Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Virtuous Government

So how can we really, REALLY clean up government? Sweeping rules? Undoubtedly. Absolute restrictions? Most likely.

The key point is to remove any quid pro quo, or even the appearance of one.; there should be no direct financial benefit to any decision made by any Senator, Congressman, judge or president or their friends. That's an amazingly tall order.

Can it be done? It might require a fundamental change in some of our philosophies of government.

In researching for this post, I came across a quote by Thomas Jefferson:

"In a virtuous government... public offices are what they should be: burdens to those appointed to them, which it would be wrong to decline, though foreseen to bring with them intense labor and great private loss." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee, 1779. Papers 2:298

A burden! Foreseen to bring...intense labor and great private loss! Amazing.

In the early days of this Republic, those sent to Washington D.C. to toil on behalf of their constituents were not happy at the prospect. The nation's capital was a swampy bog, far from the centers of American commerce and culture at the time. The government then being so small and limited, no one went there to further any grand or nefarious political, social or economic agendas. They went to serve, sometimes grudgingly, often apprehensively, because they believed in their hearts that their new nation and its citizens needed them to.

Service in government should return to this ethos; it should be a noble, albeit burdensome calling. That way only those genuinely committed to the betterment of all will serve, striving to craft a government that provides for all citizens of this land in a just, honorable and effective way.

To do this we must create a disconnect between those who seek or wield political power and those who wield economic power.

Service in government must be disconnected it from the importunings of big business, the lobbying of the rich and powerful. Government is best which labors to most effectively spread its benefits to all, rich and poor alike, with no thought to benefiting one group over another. Improving the infrastructure, health care for all, the intelligent and effective application of military power for protective purposes only, scientific research to improve the lives of everyone and to extend and expand the human ideal, all of these should be the sole and dispassionate aims of our nation's highest officials.

We need to ensure that the rich and powerful do not influence the democratic process out of proportion to their population. As Bill Moyers said, "The rich have the right to buy more homes than anyone else. They have the right to buy more cars, more clothes, or more vacations than anyone else. But they don't have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else."

The big question is HOW. Lemme write more on that later. I'll come up with an answer, I promise.

1 comment:

midwestvoter said...

If either side is REALLY serious about cleaning out the "For Sale" signs, I have a simple suggestion:
1) take the money out of elections. The tax payers will get more from their money by financing the campaigns knowing that the politicians voted in office can't be bought and will actually legislate according to the best interests of the tax payers!
2) Ban ALL gifts, food, perks, cocktails etc. No citizen or lobbyist needs to come bearing a meal, gifts, promise of luxury trips or cocktails just to petition the government. If it's that important, they can get an audience with out needing to bribe one.
3) TERM LIMITS. 8 years MAX. Career politicians may have started out with a civic mentality, but the corruption is inevitable when you live in a bubble.