The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Malice » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:45 pm UTC

StevenR wrote:I would make three changes:

1) All laws sunset after ten years. If it was a good law, it will be easily passed through the legistative system again. If it wasn't a good law, it probably won't.

2) 4/5 of both houses are required to pass anything. This means no more laws strictly on party lines.
2a) A simple majority of both is required to repeal a law and is not subject to the president's signature.
2b) Congress sits for only 90 days each year. Period.


Congratulations. You now have a Congress that does nothing. Enjoy your country's rapid slide into obsolescence.

3) Members of Congress must follow all the laws they pass. No more excluding Congress from insider trading laws, Social Security, Medicaid, and the like.


This is fine but I'm not sure what areas it would actually affect at this point. (Didn't they just pass the bill removing the insider trading exception?)

3a) All members of Congress are subject to recall elections and/or direct recall by their state governor. No more laws for the party that screw over their home state.


Congresspeople are already beholden to their state overmuch, considering that they're part of the federal government and should be considering the widespread effects of legislation at least as often as they argue for their own state.

3b) No more pensions. Once you leave Capitol Hill or the White House or the SCOTUS, the tit is dry.


Why? It's a minuscule part of the budget, they served their country and deserve not to suffer for it, and at any rate you don't want people in Congress looking ahead to their next job while considering legislation.
Image

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Diadem » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:00 pm UTC

Malice wrote:
3b) No more pensions. Once you leave Capitol Hill or the White House or the SCOTUS, the tit is dry.

Why? It's a minuscule part of the budget, they served their country and deserve not to suffer for it, and at any rate you don't want people in Congress looking ahead to their next job while considering legislation.

Another point that's perhaps less relevant in the USA, but still important: You don't want people in congress to have to worry about their own financial security when making political decisions. This is most obvious countries that have coalition-based governments, where congress sending the coalition home directly leads to new elections and thus to the people in congress losing their jobs. You want to minimize the financial risk congresspeople face when voting themselves out of a job. But this principle still holds in the US. People have to be able to leave congress for political reasons, for example, without having to worry about the financial consequences.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

User avatar
omgryebread
Posts: 1393
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:03 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby omgryebread » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:57 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
omgryebread wrote:Another reason lobbying can be very important and "written by lobbyists" bills is research.

What is it about being lied two twice that makes you able to make an informed decision? And even if one side is being honest, you still need to do that research yourself to find out which side is.
You seemed pretty informed and aware of issues. I'd trust you to make a reasonable decision given two people trying to persuade you of different things. What makes you think congresspeople (whom I may start referring to as "congresspeeps" cause that sounds cool) are stupid?

Malice wrote:If you want an amendment limiting the size of bills, write that amendment; your proposed one will only slow down the government and cause emergency bills to be improperly detailed.

A hard cap on the size of bills would be stupid. Either it would be very law, restricting some kinds of bills that are necessarily long. Or it would be very high, still allowing 99% of all laws to contain a lot of pork and obfuscation.

I do want to limit the size of laws though. Not just laws, all regulations. Governments have become way too complicated and bureaucratic for my taste. I want a society where normal citizens are able to understand the law. Are able to understand how government works. Or if that is too much to ask for, at least one where representatives are![/quote]Honestly, if you expect your government to do much beyond law enforcement and defense, you're going to have a huge body of law. Every large society has required specialists to understand law. As societies got more modern, even those specialists specialized. So we have lawyers in family law, medical law, corporate law, environmental law, even lawyers who specialize in environmental law as it applies to corporations. We also have people who study law not for the purpose of practicing it, but writing and influencing it.

Putting it this way. You wouldn't want medicine simple enough for everyone to understand. Nor would you want engineering simple enough for everyone to understand. Both those things affect everyone, and they are both so useful because they are so complex. The system of procedures, rules, techniques, and limitations that make up engineering take incredible knowledge and specialization, but allow us to build earthquake resistant buildings. Think of lawyers (especially those who write law) as engineers of law.

Ixtellor wrote:28th Amendment - Congressional Term limits. 5 terms in the House and 2 in the Senate.


The obvious downside is that it could result in our Government really being run by technocrats due to congressmen's inability to learn the ropes of how to legislate before their time expires, but I think a decade would be sufficient to leave ultimate power in their hands and not the bureaucracies.

Also, clearly it would need legalise wording as I did the laymans version.
The problem with term limits is that government is incredibly complex. The rules of the legislatures are complicated and long. It takes a seasoned veteran to understand the finer points of delaying legislation. A new senator might not know when he can or can't bring a display onto the floor during debate. A second term senator might not understand that he can bring a display onto the floor when he's not supposed to as a legislative tactic. In reality, you'd hand a ton of power over from elected officials to the chiefs of staff. The parties would put extremely skilled parliamentarians in those positions, they'd stick around and coach the hell out of whatever politician comes their way.

You also make politicians spend a lot of time campaigning. Barbara Mikulski doesn't need to try and campaign. She just wins, because she's Mikulski. That gives her time to research, legislate, lobby, help her constituents, fight crime, save the world from aliens and do all the other things she does in my Senatorial fan fictions.

Long term congresspeeps can also smooth the process a lot. Two senators who've been in office forever from opposite parties can sit down at lunch and say "look, you put X in this bill and get your 20 votes, and I'll put the Y you want in the bill, and get my 20. They'll listen to me, since I campaign for them, and I know your party will follow you. We both know Z needs to get done, and it won't get done if we don't do this compromise." Freshman don't have the sway with their own caucus or the connections with the opposition to do that.

Malice wrote:Why? It's a minuscule part of the budget, they served their country and deserve not to suffer for it, and at any rate you don't want people in Congress looking ahead to their next job while considering legislation.
This is the infamous revolving door of politics.

Say Congress doesn't have pensions. Kate is from a coal mining state. She gets elected to Congress. She's already sympathetic to coal, but she also cares about the environment. Coal mining company lobbies Kate for stuff. Kate really wants to stay in Congress, and she knows they'll support someone else if she's not pro-coal enough, as will her mining constituents. So she votes pro-coal. Eventually some really nasty legislation comes along. Kate is facing a tough primary from Bob, who was a coal executive. He's super-pro-coal. Some mining companies make noise about how Bob looks really swell, and gee maybe they should donate to his campaign. Kate wants to vote against this legislation, but she's pretty sure she'd lose her job if she did.

It would take real political courage to vote against the bill in real life, and much more (and some serious selflessness) to vote against it if she wasn't assured her pension.

Now if she votes for it, great. The coal companies reward her and don't back Bob. Kate rationalizes her vote to herself, and years later is at least somewhat happy about it. She continues along passing pro-coal legislation. Skip ahead a good while. Kate's an influential Senator, but tired of campaigning. She wants to buy a bigger house now, maybe go on some vacations. Kate looks at her options. She could lecture maybe, but she'd have to travel a lot to support the lifestyle she wants. Teaching doesn't really pay enough. What's that? She could get a swell job that involves traveling to D.C. a couple times a year for a few days? And it pays enormously well? Sure, Kate will accept the job working as a lobbyist for a coal company.

If she had a pension, Kate would be maybe more inclined to take the teaching job or hit the lecture circuit.
avatar from Nononono by Lynn Okamoto.

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3112
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:The problem with term limits is that government is incredibly complex. The rules of the legislatures are complicated and long. It takes a seasoned veteran to understand the finer points of delaying legislation. A new senator might not know when he can or can't bring a display onto the floor during debate. A second term senator might not understand that he can bring a display onto the floor when he's not supposed to as a legislative tactic. In reality, you'd hand a ton of power over from elected officials to the chiefs of staff. The parties would put extremely skilled parliamentarians in those positions, they'd stick around and coach the hell out of whatever politician comes their way.


1) I did address this in my OP.
2) This is why I would propose basically 12 years to govern. By my estimation, not scientific, it probably takes about 4 years to learn the ropes. This would give Congressmen 8 more years to actually be part of enacting legislation and more importantly realize they don't need the bureaucracy or technocrats (chiefs of staff) to get things done any longer.
3) It has its disadvantages as you describe, but I belive the advantages would outweigh the cons.

You also make politicians spend a lot of time campaigning. Barbara Mikulski doesn't need to try and campaign. She just wins, because she's Mikulski. That gives her time to research, legislate, lobby, help her constituents, fight crime, save the world from aliens and do all the other things she does in my Senatorial fan fictions.


1) But she still spends time raising money. While she might not be putting the 50% of her time on Fundraising, she is still spending a significant portion of her day shoring up donations.

2) Not having to campaign also means she doesn't have to be held accountable. (advantage to term limits). By removing incumbancy advantage every 12 years, people WOULD have to campaign and convince the voters to support their agenda.

3) Not having to Campaign means all she has to do is not 'fuck it up', meaning don't make hard choices. Perhaps Mikulski really wants to fix the national debt, but continues to dodge the issues because of the electoral problems it would creat. Having term limits would force Politicans to pursue their agenda and worry less about job security.

4) Knowing beyond doubt that "this is my last term" means they can ignore all the politics and finally vote their conscience or their ideology instead of always making the tactical and safe choice. (See National Debt, Wars of Choice)

5) The last term means they spend ZERO time campaigning and focus on all the things you alread mentioned. And presumbably because incumbancy advantage will still exist, they will have been in congress for basically a decade so will also have the political gravitas to get it done, particularly when you consider that a Last Term congressmen is probably a chairman and/or holding a leadership existance. Picture 19 House Chairman in their last term with a last term Majority leader in the Senate.

Long term congresspeeps can also smooth the process a lot. Two senators who've been in office forever from opposite parties can sit down at lunch and say "look, you put X in this bill and get your 20 votes, and I'll put the Y you want in the bill, and get my 20. They'll listen to me, since I campaign for them, and I know your party will follow you. We both know Z needs to get done, and it won't get done if we don't do this compromise." Freshman don't have the sway with their own caucus or the connections with the opposition to do that.


1) Our Congress is already becoming increasingly distant along party lines and this is happening without term limits. Just look at the debt ceiling vote. (Utterly ridiculous)

2) The last year Congressmen would be the elder statesmen still, only with the added incentive or Now or Never. So the same thing could happen in your scenario, you just remove the "but it will cost me the election" factor.
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

User avatar
omgryebread
Posts: 1393
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:03 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby omgryebread » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:31 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:1) I did address this in my OP.
2) This is why I would propose basically 12 years to govern. By my estimation, not scientific, it probably takes about 4 years to learn the ropes. This would give Congressmen 8 more years to actually be part of enacting legislation and more importantly realize they don't need the bureaucracy or technocrats (chiefs of staff) to get things done any longer.
Long-term congresspeeps already need the support staff to help them run their offices, campaign, and legislate. As I and others have talked about regarding the lobbyist issue, a congressperson is merely the center of a complex machine that affects decisions.

1) But she still spends time raising money. While she might not be putting the 50% of her time on Fundraising, she is still spending a significant portion of her day shoring up donations.
And? Just because some time is already spent fundraising doesn't mean forcing more time is acceptable.

2) Not having to campaign also means she doesn't have to be held accountable. (advantage to term limits). By removing incumbancy advantage every 12 years, people WOULD have to campaign and convince the voters to support their agenda.
And then at the end, they get to say "fuck voters, imma earn me this lobbying position for Pollution Inc."

3) Not having to Campaign means all she has to do is not 'fuck it up', meaning don't make hard choices. Perhaps Mikulski really wants to fix the national debt, but continues to dodge the issues because of the electoral problems it would creat. Having term limits would force Politicans to pursue their agenda and worry less about job security.
Definitely not. Now they have to worry more about job security. Look at the career of most retired politicians. Lobbyists. Best way to get a lobbying position? Support policies that help whoever you want to be hired by. Say Statler and Waldorf Strategies lobbies Senator Frog to support a few bills. He does, and then retires. He goes looking for a job, and SWS says "wow, that guy really helped us out, give him a nice position doing what we did as a sweet reward." When you make politicians retire, this problem will get worse.

4) Knowing beyond doubt that "this is my last term" means they can ignore all the politics and finally vote their conscience or their ideology instead of always making the tactical and safe choice. (See National Debt, Wars of Choice)
Or, on the other hand, it doesn't give them time to build up the political capital you need to say "fuck popular opinion, I'm voting my conscience."

5) The last term means they spend ZERO time campaigning and focus on all the things you alread mentioned. And presumbably because incumbancy advantage will still exist, they will have been in congress for basically a decade so will also have the political gravitas to get it done, particularly when you consider that a Last Term congressmen is probably a chairman and/or holding a leadership existance. Picture 19 House Chairman in their last term with a last term Majority leader in the Senate.
And those chairpeeps and leadership positions won't have time to build up the connections and skills to do those positions. If you forced Pelosi out of Congress (without her losing an election), the best strategy for the Dems would not be to hand over the leadership to Steny Hoyer, it would be to put Pelosi as chairman of the DNC or something where she can still threaten to withhold funding, promise surrogates, and do all the things she does now. Only she would be more in the shadows. (Pelosi also features prominently in my congressional fanfics.)

1) Our Congress is already becoming increasingly distant along party lines and this is happening without term limits. Just look at the debt ceiling vote. (Utterly ridiculous)
Word.

2) The last year Congressmen would be the elder statesmen still, only with the added incentive or Now or Never. So the same thing could happen in your scenario, you just remove the "but it will cost me the election" factor.
They aren't going to go gentle into that good night when term limits are up. And for a politician, that doesn't mean going out in a blaze of righteous glory, it means politicking. Congresspeeps are going to eye up Senate seats, big name senators are going to look at the White House, other senators are going to angle for a cabinet position. Lots of them are going to move to lobbying jobs. And they also care about setting up victory for the next guy from their party. Politicians honestly do believe that they're doing the right thing. Democrats do believe that the Democratic party is the Right Party. Yes, what's good for Democrats is good for America. A lot of times, when you think politicians are doing a greedy, political vote, they believe they're doing the right thing. Even if the honestly disagree with their vote, it might be so they can be re-elected to fight another day.
avatar from Nononono by Lynn Okamoto.

User avatar
Xeio
Friends, Faidites, Countrymen
Posts: 5099
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:12 am UTC
Location: C:\Users\Xeio\
Contact:

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Xeio » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:40 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:2) This is why I would propose basically 12 years to govern. By my estimation, not scientific, it probably takes about 4 years to learn the ropes. This would give Congressmen 8 more years to actually be part of enacting legislation and more importantly realize they don't need the bureaucracy or technocrats (chiefs of staff) to get things done any longer.
Given that the average tenure of congress hasn't actually even reached 12 years[1], I think you overestimate the effect such a change would have.

So either you're going to have to shoot for a lower limit, or term limits aren't going to solve the problem.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:53 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote: If she had a pension, Kate would be maybe more inclined to take the teaching job or hit the lecture circuit.


Except that they don't. Congressmen retire, take up the lobbyist gig, and still collect their pension. The intent was someone serve their community in Congress and go home when they were done. Congress was supposed to act like a political Cincinnatus and pick up their plow again after putting down the legislator's pen. Now they just suckle at the government teat until they die.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:22 pm UTC

StevenR wrote:
omgryebread wrote: If she had a pension, Kate would be maybe more inclined to take the teaching job or hit the lecture circuit.


Except that they don't. Congressmen retire, take up the lobbyist gig, and still collect their pension. The intent was someone serve their community in Congress and go home when they were done. Congress was supposed to act like a political Cincinnatus and pick up their plow again after putting down the legislator's pen. Now they just suckle at the government teat until they die.

Is your concern that there are a few hundred people living undeservedly uncomfortable lives, or is this supposed to have deeper policy implications?
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:16 pm UTC

A) It's not their money to just give themselves. It's your money they took from you
B) Politics was supposed to be a part time gig, not something that required a pension
C) Even if the pension was there to allow politicians to go into public service after they retire, they aren't doing it.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:28 pm UTC

StevenR wrote:B) Politics was supposed to be a part time gig, not something that required a pension

Supposed by whom? The founding deities? It seems evident that the modern body politic sustaining the Constitution does not, by and large, think that politicians are only needed for part of the year.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:45 pm UTC

Yes, the Founding Fathers were clear in what was expected. Unfortunately, the public learned to love being bribed with their own money.

User avatar
Silknor
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Silknor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:58 am UTC

No Supreme Court Justice may serve for more than 25 total years in that position. This amendment should not be construed as to apply to any Supreme Court Justice confirmed before the enactment of this amendment.


This is a modest amendment (and I should add, one which I have seen elsewhere in similar form). It is not intended to have a major impact, but rather to alleviate 2 problems:

1. Presidents are increasingly nominating younger Supreme Court Justices so as to maximize the length their appointees serve on the Court. It is reasonable to expect that, on average, this trend will lead to less experienced nominees.

2. Justices have an incentive to stay on the Court longer than they would like (for reasons of health, a desire to retire, etc) so that their replacement is appointed by a President more likely to nominate Justices who share their judicial philosophy.

The flip side of 2 of course is that nominees may retire early so that their replacement is similarly-minded. I don't see this as much of a problem, and the solutions that come to mind are undesirable. In any case, the above amendment would not make any problems associated with this worse.
Nikc wrote:Silknor is the JJ Abrams of mafia modding

User avatar
lutzj
Posts: 898
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:20 am UTC
Location: Ontario

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby lutzj » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:06 am UTC

StevenR wrote:B) Politics was supposed to be a part time gig, not something that required a pension


Well, yeah, back when it took weeks to get from one's country estate in New Hampshire to actually serve in Congress. Having part of the year off was, and is, a necessary condition of a long-distance job, not some symbolic limitation of its prestige or importance.

If you really want to go all the way with your Cincinattus ideal then you'd have to argue we don't even pay salaries to legislators, which is a logically valid position to take based on your premises about the role of politicians but would drive talented policymakers into other fields just as removing pensions would.
addams wrote:I'm not a bot.
That is what a bot would type.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:27 am UTC

I'm alright with congresscritters getting paid while in office. I'm just oppossed to anyone on Capitol Hill (or the White House, or the SCOTUS) getting another dime in pension or benefits after they leave office.

User avatar
lutzj
Posts: 898
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:20 am UTC
Location: Ontario

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby lutzj » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:36 am UTC

StevenR wrote:I'm alright with congresscritters getting paid while in office. I'm just oppossed to anyone on Capitol Hill (or the White House, or the SCOTUS) getting another dime in pension or benefits after they leave office.


The main issue here is whether or not we should compensate legislators or not (the main issue with pensions in other industries is the massive costs they can create, but that's irrelevant here considering the comparatively tiny employee rolls and massive resources of Congress). I don't see how you can logically support salaries while opposing pensions. Would you be okay with them getting tax-free bonuses on condition that those bonuses be converted into a life annuity?
addams wrote:I'm not a bot.
That is what a bot would type.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:48 am UTC

No. I would pay Congress a stipend, give them base housing on one of the many military bases in/around DC, medical care on post, and cover their Congress-related expenses. Anything beyond that comes out of their pocket. It should be an honor to serve their district, not a free ride to more perks and cash than they know what to do with. As soon as their last term has ended, as soon as they get on that plane ride home, that's it.

User avatar
Griffin
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:46 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Griffin » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:05 am UTC

I don't see how you can logically support salaries while opposing pensions.

I don't see how they are in any way related.

Salaries are what you get when you're doing a good job, and thus keep your job.

Pensions are what you get when you've done poorly enough to get fired, so that you can earn two incomes at once.

(Or when you "retire", but lets be honest - These senators do not "retire" into "retirement" most of the time. And that's what savings plans and 401ks are for.)
Bdthemag: "I don't always GM, but when I do I prefer to put my player's in situations that include pain and torture. Stay creative my friends."

Bayobeasts - the Pokemon: Orthoclase project.

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:18 am UTC

Silknor wrote:
No Supreme Court Justice may serve for more than 25 total years in that position. This amendment should not be construed as to apply to any Supreme Court Justice confirmed before the enactment of this amendment.

My favorite so far. Doesn't shake the boat all too much, but a definite improvement.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:28 am UTC

StevenR wrote:It should be an honor to serve their district, not a free ride to more perks and cash than they know what to do with.

Meanwhile, back in reality, Congress is an extremely demanding and taxing job that often fails to attract good talent. While it might be nice if people would take the job for selfless motives, if you want Congress to be staffed by actual human beings with an actual modicum of competence you're going to need some sort of worthwhile compensation scheme.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

StevenR
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:36 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby StevenR » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:30 am UTC

Because the money they get from kickbacks, bribes, campagin contributions, lobbyist jobs waiting for them, and knowing which stocks are going to be affected by upcoming legislation just isn't enough to pad their nests.

EDIT: I forgot getting lucrative contracts for companies owned by spouses, Sorry.

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:56 am UTC

StevenR wrote:Because the money they get from kickbacks, bribes, campagin contributions, lobbyist jobs waiting for them, and knowing which stocks are going to be affected by upcoming legislation just isn't enough to pad their nests.

EDIT: I forgot getting lucrative contracts for companies owned by spouses, Sorry.

Do you think they will spend more or less time pursuing these other interests if they get less money from the government?

User avatar
omgryebread
Posts: 1393
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:03 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby omgryebread » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:56 pm UTC

Reducing the amount politicians get drastically (including by cutting their pensions) has some seriously bad effects.


Firstly, politicians are usually rich anyway. A wealthy dude in the oil business can afford to take some time shitting around at 174k a year and not see a significant harm in his lifestyle, since he's likely living off dividends and investments, not income. Once he's in Congress, he's going to vote for things that help him and his rich friends in the oil business. This isn't really greed or corruption, and I don't fault the guy for it. If he gets booted from Congress, oh well, he's still rich.

Now imagine a union boss, making more than a Congressperson, but vastly less than the oil baron. If he quits his job to campaign and then serve, he is going to see a hit in lifestyle. And if he gets booted from Congress, he's suddenly getting a lot less.

This has the effect of encouraging the rich to run and discouraging the less-rich. (The poor and middle-class are honestly not a big issue. If you're good enough to get a party to want you, you've probably got a law degree or something equally profitable, or you can get it.)

The founding fathers, admittedly, did envision Congress as a part-time thing. Why? Partly because they envision Congress as a thing only for rich people. They specifically made it that only rich people could even vote. I'm not sure their vision of Congress is all that relevant to us today.

The other issue is that Congresspeeps would be even more reliant on lobbyists than they already are.
avatar from Nononono by Lynn Okamoto.

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3112
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:26 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:2) This is why I would propose basically 12 years to govern. By my estimation, not scientific, it probably takes about 4 years to learn the ropes. This would give Congressmen 8 more years to actually be part of enacting legislation and more importantly realize they don't need the bureaucracy or technocrats (chiefs of staff) to get things done any longer.


Given that the average tenure of congress hasn't actually even reached 12 years[1], I think you overestimate the effect such a change would have.

So either you're going to have to shoot for a lower limit, or term limits aren't going to solve the problem.


1) Its the long termers that run the show. The Congressmen that don't hit the 12 year mark are less of the problem, and probably don't wield gavels.

2) Those people not making it to their 5th or higher terms were still running for office frequently, therefore in their previous term they faltered on the side of safe votes rather than conscience votes.

omgryebread wrote:And then at the end, they get to say "fuck voters, imma earn me this lobbying position for Pollution Inc."


That is going to happen regardless.

The difference being:
1) You only need a few votes for the job at "Pollution Inc." One pork project could be enough to cement that deal.
2) To keep winning elections you have to constantly take the safe votes. (See Medicare reform). So even though the Congressmen is going to make his "post-lobbying" job votes, they can vote their conscience on the rest of the bills that session.

omgryebread wrote:Or, on the other hand, it doesn't give them time to build up the political capital you need to say "fuck popular opinion, I'm voting my conscience."


With term limits, the people with 12 years in... do have all the political capital.

Last Term Senator X says "Hey freshmen, you want your pork? Well I expect your helping getting my medicare bill out of committee. Don't want to help? May I remind you of my Gavel and its direct correlation to your bills being tabled".

Those last term congressmen will be the only ones with the power to help all the frosh with pork and amendments.
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 10273
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:14 pm UTC

Proposal: No contract may waive your right to a trial by jury before the fact.

Virtually every contract you sign has the arbitration clause. Have a dispute? Arbitration. Quick, name 1 judge that is likely to rule in your favor. You can't? Well, the companies know which judges rule in their own favor. Jury trials are much less predictable and much more likely to do what they think is right rather than what the law says.



Proposal: If a normal person wouldn't have read the contract, it isn't a contract.

In contract law, there has to be a 'meeting of the minds'. If you signed your name but never read the contract, in reality there wasn't a meeting of the minds, but in law there was. My idea is that if no reasonable person can be expected to read the contract (e.g., 20 page EULAs), it's not binding.

User avatar
omgryebread
Posts: 1393
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:03 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby omgryebread » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:22 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
omgryebread wrote:And then at the end, they get to say "fuck voters, imma earn me this lobbying position for Pollution Inc."


That is going to happen regardless.

The difference being:
1) You only need a few votes for the job at "Pollution Inc." One pork project could be enough to cement that deal.
2) To keep winning elections you have to constantly take the safe votes. (See Medicare reform). So even though the Congressmen is going to make his "post-lobbying" job votes, they can vote their conscience on the rest of the bills that session.
Why would they vote against public opinion with their conscience, but not against public opinion for their own interest?

Or, in the current state of affairs, why would they vote with the public opinion against their conscience, but against the public opinion in their own interest? In either reality, term-limited or status quo, your politicians are inconsistent. I also think you may underestimate how often personal interest and conscience align well. An oil lobbyist is likely to believe that investing in oil is a good thing to do.
omgryebread wrote:Or, on the other hand, it doesn't give them time to build up the political capital you need to say "fuck popular opinion, I'm voting my conscience."


With term limits, the people with 12 years in... do have all the political capital.

Last Term Senator X says "Hey freshmen, you want your pork? Well I expect your helping getting my medicare bill out of committee. Don't want to help? May I remind you of my Gavel and its direct correlation to your bills being tabled".

Those last term congressmen will be the only ones with the power to help all the frosh with pork and amendments.
When a congresspeep builds up political capital, it stays with them. They won't lose it by being term-limited. It's why governors (who are term-limited) love to run for other offices. If you term limited congresspeeps, some will lose capital as they leave just because it will shift to the new guys. Others won't so easily. Nancy Pelosi is going to be a powerful surrogate for the Democratic party even if you limited her. She'd still be able to say "vote the way I want you to, or I'm not going to visit your district and hold 50k a plate dinners for your campaign."

Look at the political power of people who haven't even ever been in Congress. You have very powerful people who already are not in any government seat. Rick Santorum managed (and will perhaps still manage) to force his party rightward despite being voted out of the Senate. Hillary Clinton is obviously powerful, despite having left the Senate. Bill Clinton isn't in any sort of official post, yet if he wanted a bill passed, it would be on the agenda of every Democrat in Congress. Term limits mean that people are going to want to please the party so they can be the preferred candidate for whatever office is next up the ladder. As partisan as I am (serious party hack, I bleed blue) I really don't think parties should be more important than they are.


CorruptUser wrote:Proposal: No contract may waive your right to a trial by jury before the fact.

Virtually every contract you sign has the arbitration clause. Have a dispute? Arbitration. Quick, name 1 judge that is likely to rule in your favor. You can't? Well, the companies know which judges rule in their own favor. Jury trials are much less predictable and much more likely to do what they think is right rather than what the law says.



Proposal: If a normal person wouldn't have read the contract, it isn't a contract.

In contract law, there has to be a 'meeting of the minds'. If you signed your name but never read the contract, in reality there wasn't a meeting of the minds, but in law there was. My idea is that if no reasonable person can be expected to read the contract (e.g., 20 page EULAs), it's not binding.
These should probably be statutory law and not constitutional, but hell yeah. You don't even actually have to sign your name or even pretend to read it, actually. You can have a contract that the customer can't read until they have purchased your item. And federal decisions have been split as to whether or not that's legal.
avatar from Nononono by Lynn Okamoto.

Jonesthe Spy
Posts: 108
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:05 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Jonesthe Spy » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:45 pm UTC

Rick Perry, of all people, advocated for an amendment for term limits for Supreme Court Justices. I think it's a very good idea, for reasons already mentioned above. Justices would serve 18 years, and one would retire and another be appointed every two years. So every president is guarunteed that they will appoint two Justices, and there's none of the waiting-until-a-president-you-like-is-in-power-to-retire and similar shenanigans we've seen going on the last couple of decades.

And then there's a very simple and incredibly important Saving American Democracy Amendment authored by Bernie Sanders:

Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.
Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
Corporations may not make campaign contributions.
Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3112
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:44 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:I also think you may underestimate how often personal interest and conscience align well. An oil lobbyist is likely to believe that investing in oil is a good thing to do.


No I believe congressmen make a lot of votes they believe in.

Taking your oil vote.
In todays climate a congressmen might be pro-oil subsidies and vote that way. But what they can't do because of campaign politics is pay for it. Or if they are a Republican from Florida they might very well believe in off-shore drilling but don't vote for it because of the reelection effort. There are Republicans that want to reduce defense spending, but can't. There are Democrats who want to reduce entitlements, but can't. Pro-Gay Rights Republicans, Anti-Regulation Democrats, etc etc.

Reelection is always hanging over them and dictating to a large degree votes that could cost them the next election.

Medicare part D and Authorization for the Iraq War. How many of those voters were cast exclusively for electoral reasons?

Log Rolling means holding your nose while you vote for 434 projects you hate.


omgryebread wrote:When a congresspeep builds up political capital, it stays with them.


You selected extreme examples.

What kind of capital does Ted Stevens the KING of the Appropriations committee hold today?

Santorum didn't force anything. The tea party did far more then him. Rick was a lockstep establishment Republican for the most part. Bachmann has done far more than him... and what kind of capital does she wield? Any perceived effect he had on the party is vastly outweighed by the republican voting electorate and a string of primary challenges.
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:29 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:What kind of capital does Ted Stevens the KING of the Appropriations committee hold today?

He's dead... or was that the point?
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Malice » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:17 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Reelection is always hanging over them and dictating to a large degree votes that could cost them the next election.


I think you should re-examine your assumption that elected representatives should vote with their constituency as little as possible. The flip side of "she bravely voted for minority rights despite pressure from the voters" is "she bravely voted to give herself a pay raise despite pressure from the voters". Congress is already not responsive enough to the public's wishes--look at the debt ceiling debate, where Congress in general stood well outside the general voter position of "Stop squabbling and compromise on some taxes and some spending cuts".
Image

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3112
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:26 pm UTC

Malice wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:Reelection is always hanging over them and dictating to a large degree votes that could cost them the next election.


I think you should re-examine your assumption that elected representatives should vote with their constituency as little as possible. The flip side of "she bravely voted for minority rights despite pressure from the voters" is "she bravely voted to give herself a pay raise despite pressure from the voters". Congress is already not responsive enough to the public's wishes--look at the debt ceiling debate, where Congress in general stood well outside the general voter position of "Stop squabbling and compromise on some taxes and some spending cuts".


1) I never made the claim they should vote with constituency as little as possible.
2) There is a flip side to every argument. I am saying that term limits solves more problems than it causes. Legislation is extremely complex with vast constituencies and motivations that go into votes and amendments.
3) In your last point "stop squabbling" your including all voters. Congressmen aren't responsible to all voters, they are only responsible to their highly gerrymandered constituents. So those republican districts are screaming, "cut spending, no tax increases" and the democratic ones are screaming "raise taxes, keep spending".
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

User avatar
Silknor
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Silknor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

Malice wrote: Congress is already not responsive enough to the public's wishes--look at the debt ceiling debate, where Congress in general stood well outside the general voter position of "Stop squabbling and compromise on some taxes and some spending cuts".


Congress also stood (at times) well outside the general voter position of "Don't even consider raising the debt ceiling." While numbers eventually converged towards a fairly even split (slightly favoring no raise), in June (the estimated default date was August 2nd), the public strongly opposed it raising the debt ceiling: with 24% in favor and 69% opposed.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162- ... 03544.html

That said, it seems to me that one of the principal effects of term limits is to make Members more reliant on others, as the leadership has significantly less time to build up institutional knowledge, policy knowledge etc. Some of that gap may be filled by relying more on staff and some by relying more on lobbyists.
Nikc wrote:Silknor is the JJ Abrams of mafia modding

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3112
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:43 pm UTC

Silknor wrote:Some of that gap may be filled by relying more on staff and some by relying more on lobbyists.


They already do this. Its the entire point of the CBO and GAO.
Do you think a single member of Congress read the healthcare bill or goes through the budget line by line?

And unless you happen to come from a particular industry all congressmen are going to rely on lobbyists for information. (We already debated the truthfulness of that information and in my experience as well as the testimony of Congressmen, lobbyists are basically truthful behind closed doors)[I can't speak about the DeLay K Street Project years]

The basic question is "How long does it take Congressmen to learn the system?"
I do believe that term limits should last longer than what ever the answer to that question is, and my shot in the dark estimation is 4-6 years.

P.S. If anyone was in Washington engaged in lobbying during those years, I would love to hear about it.
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

User avatar
Silknor
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Silknor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:19 pm UTC

I know that Members of Congress rely on their staffs, committee staffs, CRS, CBO, GAO, etc, in addition to leadership offices. My point wasn't that they're completely, or even moderately independent and unassisted now. It was a point about the marginal impact, that all else equal, those with less time in office are going to need more assistance (and leadership having less time in office will decrease the assistance they personally can give). I don't labor under the impression that Members read every bill, nor do I think that would be desirable.

Nor did I indicate it was necessarily a bad thing that Members would be more reliant on lobbyists (I tend to see the legislative subsidy model as particularly relevant). I don't think that lobbyists tend to lie either, after all, their credibility and access depends on them providing accurate and useful information.

My point is rather that, all else equal, we should expect Members who are less dependent (in a complete sense, as in would not be able to check something independently because they don't know any of the basics), on others to be better able to govern according to how they indicated they would, eg. more accountable.

As for the question of how long Members take to learn the system, obviously it's not a binary state, there's degrees of knowledge both on the working the system side (parliamentary procedure, who to talk to, how things work) and on the policy side (even if they specialize in two or three areas, they're not going to know everything in 10 years, much less 4-6). Of course, it's the leadership: both caucus and committee that suffers the most, since they're the ones more likely to run up against term limits.

As a separate point, for those who would not be thinking of retiring all together once their term expires, term limits would intensify the incentives for them to seek out lobbying work after they're termed out, which as pointed out may impact their behavior while in office.
Nikc wrote:Silknor is the JJ Abrams of mafia modding

User avatar
lutzj
Posts: 898
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:20 am UTC
Location: Ontario

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby lutzj » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:01 am UTC

Jonesthe Spy wrote:And then there's a very simple and incredibly important Saving American Democracy Amendment authored by Bernie Sanders:

Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people...


I might be wrong, but aren't corporations legal persons by definition? I'm also not really sure what problem this provision solves.
addams wrote:I'm not a bot.
That is what a bot would type.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Malice » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:55 am UTC

lutzj wrote:
Jonesthe Spy wrote:And then there's a very simple and incredibly important Saving American Democracy Amendment authored by Bernie Sanders:

Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people...


I might be wrong, but aren't corporations legal persons by definition? I'm also not really sure what problem this provision solves.


An individual has certain rights that are generally not limited except in extreme circumstances. You have freedom of speech, you can say almost whatever you want, and we generally only stop you from speaking if it's actually, provably, going to get somebody physically hurt or killed. You have freedom of religion, you can believe and worship however you want, and we generally only stop you from practicing it if your religion involves human sacrifice.

When many people pool their resources and agree to work together under a single identity (the corporation), they should not be allowed the same latitude, because the corporation has vastly more power than any individual, vastly more money, and may live vastly longer. An individual person saying something bad is okay, we as a society can take it because they are just one person and you only need a few people to shout them down. A corporation saying something bad is a lot more problematic; even if they don't actively harm anybody, their speech is WAY LOUDER!!!! than an individual's. Similarly, their religious practices might be no problem for society on a small scale (like a father who asks his daughter not to use contraception) but becomes a problem when practiced by a powerful group on a large scale (like a company asking their employees not to use contraception).

The Supreme Court has over time ruled that corporations should not have additional limitations on their rights, because to them that constitutes limitations on the rights of the individuals who make up that group. It's one of the factors that have led to the increase in corporate power over the rest of the population, and codifying a corporation as something which may have limitations on its rights is a step towards fixing that problem. See: Citizens United and the whole SuperPAC issue.
Image

User avatar
Whammy
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:34 pm UTC
Location: Southern United States

Re: The 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

Postby Whammy » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:17 am UTC

Meh, been lurking this thread quite a bit, figured I get in on it.

Malice wrote:An individual has certain rights that are generally not limited except in extreme circumstances. You have freedom of speech, you can say almost whatever you want, and we generally only stop you from speaking if it's actually, provably, going to get somebody physically hurt or killed. You have freedom of religion, you can believe and worship however you want, and we generally only stop you from practicing it if your religion involves human sacrifice.


Yep, that sounds about right. When two rights come into conflict (speech vs. safety), it's reasonable to assume some limitations on at least one of them.

Malice]When many people pool their resources and agree to work together under a single identity (the corporation), they should not be allowed the same latitude, because the corporation has vastly more power than any individual, vastly more money, and may live vastly longer. An individual person saying something bad is okay, we as a society can take it because they are just one person and you only need a few people to shout them down[/quote]

...isn't that several people pooling their resources together to push a certain message as well? Also, individuals are able to gain a lot of power influence and wealth as well; this guy pretty much singlehandedly kept Newt Gingrich alive in the primary. Preventing people from being to pool their resources together to counteract a guy like him would only increase the power of such individuals, not weaken it like people want.

[quote="Malice wrote:
A corporation saying something bad is a lot more problematic; even if they don't actively harm anybody, their speech is WAY LOUDER!!!! than an individual's. Similarly, their religious practices might be no problem for society on a small scale (like a father who asks his daughter not to use contraception) but becomes a problem when practiced by a powerful group on a large scale (like a company asking their employees not to use contraception).


Not sure if that would be covered by speech though, but let's just assume it is. Individuals within the corporation may be able to sue the corporation for violating their rights, or outside groups may be able to intervene and use their own money and power to try and influence the corporation through bad publicity through the media (which, by the way is made of corporations able to engage in speech due to, well, freedom of press), for example. Corporations are not a hive-mind; it's possible for groups of several different perspectives to compete against each other, which would minimize the groups' power and ability while at the same time increasing the amount of ideas to be debated amongst the public at large.

Malice wrote:The Supreme Court has over time ruled that corporations should not have additional limitations on their rights, because to them that constitutes limitations on the rights of the individuals who make up that group. It's one of the factors that have led to the increase in corporate power over the rest of the population, and codifying a corporation as something which may have limitations on its rights is a step towards fixing that problem. See: Citizens United and the whole SuperPAC issue.


Yes, because we also have:

-Freedom of Association, which was codified in US Constitutional law in NAACP v. Alabama as an extension of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech (and all the other ones really). http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal ... /case.html

Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, as this Court has more than once recognized by remarking upon the close nexus between the freedoms of speech and assembly. De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353, 299 U. S. 364; Thomas v. Collins, 323 U. S. 516, 323 U. S. 530. It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the "liberty" assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech. See Gitlow v. New York, 268 U. S. 652, 268 U. S. 666; Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U. S. 319, 302 U. S. 324; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 303; Staub v. City of Baxley, 355 U. S. 313, 355 U. S. 321. Of course, it is immaterial whether the beliefs sought to be advanced by association pertain to political, economic, religious or cultural matters, and state action which may have the

Page 357 U. S. 461

effect of curtailing the freedom to associate is subject to the closest scrutiny.


In short, freedom of speech, religion, petition, and assembly are all tied very tightly with the ability to be able to group together. After all, what is government going to listen to more; one guy standing on a soapbox, or a large group of people? Obviously, the later, but of course large groups of people need to be organized in order to effectively coordinate in order to get their message out, which is why of course form non-profit groups or organizations (aka corporations). Can this power be abused? Of course, but all rights can be abused or misused to push things that people might not like. For example, I did not approve when the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in my hometown last year. The proper response isn't to strip the Ku Klux Klan of it's ability to exist and organize through the law (since that would of course have repercussions that would effect things I do support ^_^), but instead, the more appropriate reaction is what happened; people protested the Ku Klux Klan during their rally from the other side of the street. The same can be seen anytime the Westboro Church does a protest; you usually see a counterprotest formed right nearby.

The proper response to speech is not to suppress it or limit it, but more speech. And obviously, that's hard to do if people are prevented from grouping together.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests