Term Limits and Things
Terms are usually measured in years. For a House Rep it’s two years, President it’s four, and in the Senate, it’s six. Now that’s an okay system, because it ensures that the whole government can’t turn over at once. We get to change our mind about the president after only 2 years. If we like what he and his party have been doing, they might gain seats in the House, if not (and if I’m not mistaken I think most presidents have lost seats in the midterm elections) they may lose some. This very thing happened in 2010 of course, a near record breaking number of Democrats lost their seats in the House.
Now of course Republicans didn’t retake the Senate in 2010 and that is a fantastic check on mob rule in our system of government. In any given election (every 2 years) at least 2/3 of the Senate is not going to change, enough in theory for a majority. Tempers cool, people move on from what pissed them off in the last election and whatever damage might have been done by the mob replacing the whole government is minimized by the retention of a good chunk of the legislature. Those founder guys were smart cookies.
Now there are lots of things I would like to see for political reforms. A few examples:
Term Limits: I don’t like them and I’m glad the federal government doesn’t have them. If I want to elect the same person over and over than I should be allowed to do so, regardless of how horrible or fantastic they are. I do however understand that there is a big issue with not having term limits. That freedom to elect the same moron over and over indefinitely (and in a few cases even after they have died) results in a near enough permanent political class, owing to the phenomenon that most everyone thinks their rep is a good guy, it’s everyone else’s reps that are a bunch of crooks.
There used to be a kind of nifty check on this sort of thing, the Senate used to be elected by the state legislatures! If you know anything about state legislatures, you know they are, in general, more partisan than either of the federal bodies. This practically ensured turnover in the Senate for two reasons, either they would piss the state off or the state’s legislature would change political hands and because they are extremely partisan, forget about republicans leaving a democrat in a senate seat. Likewise if a state legislature became more liberal, you aren’t going to have them leave a “moderate” dem in the seat either. Direct election of Senators was a crappy idea.
Federal Sales Tax: Ditch the income tax, it’s a crappy way of collecting taxes because it relies on people being honest about the amount of money they make and the sources from which they make it. There is the flat tax option that is attractive, but it suffers from some of the same issues as the income tax, although there would be much less reason to cheat. Consider that Bush didn’t really run a deficit for most of the 8 years he was president. In most of those years, the deficit was extremely close to the amount of money that should have been paid in taxes and wasn’t, meaning that if you go back further than Bush, to the Clinton/Gingrich surpluses of the 90’s, those surpluses would have been far bigger and would have had a further reach.
I know what the liberals always say about the sales tax (consumption tax) plan, “it would his those least able to pay the hardest”. What a load of bullshit. It’s true that the poorer you are, the greater the pain would be, until you plug up your bleeding heart and think about it logically. A sales tax is the most fair way to collect taxes we have, the more you consume the more you would end up paying. So it would hurt the poor most! Wrong. The logical solution is to exempt certain goods from the tax. Foodstuffs and clothing, utilities, etc. You want to tax the things that are superfluous, not necessary for survival. Computers, yachts, golden retrievers and Starbucks coffee, not to mention the hoards of other things that make up the bulk of our economy. In addition to the smaller burden to ensure compliance on the IRS, you would have 20 million tax payers, rather than 240 million, plus those other 20 million businesses. We would also save billions every year that is squandered on tax preparers instead of being used for useful things like beer and firearms and… golden retrievers.
Crowd Sourced Legislation: Crowd sourcing is the wave of the future. The military, arguably the only properly functioning part of the US Government, has seen the light and it is asking me and you to solve problems they would have spent billions of dollars and many years to solve in the not so distant past (like 3 years ago). DARPA, a military research agency, crowd sourced a possible replacement for the Hummer’s we now know and love. Purportedly this scheme produced a functional prototype in less than 5th of the time it would typically take, and again, much more time spent in design and more money than Scrooge McDuck had in his swimming vault. So if it works for weapons of war, it should also work for legislation.
I usually say that if you need a problem solved, and don’t know how to do it, you should ignore looking for a solution and instead work on figuring out a way for someone else to make money solving it. World hunger, obesity and all the marshmallows floting to the top of the cereal box could all be solved if only there was a way to make money off it it. I think the biggest challenge to curing cancer is there is no money in it, in fact if you cure cancer, you put a hell of a lot of people out of their jobs and very likely bankrupt a nice chunk of companies. That isn’t to say that the cure is being hidden away or avoided, it just means the incentive for success is probably insufficient to positively influence the research to the degree we’d like. Lets just say that more money was spent trying to find ways of hiding steroid use than trying to find the cure for cancer last year.
I sure as hell don’t know how to fix social security (other than ditching it and letting people do their own retirement accounts which has been wildly successful in Australia and Austria, among other places) but some farmer in Boise might, I know that no one in Congress has any idea, and it’s certain that Obama hasn’t a clue unless it involved whacking a little white ball into a hole in the ground. I don’t know how to restructure the federal budget process, but there is likely to be an accountant in West Texas that knows exactly what to do. Toss some money to the crowd and see what we get back. I feel a million dollar prize would go a long way toward someone figuring out the big solution to keeping Medicare from going in the fiscal shitter, maybe a way to privatize it while improving care and lowering cost.
Toss it to the crowd and see if anything good comes up, if not, well don’t give out the prize money. If it does, than a million, even ten or one hundred million is just a drop in the bucket to the savings that could be had by harvesting the collective knowledge of 300 million people, and really, I don’t give a shit if it is a guy herding goats in Pakistan that figures out how to solve some legislative problem, pay the man.