News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

December 11, 2011

FLASHPOINT: The next big movement? Reform Congress

We are living through one of the most remarkable times in recent history. The Arab Spring is evolving as I write, and looks to change the status quo in the Mideast and beyond for decades if not longer. At the same time we are suffering through the Great Recession and still hoping that the miseries that this nation and even the world have suffered are waning. We have experienced the birth of the Tea Party, a grassroots movement, and at its core, a rebellion against the idea of too much government and too much of a society codling of its ne’er-do-wells and frankly of the lazy and entitled.

The latest movement of consequence is Occupy Wall Street. Like the Tea Party, it is a loosely affiliated group of variant goals and gripes. Is Wall Street corrupt? Are our politicians complicit? Do the wealthy unfairly manipulate the tax code? Gripes seem to be more the order of the day. Lots of complaints. Lots of finger-pointing, but do any of these groups have any answers?

I don’t know how these movements will play out but while we wait to see, I would like to offer one suggestion for how we Americans should be spending our newfound political energy. Let us take up the one task that I think the left, the right and the middle all agree needs to be accomplished. Let us for once, if not for all, move to reform Congress.

America needs term limits on Congress. America needs to reform the compensation plan for Congress. America needs to eliminate congressional insider trading. America needs to limit the influence of lobbyists whether from big business, big labor or foreign governments on Congress. Is there any wonder Congress’ approval rating is 9 percent? This is not what our forefathers envisioned.

Our congressmen and congresswomen should not start running for re-election before they are sworn in. If they are consumed with winning another term, how can they really vote their conscience? They should not be privy to luxuriant retirement plans, or health care, or expect to retire as millionaires when they entered as regular Americans. Yes, we want the best and the brightest, but the reward should be in doing the best they can for the good ole U.S. of A. It should be a privilege to serve, not a path to riches.

And lastly, I want to know who lobbies for everyday Americans? I am sorry, Mitt, but corporations are not people. Corporations are soulless legal entities that have one goal, long-term profit maximization. They are neither evil nor good, but they clearly are not citizens with the civil right to petition the government. The unions’ and foreign governments’ rights to lobby should be restricted as well. The individual members can donate and lobby all they want.

Bigger things have started in smaller places than Terre Haute, Ind. Let us start a reform Congress movement here today. If we accomplish nothing else, let us make sure the people we elect to represent us do the best job possible. Who stands with me?

— Mark A. Davis

West Terre Haute

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