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.)
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…
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…