Wednesday, March 6, 2013

545 People

If the United States government is not going to do their job, then neither am I. First, we were going to go off a fiscal cliff. That drop-dead date came and went, and I’m not sure if we went off or not. Everyone stopped talking about it as soon as “sequestration” was mentioned. Whether or not we’re falling off a cliff, we’re also sequestered now, whatever that means. What I do know is that they were supposed to get a budget passed by a certain deadline, and they chose not to. I was supposed to have a column posted at a certain time, but instead, following the government’s lead, I chose not to. Instead I decided to just use someone else’s column. If they don’t have to do their job, then neither do I.

In keeping with my new governmental work ethic, I thought it would be appropriate if my low-effort column had a government theme, so I am posting a column that every person in America should be required to read before stepping into a voting booth for the first time. (Don’t worry, it’s short and really good.)

The below piece of simple genius is commonly (and mistakenly) called “Charley Reese’s Last Column.” Charley Reese did in fact write it, but it was not his last column. He refers to it as “The Frankenstein Piece,” because of how many times it has been copied, brought back to life and added onto. It has probably been re-printed and re-posted thousands of times. It’s that good.

As near as I can tell after my exhaustive two-minute internet search on, this is by and large the exact column written by Charley Reese way back in 1985, however the specific names of politicians and places have been removed by someone else along the way  to make it timeless, without changing the point at all.

I think the main reason that this piece is so timeless, is that it’s written from a plain old citizen’s point of view, with party politics left out. I also think that the fact that it is timeless, still holding true to this very day, some 28 years after it was written, means we are totally screwed. Enjoy.

545 People

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million who are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stands up and criticizes the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in a foreign country it's because they want them in a foreign country.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses - Provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.

Charlie Reese is amazed that some people find this column so eye-opening, because he says that it’s just Civics 101. Unfortunately, he’s right about that. It was all true before he wrote it, and it’s all true today, almost three decades later. Nothing has changed.

I guess we’re fresh out of gumption around here. See what I mean about being screwed? We get the government we deserve, plain and simple. Save this column and make sure your kids read it over and over when they are old enough, and make them send it to twenty of their friends, like a chain letter. If we all do that, maybe their generation will be the first in a long time to finally understand who has the power and who works for whom.

As good as Charley’s column is, please don’t fret about the direction this column is taking. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled humor format and content next week. Unlike the 545 people in Washington, D.C., I have a low tolerance for shirking my duties.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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