Go Dutch

Our lawmakers simply amaze me.
Who writes their speeches, and where do their ideas of how things should be run come from?

A Senator from Wisconsin proposes an amendment.
It simply states that if you go to lunch you pay your own share of the bill.
This is being challenged by a Senator from Mississippi.
He is concerned that a friend, who is not a registered lobbyist, will be slapped with a $100,000 fine if they buy him a Big Mac because they are employed by a company with a lobbyist..

Another NO-BRAINER that cannot be agreed on.

Buy your own lunch and everyone is in the clear.

...And our 'leaders' claim they can police themselves.

They are voting now.

The other side.
If they always 'Go Dutch' will there be any way to 'police' them? - No mention of that.

Posted by Dawn at March 29, 2006 11:41 AM
Comments
Comment #136635

Politicians don’t even care anymore how greedy they appear, because they know they can get away with it.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 12:13 PM
Comment #136650

Dawn, this is all masquerade for much deeper ethics problems, like Senators reaping 12% year over year returns on their stock investments, that’s 8 to 9% above brokerage houses. Given these returns are consistent year after year after year, it says only one thing, Senators are guilty of insider trading investing and selling stocks in accordance with their forehand knowledge of what is coming out of committees in Congress. They are not bound by SEC laws, they have their own rules, or should I say, lack of them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #136652

Politicians have to have laws like this, because they are not born if rational thought, they wouldn’t know what to do otherwise. If they did have “common sense”, they wouldn’t be politicians.

Now, if this was a law, they would figure loophole or a way around it.

Posted by: Nick at March 29, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #136655

‘They are not bound by SEC laws, they have their own rules, or should I say, lack of them.’
Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2006 12:53 PM

Yes.
And who is it that makes the rules?
Many of these rules should be voted on DIRECTLY by the public.
Of course we should know this would NEVER happen.

The same people who tax us are the ones in charge of spending the money they take from our paychecks, savings interest, capital gains, at the gas pump, and so on and so on.
The same ones who vote on their OWN pay and retirement benefits. Wouldn’t we ALL love to set our own pay and retirement?!!

These are the same people who spend MILLIONS for a job that supposedly pays them what? $150,000/yr + all the perks? …and they can’t afford to pay for their own Big Mac?

My heart bleeds for the guy/gal who devotes their life to ‘public service’.

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 1:08 PM
Comment #136663

When will our Public Servants
GET REAL.
Maybe if They all made min wage.
All Relection Adds were free and devided equal.
Once caught doing wrong the job went to runner up.

MAYBE JUST MAYBE THEY MIGHT START GETTING
SOMETHING DONE FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN.

UNTIL THEN I WILL JUST VOTE FOR THE NEXT
GUY. MAYBE IF THEY KNOW THEY ONLY HAVE
FOUR YEARS THEY WILL TRY TO GET SOMETHING
WORTH WHILE DONE.

Posted by: Honey P at March 29, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #136668

I think all of the illegal aliens should march on D.C., drag all the irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbents into the streets, and beat the crap out of ‘em.

: )

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #136669

Because, it looks like the voters, who have the right to vote, never will get it together either, to hold their elected officials accountable. Voters have themselves to thank for all this.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #136671

This kind of thing is so incredibly frustrating not only because the politicians are determined to right the system so as to allow them to gain the maximum number of perks, but because it very much undermines the entire intent of the Constitution. Our government was set up by the Founding Fathers in a way so as to minimize the damage that the everyday passions of people can do. To this end, for instance, there are the checks and balances built into the system, which keep any one branch from gaining too much power. The Constitution was set up in a way that would (hopefully) provide the means for elected officials to do the people’s business even when they are pursuing their own self-interest (thank you Invisible Hand). However, the one thing that the Founders knew was a danger (see Federalist Paper #10), was the influence of “factions”, appropriately seen as the various interest groups, both liberal and conservative, that attempt to get their way in the corriders of power. This lunch thing is a somewhat minor, but apt example of the problems of special interest groups. It is not just that members want perks, but that interest groups want (and need) ways to remain chummy with lawmakers. After all, if we removed all the ways that special interests had of influencing elected government officials, what would we be left with? A government which weighs off the various costs and benefits of policies and supports those ideas which benefit the state (or country) as a whole? That would be terrible to those people, be they groups like anti-abortionists, businesses or the various liberal do-gooder groups, all of whom only want their specific policy put in place, regardless of the costs to the rest of us.

This is not just simple graft (though it’s that, too), but a symbol of what’s wrong in the marbled halls of government. Our officials have become captives of all the various interest groups out there, on the left and the right, and cannot see the forest of people beyond the trees standing in front of them. I don’t know how or when it might get better. Sigh.

Posted by: Bill R. at March 29, 2006 1:58 PM
Comment #136673

Every time someone tries to reasonably limit priveledge, someone comes up with a bogus analogy. Its sad.

Vote them all out.

Posted by: iandanger at March 29, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #136675

We should be proud. We have the best government money can buy!

Posted by: Fatguy46 at March 29, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #136681

Let’s kill 2 birds with one stone:

1. limit what the lobbyists can spend on lunch for a politician to a big mac.

2. The lobbyists and politicians both die from premature heart disease.

Posted by: bobo at March 29, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #136686

Vote out all irresponsible incumbents.
Or, perhaps it would be easier to list the responsible incumbents.
How many responsible incumbents are there?
20 ?, 50 ?, 100 ?, or 268 (half) of the 565 in Congress?
For cryin’ out loud, if we can’t come up with at least half, we are screwed !

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 2:35 PM
Comment #136689

The Problem and the Solution

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 2:37 PM
Comment #136692

this goverment both sides promotes self interest and not the interest of the people who voted them in office they have become poisoned by self interest groups and the lobbyist. a republic is defined as a governmental system in which the power of the people are normally exercised through freely elected representatives who are supposed to make goverment decisions according to the popular will of the people or at least according to what is in the best interest of the population . the great president thomas jefferson acceptance speech for president used the word REPUBLIC seven times and never used the word democracy

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at March 29, 2006 2:46 PM
Comment #136702

Now they are upset that they have to put there name on an earmark.
If they are proud of the pork they bring home WHY do they want their name left off the check?

—-They don’t want anyone to see how much ‘asskissing’ goes on and we shouldn’t be able to see who bought off who and how they did it.

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 3:29 PM
Comment #136704

Pork-barrel is how irresponsible incumbents bribe dumbass voters with the voters’ own money. And, of course, there’s some graft and kick-backs for the crooked politicians. I’ll bet Alaska just loves Ted Stevens, but why do all the other Congress persons tolerate it? Because they are all dirty and they all look the other way.

Here are just a few of the porker-award winners for 2005:

Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Robert Bennett (R-Utah) , Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.), Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss., Senate) , Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Robert Cramer (R-Ala.), John Culberson (R-TX), Randy Cunningham (R-CA.), Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John Doolittle (R-CA.), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Chet Edwards (D-TX) , Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.), David Hobson (R-Ohio) , Mark Kirk (Rill.), Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) , Tom Latham (R-Iowa), Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), John McCain (R-AZ) ($1 million for the brown tree snake), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), George Nethercutt, Jr. (R-Wash.) , Anne Northup (R-Ky.), John Peterson (R-Pa.) , Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont) (parking garage that voters petitioned to have the pork-barrel money returned), Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala., Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) , Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska, Senate) (he is the worst), John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), David Vitter (R-La.), James Walsh (R-N.Y.) , Zack Wamp (R-Tenn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chairman Bill Young (R-FL)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Robert “Bud” Cramer (D-Ala.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-S.C.), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) , Mary Landrieu (D-La.) , Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) , Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) , John Murtha (D-Pa.), David Obey (D-Wis.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.)

And, they do not want any one overseeing their greed either. Here is a list of politicians that voted against the creation of the Office of Public Integrity:
Senator Akaka (D-HI)
Senator Bennett (R-UT)
Senator Chafee (R-RI)
Senator Coburn (R-OK)
Senator Coleman (R-MN)
Senator Dayton (D-MN)
Senator Domenici (R-NM)
Senator Pryor (D-AR)
Senator Stevens (R-AK)
Senator Voinovich (R-OH)
Senator Warner (R-VA)

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 3:35 PM
Comment #136708

how does a congress person have the ballS to claim to her poor district she is there for them as she walks to the podium wearing a $30,000 diamond and sapphire cross and a $2,500 gucci outfit and $500 pair of shoes. her reward they vote her back in.it is not just her it is a whole system of graft

Posted by: JAY at March 29, 2006 4:05 PM
Comment #136709

Acting as the Devil’s Advocate:

The reason many congressmen feel they should be able to stretch allotted expenses is because those same individuals, with the their education and experience, would make twice as much in the private world, have expense accounts, and be much less restricted in their personal expenses.

You give them these freedoms in their expense accounts and then it takes some of the sting out of trading a much more lucrative career for public service.

-Xander

Posted by: Xander Jones at March 29, 2006 4:31 PM
Comment #136713

Xander,

Of course many public servants could make more money in the private sector. That’s why it’s called public SERVICE - it is, in may ways, a sacrifice.

Have you ever read Plato? One of his main concerns is how you engineer a system so that the best people rule. He categorically states that people should ONLY want to rule to prevent someone worse from being in charge - to sacrifice one’s own best interest for the good of the whole.

If our public servants wish to make more money, let them enter the private sector. It is, after all a free country. There is certainly no end of people who would jump at the chance to serve in government.

Unless, of course, you’re arguing that our distinguished solons are, in fact, the best of all possible solons and therefore must be kept in office at any cost. In which case, I laugh. And then I cry.

Posted by: Arr-squared at March 29, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #136714

-Xander,

I say.. ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.’

Being able to engage in insider trading is enough of a perk without all the ‘usual’ perks.
Any one of us would be put in jail for what is ‘legal’ for them to do.

Question?
Are any of our Reps not millionaires? Either BEFORE they were voted in or since?

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 4:44 PM
Comment #136716

Not my opinions necessarily, but again I return to the side of the dark prince to post a reply:

To approach the problem from another perspective I would suggest that allowing generous use of public funds might in fact shield our representatives from further corruption. Denied these small privileges, they become more susceptible to outside influences, promising wealth for their work. The self-justification becomes, well I deserve it, and after all, I am denied even the smallest of privileges extended to my peers in the private sector.

Xander

Posted by: Xander Jones at March 29, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #136719

Xander,

But isn’t that what ‘public service’ is?
No one is forcing anyone to run for office -that I know of.
If they did not have all those perks they would not make a LIFETIME career of it.

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 4:54 PM
Comment #136720

Dawn:

Personally, I couldn’t care less who pays for lunch. I’m just not that concerned about a congressman/woman being bought for 50 bucks. Its the junkets, gifts,etc that concern me.

Duke Cunningham sold a house for hundreds of thousands more than it was worth—that was a bribe. If the lobbyist bought him lunch on the way to the closing, it would be an insignificant part of the bribe.

I say put a limit on the total that a congressman can receive over a year. Put the figure relatively small—-I don’t care if its $1000, or $5000. That kind of money is chump change to these guy—they won’t be bought for that. Lets worry about the real stuff and let the little stuff alone.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 29, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #136721

Dawn, you’re right that most of them do make a lifetime career out of it, which makes it hard because they spend most of that lifetime campaigning (because of the frequency) of elections. However, many of the committees are so demanding of knowledge of protocol that it requires someone to be there forever just to figure out how things work. We get what we designed, and the frequency of elections ocmbined with no term limits and the required connections has created the situation. We want people to know what they are doing, but then are angry when they work the system. To get people that would not work the system would probably also entail getting people that would know how to push a bill, make connections or play the game. More than reforming the benefits of those in office, we need to redesign the whole electoral office, terms of service, limitation of terms, etc

-Xander

Posted by: Xander Jones at March 29, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #136723

‘we need to redesign the whole electoral office, terms of service, limitation of terms, etc’

That brings me back to my original point.
Our politicians CANNOT police themselves AND we will NEVER be given the opportunity - by voting on issues directly - to change things.

I imagine that if ‘We the People’ felt like we actually have control we would have a much higher turn out at the polls.

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 5:03 PM
Comment #136724

I personally agree with you. I think the problem is a government that is too large, with little accountability. If federalism had proceeded as it was supposed to, with narrowly defined responsibilities and duties, I doubt these problems would be so pervasive. The good news is, I really don’t think its unfixable. Just requires a substantial overall.

-Xander

Posted by: Xander Jones at March 29, 2006 5:06 PM
Comment #136726

Joe is right about the small things. We tend to come down on the little ones and miss the bigger ones.

Let me give a practical problem with the going Dutch. We forget sometimes that much business and information gathering is conducted over lunch. If a congressman sits and works in his office all day, he will not be a good representative.

People who have never done it, just don’t understand how much going to lunch or attending cocktail parties is hard work. I am not joking here. I would much rather write an article or do a report than attend a cocktail party and have to make small talk with people I don’t know. I bet most you would agree, if you think about it.

Now consider this situation. Someone invites you to lunch and you believe it is a usual contact to make and good business can be contracted over lunch. The person who invites chooses the restaurant. He chooses a place that costs $50. If left alone, you would eat your peanut butter sandwich at your desk, but you have to go out to lunch. You could quickly go broke paying for this sort of thing.

Someone who can be bought for the price of the lunch is not a reliable person anyway. So, yes, catch the big crooks. But don’t be silly about the little things. If you do, you will get either people who are so crooked they figure out ways to cheat without getting caught, or those who are so anti-social that they can’t operate in a political environment.

Posted by: Jack at March 29, 2006 5:21 PM
Comment #136731

Jack, you miss the bigger issue. We as citizens have a right as individuals to lobby our Congresspersons, either through, mail, phone, or visit. WHY should lobbyists and politicians grant visitation privileges to each other that the rest of us don’t have and many can’t afford?

Lobbying is communication. Put it in a frickin’ memo and send it to them. This BullShit that CongressPersons have to fly around meeting with their lobbyists at cocktail parties undermines the representative relationship Congress persons are supposed to have with all of their constituents.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2006 5:50 PM
Comment #136738

greed starts small.a free lunch or diner or movie.next time a watch, next time a paid trip to china, next time that small chunk of land in arizona would be nice i could retire there, next time hey if you want my vote a houseboat would do. next time buy my house for twice the value. next time, next time. next time… btw they dont all get caught

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at March 29, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #136742

rodney,

absolutely correct.

public service is a privilege, and its own reward.

if the incentives aren’t large enough, what does this mean? that no one will want the job? bull.

if you want the best and the brightest, the most committed to our country, eliminate the unnecessary perquisites.

if you want the most corrupt, immoral opportunists that money can buy… then you must be pretty happy right about now.

remove the perks, purge the jerks.

Posted by: diogenes (i) at March 29, 2006 8:16 PM
Comment #136757

The cu$hy perks, lobbying, campaign finance, etc., are all big problems.

So are the following numerous problems:
Neither is the National Debt,
or the Trade Deficits,
or Pork-Barrel,
or Election Reform,
or the Supreme Court,
or the Terrorism,
or Iraq,
or Social Security,
or Medicare,
or the aging population,
or corporate/investor fraud,
or global pillage,
or foreign policy that alienates allies,
or our unsecured ports,
or our dysfunctional legal system,
or gerrymandering,
or the GPBC & pensions $450 billion in the hole,
or our energy vulnerabilities, etc.

But, all of those numerous problems are merely the many symptoms of a single, more serious, fundamental problem.

The most serious issue facing this nation is:

  • (51%) the overall irresponsibility of the corrupt, bloated, FOR SALE, bought-and-paid-for federal incumbent politicians, and

  • (49%) the laziness and failure of duped voters to do the one simple, common-sense, responsible thing voters were supposed to be doing all along, to peacefully force government to be responsible and accountable too.

Until resolved, no reforms of any kind will ever be possible. Many badly-needed, common-sense reforms will never be passed or implemented as long as voters keep re-electing the same, crooked, irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbents into the cu$hy seats of power, which they use to continually use and abuse the very voters that put them there. If voters can’t figure this out, then we all deserve each other.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 29, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #136762

“Campaign Finance Reform: Seventy-three percent of Americans support stricter laws controlling the way political campaigns can raise and spend money (ABC News/Washington Post Poll, March 2001). Seventy-two percent favor a ban on “soft money” (CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, October 2000). Most significant, even after the long-blocked passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, 72 percent favor passing additional campaign finance laws (Gallup/CNN/USA Today Poll, February 2002). The vast majority of Americans continue to want to limit the influence of big money on our democracy.”

above paragraph from:

‘Independent Nation’

Posted by: dawn at March 29, 2006 10:26 PM
Comment #136772

Rodney:

You are right about “next time”. That’s precisely why I suggested making a yearly acceptable amount for all public officials.

Its NOT the lunch that is the problem. Its the “next time” and the “next time” after that.

Look, salespeople take clients out for lunch all the time. Let’s say the client is a purchasing agent and I take him/her out for a casual lunch—nothing extravagant. Gives me an hour or so of face time to present my case. I cannot imagine a purchasing agent being “bought” in such a fashion. If the lunch happens to be in Honolulu or in Paris, different story.

Now lets say I’m JoeBagodonuts from Dubuque and I want to talk with my congressman about an issue of importance to me. I schedule a time over lunch and I buy. Have I really “bought” influence? Do I really think that my $30-50 lunch bought the congressman? Of course not.

Lets focus on the real stuff, and not the fluff. We do it with all kinds of crime. We don’t worry about the kid caught with one joint, we don’t worry about the speeder doing 1 mile over the speed limit, and we don’t target the guy with one unpaid parking ticket. Nor should we worry about the lunch.

Lets focus on the worthwhile stuff.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 29, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #136774

we must hold our elected representatives to a higher standard. they should be the best of the best… not merely an average joe.

i purchase my own meals every day. i make a fraction of what these politicians make. they certainly are not strapped for cash.

remember, no matter what they tell you (and they will try)…

There Is No Free Lunch.


Posted by: diogenes (i) at March 29, 2006 11:24 PM
Comment #136786

jbod in my line of work reps and sales people take me out to lunch and pay sometimes because they would like me to buy a new line of frames or lenses or lab equipment it is called business.or perhaps a friend takes you out to diner and buys that,s a act of friendship. the way i look at it is why should i even be with a politician for lunch there not buying anything from me or i them. if i had a issiue with them i would write them or email them or fax them or request a visit with them or there staff i know where ken calverts office is ive faxed it many times. it is just the way i feel about it. he is not my friend or a sales person. he is a elected public servent of the people of this state and he can buy his own lunch.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at March 30, 2006 1:57 AM
Comment #136793


Haha Dan, yeah I have a letter in my email from Domenici telling me why it is RIGHT for bush to tap phones without warrants. (I wrote all the congressmen in my state about it.) Cute.

Posted by: Squeaky at March 30, 2006 5:27 AM
Comment #136796

When I was in the USAF I was simply a Ssgt… in no position to make any real decisions, but as told that as a representative of the military and of our government, each of us had to be careful to not even give the “appearance” of impropriety. This was a very high standard… one to aspire to… but if that was the goal, then all actions leading to that would be, hopefully, worthy.

I wish that we still believed that. Now, as long as it cannot be proven in court… well…

Enlisting in the military requires the surrender of some of our basic rights which we enjoy as civilians. It is necessary and a price to be paid to serve our country. No one gets rich in the military, but we lead honorable and satisfying lives, of where we need to make no apologies for.

People running for public office should also give up certain things. They should be willing to maintain behavior of the highest standard. If they find this too difficult then possibly they need to find another line of work. It shouldn’t be for everyone but for those willing to do what has to be done.

Often times, people are rewarded. I predict that if DeLay is not convicted he will be reelected. Why? Because, the people will feel that it is more important to be partisan and elect a politician who no longer has a reputation worth a hill of beans, one who will not be able to represent them adequately… just so they can “stick it in the eye of the liberals.

This will be justified by them as “he was not found guilty in a court of law.” Fair enough… with a particular tilt of my head and a squinting of my eyes I can see that it is now the letter of the law and not the intent… so if there is a way, caused by a misplaced comma or the definition of “is” is… then so be it.

I have mentioned before… I am most disappointed when a politician of my party fall short. Why? Because that person is supposed to represent what I believe in. If a person from the other party fall short, well… that is why I am not a member of that party… it is only to be expected. I do not want to use what the other person does as a justification by my party to be just as bad.

Reform of a party cannot be done from the outside. It causes an immediate circling of the wagons and a defensive posturing that is harmful to America. Reform of a party can only come from within.

There needs to be a climate of accountability, responsibility and dedication to the purposes that put them there. Tolerance of shady or questionable behavior needs to be done by people within the party.

Sadly, we will too often follow the low road, just to prevent us from giving the other side the “advantage”.

What advantage is there really, when we try to excuse questionable behavior, a fairly clear example of skirting the law and we accept it? American’s are not stupid (that can be argued though) and they can reward a party that has a bad apple if that party is seen as doing something about it. Instead… both parties are willing to deny reality and the public sees this.

Work within your party. Let them know that you are a member and you are disappointed that someone puts themselves into a position that leads to speculation of impropriety. That it is your values they are representing and you cannot allow them to continue in this manner. Insist that because it is you that they represent, you hold them to a higher standard.

If each person, of each party did this… it might help with the corruption, the pork barrel, and the overall stench that we are smelling.

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 30, 2006 6:11 AM
Comment #136799

Here is a great example of a Ghettofied Hustling Politician(Nate Holden-Former L.A city councilman 10th District)and now he”s a State Senator? Are these people in tha Hood retardz.

Posted by: peter at March 30, 2006 6:57 AM
Comment #136801

Rodney:

I understand your point. I’m against a politician making someone buy lunch in order to get access—that would be wrong.

What I’m saying is that by focusing to any degree on the lunch aspect, we are “walking past dollars to pick up pennies”. Let’s say a congressman meets 5 times in a year with a constituent (perhaps a professional lobbyist or perhaps just a citizen with a specific issue) and they do so over lunch. They alternate paying, so Congressman pays for lunches 1,3 and 5, while constituent pays for lunches 2 and 4.

I don’t see any criminal behavior there, nor any attempt to “buy” influence. But it would be illegal. Seems silly to me.

I don’t think we should have to buy access to our elected officials…they work for us. I just don’t want to see the small problems fixed while the large ones go unfixed.

In my opinion, if we set an annual limit on gifts, along with a limit on individual gifts, then we have solved the problem. Suppose its $5000 per year—-that’s not enough to buy influence or for someone to risk their career for. That’s all I’m saying. Otherwise, I think we agree.

Posted by: joebagodonus at March 30, 2006 7:24 AM
Comment #136804

People working in government that take their obligations seriously are always going out to lunch… and they always are careful to maintain their appearance of impartiality… buy paying for their own lunch. It really is so simple, “No thank you, I will pay for my own, not to infer anything, appearances you know.”

I remember when in the service they tried to discourage military member from contributing to the party in office… why? Because of the appearance it would give… that somehow the contributions were being coerced. We were not even allowed to give superiors any gifts except under the strictest guidlines…. superiors could not sell their children’s girl scout cookies to their subordinates. Appearances.

Having to defend the actions of a person based on a loophole, comma or jury verdict… I would say is a bit too late.

Within the party there are means of rewarding and punishing politicians that do not uphold the spirit of the ethics… loss of prestigious committee seats, lack of support during reelections… many means. However, it seems to be an atmosphere of just don’t get caught… or plausible denyability… which means you may know what I did, but prove it.

Is having it codified silly? Absolutely… however, like children with rules… if it is not specifically stated to cover every contingency, they will find a way around it. Tell them not to do something… they will do something similar and when confronted on it they will say they were told not to do behavior A and they were doing behavior A(1).

Politicans shouldn’t have to be treated as children, but as long as they act like one, what else can a parent do?

Souldn’t we expect more? Cops are supposed to pay for their lunches… simple. Why not politicans?

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 30, 2006 7:49 AM
Comment #136807

Rodney:

Last comment: if we make lunches illegal, I have no problem with that. As long as we don’t lose focus on the bigger systemic problems.

If we fix the lunches, but don’t fix the campaign finance loopholes where the true “buying” of our politicians exists, then we haven’t fixed anything at all.

So lets get rid of free lunches and also decrease the influence of money in politics at the same time, but lets not think that getting rid of free lunches solves the problem.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 30, 2006 8:36 AM
Comment #136819
So lets get rid of free lunches and also decrease the influence of money in politics at the same time, but lets not think that getting rid of free lunches solves the problem.

Nope, it won’t.
The only real solution is the one simple thing voters have forgotten that they were supposed to be doing all along. It’s so simple, but apparently as illusive too.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 30, 2006 10:27 AM
Comment #136829

The problem isn’t lunch, it’s influence. You cannot get elected in congress without corporately funded party backing. Reform corporate law, impose free election time debates, simultaneous broadcast on free TV as a requirement of license and ban political TV ads.

Your political party has been sold to the highest bidder.

Posted by: gergle at March 30, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #136845

gergle,
Those are good ideas.
However, incumbents will never do it on their own.
All that’s left is for voters to force it to happen.
Or we can all wait for this, and many other serious problems, to solve themselves the hardway (again).

Posted by: d.a.n at March 30, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #136879

I think all of Congress spend to much time eating and other things when they should be working.

Posted by: Daniel Younger at March 30, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #136881

Tom Sowell wrote a great piece on this:

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/thomassowell/2006/01/25/183702.html

Posted by: JayTea at March 30, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #136906

Good article.
Not sure term limits would solve it though, but it is worth a try.
Probably wouldn’t make things much worse.
The down side is a loss of good, politicians too.
OK, OK, I know what you’re saying.
What good politicians?
True, there are not many now (if any).

One other little problem though.
Like all other reforms, none are possible, until voters make it happen.

And, term limits are not needed if voters simply vote out all irresponsible incumbents, always, like they were supposed to do all along.

Maybe we just need a few more million years to become more civil and logical, instead of acting like a bunch of hyenas.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 30, 2006 2:53 PM
Comment #136907

Now we know how the American Indian must have felt.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 30, 2006 2:56 PM
Comment #136913

jbod. i agree with your premise. i think now the door is cracked open its a start. now lets put a crowbar in it to open it fully. they must be accountable.ethical.responsable. and principled.somewhere along the way they lost the idea of goverment to serve the people. not themselves or special interests, is it time to explore term limits? when you hear a senator say when i win the next election i will have 24 years in and that will make me a chairman of a committee and every dollar you pay in i will send four back. almost sounds like a bribe to me

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at March 30, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #136931

Rodney:

I’d love term limits. I hear people say they would be unConstitutional, but we have term limits on the Presidency, so why not on Congress. If we need to amend the Constitution to allow for term limits, lets amend it.

Others will say we already have term limits at our disposal, due to elections. But with the manner the elections are gerrymandered and powered by big money, I’d have to say they aren’t working as well as they should be. Voter apathy plays a role in that as well.

If ya need help with the crowbar, I’ll throw my weight behind ya.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 30, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #136943

Here’s a meme for you. The “robber baron” culture of the early 20th century never died out, but went underground and used their wealth to slowly roll back support for the New Deal restructuring of the government. They are succeeding. One of the methods they used was to, essentially, buy the government. As the Republican party has always had a softer spot for them than the Democrats, they formed their base there, but their wealth has purchased enough Democrats to ensure that their interests are met even in the face of some Republican rebellion.

How is this manifest? For one, the dominance of money in the national races (and important state and local races, if you look hard) has grown to obscene proportions of late. In addition, the role of lobbyist and their spreading of wealth related to particular legislative goals has been nakedly pursued. Finally, look at the bills Congress has actually passed and the changes the Executive Branch has made: Rollback of taxes on the wealthy, subsidies for large industries, pro-business and pro-wealthy judicial and executive branch appointees, de-fanging of regulatory bodies, low-cost labor policies, encouragement of outsourcing labor, costly military adventures and rebuilding schemes without competitive bidding, etc. The social conservatives have, of course, been taken for a ride, not gaining any of their goals, as have the “fairness to the rich” naifs. This last catch phrase means letting the rich accumulate unlimited wealth and the power it attaches. But even a cursory examination of game theory shows that without countervailing societal forces, the advantaged will use that advantage to continue accumulating until they have everything. This is what happened during the previous Robber Baron age. The only wealth they must give up is the barest amount to keep what little labor they still need going enough to run their businesses. A luck few will still leverage themselves into a modest fortune (business execs, sports heroes, and entertainers), but the rest will toil like serfs as their real income erodes at a faster and faster rate. By the way, the historical origins of feudal society in the Middle Ages was a direct result of the destruction of the moderating influence of society on the unlimited acquistion of wealth through advantage, in that case military power. And that’s what completely free enterprise engenders.

So don’t be too swayed by the arguments of the “invisible hand of the market” and all that other pseudo-mystical economic claptrap. We need a society that can enforce a limited sharing of the prosperity, so that some can become wealthy, but the wealthy can never come to dominate the commons.

Posted by: mental wimp at March 30, 2006 5:41 PM
Comment #136967
…but the wealthy can never come to dominate the commons.

Too late. Government is FOR SALE.
Incumbent politicians are bought-and-paid-for.
Incumbents have many unfair advantages.
Lazy voters are slumbering.
And, too few understand the six fundamental things required for a healthy organization or society.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 30, 2006 6:58 PM
Comment #137003

It is interesting to see so many views as one would expect. The bottom line for me is that our elected officials need to be held accountable. If citizens were to ban together and the majority rules prevailed, our Senators, congress, etc would have to submit to the majority or be voted out of office. Check out www.nowyourvotematters.org for a sample of what I am talking about.

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #137004

‘If citizens were to ban together’

They do.
They vote in the same name because they know what they get - good or bad.
Creatures of habit…
Seniority has been shown to be extremely important.
Picking names out of a hat may prove to be a better way to go.

Posted by: dawn at March 30, 2006 8:36 PM
Comment #137011

How about throwing in a little kicker. It should be illegal for an attorney to be a member of congress. The congress is loaded with lawyers and they still can’t seem to pass good legislation. So I consider it a conflict of interest for attorneys to be legislators either at federal or state level. It should be illegal to accept any type of gratuity or gift from anybody while serving as a government employee. The only exception is on special personal days and then only from family. A number of years ago I worked on avionics ground support systems. I had to pass a practical exam from the FAA. That is I had to engineer the whole system and set up all the parameters. It took about 3 days to get it done. When it was over I offered to buy the FAA representative a cup of coffee. He told me he could not accept it because it is considered by FAA rules that it would be a bribe. Lets apply that standard to those louts in congress.

Posted by: tomh at March 30, 2006 9:31 PM
Comment #137104

tomh,

There are good lawyers and bad ones, the same as there are engineers. Painting a knowledge base as conflicted or corrupt won’t solve problems that have to do with deception of the electorate.

Corporations are only good bodies if they are regulated properly. Our current formulation of Corporations allows completely corrupt behavior as long as it is profitable. Our board/CEO/CFO structure invites greed to become an end unto itself.

The biggest problem we seem to have right now is money and influence are driving policies that do not seem to serve the electorate well.

Disallowing slick TV ads (political ads period) and requiring communication venues such as Broadcast and even Cable TV to simulcast political debates for a reasonable period prior to elections. Might, at least, get a few more people to actually become involved in the democratic process, and perhaps, learn a thing or two besides what the latest pervert did or where Britney Spears shopped.

Posted by: gergle at March 31, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #137139

gergle i agree with most everything but if you regulate the corporations to much you would lose 35% of the lawyers. in a sense you would have regulated them also!

Posted by: JAY at March 31, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #140867
Dawn wrote: Seniority has been shown to be extremely important. Picking names out of a hat may prove to be a better way to go.
Yes, perhaps. ______ Posted by: d.a.n at April 15, 2006 2:19 PM
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