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Saving Congress…and Ourselves (12/21/2014)

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Be careful with the following sentence about the original intent of our founders. It is the longest I have ever written. I’m dividing it up with bullet points to make it a little easier to read.

  • Since the original intent of the founders
  • to restrict federal responsibility to a specific few areas of national consequence
  • and leave all other responsibilities to the states
  • has been circumvented by bribing the states with federal grants,
  • to pay for strictly local needs,
  • voluntarily, if reluctantly, accepted,
  • and accompanied with restrictions, regulations, additional costs, and ongoing obligations,
  • to the extent that such grants comprise more than 15% of federal spending,
  • improperly skew state and local government priorities,
  • and dominate the time of senators and representatives striving to assure re-election
  • by currying favor with the voters and financial supporters,
  • drawing their attention away from the essential duties
  • that can be performed only by the federal government,
  • it is essential for the future of the nation and for the integrity of the congress,
  • that such grants be outlawed,
  • that federal taxes be reduced correspondingly,
  • that state and local needs be funded by state and local taxes,
  • and that congressional term limits be established
  • to allow members time to focus on the currently ignored federal essentials
  • rather than on fund raising and campaigning.

It’s a long sentence, but I think it is a pretty good summary of the case developed by James L. Buckley in “Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States and Empowering Their People.” It’s a short book, only around a hundred pages or so, but Mr. Buckley, who has a rich history of public service and political experience, does an excellent job of explaining in simple language why his proposals make perfectly good sense and would rescue us from many of the problems we currently face. He explains what the founders intended, what happened and why it happened, and why the current situation is unsustainable. He addresses every objection to his proposal. So, unless you intuitively agree with what I wrote above, please read his book and see if you can come around to his and my way of thinking.

I’m not as well educated, experienced, or eloquent as Mr. Buckley, and my objections to the current system are based mostly on logic and common sense rather than on personal credentials. Several times, often in frustration with people trying to draw analogies between the USA and such Atlanta sized, culturally and ethnically homogeneous countries as Finland, Norway, and Switzerland, I have expressed dismay at the idea that states as diverse and geographically distant as Alaska and Connecticut, Florida and Washington State, Hawaii and Georgia, New York and Utah, Alabama and California, can be controlled and forced into some state of uniformity from politicians up for re-election occupying a couple of square miles of property in the District of Columbia. That would not make sense and was never the plan.

Mr. Buckley hopes a lot of people will read his book, agree that he is right, and do something about it. I’m just trying to help. Since Mr. Buckley is 91 years old, we need to get busy if he is to enjoy seeing any progress.

The Kindle version of the book is only $11.50.