“These are times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Payne opened his dissertation, Common Sense, with these seven words that, unfortunately, still resonate in today’s turbulent environment. Of course, Payne was writing of another crisis, in another era, but these immortal words are as appropriate in today’s political environment as they were in 1776. The country and its institutions are indeed in a crisis—a crisis of leadership and confidence, of trust and skepticism, and of self-interest and despair. While the nation should be coming together in these tumultuous times, it is being torn apart by the very people who should rise above partisan politics and provide the leadership to solve the problems that face the nation.


In his farewell address to the American people in 1961, President Eisenhower warned of the military/industrial complex. Today the country is faced with a more insidious and corrupt alliance—the congressional/lobby coalition. This alliance, of special interest groups and members of Congress, is so pervasive that it drives our domestic and in some cases our foreign policies. There is no law, nor should there be a law to prohibit special interest groups from petitioning Congress, but these groups should not receive  special treatment because they contribute to congressional and presidential elections. These national elections, funded primarily by foreign and domestic special interest groups, both directly and through PAC’S, are in some cases illegal or border on the cusp of legitimacy. This is the crux of the problem. Members of Congress   work for their own self interests rather than for the benefit of the people. 



The professional politicians in Congress have placed the quest for reelection above all else, to the detriment of the electorate. These professional politicians, many of whom have spent a lifetime in office, have squandered the country’s patrimony through their fiscal irresponsibility and malfeasance. Congress is responsible for several crises over the past 30 years. By not diligently exercising their oversight responsibilities and by enacting flawed legislation to accommodate special interest groups, Congress sowed the seeds for the several financial disasters that cost millions of jobs and untold misery. The electorate has, over the years, expressed their disapproval time after time by grading the Congress the lowest of the nation’s institutions, consistently in the teens or the low twenties.


For the past thirty years, Congress has presided over thirty budget deficits, to the tune that the country now owes $14.5 trillion dollars ---four times the total yearly tax receipts of $3.5 trillion and slightly less than the GDP of $15.4 trillion dollars. The interest cost on the debt represents almost 30% of the gross tax revenue of $3.5 trillion dollars. By 2014 the entitlement programs alone —Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obama care—will cost as much as the annual tax revenue of $3.5 trillion, leaving no money for the other departments of the government or to pay the interest on the national debt. By every measure, the country is insolvent.


Congress has raped the Social Security fund of $2.5 trillion dollars, spending the surplus from prior years, and they have the audacity to tell the public that the fund has 30 years of assets left when the fund is in negative mode in 2011, with receipts totaling less than the payouts.  The shortfall in receipts will have to come out of the general fund, further adding to the national debt.


Congress for the past 30 years has been negligent in resolving the vital issues (Social Security, Immigration, Education, Tax reform and   simplification, Regulation, Energy, Election reform). Those issues that Congress did address were temporary cosmetic fixes that mollified the electorate but have had no lasting impact. Congress is notorious for kicking the ball down the road in the hope that some magician will emerge and make all the problems disappear.


Congress has consistently placed itself and its well being above the law, granting themselves perks that are obscene when compared to the rest of the population. Quick to condemn other nations for corrupt practices, Congress has legislated several rounds of election reforms, and each so-called reform has contained enough loopholes to render the legislation ineffective, even to the point of legalizing some of these same corrupt practices. For example, the latest election reform legislation prohibits retiring members of Congress from using surplus campaign contributions for personal use. This legislation was hailed as a victory for the people; however, the fine print in the legislation says otherwise. While members of Congress can't use the funds for their own benefit, they have the liberty of awarding the funds to whomever they choose---their wives, children,etc. It is interesting to note, that in the past ten years, two Speakers of the House, were convicted of criminal activities and many members have been investigated for illegal activities. This form of legal corruption, however, is overshadowed by the moral corruption which permeates the Congress.


Congress has written the book on demagoguery as witnessed by their behavior during the financial crises. With the economy of the world in balance, some members of Congress turned the word bailout into a pejorative, igniting passions in the American people for their own political gain—being either disingenuous or ignorant of the calamity that faced the nation. It was not their finest hour. There are no profiles in courage in this Congress. 


The 543 members of Congress and the president hold the future of the country in their hands. No meaningful change can be legislated unless they act. The probability that this group will suddenly reverse course and begin to work for the people rather than in their own self interests is nil. The quest for re-election to these lucrative jobs is so great that it costs millions of dollars to run for public office. Only people of means or people beholden to others to finance their campaign can run for these coveted jobs. In the ideal world we would reject both. Candidates who owe their  election to special interest groups are, in a sense, indentured servants. Special interest groups do not finance campaigns without expecting something in return. Accordingly, it’s up to us, the people, to reform the system by which we elect the 543 people that represent us. The era of the professional politician must come to and end if this country is to resume its forward progress.


The next article will outline the changes that must be made in the national election process if we, the people, are to take the government back from the special interest groups.








The Common Sense Revisited* series deals with the failures of our government—Congress and the several presidents that have guided the country over the past thirty years. Future blogs will address the vital issues facing the country--Financial crisis, Fiscal crisis, Entitlement programs, Regulation, Imigration, Tax simplification and reform--and the steps that must be taken to resolve these  issues.


The views expressed are neither liberal nor conservative nor an attempt to impeach either political party. There are enough facts to suggest that all share in the debacle that has led this country to its current state.  If there is a bias, it is expressed in these six words—a plague on all their houses!


* title rights reserved





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