Bell Congress & The Execs

I was pondering our “Highest Bidder Government” and wondering how to fix it. How could one possibly managed to prevent the blatant selling of government favors and have any hope of it working?

What prompted this was the nightly news on CNN about “Poolageddon” or some such. Seems that a rule was promulgated. A rule to require a pool lift for disabled persons. Sounds all warm and fuzzy, no? Just like other aspects of The Americans With Disabilities Act, ought not the disabled have equal access to swimming pools? (Never mind that someone too disabled to climb out of a pool on their own (and thus obviously able to get in on their own) ought not to be left swimming about… lest they get tired and drown… I’m sure some additional mandates will be made after the first few hundred drownings that there be a mandatory lifeguard available at all times.)

Some folks think this will result in massive pool closings. I tend to agree. Easier to close them than worry about it. As the requirements are a bit hard to figure out, and not being in compliance can result in a load of law suits, it would be easier to hang up the “no swimming” sign for a year or two. Add in the inevitable suits from some kids running into the thing, or just using it as an ‘attractive nuisance’ toy, and “close” is sounding a whole lot better than “shell out the bucks and put a lawyer on retainer”.

Oh, did I mention this was to be a ALL “public” swimming pools? That is not just the municipal pools of our local governments (presently lining up for bankruptcy in California…) No, much more grand than that. EVERY hotel, municipality, YMCA, school, private clubs, you name it. If the pool is not in a private back yard, in goes the lift… ( One could also ask about the wisdom of requiring the requisite electrical doodads near a body of water too).

My first thought was “Oh My God, that would cost a fortune!”. These things will undoubtedly be at least $10,000 each, installed. If you have a large pool, or a pool and a hot tub, you have to buy 2 of them. Heck, you can’t even get an estimate on anything involving 3 trades for under that. (As it has mechanical installation, electrical, and some kind of masonry work where the bolts go in, plus touch up paint; code will require a general contractor plus the individual trades. At least in California it does.) Now look at all the places with a pool nation wide. Millions of those suckers. We’re talking order of magnitude, numbers in a $Billion handle. (In ‘trader talk’, a “handle” is the size of digits in front of any fractional or constant part. So wheat trading between $4.00 and $4.99 is said to have a ‘4 handle’. Likewise, gold hanging around $1600 range could be said to have a 1600 handle, or more likely, a 16 handle.)

But wait, there’s more…

Turns out that a very large contributor to Mr. Obama makes the lifts….

“Government, get yer Goooovernment! Goooovernment for Sale! For sale today!!! Fresh congresses critters daily!”

The “rule” has been put on hold for something like 60 days based on folks complaining. The announcement was ‘to give them more time’. Oh, did I mention how many pools that would be? No way anyone could have that much gear in hand and installed in that time period. But I digress…

What to do?

Since as far back as I can remember, we’ve had various amounts of corruption in government. Most notorious for it was Chicago (with a strong rivalry with New York…). It would now seem that Chicago Style has come to Washington D.C. (and I don’t mean the Chicago Style Pizza.)

Bell Congress

When you have a cat that will simply not learn to stay out of the garden, or not eat the birds in your bird bath, you “bell the cat”. It doesn’t stop him from trying, but lets everyone know what he’s up to.

My proposal is simple: Bell every congress critter, ALL their aids, secretaries and support staff, and especially their campaign contribution staff (both solicitors and receivers). We have the technology to do it (and they are fond of using it on criminals, so we have a precedent). Simply install an “ankle bracelet”on each one. I would also have it enhanced with a microphone. Install a listening device in every congressional and executive branch office too. ALL of them feed into an online site. (Heck, CSPAN can handle it.) Every phone gets a feed too, and it becomes a criminal act to NOT use one of the “approved” phones. All correspondence (email and paper mail) gets put on the web too.

Look, these guys are supposed to be doing The People’s Business. It’s all PUBLIC Service, after all, so any action in the public interest has no reason to be private or behind closed doors. We have “open meetings” laws in many local government areas. ALL business to be done in the open at public meetings. “Sunshine Laws” of various sorts.

All I’m doing is saying to extend that notion. 24 x 7 for the duration of time in office, anything you are talking about is wide open and in public view.

Now I can see the need for ONE exception. Meetings that would cause the leakage of military information that could compromise the security of the nation. No problem, the Supreme Court can approve that, just get a certified transcript turned over the the Supreme court and get them to notarize it as valid, and archived, including the tapes…

Stifling? You bet. That’s the whole idea…

There is WAY too much lying, cheating, manipulation, and just plan old dishonest crap going on. It needs to stop. I think this would stop most of it. (Yes, I know, someone will find a way to pass notes that the camera can’t pick up…) but there will be one heck of a lot of it stopped.)

Oh, and I’d make a 4th Branch Of Government: The Public Auditors and Police Branch. Their ONLY duty is to monitory ALL activity of the other folks to assure they are not getting any money from “odd” places and that they are not screwing around with their monitor gear. Oh, and review all the tapes and feeds for “actionable” self dealing…

Post Script

Somehow I have a hard time figuring out how, with our constitution clearly saying ‘limited government – this far and no farther!’ we ended up in a place like this. Self dealing, stock manipulation, votes for payola, mandated by law purchases coming from the Federal Government, and generally screwing around with what is supposed to be a free and market driven society. Sigh.

But we have. And drastic lying cheating and stealing on their part demands harsh treatment on our part.

(For anyone wondering: No, I have nothing against folks with disabilities. My wife has a handicap plate on her car and occasionally uses a ‘scooter’. I have hearing loss that impacts some of my desired activities. I just don’t think others ought to pay for my hearing aids nor put in scooter chargers for my spouse and provide a butler to load and unload her scooter… You see, that’s the problem with “feel good” mandates. They have no end and result in self dealing and vote buying. Why not a mandate to provide ‘free’ scooters to anyone who needs one? How about ‘free’ food for anyone who is hungry? Or ‘free’ haircuts for folks out of work? Hey, it makes finding a job easier… and toss in free cell phones while you are at it – oh, wait, they did that one already…)

If the “bell” doesn’t work, I suppose we could send them off to the vet…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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25 Responses to Bell Congress & The Execs

  1. George says:

    The purpose for this law is to throw a bone to a campaign contributor. The Assoc. of Trial Lawyers or whatever they are called this week were major donors to the Obama campaign. This rule is being put into place in order to throw them some cash. The law will be, according to the Dept. of Justice, “enforced by litigation”. In other words, Obama created a new regulations in order to toss more business to campaign donors. it is just more crony capitalism.

    Obama and the Democrats are the most corrupt political institution this nation has seen in 100 years.

  2. Edward says:

    We have very similar problems in the UK with corrupt lobbyists and Members of Parliament on the take but it is more widespread and endemic in the system. Some years ago I attended a meeting of local businesses, sponsored by “Business Link” ( a sort of partnership between the local Chamber of Trade and the government).. Looking at the delegates’ list, I saw that a very high proportion were from firms offering training of one sort or another – so that businesses could learn how to cope with all sorts of legislation from Health & Safety to Race Relations etc.

    I sat next to two young men who had a cunning plan. A new, simple form of defibrilator had been introduced (the machine which can restart a stopped heart with an electric shock). Their scheme was to lobby government to make it compulsory for every firm or store over a certain size to have one of these machines. It requires training to use the machine safely and properly – so this would give them a whole new, perpetual captive market for their training services. They could not understand why I was so angry with them.!

  3. omanuel says:

    Selfishness, self-centeredness. That is the root of the problem.

    In “Congress & The Execs,” in “Goldman Sachs,” in “the UN’s IPCC, the US NAS, the UK’s RS,” in “Democrats and Republicans,” and even in you and me! Bells are not the answer.

    The only solution is individual escape from the “ego cage”. That is the essence of all religious teachings. The ultimate goal of science is to describe reality beyond distortions of the ego cage. It is the essence of all 12 Step Programs of recovery. It is the essence of meditation.

    I can’t change you, and you can’t change me. Escape from the ego cage is “an inside job.”

    It only took me 60 years to recognize the problem:

  4. hillrj says:

    EM, you are right. This is an egregious example of a basic law of society. Rules become opportunities for graft. More rules, more graft. Until we recognise that leglation cannot stop bad luck from happening and people from being unequal it will go on and get worse until we get
    “HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General…”
    Jerry Pournelle over at Chaos Manor has pondered on this problem a lot. I think his contention is that rule making like this should be at the most local level possible. Will it ever happen? Has a bureaucracy or a legislature ever given up power (or the opportunity to graft like your example)?
    as Jerry reminds us again and again “Despair is a sin”

  5. j ferguson says:

    There can be a lot of craziness in the application of equal access regulations. One example was how to comply with a requirement that doors leading to hazardous environments have knurled knobs so that the blind would be able to anticipate the risk of passing through the door. Understand that the assumption was that they would be unaccompanied by a sighted person.

    We were required to provide these knobs in a railcar maintenance facility which could not be reached except by crossing active tracks in a very busy rail yard. Our attorney sent a letter to the “authority” stating that our provision of these knobs would imply that we thought it safe for an unaccompanied blind person to navigate the yard which was clearly not possible. We saw liability in providing them.

    They insisted. All door knobs on the project were then knurled. The “authority” sent us a stiff letter, the gist of which was that they thought we were making fun of them, but that was the way the project was built.

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: How about ‘free’ food for anyone who is hungry?…What about food stamps for more than 47 million people? Is it not the case right now?
    All you mention ABOUT EXCESSIVE REGULATIONS is crazy and even funny, but, in any case….You could be a good Al-Qaedan :-)

  7. Pascvaks says:

    While Americans are inundated with presidential campaign ads, robo-calls, and ’news’ items every five minutes for this Bozo and that Idiot and this Twit and that Flake and the Self-Absorbed Harvard Educated ‘Boss’ from Chicago, the real, most important, critical campaign is going un-noticed for the Members of Congress. Why? They, and NOT the dream-boat super-daddies, are the VIP Candidates in 2012. There is definitely something very bass-ackwards with American political thinking and it’s costing us more than just everything we or our children or our grandchildren will ever own outright of monetary value, it’s also costing us our freedom, and we ignorantly think it matters who we elect as President every four years. Why?

  8. bruce says:

    Mix, bringing home the bacon with a couple of cups of crony capitalism and you have eternal debt.
    You can’t join them, you can’t fight them, a bell and some light might help.

  9. omanuel says:

    1. Selfishness, self-centeredness. That is the first (1) part of the problem.

    In you and in me, in “Congress & the Execs,” in “the UN’s IPCC, the US NAS, the UK’s RS,” in everyone and every organization! Putting bells on others is not the answer.

    2. The other (2) part of the problem is our ability to see and focus on flaws in others and ignore the flaws in ourselves. We judge others by their actions; we judge ourselves by our intentions.

    An internal “bell” on our own ego would help us escape the “ego cage” – an “inside job.” Is that not the purpose of the scientific method, the self-help programs, and religious teachings?

    The ultimate goal of science: To describe reality beyond distortions of the ego cage.
    Contact with reality (sanity) is the main goal of 12 Step Programs of recovery.
    Escape from the ego cage is also the primary goal of meditation.
    But I cannot change you, and you cannot change me.
    Escape from the ego cage is “an inside job.”

  10. Ian W says:

    I cannot find anything about ‘pool lifts’ in the Tenth Amendment. Perhaps someone can show it to me – and before someone asks – the Americans With Disabilities Act is probably outside the Tenth Amendment too.

    The real problem here is the overweening grabbing of power from the States and the people by the Administration and Congress. There are many many times when they should be told – “That sounds like a good idea – but it is NOT YOUR JOB vide Tenth Amendment. If you really want that done then persuade your local State legislatures.

    Like all legal bounds and constraints on power – if they are not rigidly enforced they will be rapidly eroded and removed by those who want to extend their powers. There is a really pressing need for another constitutional amendment to return to the original interpretation of the Tenth Amendment and throw out all the creep from case law. .

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    To avoid the excessive “birth rate” of bills and the existence and survival of hundreds of them, you must limit its life (validity) to a single presidential term, and if really needed they should have to be re-issued and if re-issued or approved by three times they would remain as permanent laws.
    In other not so “advanced” societies, “common sense” prevails, lending a “blind eye” to those not accepted by the majority of folks. I will tell you the following example:
    About 35 years ago it was issued, in my country, a bill obliging all industries to have “manufacturing register” ….so, as I had a small industry then, I went to the government office to do it…but before doing it I just waited to see if other people did it; I waited for more than an hour and nobody appeared around,…the end of the story: Only the foreign corporations got its register, no one else did it. After 35 years it does not longer exist, now only one single registration is needed for the majority of businesses (with the exception of foods / drugs manufacture).
    Really you need not a culture of passively accepting anything which comes from “above” as coming from “God” or “The Elders”..According to traditional Law there are not written laws as “custom”, “traditional principles” and if these are violated/opposed by any “recent concoction”, such a ideological “invention” should not be accepted by the people.
    You must notice that in ANY real and old cultures, as in China, not even such a brilliant elite´s creation called “Communism”, survived.

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    There are three different and separated “worlds”, we currently do not realize or see:
    1) The “above” realm: That of the mostly unknown “Masters” (The “Alpha” of the “Brave New World”)
    2) The “middle” realm: That of the Butlers, servants & gardeners of the Masters (some of them have the luck or privilege to know their masters).
    3) The “low” realm: That of the “peasants”, us, currently directed and “educated” about what is good or bad for them by those of the “middle” realm. (We are the “gammas” according to the “Brave New World” organization. Our fate: To drink our daily dose of SOMA, provided by the MEDIA, which keep us docile and obedient…or conveniently “excited” if so needed, but all the time CHEATED).
    Anything different it is IMPOSSIBLE, for example, you or me ascending to the “middle” realm.

    …..the difference between us, gammas, and those inhabitants of the “Middle Realm” is, that those direct butlers and servants DO firmly believe in the orders/theories of their masters, while we are destined to inhabit the lower realm because we are not so easily cheated as to be easily docile servants so they have isolated us from power.

    We, gammas, have problematic DNA´s carrying in itself such characteristics as “common sense”, which make us almost impossible for us to be “initiated”, so we have to be subjected to distractive tactics, as being “scared” about imaginary enemies/epidemics or whatever, or, as in the case of our more sensible or feelings inclined women, apply the tactics of convincing them on things apparently “good”, as the “fight against poverty”, and making “justice” through “redistribution of income”, or not eating “trash food”, etc.,etc.

  13. Jason Calley says:

    Bell the politicians, lobbyists, etc.? Sure, but the old question is how? They won’t volunteer to do it themselves, nor will you be allowed to elect a new crop who are willing to do so.

  14. adolfogiurfa says:

    Left and right politicians, alike, belong to that “Middle Realm” of butlers, servants and gardeners.
    Real rightists or leftists are not allowed to participate, at least to win.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    An interesting example of “The Bell” ;-)

    Perhaps the time for pitchforks approaches…

    (And the Democrats think the Republicans LIKE the Tea Party ;-)

  16. omanuel says:


    Your analysis fits many observations.

    But I suspect members of the “Masters” (The “Alpha” of the “Brave New World”) – Henry Kissinger, Zhou En-Lai, Chairman Mao, Brezhnev and Richard Nixon – convinced themselves in 1971 that they were saving the world from mutual nuclear annihilation (and incidentally themselves) when they started this great social engineering experiment to domesticate and control humans instead of being their public servants.

  17. Larry Geiger says:

    No. Not ankles. Collars. Much closer to the mouth! Also, like some doggy collars, we could install shocking mechanisms such that when they bloviate too loud it gives them a mild shock! Also, easily identifiable in public places.

  18. Ian W says:

    For those that are interested the EU (That is the European Union not Etats Uni ;-) ) also has a Tenth Amendment equivalent, which the bureaucrats in ‘Brussels’ also give as much thought to as the Administration and agencies in DC. In Europe it is called ‘the principle of subsidiarity’.

    “The principle of subsidiarity regulates the exercise of powers in the European Union. It is intended to determine whether, in an area where there is joint competence, the Union can take action or should leave the matter to the Member States. The subsidiarity principle is based on the idea that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to the citizen: the Union should not undertake action (except on matters for which it alone is responsible) unless EU action is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level.

    I have yet to hear of this ‘principle’ ever being enforced.

  19. adolfogiurfa says:

    @ omanuel says:
    16 March 2012 at 7:27 pm
    That list you mention only includes ONE master, the rest being butlers. (Nixon was just a lawyer of the Rockefeller group).

  20. jamesglendinning says:

    The ADA Enforcement Squad has been in the area for the past week and half the hotels have shut down both pools and spas. You are correct- if you have a pool and spa, you need two lifts. Times are tough and most owners can not afford this stuff right now. They do have the portable lifts, but they tend to cost twice as much. To balance, we’ve known about this for about six months. And the fines are outrageous. Also, what about the pools/spas that are ‘swim at your own risk’? If I were disabled, and needed a lift, I would be terrified of drowning. I wouldn’t even try it. This opens up more liabilities than it is worth. IOW, these amenities are now going to be few and far between for everyone.

  21. jamesglendinning says:

    OK, wtf is up with WP?

  22. M Simon says:

    This bit by a former Dillon, Read partner and former HUD Secretary under Bush 1 has been going around:

    “After reading Dark Alliance, I started to study the extraordinary moneymaking business that DOJ and agencies like HUD had built in enforcement that really only made sense if in fact the government was entirely complicit in narcotics trafficking and related mortgage and mortgage securities fraud.”

    If you want to read more about how drug money took down the country you can read Financial Coup d’Etat. If you want the whole story you can start with the table of contents.

    Links here:

  23. Jason Calley says:

    @ M Simon
    Thanks for the link! I will check it out.

    If you are not familiar with Catherine Austin Fitts, she is worth looking at also. She was the Assistant Secretary of HUD and after trying to get balance sheets for the agency came to the same conclusion, that the US government and its officials were committing fraud at the very highest levels.

  24. Jason Calley says:

    @ M Simon

    Checking your link, yes, I see Fitts! Great minds and all that… :)

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