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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  January 15, 2006
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Ten Simple Rules

(With apologies to W. Bruce Cameron – author of "Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter.")

One despairs.

That is, one despairs over the persistence of certain elected officials. Specifically, one despairs over elected representatives who seem determined to prove the validity of Mark Twain’s observation about there being "no distinctly American criminal class except Congress."

The latest in our nation’s long-running series of scandals involves lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a growing number of representatives who can’t seem to divest themselves quickly enough of the money he "donated" to them.

This scandal differs, however, from past scandals in that it involves greed, money, hubris and influence peddling rather than sex, money, hubris and influence peddling or booze, money, hubris and influence peddling.

Foolishness remains a constant.

I know that there are representatives good and true in both the House and Senate, but something’s got to change. Therefore, in order to make elected service more closely resemble the important - yet temporary - duty it was meant to be, I propose we make a few rule changes.

The purpose of these changes would be to implant in our representatives (surgically, if necessary) the burning desire to turn the job over to someone else as quickly as possible.

To that end, here are "Ten Simple Rules for Serving in Congress":

(1) Members of Congress shall be paid a salary no higher than the average yearly salary of the ordinary American worker. Additionally, for each year that there is a balanced budget, members shall receive a $1000 bonus. However, for each year that there is a budget deficit, members shall donate $1000 from their salaries to the charity of their choice. Pay raises shall be granted only with the consent of three-fourths of the American public. Such consent shall be given, as opposed to congressional custom, during "the light of day."

(2) Congressional terms shall henceforth be considered the equivalent of an unaccompanied military tour. The families of representatives shall, therefore, remain in their home districts while Congress is in session. Legislative sessions may, however, be adjourned early whenever the nation’s business has been properly concluded.

(3) Due to the high cost of living in our nation’s capitol, members of Congress shall be bunked (four to a room) in dormitories provided at government expense. Junior members shall be assigned lower bunks to encourage the retirement of older members and there shall be a 10 p.m. curfew to help prevent such shenanigans as have arisen when members were previously allowed out and about at all hours. Cleaning chores shall be divided as members so decide.

(4) Members of Congress shall be required to personally lick the envelope of each and every piece of correspondence leaving their office. There shall be no exceptions to this rule.

(5) Members of Congress may meet with lobbyists, but such meetings shall be conducted in a fashion similar to the lawyer/convict meetings shown in old prison movies. A large room with individual stalls, glass partitions, and hand-held phones on each side of the glass shall be provided to facilitate such meetings. Note: Conversations may be monitored by small business owners who’ve recently been audited by the IRS for screwing up tax returns the Good Lord Himself couldn’t figure out.

(6) Members of Congress shall eat all meals in a government-run cafeteria. Said cafeteria shall serve the same fare currently provided to deployed front line soldiers. Alcohol, the lubricant for many past congressional indiscretions, shall be prohibited.

(7) Member of Congress may propose no new law until two older laws have been identified that can be stricken from the books. The number shall rise to three if the proposed new law has anything to do with "improving, " "reforming," or "streamlining" the tax code.

(8) As regards tax revenues, the monetary proceeds of any tax proposed by the members of one party may be spent only by the members of the other party.

(9) Members of Congress shall travel solely on government-owned aircraft. To prevent burdening our military, retired transport planes shall be brought back into service for such use. Since the cargo bays of such aircraft are cold, loud, hard, and uncomfortable, members are advised to keep "fact finding" missions to a minimum and to make sure that the distances involved never exceed the capacity of their bladders.

(10) To ensure the ongoing soundness of the system, members of Congress shall have no government-funded retirement other than the social security system now in place and currently touted as being both "solvent" and "safe."

With such rules in place, term limits would likely be self-imposed and vigorously adhered to.

And that, gentle reader, would be a good thing.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2006 by Larry Simoneaux
All Rights Reserved.

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