Friday, October 2, 2009
Personal Asides: States Deep Backgrounds Recommendations for a Cleaner Illinois Politics David Lettermans Warm Relations with Staff.
I call him Deep Background the very prominent Illinois strategist who talked to me the other day, saying that the Illinois GOP is unutterably dumb but even IT cant prevent a Republican from being elected governor next year due to general voter disgust with the warring Democrats who, though they control all the state constitutional offices and both houses of the legislature, cant govern.
In this second chapter of our conversation, he outlined what in his view are real reforms which could snap the state out of its endemic deadlocks.
Getting these reforms through is another matter, he said, but these constitute the only route to returning this state to political sanity.
He starts off with this slogan pertaining to the legislature: Cut their pay and send them home. Legislators are paid entirely too much, he said. They get $65,353 annuallyand more if theyre in the `leadership or are chairmen of committees. Of course their pensions are a scandal. Thats the first thing. Their salaries ought to be drastically reduced. The old canard was that if you raised their pay, a better class of lawmaker would emerge. Not so: a class of careerists emerges which is interested only in extending their service to get fat, juicy pensions. Thats the first thing: cut their pay.
How much to pay them? New Hampshire has never gravitated from the status of citizen legislature. That state pays each lawmaker $500 for each session plus per diem travel. I am for a more liberal amount--$1,000 for each session plus per diem travel. It amounts to a stipend. The drastic cut in pay would do two things: first it would encourage those to serve who have made enough money in the private sector that they dont have to try to build a career on the public dime. Second, it would encourage them to cut the sessions short and go home. That is in line with the credo of the founders of this nation.
One argument that would arise is that it would encourage only those who have sufficient private resources to run. To which I say: excellent. The current wage which with its benefits and pension totals far more than the average Illinoisan, has set up an elite class that is isolated from the real problems of the day. The second argument is that a small stipend would mandate those working at other tasks and thus engaging in a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest can be cured by ample notification on the Internet of their other income including lawyers clients. The object would rely on complete public disclosure. In that way voters would know what their elected representatives business ties are and still decide to elect them, so be it.
The low stipend would necessitate lawmakers getting their jobs done and going back home which is the gist of the thinking of this nations founders.
I asked what about term limits? He answered: I dont like term limits because they limit the peoples rights. But term limits would take care of themselves with this very modest stipend. Also the length of sessions would take care of themselves.
When I asked about campaign finance limitations, he said: None. Absolutely none. However every buck collected should be disclosed on the Internet and the voters can decide for themselves if their guy is beholden to special interests or not. There should definitely not be finance limitations.
What do you think? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org Incidentally, thanks very much for the overflow of communications telling me what Glenn Beck said concerning Obama and McCain as well as your analyses and comments. Let me know about these reforms now, would you?
Last night liberal standup comic David Letterman he who continued making derogatory comments about Sarah Palin and her underage daughter having sex and getting pregnant told his audience that he had testified before a grand jury. The reason: he was being blackmailed by someone because he was having sex with staff members thats staff members plural and they nabbed the person. Letterman married a longtime staffer last March.
While all pre-marital and extra-marital intercourse is immoral, there conceivably could be a subterranean circle in hell for one who abuses a staff subservient role and capitalizes on his employer status (and the power to fire) for his own sexual aggrandizement. It presages a judgment that one who does this is preternaturally crude, abusive and endowed with less honor than another offender (see: Bill Clinton).
But then we sort of suspected this about Letterman did we not since his degrading insult of Palins defenseless minor daughter.
Oh, you might as well give me your comments about this as well when you write above.