Talk:Government Accountability Project
Relocating from article page - --Bob Burton 18:37, 10 Sep 2005 (EDT)
In any successful system, there are checks and balances. In the human body, these take the form of various feedback loops wherein chemical, physical or electrical signals are triggered or reined back when certain levels of activity have been reached. In biological terms, this process is referred to as "homeostasis".
In an economy, a finite amount of hard cash is moved from one set of hands to another in hopefully a well-distributed fashion in exchange for goods and services that others provide. As long as the relative value scale and the distribution is relatively even and dynamic, the economy continues to provide its benefits to the society. But if the cash becomes concentrated in the hands of a small subpopulation (i.e., the "rich"), then the abilities of each member of that society to subsist is put in jeopardy. When that happens, the society's very existence can be undercut and governments and nations can fall as a result. The loss of a governmental apparatus is civil war, international conflict, genocide, totalitarianism or anarchy. When strong rules ("laws and regulations") are put in place to protect that economy from those consequences, there is a synergism between them and the economic forces that interplay in that economy. These too, constitute feedback loops and checks and balances. In a competitive, capitalistic system, supply and demand define the value scale and governmental regulations and legal system impose the limits under which individual behavior is maintained within acceptable limits.
The framers of our Constitution also knew and realized the value of checks and balances and created three equal but separate branches of government to carry out those functions and keep each other in balance. They unfortunately did not put enough planning into the part wherein if the government fails to maintain the planned balances, what the "feedback loop" would be and who would initiate it. Their idea, as embodied in our nation's foundational documents was that if the government failed to meet the needs and expectations of its citizens and refused them, then those citizens could, through an armed militia if necessary, reclaim their individual rights back from that failed apparatus. It was a good overall plan, but no details or trigger points or organizational description was included. That is where the weakness of the Constitution of the United States of America resides. Governmental Accountability was handled somewhat ad hoc by the "Fourth Estate" for the first 200 or so years of our nation's existence but severe erosion and inroads by individuals of vast wealth and power-seeking have decimated the ranks of investigative news reporting. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio networks are owned or controlled in greater degree by such individuals today than at any other time in our history. They are not about to relinquish their stranglehold on the nation's communications and information systems. The governmental apparatus of the United States of America is broken and most people who are strong enough to face reality already realize it. But most feel helpless to do anything about it. So where do we go from here?
A social compact, as defined almost three centuries ago by different philosophers and scholars, has been a tacit part of our society and its desire to be a democracy. Representing each well-behaved citizen's rights, needs and wishes is at the root of such a compact. A tacit agreement to abide by the will of the majority is also a founding principle of a democracy, separating it from a state of anarchy. Those of us who have thought about who we are and why we have come together as a nation must realize that we are stronger when we work together than if we isolated our efforts and cooperation from each other. Mutual defense, cooperativity in labor, deriving multiple benefits from the specialized knowledge and work of others creates a rich and broadly rewarding social fabric. Without these things, we would have no farmers, no ranchers, no doctors, no soldiers, no anyone who we could go to for our needs. We would have to rely on ourselves for everything, including our knowledge and skills. The early pioneers had to do mostly for themselves but still found it more desirable to work together than apart. It is natural for our species to congregate in societal groups for a multitude of reasons. But when we relinquish our individual self-governance powers to a "representative governmental apparatus", it first and foremost had better represent the interests of its constituents! The Constitutional framers were smart but did not have the science of psychology and the technology of a time machine or crystal ball to know what we do about human behavior and the multitude of ways that some can now take advantage of many others. Politicians make empty promises and lie and "spin" their way through their careers making each decision in office with two primary rules of thumb: (1)first how will it benefit me? or in the more crass ones, who will pay me to do this for them?, and (2)is there a political downside to this or will it cost me votes?
Our government is truly broken and in need of a very big fix. But the population goes on year after year, decade after decade, and election after election, not ever coming to grips with that foundational problem. It will only be fixed when the government either becomes the fully responsive tool it was initially intended to be, or when we, as a People, take our rights and powers back and by-pass the "representative" part of the founders' design.
For the first time in our history, we have the methods, means, motivation and opportunity to make this fix. It will require a referendum to validate it in everyone's minds. It will require that each of us take personal responsibility to educate ourselves in the issues and others viewpoints and to voice our own view of where we are at and what we are willing to do to rectify the situation. It will require putting up with the death-throes of and rejecting the current crop of politicians and power mongers who have a vested interest in the status quo. But in the end, we might find that a condition of real democracy is infinitely better for us individually and as a group, than living and dying within a broken illusion.
Through the news, publications from various organizations, or C-span television, we can educate ourselves in the issues of the day by listening to debates in a Congress that will have elected "debaters", rather than politically funded legislators. Then we can put forth our own ideas for an airing from our fellow citizens through broadcast public meetings and forums. We can invite university scholars and other trusted sources to explain various aspects and ramifications to us on more complex issues. We can hold referendums on the options we find are most popular through polling. And we can register our votes and national will through a frequent and regular system of secured voting on issues through the internet, telephone, cable television, or public building voting stations.
We would eliminate the Electoral College. We would keep elected debaters to help us analyze and dissect out the pro's and con's of any issue and then to formulate the final written language that we would then approve or reject. These elected individuals would have no decision-making voting power other than personally as individuals. We would retain a president to take his marching orders directly from our self-derived legislation and will and carry them out with no room for his own input. The president would for the first time in our nation's history, become the public servant that was originally intended by the founding fathers. If he did not do the job to the public's expectations, a recall of him and a new election for president could be instituted by public demand. An alternative would be to keep those who offered themselves for this position but who came in second, third or fourth, as "backups" to the winner of such a selection process. Civil service employees would be put back on a merit-based system of promotion and pay and terminating those who proved less than worthy of the public's trust would be more quickly terminated and replaced. The military would still have a chain of command and the president would still be in charge of administering the public's will in any military determination. If the president failed to produce the desired result, he could be swiftly replaced. He would never have the power to order the military to act against the citizenry against their expressed wishes according to the original agreements in the social compact.
If all this could be accomplished with a bloodless revolution of thought, we would finally have a nation that matched our ideals. And the government would be completely accountable to the People who gave it its powers. These ideals will need broad discussion and input. Anyone who reads this entry may comment and improve on its content and hopefully help perfect a design for an even better form of self government.