Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

April 21, 2011

ROOT: We should drop out of Electoral College

I find it hard to believe that, in this day and age of the Internet and message texting on every phone, that we are still sticking to the Electoral College and the misguided notion that the people in Congress work for us.

While politicians argue like children in Washington, our country slips deeper and deeper into the muck. We narrowly avoided a government shutdown recently. While it may not have affected you directly, it would have affected the livelihoods of thousands of people across the country.

The government sets a borrowing limit each year and, in our history, we have never exceeded that limit. The New York Post estimates that we will reach our current $14.3 trillion borrowing limit (Yes, that is with a “t”) by the middle of May. Keep in mind that the borrowing limit is designed to limit the national debt. We are not borrowing $14.3 trillion a year. That is how much we have borrowed to this point.

So what happens if May 16 comes and goes and we do not raise our own borrowing limit? We start defaulting on the money we have borrowed. The mighty United States becomes the deadbeat borrower of the international community, and countries could start calling our debts.

What’s the solution? Why, raise the borrowing limit, of course. Rather than cutting back on billions of dollars in aid to foreign governments, or scaling back our military activities in countries that do not want us there or looking into controlling the government waste that allows the Pentagon to spend $400 on a toilet seat — we just allow ourselves to borrow more money.

Up next is gas prices. Gas is at $4 a gallon now and climbing. Why? The United States only gets 20 percent of our gas from the Middle East. Why are we being subjected to this disproportionate increase? American business pockets are being lined and not even the “great bringer of change” Barack Obama is willing to stand up to the oil companies. We have no representation in Congress or the White House. All we have in there are overpaid and spineless figureheads.

Here are some “did you know” questions:

 Did you know that if the government did shut down, Congress would still get paid and that Congress is not required to alter its schedule at all to address a shutdown? So the people who work very hard to maintain our national parks would have to do without a paycheck during a shutdown, and the people who caused the shutdown would still get their five-figure paychecks every month.

Did you also know that Erie County pays the Buffalo Bills almost $2 million a year for maintenance and upkeep of the Ralph? And that the money has to be paid even during a lockout? The only way the Bills have to pay that money back is incrementally as games are canceled. So we fixed up the Bills’ stadium and we pay to maintain it. Why? Another example of government waste, but on a local level.

If Obama really wants to integrate the Internet into the new way of doing government business, then let the Internet really give us a voice. Politicians can easily ignore polls and complaints from the people. They can read about constituent anger in the papers and just laugh. But if we were allowed to have a real vote in the way government is run, then the politicians would have to come back to courting us, as opposed to big business.

Think about it. If the government wants to reform health care then the politicians would have to put together something that pleases us (because we would have the final vote) instead of sleeping with the pharmaceutical lobbyists. We could vote on controls for the oil and gas industry and break the iron-clad grip that those corporate people have on our existence. We could vote to put more funding into researching alternative fuels without having to worry about how much money the oil company lobby wants to throw our way to make alternative fuels go away.

Yeah, I know that the American public can sometimes make really bad decisions. The current political system in the United States was set up to prevent uneducated farmers from having a say in matters that they did not understand. With the Internet, people are much more informed these days, and our current political system is no longer valid.

Maybe we would make things worse if the American public had a say in everything that the country did. But if we did screw it up, at least we would know who to blame.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident. His column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net.

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