Friday, June 06, 2008

Powerful Entertainment

OK, my subject is sarcasm. I couldn't leave that one hanging even for a moment. The Senate rang out with the voice of boredom. The legislation that they are trying to foist upon we the people was read aloud while very few Senators bothered to grace the chamber with their presence.

If you are an unfortunate reader of my blog, you've been seeing that I'm taking the approach of sharing with you the Downsizer Dispatch. This organization (Downsize DC) has been doing the hard work of watching Congress like a hawk and has been coordinating its members to send messages to their Representative and Senators on given days. I invite you to become a member of the Downsize DC army, and barrage our congress people with messages about the reduction of the size of the Federal Government. One of the things that is excellent about Downsize DC is that they don't presume to speak for you on anything. They provide you the facility to take action, but they do not take the action for you. They merely suggest what you should talk about on a given day, and you have the choice to participate in each day's campaign or not.

One of the things that Springfield area Ron Paul Revolution members are talking about is bringing the Downsize DC concept to Missouri. It has been proposed that we create a Downsize Jeff City organization that seeks to coordinate in the same way by watching our Jefferson City representatives like hawks and encouraging them to reduce the size of our State government. I'll definitely keep my one reader posted on how this progresses (yes, that means I'm talking to myself here, please prove me wrong if you feel that my information is worth anything).

For now, here's the text of the June 5th Downsizer Dispatch -

Subject: The Senate read the bill!

Something incredible happened last night. The U.S. Senate actually read the so-called "Climate Security Act" and a substitute amendment -- out loud, word for word.

500+ pages. 10 hours to read!

This legislation, which would impose a huge tax and regulatory system on all carbon emissions, is about 300 pages long. Congress constantly passes bills this large, or larger, without reading them. If it took 10 hours to read this one bill, just imagine what would happen if they had to read ALL their bills.

The pace of legislation, and the growth of government, would slow down. It might even be possible for a citizen group (like, or a reporter, or a talk-show host, or even just an ordinary citizen, to keep up with all the things Congress is doing.

For the very few people who oppose's "Read the Bills Act" (in our experience, that's not even one out of every ten people who hear about it) this would be a bad thing. These people think we need more government, even if it must come at the cost of passing legislation that the members of Congress haven't read, let alone understood.

We think this is irresponsible. Remember, Congress may not have to read a bill, or really understand it. But YOU will have to bear the burden of obeying every word of it!

In the case of the "cap and trade" bill, U.S. companies will have to hire thousands of lawyers to do their own 100-hour (or more) readings of this legislation (because unlike Congress, they will actually have to understand how to obey it). Compliance will cost billions of dollars. That cost will be passed on to you, the consumer, as will the tax that companies must pay to buy their carbon emission permits.

But it doesn't end there.

The way the government works today legislation is just the starting point for the creation of rules. Once something like the "cap and trade" bill is passed the federal bureaucracy then goes to work creating specific regulations to execute the legislation.

This means billions more will be spent on more lawyers to read, understand, and comply with these regulations. And you will pay for all of this too. Unelected bureaucrats shouldn't be able to burden the public with more laws. That's why we also need to pass the Write the Laws Act.

Some people say it's unreasonable to expect Congress to read all of its legislation, but . . .

Could YOU get away with violating a law because you felt it was unreasonable for the government to expect you to read, understand, and comply with all their huge legislation and bureaucratic rules?

Of course not. If you must bear the burden (in time and higher prices and worry that you're not running afoul of some crazy rule) THEN SO SHOULD THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!

One Congressman has called the "Read the Bills Act" a gimmick. But the real gimmick was what happened in the Senate last night. The "cap and trade" bill was read out loud NOT so that the members of Congress could know what they were being asked to pass, but because the Republicans wanted to slow things down to make a point about how judicial nominations are being handled by the Democrats.


For us, the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT a gimmick. It's an essential requirement for responsible representative government. For us, the very most important feature of the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT . . .

* The 7-day waiting period before a vote can be held. Yes, it's a great idea. It gives citizen-action groups time to organize opposition at the moment of highest public interest in a bill. But the "cap and trade" bill will be just as bad if they pass it 7 days from now.
* The requirement that members of Congress sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that they have read a bill. That is also important, but secondary.

Both of these features are valuable and helpful. They make the bill complete. But they are not the true key to bringing about responsible government. Instead, the most important aspect of the "Read the Bills Act" is forcing the members of each chamber of Congress to SIT through and LISTEN to a full reading of each bill before a vote can be held.

This, and only this, can bring about real change in how our government operates, because this is the ONLY feature of the "Read the Bills Act" that compels the politicians to pay a PERSONAL PRICE for the burdens they seek to impose on the American people. This feature, and only this feature, will . . .

* Make sure that most members of Congress have an informed idea of what it is they are passing.
* Make Congress prioritize, instead of simply enacting every wild idea that strikes their collective fancy (and that's what they do now because they don't have to pause and read the bill out loud, word for word, on the floor, before voting).
* Make bills shorter, and more understandable, so that Congress can endure the fatigue of hearing them read.

The "Read the Bills Act," as we have constructed it, would bring about real, meaningful reform. It would go a long way toward protecting us from 300-page monstrosities like the so-called "Climate Security Act." But . . .

Until the "Read the Bills Act" passes the only protection we have is YOU, and the work you do through DC Downsizers have bombarded Congress with more than 5,000 messages opposing the "Climate Security Act." But more is needed. If you haven't yet sent a message on this issue, please do so now. You can do so here.

Or, if you have sent a message, please send another one in support of the "Read the Bills Act." Use your personal comments to take note of the 10-hour reading that took place last night. Tell them you oppose the "Climate Security Act," and support the "Read the Bills Act" as a way to protect the American people against irresponsible legislation. You can send that message here.

Since I had already spoken to the "Climate Security Act", I wrote my Congresspeople about the "Read The Bills Act" (please click the banner on the far right if you want to read more about it) -

Congress needs to start reading the laws it passes. Please introduce's "Read the Bills Act." I know you have the power to introduce this legislation on your own, without waiting for anyone else. I urge you to do so. This is a much-needed, common sense reform. I can see no justification for not introducing it. I'm telling my friends about it, and I look forward to hearing that you've introduced it. You can find the text of the legislation here:

My personal comment to you:

It is good news in my opinion that the Senate read aloud the Climate Security Act. Were you present? Did you have a staff member present? The Read the Bills Act would require accountability on your part so that you cannot be asked to take votes on legislation that you haven't read and understood. We need you to take your responsibilities seriously, and consider the burdens you are placing upon the American public. Every law has to be read and understood so that we can comply with it. Obscure and voluminous legislation and bureaucracy does nothing but ensure that there are no law abiding citizens left because we cannot live without falling prey to the massive encroachment of these laws.

Please work to reduce the size and scope of the Federal Government. Start by bringing forward or cosponsoring the Read The Bills Act.

Thank you for your service to our country and our state.

Thank you to my one reader for reading this important information. I hope that I have provided it in a way that is helpful in making us all more capable of being self governing.

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