Term Limits

"Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely" - Thomas Hobbs

Economic Stimulus

Limiting Congressional terms is unquestionably the permanent solution to our economic woes. It should be proposed as the best Economic Stimulus Package on which our country can confidently and eternally rely. Maybe some haven't thought of this as "Economic Stimulus", but if you are patient, and read the following argument, maybe you will agree.

Before you abandon this quest because you know congress will certainly never limit themselves, understand that we are not asking congress to do it. There is another way. We are taking this argument to the state legislatures and requesting a constitutional convention for this purpose. Congress has no vote in state legislatures - they will have no choice.

This has never been done before. All previous amendments went through the congress of the United States, but it is nonetheless a valid method of amendment and it is outlined in Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution. Two thirds of the states must hold conventions, and then three quarters must ratify the resulting amendment. I know, not easy, but few worthwhile endeavors ever are.

First the proposal:

Amendment 28 to Section 2 of The United States Constitution:

"United States Congressional members in the House of Representatives may be elected no more than 3 times to two-year terms, nor may he (she) serve more than 8 years under any circumstances. Congressmen currently serving as of the date of passage of this amendment are fully exempted from these limits." 


Interpretation of the United States Constitution is said to be an ongoing process. Some believe it was meant to be "elastic", that it is a living, breathing document. This argument is often made by those who don't like the constraints the manuscript places on governmental authority. That said, most of us would have to admit that there certainly is some ambiguity there, and that maybe some things should be changed - the legal way, the way it was intended to be changed.

When the Constitution was written, House of Representative terms were set at two years. The reason was that it was considered an obligation some were called upon to accept, but it was expected to be a major inconvenience.

In 1787, most potential Congressmen did not own or have much access to private luxury jets or even fuel-efficient crappy little electric vehicles. In order to get to Washington (or New York or Philadelphia) a few times a year, they would have to saddle up Lightening or prepare their horse-drawn carriage for the journey. They would bounce along over the rocks and ditches and through the trees, cross rivers and streams and other rough terrain for days at a time wondering why they ever agreed to accept such an assignment. They had no Flexural, Aleve or XM Radio to help ease the pain. They even had to evade the odd band of hostile Indians along the route now and then. (can I say "Indians"?)

These men would have to leave their businesses or farms and their families and hope that both would be there when they returned. Legislating was not their primary occupation. They had to stay away from home for as long as several weeks or more at a time for compensation of only $6 per day - and that was only for those days actually in session.

Only the most noble and loyal would even consider this position. To expect anyone to sacrifice and endure this unpleasant assignment for more than two years was far too much to ask of even the most patriotic American. The Congressional term was established as a short-term gig so that good men would actually agree to accept this terribly inconvenient and burdensome responsibility for the benefit of their own families, friends and countrymen.

A good man is one who is responsible for his own obligations and takes care of his family. His family is his primary obligation. He must place them first so that he doesn't burden others. To ask anyone to leave his family for too long a period of time was not only unfair to him, but most honorable, trustworthy people wouldn't consider doing it at all. So two years would be enough of a sacrifice for his country. It was supposed to be a chore, so that only decent men would accept it. That is why they were considered a "public servant".

Our first congressmen were truly public servants. Our founders didn't see the need to limit the term of such an unpleasant undertaking, there was more concern that they would last even the full two years. Because it was initially such a hassle, the time to serve was agreed to be relatively brief so that good people would be willing to make the short-term sacrifice. After two years, it was someone else's turn to serve and to offer his time to the country.


From Servants to Masters

Fast Forward 200 + years...

It was never envisioned that Congressional life would morph into the coveted position it has, with massive adoring staffs and millions of dollars in budget for each member. It was never intended to be a lifelong career of ever increasing power and influence, filled with pageantry, adulation and wealth.

Today we have lawmakers entrenched for decades at a time, rarely volunteering to step aside for another. The royal treatment received and the perks they've created for their own positions are reprehensible. It is a travesty of the English language that the term "public servant" is still used to describe them today. A servant serves his master; he does not lord over him.

Remember that 100 years ago government spending fluctuated between 6 and 8 percent of total national spending (GDP), leaving the private sector with 92 - 94% control. Now our government is approaching 50% and they want to own and control large corporations, and dictate the activities of many others. A career congressman is now the rule rather than the exception. This has naturally produced undisciplined and excessive spending and an overbearing, oppressive federal government simply because it benefits those in power. What else could possibly have logically occurred?

Congressmen must regress in thought. We need them to again understand what it is to live day to day with their spending and laws. We must return them to their originally intended role of "servant" as it should be. The only way to accomplish this is to limit their time in office and force their return to the private sector.

Human Nature is What It Is

We discussed human nature earlier; it is no different for a congressman because most of them are in fact, human. Enlightened self-interest is a wonderful attribute for a citizen, not necessarily for a senator. Human nature dictates that we all act in our own individual self-interest for the long term. There is nothing wrong with that. This is not to suggest that we are hedonistic, only that we will usually do what we believe is good for ourselves and our families.

What has this to do with Term Limits? To expect United States Congressmen and Senators to act any differently than an ordinary human, is not logical. To believe that they will place our economic growth, happiness, freedom and prosperity above their own and that of their families is simply contrary to human nature. Power does indeed corrupt, even good men.

Our forefathers recognized the human natural instinct by suggesting only two-year terms because of the original difficulty and sacrifice involved. They failed however to anticipate the future enormous benefits associated with the position 200 years later which encourages them to want to stay forever. Had they, no doubt terms would have been limited. This was a mistake - a mistake that can be corrected through the amendment process.

We naturally place our own happiness and prosperity, power and influence, whatever there may be of it, before others outside our family without shame, and especially before that of people we don't even know. We can be sympathetic for others pain and suffering, whether it be physical, mental, or financial, but we do not place it above our own well-being.

We should be proud to openly admit that we favor our family over yours and over that of our congressman. We can even favor our family over that of our own blood brother. He should expect that of us, as we should of him. You should place your family's welfare over mine. In fact, if you didn't one would have to wonder what difficulty might your family endure as a direct result of your misplaced priorities.

Our congressmen are no different. They favor themselves and their families and friends over ours. This is not inherently evil; it is admirable. There is nothing wrong with this. To care for one's family first and foremost is not selfishness, it is a healthy human attribute. For anyone to suggest that his congressman cares more about others than he does for himself and his own family is lost in a fantasy world.

If there existed a congressman who somehow really was more concerned about his constituents than his own family, it would suggest that he really is not mentally stable enough to hold the office based on his obvious moral shortcoming. Family comes first. To argue the contrary is irrational and harmful reasoning. Furthermore, one's job should never come before one's family. To demand that it should, would be to require abnormal human behavior, contrary to human nature.

Congressmen are not super human divinely-inspired beings determined to promote sound moral fiscal policy and ethical behavior at any sacrifice to themselves. They are also not the evil spawn of Satan, determined to cause terror and havoc at every opportunity (though many more are believing that). No, they are ordinary humans somewhere in-between, no worse or better than we are.

Because they are just like us, we can conclude then that the personal objective of a congressman is basically the same as ours: to maintain his own power, position, social standing and well-being of his family. Remember, a man's moral obligation is to his own family. We should logically expect therefore that he would act in ways that will best enable him to meet these objectives. When policy dictates he make a choice between his family and his country, he will choose family every time - as would most of us. I know I would.

Next: It's fun to be generous with other people's money