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Things we all agree on

Walkin'

Now that our trip to Florida is over and my marijuana growing venture dormant, I don’t have any lies to relate to you this week, so I’m going to delve into something I try to stay out of, politics. Things are so derisive nowadays, it’s important to remember things upon which we agree. I think there are three big ones for sure.
The first and most important is campaign finance reform. Everyone I talk to agrees the special interest of big money is ruining this country. I’m talking every side of the political spectrum. It’s just wrong to have individuals, like the Kochs and Soros of this world, hold so much sway in deciding which way our country goes. It’s also wrong to have industries and/or unions to have so much influence. What’s good for Charles, David and George is not necessarily what’s good for our nation. The same goes for Goldman Sachs and the Service Employees Union.
It’s estimated nearly ten billion dollars will be spent on this year’s presidential election. TEN BILLION DOLLARS! It’s insane. And where does all the money go? Simple, the money goes to television stations, the least reliable of our news medias to give an accurate and in depth story of what is fact and what is fantasy. Rachel Maddow and Sandra Smith are not reporters. And while they are the least reliable, they are too influential with the large portion of our population that can’t tell the difference between opinion and fact like the Tea Party and the... uh... Tea Party.
Term limits are next. I don’t care how far left or right you are, the vast majority of people I’ve talked with agree the status quo of politics-as-a-career has got to go. It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat Congressman John James Conyers, Jr., of Michigan, or Iowa’s own Republican Senator Chuck Grassley– who combine for 92 years in office– it’s just too dang long. And, way too often, it’s passed on in the family. Are the Bushes and Clintons just so darn talented they should be our leaders, or is it all about who they know and how much they contribute to the campaigns?
You don’t have to be a scholar on the Constitution to suppose the founding fathers never meant for there to be professional politicians. Indeed, the framers envisioned and wanted citizen legislatures who would take some time off from their regular careers, help run the country and then return home. George Washington set the example. He could have won a third term with ease but opted to step down out of love of country and respect for democracy.
When a longtime politician steps down or dies, speeches are made lauding their public service, but is it service to get paid a lot of money and given a bunch of perks in return for what is essentially a desk job anyone can do? Heaven knows, we’ve had more than a few examples of this on both sides of the aisle. Public servants to be honored are our soldiers and policemen, who put themselves in harm’s way for the pay of any other working stiff.
And, that brings me to how our legislators are compensated. Basic pay begins a $162,000 a year. That’s double what the average worker makes without counting in all the benefits tossed into a lawmaker’s pay package. Besides the big salaries, they also benefit from Cadillac health plans, all-expenses-paid travel and pension beyond the pale of just about any other employer.
It’s all crazy, and just about everyone agrees.
So why doesn’t it stop? Could it be because it’s not in the self-interest of the people who get to cast the vote?
Whatever the answer, there is a least one presidential candidate in this cycle who not only talks the talk but walks the walk of being a citizen first: I give you Bernie Sanders.