28 September, 2008 - My Suggestions for Change

Again this week my focus is on Capitol Hill, with a strong message to the members of the House and Senate. It is time to stop the “blame game”, to start some serious work on fixing the challenges that currently face our economy and then come up with solutions that will last more than a year.

Many of us have been watching the Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill and in my case, wondering about the economic knowledge of the people who make our laws. I appreciated the statement by Don Bright, a member of Bright Trading in Chicago, who told the Wall Street Journal, after watching the Congressional hearings; “I am watching these gentlemen on television talking about something they have no clue about.” Indeed, some of the questions and statements being made by our legislators certainly fortify what Mr. Bright said.

Again, my question is the same as it was a week ago. Our presidential candidates have been serving in the Senate for anywhere from four years to nearly three decades. Where have they been the last two or three years, because we have seen the situation developing for at least that long; beginning with the crisis in the housing industry, followed by the auto industry and then the banking and credit industry. This crisis didn’t just happen a week or a month ago. So why didn’t Congress, including our Presidential candidates, act earlier? Why did they wait to the point where the market was, according to Warren Buffett “nearly, totally dysfunctional”?

I think one of our problems in business and society today is that we have lost most of the Depression Era generation, people who went through the Depression of the 30's and learned a hard never-to-be-forgotten lesson. I vividly remember as a young man on our Wisconsin dairy farm, hearing my father say over and over again “Don’t buy what you can’t afford and don’t borrow money you can’t pay back.” That common-sense economic rule has been ignored by lenders, borrowers and legislators and now we all pay the price. That mortgage offering that sounded too good to be true, indeed, was too good to be true!

Now let me really go off the deep end. To give our legislators the time to do what we pay them to do, legislate, I am going to suggest a couple of changes to our political world. I think we should increase terms in the House to four years instead of two, so House members have some time to take care of business and don’t have to start running for office the day after the election. Finally, I think presidential campaigns should be limited to six months. It would save money as well as saving us three years of the same speeches, and it would keep any members of Congress running for President in D.C. much longer so they could do what we pay them to do.

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