If I Could Amend the Constitution
Page 843 – The 5000 Year Leap – W Cleon Skousen, 1981.
Peering down through the corridor of time, Franklin proclaimed his prophetic judgment as to what could be expected if future generations of Americans permitted the Jure of high salaries to be associated with public offices. Here are the remarkably profound insights from the “Sage of Philadelphia” to the members of the Constitutional Convention:
“Sir, though we may set out in the beginning with moderate salaries, we shall find that such will not be of long continuance. Reasons will never be wanting for proposed augmentations; and there will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them. Hence, as all history informs us, there has been in every state and kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing and the governed, the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the princes or enslaving of the people. Generally, indeed, the ruling power carries its point, and we see the revenues of the princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure.”
This is, unfortunately, exactly what we’ve seen taking place. Public service was originally intended to be a modest venture. A true service to society. Now, we have people who have spent their entire lives in government, never having sold a product, provided a service, or contributed to the private sector in any way, yet are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. How is this? How can this be? Clearly, we have a problem.
We have gotten to the point—a very clearly illustrated point—where in order for a company, a special interest, or even a foreign dictator to get what they want in America, that all they need to do is make a donation to the right campaign or foundation. Once the donation has been made, the politician involved is at their service. Sure, they’ve used “speaking fees” and “foundations” to basically launder the money to prevent it from being a straight up bribe, but we all know what it really is.
This is a list of things that I think need to be done and hardened into stone. That’s why I mentioned the constitution and not just another one of the hundreds of thousands of laws that are on the books. I believe these things to be essential to true preserving liberty as well as the survival of the nation as we once knew it. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. It’s really just a shoot from the hip type of thing while I sit here and type, enraged after seeing taxpayer money being used for personal promotion and gain, so here goes:
1) No elected official, appointee, or employee of the government, may use taxpayer funds, or taxpayer funded assets to support an election campaign.
In this case, it boils my blood to see a sitting president using Air Force One and the vast support network, costing millions and millions of dollars, to campaign for candidates in his or her party. The president, or any elected official for that matter, is supposed to be the servant and representative of ALL of the people, not his or her party. It is morally wrong to use tax money, confiscated from the people, to fund the campaigns of his friends and to push a political agenda. Either be the president for ALL of the people, or don’t accept the office. We the people do not agree with such use of our funds. As an elected official, especially the office of the President, you are not supposed to be the leader of a party, you’re supposed to be the leader of the entire nation, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, and all.
2) No elected official may profit from their office.
It should be a crime to make a profit from your elected or appointed position. Being able to accept contributions, donations, and speaking fees (AKA: bribes) while in office or by using the title of the office is exactly how we’ve got to such blatant “pay for play” scenarios where donors override the will and needs of the people.
3) No person or entity may make a contribution to any elected official or appointee.
In addition to outlawing politicians forming “foundations” to enrich themselves, campaign finance rules must be dramatically overhauled. I would even go so far as to say that campaigns should be publicly financed instead of private. I could show you myriad examples where funding the current president’s campaign with taxpayer money would have been cheaper than all of the “Solyndra” style paybacks after he took office. Donors give the political candidate X dollars toward their campaign, then after the election, the politician rewards said donor with a government contract, grant, or tax credit worth X time ten.
4) No person who leaves elected office may use their former title for profit.
Allowing people to aspire to wealth through a career in politics is like asking for the wrong candidates to seek the office. Political office, as originally intended, was to be a public service, not a source of personal enrichment. Also, this leads to “pre-buying” influence when the “former” office holder returns to politics.
5) Prosecution of elected or appointed officials for profiteering from their office, or for corruption involved with the purchasing of influence, shall be mandatory. No prosecutorial discretion is allowed.
This one doesn’t really need to be explained. We clearly have the perfect example.
Again, this list is by no means all-inclusive, but I feel if something doesn’t change soon there is no hope for our nation in the future. Corruption and lawlessness are now so rampant throughout politics that people are virtually numb to it. We should never be numb to the thought of our elected leaders becoming corrupt. We should be enraged by it and we should make it as rare as humanly possible. We need to scare those who would abuse their office into seeking employment elsewhere.