America Needs a Revolution – Part II

by Diane Dimond on January 14, 2013

Let’s Take Away Congress’s Red Ink Pen

 

Sometimes a columnist touches a raw nerve. I did that last week with my call for a citizen’s “Revolution in Thinking” about how we allow our politicians to operate.

Using lyrics from Les Miserable, the movie about the French Revolution, I wrote about the anger of so many Americans who want better for this country. They want the rivers of red-ink to stop flowing. They want political leaders to lead and to stop throwing up partisan barricades in a political war that does no one any good.

No sooner was the column published than my e-mail box exploded!

What Most Americans Think of Congress

Mary Ann Edwards proclaimed her desire to join such a revolution. “I’m in! My husband is in!” she wrote. “We are stressed about this indifference to the debt and deficit. I would say scared, really.” And Mary Ann wrote, as so many others did, about her fear of the future. “Reducing spending is a foreign concept to those holding the reins of power. We don’t understand when and how this train wreck will be avoided.

I get it, Mary Ann. I’m scared too.

David Bailey directed me to his Facebook page where he had written, “I fear an out of control government more than a nut with a gun.” Bailey believes both parties have failed us and he wrote as much to his congressional delegation. “I wrote both U.S. Senators last year and told them, ‘they were my enemy,’ for failing to control spending and cutting spending.” He only got canned letters in response.

Ron Burton e-mailed to say that my words made him yearn for “the good old days in the 70’s,” when voters were actually interested enough to hit the streets to peaceably protest government policies. Great! Thanks, Ron. That’s just the idea I was hoping to ignite.

Is This the Answer?

For those who want to take action but don’t know what to do, reader Gary Keenan has an idea you may want to get behind. “The only fully effective remedy to eliminating self-interest(ed) and weak, scared politicians is to change the law to single term limits for all U.S. Senators and Representatives,” he wrote. “Give a citizen legislator a reasonable time to do their elected job one time and stop. No running for re-election.” Keenan also suggests a ban on elected officials holding any other government or lobbying job after their initial service.

Reader Stephen Verchinski’s plan to fix the economy was short and sweet. “Easy,” he wrote. “VAT tax on imports, rise in min(imum) wage for parity with 1968 inflation adjusted hourly wages, financial transaction tax, lower the retirement age.” Not sure I understand all of what Verchinski meant but, hey, I think all options should be discussed.

I think we need a summit of America’s top, non-political brains to devise a package of ideas for Congress to ponder. Then, it will be up to each of us to hold our representative’s feet to the fire to act on the summit’s smartest recommendations.

Our Collective Power is Tremendous

Kay Sorrells wrote to remind those who think there is nothing they can do that there is strength in numbers. “I have been bemoaning the fact that we, as individuals do not have enough power to make anything happen,” She wrote. “But, as a collective group, we can effect change!!!” Kay’s adamant punctuation speaks to her enthusiasm. She also asked if it was true that before the 112th Congress adjourned lawmakers voted themselves a $900 monthly raise? She was aghast that a legislative body that will likely be remembered as one of the least productive since the 40’s would have the audacity to increase their own pay.

Truth is, Kay, it was President Obama who made the pay raises happen. He recently signed an executive order giving a raft of federal workers a bump in pay beginning this March. Every member of congress will see their annual pay go up $900 to $174,900. Vice President Biden gets an extra $6,379 a year to bring his salary to almost $232,000. Must be nice.

Reader Gary Miles wrote to properly correct me. I had lumped in Social Security with, “other entitlement programs.” Social Security, of course, is a program that nearly all of us pay into for years. It is no give-away, it is our money.

This is Our Best Weapon

Lee Trussell said my column should be, “Required reading in Washington, D.C.” Thanks for that, Lee. If you agree, may I suggest that you print out of copies of last week’s column and mail them to your elected officials with big block letters that read: CUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING NOW! Sign it, “Angry American.”

Our collective power is breathtakingly obvious. Yet, reader Joe Stehling sees the politician’s, “Arrogance of power,” so intimidating that many citizens don’t bother to try to understand what’s happening. Ed Hoover agreed writing, “We just concluded a national election where we (re)-elected 90% of the incumbents. The only conclusion one can logically arrive at is that the majority of people still think they are the best choice for the job.”

I don’t think so, Ed. I think it is apathy. Too many people fail to take time to inform themselves so they can cast an intelligent ballot – if they vote at all. Or, worse, they personally benefit because Senator X or Congressman Y is in office so that is who they vote for.

In ending, I must agree with Ed’s last line. “We, the people, are ultimately responsible for the direction of this once great nation and we will reap the rewards or the pain, accordingly.”

It really is up to us, folks.

home

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

ABQ Journal Reader Billy Wright writes:

“Please start bearing down on The Democrats as well as Republicans.
The Senate has been responsible largely for the impass for the last few years with the Democrats in control.
The House has been in the control of the Republicans with no cooperation of the Democrats. How in the
world did they vote themselves $270,000 salaries? Who else is able to vote themselves their pay. And
their pensions!!!

The recent agreement increased taxes with “an agreement to work on spending over the next two months.
That promise has been made before!! Even the agreement extended some ridiculous subsidies that are not
necessary (except to get votes!!).

Congress will never vote to limit themselves to one term. The people will not vote to do that either because
that would end their own handout. However, the people could be educated to what is happening and then
accomplish the limitation by refusing to return the long termers to office.

Why do we subsidise the growing of tobacco and then turn around and try to convince people to not smoke
because it is dangerous to their health?

Why do we continue to subsidise corn for energy when it does not produce as much as it costs – and increases
the cost of corn for the table? Now with our new found petroleum we are having trouble finding a place to
store it until it can be processed and used or exported. Stop the subsidy!!

Why are we sending out National Guard troops into war? That is not their purpose or training (a few weeks in
the summer time) and the stress on their families and their jobs!!

Thank you for your efforts………”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

ABQ Journal Reader Ray Nichols writes:

“Ms. Dimond

The “No Labels” grassroots organization was formed a couple of years ago to address much of what you cited in your column today. The intent is to change the rules under which both houses of Congress function – legislation NOT required for the most part – so that the Congress can start to function as they are supposed to. There are over 600,000 supporters, nation-wide, and at least 94 Senators and Congressmen have co-sponsored the signal legislation of No Labels, the No Budget No Pay bills in both houses.

Thanks for bringing additional attention to the problem. It would be great if you would mention No Labels in your column as a serious effort to cause the Congress to “stop fighting and start fixing”.

R. L. Nichols
Santa Fe, NM

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dave Thomson writes:

“From: Dave Thomson

To: Diane@dianediamond.net

I think the only solution to the DC gridlock problem is described in Tom Clancy’s “Debt of Honor.”


If you think a theater filled with unarmed people
against a lone gunman is scary, imagine a disarmed
populace against a tyrannical government.

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

ABQ Journal Reader William Kenna Jr. writes:

“Great article [Albuquerque Journal this AM].Comments were right on esp. the one about term limits.Will never happen tho congress would never allow it.

Am waiting for these clowns [apologies to the clowns] to start telling the public why they can Vote themselves raises pensions etc and how about eliminating themselves spouses siblings aids pages etc from having to repay student loans.

Re the term limits do you recall the black Congresswoman from Texas [ back then we could use the term black] Rep Barbara Jordan,one of the brightest and most articulate people I have ever seen in Congress. If you remember she served two terms then quite. people were shocked swore she must have some terminal illness etc. she replied “Not the case at all she just felt that no one should make a career out of public service two terms is enough life time just leads to power and corruption.” She also felt it would give more people the opportunity to serve. Loved it wish more of these power hungry SOB ‘s would take that attitude.

As Thomas Jefferson stated “revolution once in awhile is good for Democracy…and take a look at Honest Abe’s comment on what the public should do when fed up with their leaders keep up the fight. I’m ready.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:30 am

ABQ Journal Reader Robert Noyes-Smith:

“Hi Diane,

I am responding to your Sat. Jan. 22nd column “More Power To The People” which bears out my struggle over the last six years to write what is a very short book called, “Revolution Without Violence” which I will be most happy to send you a signed copy if you will let me know your postal address. The book can be obtained through the publisher, Emergent Publications, ( http://www.emergentpublications.com ) in either electronic downloadable version or the soft back hardcopy.

Jefferson said:

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

We are at this tyrannical point in time and, “The People” need to speak.

Thank you for your brave column, Rob.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

ABQ Journal Readers Ellen and Mary Fitzpatrick write:

“We are going to follow your request and send last Saturday’s column to all of our congressman and senators,
but not by mail. All mail going to these folks is sent to a facility in Virginia first. This policy was started
because of the anthrax scare and takes 2-4 weeks to go from Virginia to the original addressee.

We got this informatioin from Congressman Pearce’s office from Washington, so, we think that it
is best to tell people to fax it to their office for prompt delivery, or if they prefer, email it so there
are no delays.

Hope this help your readers to get their communication delivered instantly. We look forward to next weeks column.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

ABQ Journal Reader Sandy Domeny writes:

“Diane,

I read your column this morning with great interest.

What you are suggesting we do has already started. It is called the Tea Party Movement. Unfortunately, the press & the big spending interests have vilified activists are “nuts”, “crackpots” , “bigots” and “angry white men”.

In the current climate, it takes a lot of guts to stand up for fiscal responsibility.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

ABQ Journal Reader Bob Scantling writes:

“I enjoyed your recent articles. I hope you can start a movement.
In my opinion politicians main focus is on getting reelected, not in serving their state or country. They seem to spend their time and our money to that end. I believe we will lose our country if we do not get term limits. They cannot make the hard decisions because of fear of getting voted out of office.
In a book I’m reading, The Irony of Democracy, It explains how politicians are used by the elite, or people with all the wealth,actually make all the decisions. Politicians did not write the U.S. Constitution , but the elite at that time. So this is not a new thing, the people with the money controlling our country.
It seems to me if we have term limits our represenatives would be more concerned with representing us and not getting reelected. Good luck and I hope you will continue what you started.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 11:29 am

Twitter Pal AdeleTignor writes:

“@DiDimond Spending money will stimulate the economy. Many people think that at a time like this that they should save.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

Twitter Pal marciamaryanne writes:

“@DiDimond My idea a woman needs to be in charge.”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

Reader Lindse Davis writes:

“I read your “America Needs a Revolution” articles with great interest. Thank you for opening the door.

I have to disagree, though, with “We, the people, are ultimately responsible for the direction of this once-great nation…” We, the people, are not running the government. We vote, but it is a delusion to think that we can actually chose the best people to serve. We, the people, vote for the lesser of two evils, for the person we feel will do less harm to each and every American citizen, for the person who most charismatically convinces us that he or she will labor long and hard to solve the problems that have become embedded in our government. But the candidates who vie for the privilege of serving the people in public office are career politicians, with all that implies. When we have a candidate like James Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” an honorable man who cares about the people, rather than the politics, then I can be proud to be an American.

Instead of calling for revolution, start one. Join me in sending a message on April 15, 2013: stop paying state and federal income taxes until all public servants reduce their pay to that of the average senior citizen. If those on Social Security can live on $12,000 a year, then so can our elected representatives.. If those who pledge their lives to protect the United States can live on practically nothing, then so can every other person who works in federal offices. The largest entitlement program that contributes to the deficit is the federal payroll. Our “leaders” aren’t the only federal employees who fail day after day, year after year, to do their jobs in a competent and timely manner, so I say don’t pay them until they get serious about doing what is best for our country instead of themselves. I have, and I can’t do it alone.

Thank you for listening,”

Reply

Diane Dimond January 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

TO ALL READERS:

While I thank Ms. Davis for her comment and I’m glad to post it – I do NOT advocate refusing to pay your taxes. That is a federal offense. ~ DD

Reply

Joanne Mazzotta January 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm

This CNN news piece today is the reason I wrote Why Whisper? Suicide rates are over the top these days. People are using death as a cure for depression. Children, rich, poor, professionals, military, sober, brilliant men and women, old, young. It is a plague.

Pentagon reports record number of suicides – CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/us/military-suicides/index.html

Reply

Diane Dimond January 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Huffington Post Reader Donald Andrew Ross writes:

“The government should be accountable to the people, they are not, otherwise we would all have excellent medical programs and the economy would be on an upswing.”

Reply

Jim Reynolds May 30, 2013 at 6:35 am

Right on the money. Term limits are key to breaking the Congressional morass. But the “term” has to be a reasonable timeframe for effecting other than knee-jerk reactions. 6 years max with a “vote of confidence” @ the 4-year point. If someone hasn’t done anything in their 1st 4, why would we expect them to do anything in their final 2.

Reply

Diane Dimond May 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

Jim, I really like that idea of a vote of confidence part way into the term! Honestly, I think we elect these people and then hardly give them another thought. Shame.~ DD

Reply

sfcrimereader August 27, 2013 at 3:38 am

Back when this country was founded, the concept of “career politicians” did not exist.

The writers of the Constitution assumed that Congress would be made up of people who were taking time away from their regular pursuits to perform “public service”– and not that it would be dominated by career politicians who have never done anything in their lives except run for public office.

The trouble is that our nation is now dominated by people whose only qualification to hold the positions they hold is that they are good at glad-handing and back-slapping and baby-kissing and “playing politics.”

Imagine a company run by such people. They don’t know anything about the business or the nitty-gritty of getting work done; they have no grasp of what the company does or what its products are or how they’re made; all they know is how to “be popular,” how to “schmooze” at company parties, how to make empty promises they have no intention of keeping in order to attract followers.

Such a company would go bankrupt in six months or less.

What is really needed is to take governance out of the hands of career politicians and return it to the kinds of people the writers of the Constitution envisioned– normal, responsible, everyday people who, in holding public office, were sacrificing their own interests in order to perform true “public service.”

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: