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American Democracy vs. Congressional Perks Club by Poor Richard

10/12/2006

Here in the world’s greatest democracy, my friends and I are wondering if anyone in Congress is really representing the will of the hundreds of millions of average Americans anymore? 

 

A prime example is the income tax system. How is it possible that the income tax is almost universally condemned by the public and yet, in this democracy, we get nothing but years of deliberate misdirection, sleights of hand, and nonsense talk from candidate after candidate and incumbent after incumbent about someday "simplifying the tax code"?

 

So along comes Rep. John Linder and, after years of public entreaty, 61 other Members of Congress, who embrace the FairTax as the solution and the answer to decades of punishing the average taxpayer, undermining American businesses, and catering only to those wealthy enough to buy a tax break. Finally, a tax reform that is fair, simple, and transparent.

 

Scores of economists say the same thing, “unshackle our economy and our productivity before we spend our nation into a bankruptcy hole from which our children and grandchildren will never recover.” In Washington, the few (a little more than ten percent of the Congress, in my opinion) who really serve the people have already sponsored the FairTax. The rest, Republicans and Democrats alike, have some explaining to do. They are fiddling while Rome burns wholly devoted to petty squabbles and one-upmanship games while the nation suffers.

 

We know too well that our government, when left alone, will fail us as often as it will serve us. From the Continental Congress’s unwillingness to pay for shoes for George Washington’s freezing and desperate soldiers, to the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars lost with the collapse of the American savings and loan system, to the failure of government at all levels to heed the very studies that predicted a hurricane disaster in New Orleans, those we trust and pay well to protect us have time after time failed the American people, costing us billions more in our hard earned money and sometimes our lives and well-being. 

 

But how do we explain the fact that we, the people, the very people the Founding Fathers designed to direct public policy, have so little influence today with those paid and sworn to represent us? Our disenchantment with our government has led to an attitude of apathy and cynicism the feeling that our vote no longer matters and that “it’s someone else’s problem.” Well, here is an issue that affects all Americans! Our dysfunctional tax system is no mystery and is on the American people’s radar screen and is the subject of hundreds of thousands and even millions of complaints over the years, and yet the response from our “representatives” is simply more rhetoric designed to pit one group of taxpayers against another.

 

We know why of course Congressional “self-interest” instead of the “public’s best interest.” The glitzy, ritzy political power game of selling off the code makes lobbyists rich, Congressional members powerful, and feeds bent academics a lot of money for spinning tales in defense of the income tax system and for attacks on the FairTax. It is, simply put, a corrupt culture of political narcissism that has gone on way too long.

 

Here then, in the FairTax campaign, is the potential to unite the right, left, and center of American politics against the self-dealing, self-interested, self-indulgent, and self-important preening Washington politicians who profit very handsomely, thank you very much, from the auction of a tax code now numbering some 60,000 indecipherable pages of regulations. Here then is the chance for us to unite again as a nation of citizens in charge of their government and to direct, no, demand that our government again serve the people. My civics teacher made clear to me as a boy that we are the masters of our government and that was the true meaning of our revolution. Is this just the dream of a boy? I hope not.

 

Well, it’s time for another revolution. It’s time we made our wishes known and our expectations clear by petitioning our government leaders for a redress of grievances so intensely and so frequently that we can no longer be ignored. And, right now, by being there in their faces every time a Congressional candidate or incumbent asks for our vote and every single time one distorts the FairTax (as in Michigan’s 7th Republican primary race, the Nebraska Senate race, and others). Simply put, it’s time to raise the temperature and our collective voice. If they don’t listen, then we vote the rascals out of office!

 

The FairTax campaign is, of course, about a better national tax system but it is also a test to see if the voice of the American citizen still has any meaning in this republic. If it does not, we are all lost because the true wisdom and sovereignty of the nation exists, as proven time and time again in history, in the American people. If the United States can still work as a democracy, as I believe it can, then we had all better get busy raising our voices loud enough to drown out the lobbyists and income tax apologists, and we had better all start rocking the boat so vigorously that we can’t be ignored by our currently unaccountable and happily sleeping elected leaders.

 

If you believe that government leaders will do it on their own without our driving them to constructive action, you might want to take a little closer look at what happened along the Gulf Coast after last year’s hurricanes. It is high time we formed our own hurricane and swept into Washington power corridors with Category Five strength. Our elected leaders and "wannabes" need a good reminder of the clear role in American democracy of "We the People ....”

 

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