Well, Boys State is a little over a month away. Having the privilege of being a city counselor, I worry some years about having "real world" issues I can discuss with the citizens during down time. Silly me.
The icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the fry sauce on the funeral potatoes was a recent Our View (April 26, Congress' white elephant army). I had my issues.
This was a twofer. First, it highlighted the overall corruption and corporate influence and welfare at the expense of good governance and second, it brought up the philosophical debate of how a lawmaker is supposed to determine how to vote on an issue? Does he vote as his constituents want him to, or what his conscience tells him or does he vote what's best at the political level (in this case the country) as a whole?
This commentary started over a week ago but articles appear faster than I'm able to write up a somewhat comprehensive piece. A proposed bill concerning gun control was defeated on the Senate floor. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was quoted as saying he wasn't worried about the NRA because he worked for 26 million Texans.
I didn't believe him concerning the NRA, I am now more scared that there are 26 million Texans, and I very much disagree with whom he thinks he works for.
True, the Founding Fathers unfortunately never made it clear upon what basis an elected official should cast his vote nor did they define what is really "representative" in representative government. I would like to believe they would agree with me as all officials, at every level,should put first all the people and always consider the big picture as their primary concern before being for or against an issue.
Elected representatives in this country are funny beasts. Consider this: Why is it that the more influence you have at the federal level, the fewer votes required to get elected?
The representative from Wyoming is elected by less than 600,000 (these are population counts, not registered voters). The senators from Wyoming, Vermont, North and South Dakota, Delaware, and Montana are elected by fewer than 1 million. And the president is elected, as powerful as you may or may not think he is leading some 330 million citizens, with only 271 votes by persons.
Another recent column was by the Utah Defense Alliance Executive Committee. This, read along with the white elephant "Our View," highlights another dysfunctional area of our Congress. Yes, we in this country value highly the civilian control of the armed forces. However, when it comes to budget decisions, defense, as with all other areas, we are subservient to lobbyists, special interests, political favors, campaign financing, and yes, constituents.
Does anyone really believe that if Congress let the Air Force retire those C-5A planes, our national defense would be that degraded? How many aircraft could be ungrounded if they were retired?
I'll bet that the elected official with the most seniority, of the majority party, is going to serve his constituents the best here.
Congress again, came through with flying colors for me when, realizing that due to sequestration they might be delayed at the airports all over these United States, came together faster than the speed of light to pass legislation to allow the FAA/TSA to maintain their previous level of manning our airports. No delays to prevent these hard-working, Tuesday through Thursday, servants of the people to get back home to those fund raisers and meetings to make that next big political deal and get the work of the people done.
Let me offer kudos to a local government entity, our own Ogden School District. They could give some lessons in profiles in courage and responsible fiscal management.
Right after the white elephant piece the next day, the paper headlined that 20 employees of the district would not have jobs next year due to budget shortfalls to save some $900,000. We read that these librarians were not essential to the district's mission, and the decision was made with notice to those impacted.
It was the same thing a few weeks ago with the district's pools. In this case, I'm assuming the decision was made that it was important enough to ask the taxpayers for an increase if it was worthwhile to them to keep the pools. That bond election is scheduled for June.
What an example of how government should work, with the involvement of the people affected. It's giving that taxing decision to them, knowing how much is was going to cost, and in such a timely manner.
And our Congress can't follow this process why? Because we allow them to. If we want narrow-minded, local-interest-only, career politicians, me-first representatives, keep re-electing those in office that perpetuate this viewpoint.
If you want national representation, people to solve national issues and to resolve situations before they become problems, reevaluate how and why you cast your ballot.
Next time you complain about a national issue, ask yourself if you're part of the problem or if you are going to be part of the solution.
Thompson lives in Ogden.