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Extreme problems prompt extreme solutions

On occasion, a trip on the Internet unearths interesting information.

All too often, a Web journey results in a bevy of groundless “fact” and deliberately engineered falsehoods. There are times, however, when one receives an item via the Internet that causes one to think about an issue, to consider a concept, or a plan to deal with a situation that concerns us all.

One such situation is the sorry state of government in this country, in particular at the federal level. It is hard to say federal legislators are doing anything but an abysmal job. It is painfully clear many, if not most Representatives and Senators, are first concerned about retaining their positions, finding the money and the votes to do so.

Further, with a Supreme Court intent on enhancing the ability of big business to funnel money to candidates, and non-profit regulations that permit concealment of campaign donors, it seems little progress will be made to improve the predicament.

An item received via e-mail provides some thoughts to ponder concerning this situation, and serves also to indicate the level of desperation many reach as the situation festers.

Warren Buffet reportedly made the suggestions in a CNBC interview. We have not confirmed this, but the notions are worthy of inspection, nonetheless.

First is the idea the deficit could be ended, “in five minutes,” by passing a law that says any time there is a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

Further, in a “Congressional Reform Act of 2011” proposed in the e-mail, the first principle is, “No tenure, no pension.” A member of Congress draws a salary only while serving, and receives nothing after.

Members of Congress (past, present and future) must participate in Social Security. All funds in the congressional retirement fund must be moved to the Social Security system. Members of Congress can purchase their own retirement plans.

Members of Congress can no longer vote themselves a pay increase. Their pay will rise by the lower of the Consumer Price Index or 3 percent.

Members of Congress lose their health care privilege and participate in the same health care system as other Americans.

All federal contracts with past and present members of Congress are void, effective a specified date.

The basic premise of the argument is that service as a legislator is an honor, not a privilege. The founding fathers envisioned citizen legislators making our laws, not professional politicians. A member of Congress should do his or her work, then return home and indulge some other sort of effort, not including campaigning for a return to Washington.

Extreme? Yes, and the suggestions for correcting our political problems become more extreme by the day. They reflect the severity of the problem.

Enough?

No. We also need to do away with other aspects of our current political system —for example, go to open primaries, with funding limitations.

We also need to abandon the current two party system in favor of something that works. Our traditional parties no longer serve our best interests. They are bound by ideology, their leaders trolling for votes with bankrupt ideas no longer suited to a planet with limited resources, soon to welcome its 7 billionth human resident. Attrition will take care of much of the task of dismantling this ineffective duo and, with luck and effort, the derelict parties will be replaced by organizations peopled by independent thinkers able to pragmatically approach an unending series of problems that demand flexibility, innovation and creativity — the exact opposite qualities exhibited by the current two major parties and their leadership.

Karl Isberg

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