Monday, February 16, 2009
Emotions Over Brains
If somebody put it on the ballot today, most Michigan voters would vote to abolish the full time legislature and cut lawmaker's salaries almost to nothing. And all the yes votes would justify their actions based on the cost savings. After all if you cut paychecks and get rid of the full time house and senate, taxpayers would save but the sorry fact is, the savings are chump change. The state has a $1.4 billion deficit. The $12 million saved by paying lawmakers nothing, doesn't soak up much red ink and a PTL would save only about $50 million. Despite that, voters would still vote yes because citizens have to hate somebody and adding politicians to the list of Wall Street fat cats, b ankers who foreclose and corporate executives who want to redecorate their offices, just seems logical if not cathartic. The mantra of "don't confuse me with the facts my mind is made up," may be understandable but not smart in the long run. You get what you pay for. If you pay lawmakers $30,000 a year, who will serve? Nobody with any brains or under the age of 75, that's who. Send legislators home for half the year and what do you get? Nobody to answer the phone when you want your lawmaker to help you navigate state government. One can understand the emotions of common citizens who have had it up to here with the lousy economy and all the political bickering in Lansing and D.C. But this is not a quick fix. Emotions are what created term limits and now, many yes votes have flipped. You might get a chance to pass a part-time legislature down the road, but engage your brain before you engage your emotions for the good of our democracy, please.