-1/2% annually. While theoretically possible, it boggles the mind to imagine Dennis Hastert to be financially astute enough to outperform the stock market by that order of magnitude.
The same phenomenon is true with many other long term politicians. And, let’s not forget there are many members in Congress who got there in the first place by promising to impose term limits upon themselves. But once secure in their offices they’ve quickly forgotten those promises to their constituents - in the interests of ‘continuity’ no doubt.