Some problems with Congress

Congress is low on the scale of respected institutions. And few people can really figure out what they are doing and why. One odd thing is that despite how low congress itself is nearly everyone thinks their congressman is the greatest thing ever.

One of the biggest problems with Congress is that too many of the politicians are more concerned with preserving their own prerogatives than they are about solving problems. Another big problem is that they think that Congress can solve all the problems in the country. Still another issue with Congress is that they look for problems that aren’t there so that they have something to fix. And most odiously, they create problems so that then they can come to the rescue. Why, just pass another law.

However, Congress has done little to solve anything, and probably creates more problems with each new piece of legislation than it solves. One reason that is is because there are so many amendments to every law that by the time it gets passed there is no focus, only little bits and pieces of legislation that add up to a major law. Just like kings of old, the Congress wants to make major laws so that they can crow how they did something for the people, all the while trying to keep their powers. A do nothing congress is probably one of the best things for the country. That’s when no new laws are passed and so no mischief is done. Congress is also always trying to pass comprehensive laws that cover the whole country and every situation that a problem presents. What is usually needed are much more local solutions that can be tailored to the local situation.

Congress has taken after the kings of old in trying to obfuscate and confuse everything so that people have no idea what is happening. Somehow Congress never gets around to getting rid of laws. They are only about adding laws. And we probably have enough laws.

Congress has a hard time appropriating money for the reasonable things they do because individual congressmen always add their pet projects, which result in way too complex laws. And if there are 24 or so federal departments why are there just 13 appropriations bills? Wouldn’t it make for a better understanding of the budget and for each cabinet level agency if each was considered by itself. Then we could make amendments that are germane to that issue.

There is also a philosophical, and somewhat legal issue, long ignored. Congress is filled with lawyers. This is probably unconstitutional at its core, because lawyers are ‘officers of the court’ and thus are part of the judiciary branch. The constitution states clearly that no member of one branch can serve in another branch at the same time. So we need to move ahead and make this clearer, even if it takes a constitutional amendment to ban practicing lawyers from serving in Congress. Congress also needs to be restrained from exempting itself from all the laws it passes. It must be held to the same standards as the rest of the country, otherwise they get the idea that they are special and apart from the law. Congress is sinking into the divine right of kings with this sort of exemption. Indeed it is often referred to as sovereign immunity. This idea is part of the divine right and we must rid ourselves of it.


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