Fixing the wrong problem (updated)
The Great O Wise One is going to try and put a cap on evil executives’ pay. That of course is, as we ALL know,the root of all our economic woes. Our economy would just be humming along if those greedy executives weren’t out trying to earn themselves buckets of money.
The real problem with the economy is not the pursuit of riches. As I’ve said before, it’s the failure to make riches that leads to recession.
The real problem is the lack of term limits in Congress and the creation of the professional political class. Much of the financial collapse can be laid squarely on the laps of a select few Committee chairs (Chris Dodd and Barney Frank to name two) who have held power for decades and used that power to undermine the stability of the financial markets to satisfy their own political desires.
Term limits were pretty clearly an oversight by the Writers of the Constitution. Their whole effort was to design a government that was limited in its power and scope. But having cast off a monarch, too much of their efforts were focused on providing checks and balances between the branches of the government and especially against the executive branch. They saw the legislative branch as a check against a president trying to accumulate too much power because it represented separately the People and the States. Their failure to address presidential term limits was fixed with the 22nd Amendment.
What they did not foresee were the consequences of a legislature occupied by career office holders who accumulate power through seniority while they forget what their districts or states looks like. Career politicians in office for decades no longer represent their constituents, no matter how much the proclaim that they do. What they represent is Washington, D.C. It is usually where their larger house is**. It’s usually where their family lives. Because they know that if they do loose their office, they’re one phone call away from a profitable lobbying or political consultancy position.
Term limits in Congress have to be imposed by Constitutional Amendment. It cannot be done by individual states. Congress it too beholden to the seniority system. A state that term limits its representatives eliminates them from acquiring the position to drive any agenda. The seniority system concentrates too much power in too few senior hands. This effectively eliminates the other means of achieving term limits, namely voting them out because they’ve been in too long. The corrupting influence of the seniority system sucks in voters just as it sucks in officeholders. A district sees a long time congresscritter as an investment not to be thrown away lightly. The argument that “Then they get what they vote for.” is not satisfactory. The seniority system and lack of term limits effectively prevents the legislature from being a representative body. It corrupts the system and THAT makes it worthy of being addressed by an Amendment.
The implementation of term limits in Congress is one of those things that has to be done across the board all at one time to level the playing field for all parties involved.
Update: The power of incumbency cannot be ignored either. An incumbent officeholder automatically has visibility and influence that often makes challenging an entrenched politician all but impossible. It simply isn’t a level playing field. Term limits would go far towards fixing that.
**Joe Biden bragged about taking the train home to Delaware every night. How convenient for him that his state was a suburb of Washington. But during the vice presidential debate, he referenced going into Katie’s Restaurant to see how bad the economy was. Katie’s Restaurant had closed during the Clinton administration. He might have lived in Delaware, but his attention clearly wasn’t there.