March 19, 2007
The Golden Rule for Legislators
By Perry Willis
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch IN THIS ISSUE: * RTBA Coalition grows! * Thomas Jefferson writes a letter * A few more ticks of the clock SUBJECT: The Golden Rule for Legislators In an 1808 letter, President Thomas Jefferson wrote,
"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys."
Today's politicians seem to have forgotten that. That's why we need the Read the Bills Act. So let's play pretend, like Congress so often does. Imagine a member of Congress. Pick any one, regardless of partisan label or ideology. Got that person in your mind? Good. Now, imagine that this member of Congress comes home one night to find a bill in the mail from the Acme Company. He or she can't recall dealing with Acme. Can you imagine that this Congressperson just cuts a check to Acme and runs it out to the mailbox? Of course not. But this is exactly how Congress deals with legislation. The Congressional leadership presents the Members with legislation (a bill from Acme), and the Members rush to pay it (vote for it) -- sight un-seen, bill unread. During the week of March 5 through 11, Congress voted on 19 bills, totaling 139 pages, that contained $17.9 billion (that's billion with a "b") in authorizations over five years. You can read all about it on our blog. All of these bills were short enough for every member of Congress to have read, but probably no one did. Congress is NOT acting with "the same prudence" with regard to your money that they would apply to their own. Thomas Jefferson had it right in that 1808 letter. Jefferson's standard is The Golden Rule for Legislators -- a sort of "do unto taxpayer's as you would do for yourself." It is a little known fact in the general public that Thomas Jefferson was also the author of Jefferson's Manual -- a codification of the Senate's rules and procedures. And guess what our nation's earliest legislators did, according to Mr. Jefferson's rules? They had their bills read aloud, by the clerk, before the vote. And we are seeing increasing evidence of just how important this is, given that several members of Congress, in some very public examples, have admitted that they were caught by surprise when they learned later what they actually voted for. Tell Congress to pass the "Read the Bills Act." You might want to mention that you are aware that they passed 139 pages of un-read legislation and spent $17.9 billion during the week of March 5 through 11th. Then, please pass this message on to friends because we need their help to make this Golden Rule of Legislators become the law of the land. Meanwhile, in other "Read the Bills" news . . . The RTBA Coalition Grows Again: The Coalition for the "Read the Bills Act" has grown by 11 new members. Check them out . . . Darryl W. Perry Twixel Unalienable Rights Coalition of the Majority Toad's Castle Liberalism Notes Rental Property Reporter Liberty Lost Tom Anderson Adventures of Citizen X Solomon Remus If you have a website or blog, and would like to join the coalition, you can learn how to do it HERE. Finally . . . Our ticking clock: Contributions received over the weekend reduced our March need from $7,140 to $6,160. You can make a contribution to close this gap and further our work HERE. Thank you for being a DC Downsizer. Jim Babka President, Inc.
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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