We the People

 

†††† There is a strange yet pervading sense today that something is terribly askew in our political process.Real wages continue to decline, American jobs continue to be "off-shored," moneyed interests continue to increase in influence at the expense of the bulk of the electorate, the chasm between the haves and the have nots continues to deepen, the national debt continues to climb along with the deficit, college education costs continue to soar far out of proportion to inflation and further and further out of reach of the average American, Wall Street continues to prosper as the real economy, the one most Americans rely on to provide the necessities of life for their families, continues to worsen, the social safety net we have all contributed to seems less and less likely to provide us any safety at all, energy prices are soaring without any national plan to transition from an ever increasingly unsustainable petroleum based energy system, and the politicians tell us that the state of the union has never been better.What America are they living in?It is becoming more and more apparent that the representative system we have relied on for so long is evidently not up to the challenge of facing reality and implementing real and necessary change.It has become too much tied to special interest and political elites to change, must less to trust the electorate with that change.Perhaps it is time for the electorate to remind them that we, the People, are the government, or at least use to be.

 

†††† It's no wonder that our representatives have become so divorced from the populations they serve.The allure of power and prestige has never been so strong as it is today in a Washington awash in lobbyists and political patrimony.I am convinced that most of the servants that we send to Washington are just that when they arrive, but the allure of influence and the Gordian knot of special influence is simply to hard to resist or break with.It doesn't seem long at all after they arrive that those issues which they seemed to have championed upon arrival become victims to accommodation and compromise.Unfortunately, these circumstances seem inescapable in a capital ruled by the parasitic confluence of capital, self interest, and power.The situation is so skewed from our democratic roots that one risks open derision in suggesting the common virtue of the common sense of the people to make judgments on significant issues.

 

†††† It's is far past time for us to take back control of a government run amok and which seems to have forgotten from whom it derives its authority as well as whom it serves.We have run amok in allowing our manufacturing base to be destroyed by overseas markets in countries that care not one wit for the laws that we have collectively agreed to out of a sense of responsibility to each other.No one can out produce us.No one can out invent us.Many can undercut us by paying their workers a fraction of the amount necessary for them to make a descent living, by employing underage laborers in conditions we outlawed years ago, by requiring no shared sacrifice for social security, by having minimal workplace safety laws, or by having no restrictions or offsets to environmental despoliation.They cannot, however, out work us nor out create us.It is not a comparative advantage for other countries to produce products at a fraction of the cost of US labor when they do not operate under the same laws which we have collectively agreed to operate under out of a sense of shared responsibility to our fellow citizens.It is impossible to compete on such an un-level playing field.We should not be expected to do so.Who is it that expects us to do so?Is this something that we really collectively agree on?

 

†††† I believe it is more a factor of who has the political clout in Washington.How have we become convinced that we can compete with a China selling automobiles in the US when they pay their workers less than one dollar an hour?The Chinese are not stupid.They are quite capable of taking the technology our multinational corporations have given them as an exchange for market entry and turning out vehicles just as good as the ones produced here. We have seen our textile manufacturing base destroyed by overseas competition.Furniture manufacturing has seen similar results.I recently went on a shopping trip with my wife to a large mall in Virginia.She shopped for about an hour while I spent the same time turning items over to look for something made in America.I only found a couple of items the whole hour.We, as Americans, simply don't make much anymore.Our manufacturing businesses and jobs are disappearing at the cyclic rate.Many have said that these are being replaced by service sector jobs, but if they can out compete us due to different laws in manufacturing, why can't they do the same in services.Again, they arenít stupid, they just have some catching up to do, but they are catching up rapidly.India, and GE's transformation of that service economy, is a perfect example.As the manufacturing jobs have gone, so too will many of the service and technology jobs.

 

†††† When will our elected officials start standing up for America?I believe in doing what we can for the community of man while doing what we must for our own.We have entered into a covenant with each-other, not with the world.We should do all that we are able to help our fellow man; however, how can our fellow man trust us when we break faith with those with whom we have mutually agreed to support and defend.What would we think of a father who, out of concern for his fellow man on far off shores, left his own family destitute?The fact is, we, as Americans, cannot save the world, but we can care for our own and do what we can, along with the community of nations, to care for others.We cannot expect or be expected to save the world.Is liberty every mans birthright?If you believe it to be a natural right as did our founders, yes it is.Can we, as Americans, bring liberty to everyone?By ourselves, no.Through our example, our voices, and even our blood and treasure when mixed with that of others who are likewise committed, we can possibly bring it to some.Likewise, although we may wish all to live in economic freedom, we alone cannot bring it to the world.We do, however, have a responsibility to provide it to our own.

 

†††† There appear to be too many issues which are intractable due to the current system of ingrained special and moneyed interests in the political process.Some means of relatively radical change is needed to break the impasse.Several have been proposed.I offer a few here for consideration.Institute a national referendum process for certain categories of national decisions.Such a process will put the power firmly out of reach of the PACs, lobbyists and moneyed interests in Washington.Institute term limits.This should be one of the first national referendums.We don't need career politicians.Rather we need people who are dedicated to serving the needs of their constituencies without undue influence from the special interests which have taken over our capital.In the same vein, institute a recall process for congressional representatives.Both of these measures would increase the connection of the legislature with the citizenry they represent, as well as decrease the opportunity for special interest entrenchment in the halls of our Congress.Consider moves to decentralize the functions of government in order to dilute the power of special interests.Use the power of the internet to reconnect our elected representatives with the constituencies they represent.Why can representatives not cast votes by internet from their congressional districts?Allowing this would increase the time they spend with their constituencies as well as decrease the opportunity for Washington special interests to gain a more prominent hearing.Relocate certain government functions out of Washington.Again, the power of the internet allows our jobs to be off-shored. Why can't we use it to dilute the influence peddling in DC?

 

††† Something is definitely amiss in our Democracy, but we have the ability to do something about it.Solomon once said, "As a man thinketh, so is he."If we think we are unable to make the significant changes necessary to bring back American prosperity, competitiveness, and political responsibility, then we will be unable to do so.We have been bequeathed, however, with the means to do so.It is only a matter of will.At some point of realization, the desire will be there, but if that point is distant, the will required must be much greater as the cost of change due to its delay will have grown.As with "the greatest generation", we have a choice.Hopefully we will see the possibilities which lie ahead as clearly as they and make the right ones, both for ourselves and our posterity.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††