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Meet The Enemy vI: Pork Barons
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Agamemnon



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 907
Location: Studying somewhere. Or at least that's where I should be.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That may be true. I don't know much about him, but in my opinion, Byrd is representative of everything that's wrong with Washington.

The article above wrote:
Indeed, Mr Byrd, who was first elected to the Senate in 1958 and has been a fixture on Capitol Hill since 1952, received the dubious distinction of being crowned "King of Pork" by Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group that tracks federal spending.


That's a "fixture in Washington" for 54 years and a Senator for 48. That's just too fucking long...

Term limits. Term limits. Term limits...
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Monkey Mcdermott



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3152

PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd settle for age limits. My grandmother is intimidated by laptop computers and she's nowhere near as old and out of date as half the people we have representing us and making rules about technology in congress. Or both, 3 terms or 65, whichever comes first.
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 7562

PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

why 65?


{edit}
it seems that a lot of the power to accomplish things that are on your (the congressman's) agenda, like committee chairs, for instance, are handed out on the basis of seniority.

even if your agenda has nothing to do with the committee you chair, generally you can use your own influence to beg, extort or steal the votes to get what you need done, done.



so, seniority being the case and, in your scenario, 3 terms or 65 being the limiter...that really means that the majority of voters will not end up supporting anyone who is unable to serve 3 full terms from the outset, since seniority is the way to be certain that the things "your man" wants done, get done.

in essence, a "65 or less" limit would cause the political machine to eschew anyone looking for a house seat who was 61 or older (59, if you mean to say that a Rep would have to actively resign his seat at 65 even in the midst of an elected term) and limit the upper age of first term senators to 53 (or 47, same reasoning).


i don't see any justification for age discrimination to be institutionalized.
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kame



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really is the voters' responsibility to put a politician to the curb when they get too crazy/senile.
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mouse



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

true. because there are some older people who are really sharp, and who bring tremendous value in terms of their experience.

california put term limits on legislators, and it really hasn't worked out well. for one thing, there's not much in the way of institutional memory any more, so there are real problems with things like getting the budget done. no one has much experience in doing it, they don't know how it was done before, and they just get lost in the process.

the other thing is, it seems to make for a more radical group (in both directions). they know they will only be there a short time, so they are happy to run on some one particular thing they think is important, and they are unwilling to compromise, because they know they won't be around in the future to need the other guy's help.

what we really need is some way to even out the election process, so incumbents don't have such a huge advantage. too many people just keep voting for the same person, because the name is familiar, and things haven't been noticably horrid, so he must be doing alright....

hey - i wonder if we could force candidates to run anonymously? obviously, they would have to be assigned some identifier (candidate a, or 2005-50-023 or something). you would get no pictures, no sound bites (except maybe from spokespeople) - just what the candidate's platform was, with a statement of values, and experience somewhere in the middle, so people would have to read through it all to find out if this was the same person who had been in office (the labels would change with each election).

and spending limits. or at least equal funding. so all donations to candidates have to go into one big pool, and it gets divided equally between them all.

ok, it's weird, but think about it a little.
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dazedb42



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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Location: Margaret River, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I was you lot I wouldnt worry about old age and senility in your politicians... Reagan didn't stuff up as much as some. The one stand out point of your version of democracy that really stinks is the lobby groups. I am still trying to work out why it is called lobbying and not bribery.

Maybe compulsory voting is the way to go? At least then you have a decent sized voting pool to share the load of electing your politicians rather than minority sections being able to manipulate the outcome. I don't know what sort of turn outs you get at elections but it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the demographics of voters. I think here in Aus if we didn't have compulsary voting we would be much worse off. Apathy would stop middle of the road voters from voting whilst fringe loony groups would be able to muster the troops to get elected.

Oh isnt that what is happening now?
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Usagi Miyamoto



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the
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Last edited by Usagi Miyamoto on Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 7562

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

we'd need two more branches of government to do the work of these two while they're all tied up in court.
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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 9182

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:59 am    Post subject: exception arizona Reply with quote

They really just need to find a way to keep people from being able to bundle random shit to bills.

Literally, they have dudes scribbling pork and nonce onto every single bill that goes through congress, up until minutes within the vote. You simply about cannot get a single appropriations bill through without a whole galley of earmarked monetary finery welded to necessary legislation.
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BoySetsFire



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 374
Location: Rex Kwan Doe enthusiast

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

as a preface, let me say that i'm not in favor of pork barrel politics or anything like it. i just have a different experience with the things Sen. Byrd has done for my state.

having met the man on two occasions in the last year and a half(events my newspaper covered for which i had press credentials), i would hardly call Sen. Byrd senile or even crazy. he's as sharp as a tack and quick-witted. AND he still plays a fiddle and sings with a wonderful voice.

having lived in WV for more than half my life(and being born there), a great, great many of the projects/money Byrd has brought into WV, one of the POOREST states in the country, have greatly benefited it's average joe, hard-working-and-tax-paying citizens. it's not all pork. not even close.

and one more thing, Sen. Byrd was one of the FEW who spoke out against Bush from the very beginning. and he's one of the few who still really and truly believes in the Constitution. hell, the man still carries a copy of the Constitution inhis pocket EVERYWHERE he goes.

say what you will about the man, but he's done a lot of good things for his state. he's done far, far more than waste taxpayer money. the people of WV keep sending him to the Senate because he makes their lives better in tangible ways; he brings in decent roads, schools and jobs in a state that is starved for them.

even with all the pork barreling that he's guilty of, he may be old and cranky, but i'd be willing to be Byrd has done more good for his state than most other senators.
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

room
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Last edited by Usagi Miyamoto on Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 7562

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

in that case, it's a bit of a non-starter.

congress as a whole, let alone the majority party and especially a majority party with a slim majority, would willingly give up the secure priviledge of assigning chairmanship without minority and/or factional interference.
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Agamemnon



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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Location: Studying somewhere. Or at least that's where I should be.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BoySetsFire wrote:
as a preface, let me say that i'm not in favor of pork barrel politics or anything like it. i just have a different experience with the things Sen. Byrd has done for my state.

having met the man on two occasions in the last year and a half(events my newspaper covered for which i had press credentials), i would hardly call Sen. Byrd senile or even crazy. he's as sharp as a tack and quick-witted. AND he still plays a fiddle and sings with a wonderful voice.


I don't think anybody said Byrd was senile. People were talking about Stevens, if memory serves. I mad a comment about Byrd because he's been in the senate for 48 years. To me, politics should never be a career. That's just my opinion on politics and I know many will disagree and come up with many justifiable arguments to the contrary. I respect that position, I just don't agree with it.

As far as term limits go, it is the most viable solution I have seen; something along the lines of 12-18 years should suffice to help maintain continuity. However, I am very much open to ideas that solve the core problems that do not require term limits. I don't like Usagi's very much. Even if seniority is thrown out, experience will be a very compelling argument to keep those with seniority in power. I do like mouse's suggestion. Anonymous candidates is very intriguing. I can see problems, however, much like the current system, where a politician can say that he's all for certain popular stances, against a bunch of unpopular stances, get elected, then do almost the exact opposite of the stances he was voted in on. Perhaps if there would be a consequence to breaking those campaign promises? I don't know. It's a very interesting idea, though.

Sam's point is a good one. There is too much pork attached to unrelated bills. One solution is the line item veto, which has it's own problems. Another is to set up a system where spending is confined to related bills. Part of the problem is that "pork" is used as a negotiating tool. "I'll vote for your anti-torture bill if you allow the amendment for $3 million for outdoor cactus upkeep in my home state of Alaska." I like the bill presented that requires disclosure on pork spending, but I wonder if that'll matter. Let's say that Byrd and Ted Kennedy come out as being the highest pork producers on capitol hill. Does anybody really think these guys are going to be voted out based on that?

And that's my problem. It appears that after a certain point politicians, Senators in particular, seem to be unofficially elected for life. Outside of major scandals (and sometimes not even then) or becoming President, some of these guys just don't get voted out.

And so, I come back to term limits. I think a reasonable amount of time can be established for term limits that can address the problems mentioned here with term limits. For every good politician in office, how many potentially good politicians are out there that don't get a chance. And I've seen some very decent people get all screwed up in Washington. Paul Wellstone is the example I use here.

For those who have said that term limits have been tried and don't work, were the limits pretty short term?
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Jinx



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't really given this a lot of thought. But, I have heard the arguments before and found myself torn between wanting to redistribute the power in Congress and not wanting to lose the value of experience. So, I want to toss an idea out for discussion and see what holes can be poked in it.

What if the term limit counter got reset if you left office, and/or it only applied in the specific house.

For example, we could set a limit of 4 consecutive terms in the House or 2 consecutive terms in the Senate. The member would be allowed to run for office again after sitting out one term. Senators could take a turn or two as a Rep before another seat in there state came open for them to run for Senate again. Likewise, and 8-year Rep would have to look for a Senate seat if s/he wanted to continue.

I truly believe that our founding fathers did not intend for service in the House or Senate to be a career. I also see the value in keeping those with experience in the process.
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've thought along those lines, too, jinx.

one snag is the way political machines...err, i mean parties work -- the returning senator would probably be attempting to unseat a sitting senator from his own party...barring swing-state activity. that would probably make for a lot of ruffled feathers.
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