Just for once, I wish the government of the United States would work for the people of the United States. Our government needs to take a break from doing what benefits government employees, and let’s remember that Congress and the president are employees, too. They work for us; we don’t work for them. You wouldn’t know that by reading the news of the arguments about the fiscal cliff. I propose that our government employees work pro bono for one year, the year 2013, and during that year, they may only do things and pass laws and write policies and et cetera that are good for the citizens of the USA.
Lawyers work pro bono as a way of using their unique skills and training for the good of people who cannot afford their services. Often, their pro bono work involves cases that actually have impact on humanity at large in ways well beyond the immediate benefit to the client. Given the dire state of affairs in the USA today, it seems quite obvious that what our beleaguered nation needs is pro bono government. The government we are paying for is selling us out, and to tell the truth, we can’t really afford this government any longer.
Look at it this way. We have all heard the sad stories of child stars whose managers and/or parents absconded with most of their earnings. As a nation we deplore that sort of conduct. We believe that people who are entrusted with other people’s earnings should be trustworthy. Those who take responsibility for someone else’s money should demonstrate that they can be safely trusted to do the right thing with that money. If we put our money in a bank, we expect the banker to take care of it. Bankers who spend money from their customers’ accounts go to jail.
We need to hold our government to that kind of standard. For too long, our government has been telling us what to do instead of doing the right thing. It is time for that to stop, and the first step is for our government to start working pro bono, that is, for our good rather than their own.
I propose that effective January 1, 2013, and continuing through December 31, 2013, every elected or appointed member of our government work pro bono. For the year 2013, not one of these individuals may receive any payment of any kind from the US Treasury. That would preclude not only a paycheck or an expense reimbursement. It would also include tax refunds, or any other sort of payment that might be issued to a citizen from the treasury. I include the tax refunds most specifically, because our government clearly believes that it is impossible to pay too much tax, and we would not want to compromise the standards of the people who believe that notion.
I also propose that for the year 2013, every elected or appointed member of the government be on call 24/7. No days off. No holidays. No hiding place. These people clearly believe that citizens owe everything to government. Our president said as much in his famous “You didn’t build that” speech, and it is time to hold the feet of members of government to the same fire.
Further, I propose that every member of government, elected or appointed, be required to attend the online classes on the subject of the US Constitution presented at no charge by Hillsdale College. Since the classes cost nothing except the time to attend and study, the pro bono government officials would incur no monetary cost. They all appear to be largely, if not completely, ignorant of the Constitution, and such education would alleviate that ignorance.
Finally, I propose that every act of the government, whether it is legislation, policy statement, regulation, speech, or letter to a constituent, include within its text a statement of the way it complies with the Constitution. Can you imagine the benefit to all if every speech by a government official had to be justified by its compliance with a Constitutional principle? Citizens would be invited to rebut any proposed interpretation of the Constitution which appeared to be devious and self-serving. For the whole year of 2013, Congress, the president and his administration, and the federal court system must demonstrate that everything it does complies with the Constitution and serves the good of the people.
On December 31, 2013, there should be a national referendum on the subject of the pro bono work of the government. Citizens would need to indicate 1) if they feel that the government has met its obligation to comply with the Constitution, 2) if they feel that the government has truly worked for the good of the people, and 3) if they feel that some compensation for services in 2014 is appropriate. The results of this referendum ought to provide interesting grist for the national conversational mill during the elections of 2014.