A Facebook friend to whom I probably owe an apology for hijacking his conversation has a friend who posted what he calls “10 ways to improve the American Government.”
The list is actually pretty common, similar to emails floating around. It’s mostly a list of “simple” solutions to perceived problems with how the country runs, but simple solutions, in my experience, never work, and this list of simple solutions would set off a cascade of unintended consequences that would very quickly change American life for the worse.
Anyway, I thought I’d run the list here and then respond.
As a general rule, I tend to be wary of “big” changes done all at once — the push to pass a balanced budget amendment is one such move, for example, as are calls to do away with huge chunks of government. People who say the Dept. of Education doesn’t do anything obviously don’t know what it does. People who hate the EPA forget how bad the air was before it was formed. Like them or not, these things form part of the structure of the nation. Take one away, the rest might topple.
I’m still waiting for someone from the Tea Party to call me up and say they’ve followed through on their firm belief that government health care is socialism by taking away their parents’ Medicare cards and taking over all their expenses.:
1. Abolish Political Parties
2. Restore a balance of power between Federal & State Governments.
3. Withdraw from the United Nations
4. Abolish Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development
5. Eliminate Environmental Protection Agency
6. Forbid Government Employees higher pay, better benefits or greater rights than comparable employees in the private sector(comparable to be determined by other than government employees or their representives).
7. Term Limits
8. Redistricting done by non-governmental/non-political committees.
9. Institute Tort Reform
10. Randomly Execute .5% of practicing lawyers per year (Washington D.C. & NYC 1%) (10. Is to see if you’re paying attention)
And my responses:
1 — Political parties are not in the Constitution, they evolved after George Washington, the first and only president everyone agreed on, left office and a system of selecting among candidates was needed. Parties are a direct off-shoot of the 1st Amendment as well, so doing away with them would be not only unconstutional but a pragmatic impossibility.
2 — Not sure what this means, and I doubt anyone else does either. The states and federal governments have had shifting raltionships for 240 years, and much of what is called an imbalance now is really dissatisfaction with some aspect of policy, not power. Health care is called overreach, but I don’t see the states rejecting highway funds, for example.
3 — Withdrawing from the UN would make the US more isolationist, less able to control our fate around the world. The days of Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” and great white fleet are long gone.
4– All those federal departments were formed to meet specific needs that are responsible for the way our nation functions today. Do away with those departments, the problems they prevent or mitigate will come back. People who say “local can do that job better” forget that, before national departments were formed to work on health, education and all the rest, local governments were in charge of them, and we had a mal-functioning mish-mash, to the detriment of the country as a whole.
For a look at what the US food industry looked like before the US Dept. of Health, for example, read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” Yuk.
5 — The EPA was formed because corporations were using the nation’s air and water as a toilet, and would quickly do so again if the EPA went away. People who say otherwise, claiming corporations have a financial interest in being good corporate citizens who clean the air and water out of the goodness of their hearts, haven’t been outside lately.
6 – Government employees already tend to be paid less than private industry, and are already subject to the same laws as the rest of us. They’re getting no pay raises this year, for example.
7 – There are days I like Term Limits, mostly out of frustration with Utah’s tendency to keep electing the same bozos term after term just because they’re Republican. However, people have the right to be represented by who they want.
8. Redistricting by non-political groups is a great idea.
9. Tort reform gets talked about a lot, and if there really are abuses they need to be reigned in, but one man’s abuse is another man’s horrible wrong that needs to be righted. Tort Reform tends to be code for “keep big corporations from being sued by little guys.” Most of the examples of abusive or silly lawsuits that you hear about — burglars who sue because they cut their hand breaking into someone’s house – turn out to be urban myths.
10 — Nobody likes lawyers, but everyone has one.