January 25, 2012
I’ve tried to convince Bill Shein not to run for Congress. But my friend hasn’t listened to me. Don’t get me wrong, Bill would make a fine Congressman. And I’ll vote for him.
It’s just that I no longer believe in Congress. And don’t think it’s worth Bill’s time to try and get there. Or the time, energy and money his supporters will spend in the effort.
I was surprised by my response. I hadn’t realized I had gotten that cynical. But as I debated Bill, my anger and annoyance at what government has become was impossible to deny.
I think of it as playing in a crooked card game. Richard Neal, who many will tell you is as good a Congressman as you will find, has raised millions of dollars from lobbyists near and far. If you search the Federal Election Commission for Richard E. Neal you can get a list of all those who over the years have given him big money. Try this: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_give/H8MA02041. Don’t try printing it. It comes to 221 pages.
I imagine local Democratic Party leaders and the high muckety-muck who have embraced Congressman Neal and already bestowed him with Berkshire County haven’t read this list or don’t really care about it. Because, as they will tell us again and again, he is the best we can get. And because he has $2.3 million to spend on his campaign.
But I don’t want to complain again about Congresspeople who have sold themselves to corporate lobbyists. I want instead to suggest some positive changes. Ways to reinvigorate a government of, and for and by the people. Or more accurately, a few ways to create a More Mickey America. Here goes:
1 – It will be the law of Mickey America that no Congressperson shall vote to go to war or pay in any way for war unless he or she and every member of his or her family over the age of eighteen goes to the front lines to fight that war.
2 – It will be the law of Mickey America that no Congressperson shall make no more than the median income of the people who live in his or her district.
3 – It will be the law of Mickey America that every Congressperson send his or her children to the local public or parochial school in his or district with the lowest average test scores.
4 – It will be the law of Mickey America that every Congressperson do his or her own shopping at supermarkets and local stores in his or her district; and in that spirit of continuing interaction with his or her constituents, do his or her’s family laundry at a local laundromat.
5 – It will be the law of Mickey America that every Congressperson spend no less than 10 months of the year living full-time in the district he or she represents.
6 – It will be the law of Mickey America that no law proposed by any Congressperson, or voted upon by any Congressperson, be longer than three pages long and be written in English so clear that seventh graders in the local public schools will understand them. And to keep Congresspeople from filling the air with false promises and platitudes, all but the most important debates will take place via email.
7 – It will be the law of Mickey America that all campaign contributions be made only by those who live within the district; all campaign contributions shall be limited to no more than one dollar, and all campaign contributions shall be pooled into an Election Fund and divided equally among all the candidates. No candidate shall spend more than ten thousand dollars on his or her campaign. And excess monies in the Election Fund after the election will be distributed equally to the local school districts.
8 – It will be the law of Mickey America that all candidates sign a legally-binding pledge making them subject to substantial fines and community service that they will not go to work for, become lobbyists for, or be financially compensated in any way by any private company or enterprise that benefits financially from any law they propose or support. A popularly elected Community Ethics Board will be granted the power to make exceptions for laws or votes that benefit local non-profits or community organizations like schools and hospitals the Community Ethics Board believe serves the larger public.
9 – It will be the law of Mickey America that any public contribution to any private enterprise, be it a direct expenditure of public monies for any purpose whatsoever, or any reduction in taxes or fees shall result in ownership shares for the public in direct proportion to that contribution.
If you don’t want to live in Mickey America, I suggest you make your own America. It’s free to play and this game is safe for children twelve and over.
For more information about Bill’s campaign: Bill Shein For Congress 2012
Something to think about: “In the 10 years ending in 2009, factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs—about 6 million in total—disappeared. About as many people work in manufacturing now as did at the end of the Depression, even though the American population is more than twice as large today.”
“Making It in America,” Adam Davidson, January/February 2011, The Atlantic Magazine:
An earlier version of “A More Mickey America” appeared on January 19, 2012 in the Berkshire Record.