More and more it seems that nothing can bring this country's politicos and bureaucrats back under control (to the extent they ever were) as the Founding Fathers intended. Bureaucrats are more anonymous and unreachable every year: no matter how incensed we get -- or how many of us get that way -- politicians reelect themselves like clockwork.
Though it's all the rage among those concerned with such matters, I've never been satisfied that term limitation won't achieve the opposite of what's intended, removing a final curb on runaway do-goodery and social experimentation. With respect to recent passage of what's supposed to be the 28th Amendment, the most naive American today knows more than James Madison did of the way politicians fix things to suit themselves. They'll override ratification, agree to vote raises for their successors, or simply make their mercenary move early in their terms, in the comforting knowledge that voters will have forgotten what they did by Election Day.
It should be clear now that the imposition of Bill Clinton on the productive class -- by 43% of the electorate -- has only made things worse. In an age where half the average person's income already goes to taxes of one kind or another and the other half for goods and services with prices doubled by taxation and doubled again by regulation -- and where bureaucrats represent a greater threat to life, liberty, and property than politicians -- what's needed is something more certain than term limitation and harder to get around than Madison's schedule for congressional pay hikes.
Allow me to introduce the "Taxpayers' Equity Amendment":
1. No elected or appointed official at any level of government may receive more in total salary, benefits, and expenses during his term of office -- or for 5 years afterward -- than his average productive-sector constituent; individuals, and employees of companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from government will be excluded for purposes of calculating the average.
2. Those subject to the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will be required to participate in the Social Security system for as long as it continues to exist; all outside income (from a business, inheritance, investments, a spouse's wealth, speaking fees -- to name only a few examples) will be "invested in America" by being placed in randomly-selected savings and loan institutions until the 5-year period expires.
3. Those subject to the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will be required to file weekly income/expenditure forms for scrutiny by the IRS, the media, and the public; telephone hotlines and lavish rewards for "whistle-blowers" will be provided; all salary and benefits of officials under suspicion of having violated the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will be suspended pending the results of any investigation.
4. Violations of the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will result in summary removal of that official, loss of salary, benefits, expenses -- along with all deposited monies -- and no fewer than 25 years in that federal maximum-security prison currently deemed most violent; introducing, sponsoring, or voting for legislation meant to evade the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment, or to falsify the statistical base on which calculations are made, will be treated as violations.
The primary goals of the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment are:
(A) to punish politicians and bureaucrats for past, present, and future crimes against the lives, liberties, and property of "We the People of the United States",
(B) to make sure their fortunes rise and fall with ours -- so they're forced to scrape along by day by day like the rest of us, one paycheck away from bankruptcy -- and,
(C) to give them something better to do with their time than to continually threaten, at our expense, our fundamental rights and well-being.
It'll also save taxpayers around $300 billion a year.
The Taxpayers' Equity Amendment can begin working now, before it ever passes into law (even if it never does), if it's circulated widely via computer bulletin board networks and other means, appears frequently in magazine and newspaper letter columns, and if it's sent to all your favorite office holders.
L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 19 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Bretta Martyn and Lever Action. An NRA Life Member and founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, he has been active in the Libertarian movement for 34 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living novelist.
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