Legal limits on loquacious lawmakers?
Published 1:11 pm, Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sad but true, our reckless, feckless members of Congress can't manage the budget, the deficit, equitable tax laws, health insurance, energy programs, education, the nation's borders, national defense, or just about anything else worth mentioning.
Yes, there are exceptions in their ranks but, alas, precious few.
It's not that the members are dumb. Au contraire. They're smart enough to understand that being a member of Congress is such a good deal -- with perks they only dreamed of before gaining access to the gold mine -- that keeping the job becomes a full-time job. Thus, Congress does little in service to the country because its members are otherwise engaged in service to themselves and/or their deep-pocket benefactors.
Throw the rascals out? Not a bad idea. But there will be new rascals and the cycle will repeat itself.
Let's analyze the problem. In feathering their nests, what is it that members of Congress do that keeps them from working for the country, working for us, their constituents? How do they spend their time?
The answer is ... they talk. Endless, self-aggrandizing, obfuscating windbaggery, preferably in front of a TV camera, alone or surrounded by colleagues, all flashing frozen smiles, standing stiff as boards, promoting themselves or the moneyed pressure groups supporting them.
So, here's one idea to consider: Put each member of Congress on a diet of words -- word limits, if you will -- maybe 5,000 a day he or she may speak in public or on television. We could then listen to them with the satisfying and certain knowledge that there is a limit to their blather, that great slabs of unspoken verbal fat were dripping into a gurgling nether pit of bubbling Congressional drivel.
Too limiting, you think? Look at it this way. The Gettysburg Address runs to less than 300 words. Our representatives can barely say "Good morning" in so few.
How do we keep track of the number of words spoken? Rumor has it a Silicon Valley genius is perfecting a tiny harmless "Mouth-o-Meter," which could be implanted the day a member takes the oath of office. The device transmits each member's daily word count to a central computer. If a member exceeds the limit by even one word, he or she receives a tiny electric shock as a signal to shut up. Each word spoken beyond the limit costs the member $10, a fine withheld from the offender's paycheck and applied to the budget deficit
We can't do this, of course, because the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to all, including members of Congress, and thank heaven it does. Thus, we cannot ration Congressional speech, however self-serving it may be.
But there is another solution. Instead of word limits, how about term limits?