Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Bor for Prez in '12": Part 3

After my last presidential post, it seems that yet another person has jumped on the bandwagon of me running in 2012. This person isn't just any morbid wombat; it's THE Morbid Wombat.

The things MW said in the comments for the last post are the kinds of things I want to hear. Not the cheering me on parts, but, "Here's what's wrong, and here's my idea to fix it." That's the exact kind of feedback I want.

Like "pork barrel spending." Oh, this is one that I just love. (End sarcasm.) For those who don't know what this is, it goes like this...

1. A bill is introduced to improve...something. Let's say it's health care specifically for children.
2. Politician A sees the bill, and decides he won't sign it into action unless he can add a few things. He wants a public park for one of the cities in his State, and 1.3 million dollars to build it.
3. Politician B also wants something. A major highway in his State has been patched dozens of times; the time has come to rebuild. He was 50 million to repair it.
4 to 105. Similar nonsense. The bill addressing health care for children is written approximately 105 times, with each politician adding his State's needs or desires.
5. The bill that was established to spend 50 billion dollars ensuring each child below the age of 16 was taken care of has climbed to 70 billion, which includes road repair, public parks, a new monument to some obscure historical figure, a clean air program for a particularly polluted city, and countless other things that have nothing to do with child welfare! And all of these politicians refuse to sign the bill unless they get what they've added.

Everyone wants to add a bauble to the Christmas tree, eventually making the tree unrecognizable. By the time the bill reaches the Big Chair for signing, it's thousands of pages long, and the part about health care for children has been hidden amidst a great deal of selfishness. I mean, 1.3 million dollars to build a public park?!? One of the saplings you plant had better be made of solid gold for that money!

Appropriation bills like this see this kind of nonsense all the time, which is sad. The initial goal is one thing, and everyone wants a piece of the financial pie. Unlike my "thing park" idea, everyone wants the money up front, and they will decide how to spend it. Fifty million to repair a road may see only 45 million to the repairs, while the rest of the money goes to something completely unrelated. Oh, the politician doesn't pocket that money, but he/she ends up spending it on a park, a housing renewal program, or some other need. While those are fairly legitimate uses for the funds, it's not what the money was for!

That's why President Rob is going to introduce the concept of a "Whaddaya Need Bill." The first day Congress is back in session, the bill is going to hit the floor. "This bill is to finance the needs and/or desires of your particular State. Stop and think about what your people need or want, not what you need or want. Then go ahead and add it to this bill. By amending this bill, you agree to put an end to pork barrel stupidity, and start cutting the nonsensical red tape that has held up thousands of other bills before this one. The current spending on this bill is $0. Whaddaya need?"

It'll be like Christmas all over again! "Oooh! Presents from the government! I want a pony, a rocket ship that can fly to Mars, a singing dinosaur that isn't Barney, a pet monkey..." Go nuts, but stay reasonable. The governor's house needs repair? Fine. The governor's house "needs" remodeling? Not fine. Let's see the restoration of historical buildings, road repairs, public housing, housing renewal, clean air programs, waste management programs, a smattering of public parks, and all sorts of other things that would normally get appended to bill that have nothing to do with such programs. Get it out of the way at the start of the congressional session, and let's move on.

Oh...Bit of bad news, though, for you politicians. You see, we're going to use the voucher system again. No, no...That's okay. We can keep your money right here on Capitol Hill. When the vouchers arrive from contracted companies doing the work you need, and an inspector sees that the work is being done, and then they'll get paid.

There is, of course, a little snag in that whole voucher system. Contracted individuals and companies will need materials to start their work. Odds are pretty good they don't have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around to start work and pay employees. I suppose I'll need a starter voucher program. Once bidding for the work is complete, and it's ready to go, the starter voucher will allow 10% of the appropriated funds to go out. "There ya go. Show us the work from here, and you get more."

Anything left over from all of this political spending is put away for a rainy day. And it seems we have lots of rainy days here in the States. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, etc. If we manage government spending with increased control, we wouldn't have to scramble for the money when such disasters strike.

Money, money, money. It seems to be one of the things I stand on the most, but that's probably because I'm so danged poor. Me and millions of others. It's that fact that makes us stare in the direction of the Capitol and wonder how the heck they can spend money the way they do. To myself, and countless others, the actions of our government equate to taking billions of dollars and flushing it down the toilet.

It makes one wonder where our country gets its arrogance. According to comedian Lewis Black, we are the only country that announces to the world, "Look at us! We're great! Aren't we great? Of course we're great! There is no one greater than we are!" Well, we're certainly better than some nations out there. No one is going to jail for speaking their mind or having a specific religious belief. Mr. Black, however, pointed out that if you were working in an office, and someone walked in every morning and announced how wonderful he was every single day, by week's end you'd want kill him. The longer and more painful his death, the better. When do we shut up and get down to business? When does the talking end and the action begin?

Don't get me wrong. I'm proud to be an American. Born in Brooklyn, reared in NY, now living in AZ. In the mid 1990's, I drove across our nation to get to AZ, and I saw some truly beautiful vistas. When my car broke down in Shamrock, TX, I met a salt-of-the-earth mechanic who saved me from becoming one of the approximate 2000 people living there. I stayed in a motel where the wake up call was a knock on my door at 6:00 AM instead of an actual call. I have been homeless, and experienced both the caring and the uncaring of a government system. While my government is still caring for me, they are not caring enough; I am swallowed in a sea of red tape before I can meet my needs. So I love my country, but also recognize that it's severely broken in many ways.

Again, I won't say I have all the answers. I'm not some know-it-all who will make any such claims. You see, I learned a valuable lesson while working as a movie theater usher in my teens. "I don't know" is a terrible way to answer any customer's questions. If you're going to say it, you have to complete the statement and keep the promise held therein. "I don't know, but I'll find out." Then go find out! When people see you actually doing something, that's when they start nodding their heads in approval.

I'll even make a promise right now that I know I can keep. It's actually a very important promise. It is something that will define my Presidency, and hopefully become a legacy to those that follow me. Written on the mirror in the presidential bathroom in permanent marker will be the following message: "You are not just the leader of a nation, but an employee of its citizens. They elected you to this position. You answer to them as a whole. While you cannot address every individual, one person may represent the opinions of many. Find out. Take action. Keep your collective bosses satisfied with your work, with a goal of making them ecstatic with your commitment to them!"

Ahhh! I can see it now! The headline? "President makes promise in the bathroom!" And in thousands of newspapers across the land, a picture of the daily reminder to myself. It seems like a simple vow, and yet one that Americans will be watching for me to break every single day. It's a balance, however, that a lot of Presidents have ignored. You are the big boss and an employee, all in one. If you can't exist in that state of balance, you should at least be seeking it every day you're in office.

Note to self: You should start talking about Social Security, National Defense, and Foreign Policy. This "money, money, money" thing is getting a little old.


morbidwombat said...

The issue with Congress is that it's a throwback, just like the electoral college. Back before people had mass media, before they were allowed to determine what was best for them all by themselves, they "needed" representation. I think we've got it covered now. They're supposed to keep Presidential power in check, but all they really do is spend money and squabble. I say, strike Congress from the system! [/yeah, right]

But seriously. I'm one of those far radical nutters who feels even gubernatorial mansions and historical buildings are a bit frivolous. Tradition is nice and all, but we've dug ourselves in a bit of a hole, and more important things should be spent on first. Tear down the old, historic schoolhouse and build a new, up-to-date, functioning school house to relieve crowding in local schools, etc.

Taking away certain perks, like mansions, might bring some better-intentioned people out of the woodwork to run for office, too. Or at least cause the less honest to forego politics altogether and just go steal on Wall Street like the rest of their ilk. But I digress.

Vouchers are a better idea than any I can come up with to regulate spending. But it would call for a whole new department to take care of the paperwork (e-paperwork, for best efficiency,) etc. If you'd be willing to put up with building that infrastructure, I say it's the way to go. The best way often takes work, but I think if set up properly it could really pay off. I don't think they'd let you call it "Whaddaya Need." Pretty sure there are rules about such things. Come up with an official-sounding name whose acronym spells something obscene.

Every country shouts about their own awesomeness. They generally just do it within their own borders. We (America) broadcast media, entertainment and services all over, without thinking about what we're putting in or where people may be watching, so everybody gets a stereotypical view of what goes on here. It's really not /that/ bad. OK, there's one place that people seem to think is the center of the universe (that I won't name, lest I be flamed to death,) but the rest of America makes fun of them for it.

"President makes promise in the bathroom!" Would definitely be headline material, if Obama's upcoming choice of dog is news. I don't know whether I'm amused or appalled that I'm starting to think this sounds like it would make great reality TV.

Social Security, Defense and Foreign Policy, oh my. How's about education & welfare reform thrown in for good measure?

Someone named Rob said...

While it would be nice to eliminate Congress, the House of Reps, and all other chefs in the governmental kitchen, to do so would likely upset...Oh, I dunno...Everyone?

Some arguments that I've actually had with myself...Taking away the gubernatorial mansions is to take away something the other players in the game want. Start doing that, and they won't play nice. I'd be better off running for "President of Xanth" than to think I could get away with any such thing. All of that "checks and balances" stuff would come around to bite me in the butt if I started taking away the rewards for being chosen as a political representative. I mean, if that's the case, I should be able to run my Presidency from my studio apartment, but living in the White House is part of the job, and one of the perks is that I won't have to clean my own room. =P

On the historic front, you're right and wrong. Yes, we spend a little too much on such things as a 200-year-old school house. That it's surrounded by an entire park where people aren't even allowed to come and just hand out is...well, silly. Either you're there to see the school house, or get out! But our history should remain protected. There has to be some middle ground in there.

Oh...On taking away certain perks, just wait until I get on my soapbox and go off on lobbyists! >=)

On the "voucher system," every time I write about it, I think about the manpower it will require. A part of me is ultimately pleased by the idea of CREATING jobs that need to be filled.It wouldn't even take a lot of people, especially if we eliminate the paper in the paperwork. I'm going to have to give it more thought before I get crazy with all the ideas running through my head.

Oh...And thanks for reminding me about some of the other things I need to cover. =)

By the way, I'M the center of the universe. We all know that, right? =P

Black Pants Guy said...

If I could vote in the American presidential Elections you'd have my seal of approval.