12 Things That Joe Citizen Would Like to See Changed About Government
Republican, Democrat, Independent, and people from smaller parties can likely all agree that there are some serious issues with the design of our current government that is prohibiting it from working efficiently. Because of this, there are a few things everyone agrees on that need to be changed, but that those who are the elected officials do not want to modify because it will have a direct impact on them.
As it stands currently, there really isn't a pathway to accomplish much of what will follow in this article and that is part of the problem, part of the frustration that the general citizenry has with their elected officials. If a majority of the Joe Citizenship agrees that these changes should be made, why aren't they?
1. Change the Election Process
Currently, many politicians spend an abundance of time trying to get re-elected as opposed to trying to make the United States a better place. They try and raise monies to pay for upcoming elections instead of trying to raise monies to fight for causes or the national debt.
If we modified the election process by making it shorter and limiting the amounts of money that could be poured into elections, then things might end up being better.
2. Term Limits
This one is closely tied to the first suggestion.
Why is it that only the President has term limits? Why do Congressmen not have them? Shouldn't the elected officials use the positions to serve the country instead of serving themselves?
Many people agree that some politicians sit in elected office far too long. Limit the terms to two for Senators and perhaps four for the House. Get some fresh blood in there from time to time. Let representatives make a mark and then move on to another field.
3. Reduce the Amount of Aid We Provide to Other Countries
According to the federal government, for fiscal year 2012, “The United States remained the world’s largest bilateral donor, obligating approximately $48.4 billion—$31.2 billion in economic assistance and $17.2 billion in military assistance.” However, “obligated” funds are not the same as “dispersed.”
The U.S. disbursed $33.2 billion—$19 billion in economic assistance to 184 countries and $14.2 billion in military assistance to 142 countries. Out of the top six U.S. foreign aid recipients, five of them were Muslim countries. And yet it seems the U.S. can’t buy good press in the Middle East.
The UN boasts 193 members, and the U.S. provided economic assistance to 184 of them, or 96% of the countries in the world. To be sure, the amount of assistance drops significantly after the top 10 countries or so, but still...
4. Reduce the Size of the Government
Liberals and conservatives can both agree that the government has become so big that it has become wasteful. Some of the that evidence became apparent when a Department of Homeland Security employee showed up to a Congressional hearing and couldn't answer some very simple questions related to the inquiry.
Where to start? How about with Congress? Does anyone know how much is paid out to Congressional staffs? Would it shock you to hear that the numbers are pretty staggering? For the 533 members of Congress, in the Year 2011, $660 million was spent on staff.
Each Senator averages about $2.5 million dollars in staff salary and each member of the House of Representatives is close to a million dollars in staff. Sound excessive?
5. Give the People a Bigger Voice
When was the last time a Congressman held a Town Hall to discuss an issue? Is there a process to collect data on each Congressman's electorate to view how they see an issue? What happens if an elected official votes in a way that is not representative of his constituency's views on a topic.
There should be mandatory polling of topics that come up for a vote and more accountability on those issues for members of Congress who do not vote according to what their constituents desire.
It's supposed to be a government of the people, not a few special interests.
6. No Private Money to Candidates
You're there to serve the people, not serve yourself. You're there to make your constituency better, not companies. Take away the ability of some special interest group to buy any candidate.
If you want to convince a candidate or elected official of a certain position, convince his constituency. If they back your idea, the representative can then vote on it. Move power back to the people and not one person.
7. Eliminate Riders
The word pork in politics has a very negative connotation for a reason. When we're talking about enacting laws it means something specific: adding pet projects to otherwise useful legislation that end up driving up costs in order to get passage.
In fact, all this horse trading of "I'll give you something if I get something in return" is not healthy for debt reduction. Everyone has needs and there should be someone who oversees the entirety of the budget process to ensure that pork does not filter in to legislation.
The other meaning of the word "pork" is specifically related to Bill Clinton, but that's a whole other discussion.
8. Eliminate Deficit Spending - Balance a Budget
If the government does not have the money, do not spend the money. It really does seem like an easy concept, but somehow legislators mess this one up all the time. Both parties are to blame on this one as spending has gotten way out of control. The main difference is what each party wants to spend their money on. Democrats on social programs, Republicans on the military.
Again, let's get a budget person in government. A super accountant and keep more money than we spend. Government should be run like a business and someone needs to hold people accountable to those bottom lines.
9. Attack the National Debt
Interest is a fun word if you are saving money. Watching that money pile up and compound is an awesome feeling. On the other hand, when you're paying interest off, there is nothing more annoying.
Somehow, a few President's got a hold of some credit cards and charged a bunch of stuff. Everyone knows that doing that is bad news. It's like Economics 101 that young people learn early in life. And yet, spend now pay later became a trend. See the need for a supreme budget person above and apply that here.
It will be painful, but we need to start allocating some funds to bringing that number down. If only to make us feel better economically. Right now, with all those big deficit and debt numbers out there, the market and investing opportunities are skittish, at best. Showing some progress on those fronts will help tremendously in getting people to feel good about investing.
10. Eliminate Wasteful Military Spending
We've all heard the adage $500 for a hammer and $300 for a toilet seat. Sure, some of that money is going into secretive government programs where guys like Jack Bauer work. We don't need to know half of the stuff they do to keep the country safe. That's the cost of doing business.
But when there is rampant cronyism in the military and fraud pertaining to contracts, someone needs to be held accountable. When there is massive failure and someone wastes money that was given for a certain project, heads should roll. Money should be returned. Business should never be given additional funds.
Do good work for the people or you don't get money. Now, no where do you hear the words cut funding for the military in here. There needs to be technological advances for when the aliens invade, so we have to keep building new and more dangerous weaponry. Just be more efficient with the money please.
11. Take Care of Our Citizens
With all the waste of money, someone needs to step up and provide opportunities to veterans. People need to be held accountable to take care of them. If you're going to send people off to fight, take care of them.
And while it's not popular, help people move out of poverty. Provide a means to rise out of the stagnation of low-wage work and get people educated and into higher pay scales. There aren't many solutions right now, but there needs to be some soon.
The poor in the French Revolution revolted. How long until the wealth gap in this country creates that kind of divide?
12. Hammer Companies That Price Gouge the United States
If you're going to charge $5 for medicine in England, you better not offer that same thing here for $300. But that is precisely what is happening currently. Congress, this one's on you. Make a law that states that pricing must be relative to what is offered internationally, with some grand exceptions for third world nations.
But for those countries on par with our economies, the price of medicine should be very similar to what is charged. And right now, that is not happening.
What Improvement Needs the Most Attention?
There are so many things about the current government that need fixing. The real question is whether the citizens can find a leader able to tackle any of them. With this year's group of Presidential nominees and the gridlock in Congress, it's not looking very good.
So many people are looking out for their own interests and cannot see the big picture. With a few minor changes that everyone agrees upon though, the country would be a much better place, that's for sure.