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Political Performance Act idea

jstepp590

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This thread is the first of a three part series on specific ideas for solving our national debt problem. I am a grass roots activist who has come up with specific ideas to solve our fiscal problems and I need input and constructive criticism on the ideas to help me develop them. I am non-partisan, am very well educated on these issues and would not waste your time with anything that wasn't a politically and economically viable solution to these problems. This idea is a performance pay system designed to fix the incentive structure under which our elected leaders function so that we can fix the government once and be finished. I need help weighing how to score their performance to ensure that the country never has to go through a Great Depression or Great Recession again.


Political Performance Act

Sometimes it seems as though our elected leaders do not work for us anymore. Of course there is a lot of truth to that which is why the impression is so widespread. The true recipients of their care and time are their campaign contributors. Yet how do we change that back to them working for us again? We could implement more restrictive laws like campaign finance reform or term limits, but we have been trying to stamp out corruption for 3000yrs and we still have corruption in government so that doesn’t seem to be the answer. I say we go about it the other way, by providing a large monetary reward based on job performance criteria.

The purpose of this act is to change the incentive structure in which our elected leaders, and the parties, currently function. Our elected leaders deal with a budget and electoral system that dwarfs anything in the private sector. In return, they get paid an amount of money that no Fortune 100 company executive would accept. This means that we do not have the best possible candidates for the job and the ones we do have are not properly focused on what is good for our country. The current system encourages partisanship, which breeds confrontation and political gridlock, because the incentives in place do not encourage them to work together efficiently. They are beholden to their campaign contributors instead of the citizens who elected them and therefore tend to spend or waste our resources for political gain. I’m pretty sure it has always been this way, but that doesn’t mean we cannot do better to create a more efficient and streamlined government we don’t have to keep fixing (or trying to anyway).

In order to facilitate implementation of this act, I do not wish to take anything away from our elected leaders or tell them how to do their jobs. We elect them to make decisions and control the power of the purse under our form of government. What I would like to do is create an incentive structure that marries their best interests to the best interests of their constituents. By tying their performance to a structured incentive system, it is my intention to eliminate gridlock as it pertains to our fiscal stability. I also want to attract the highest quality of candidate possible to guide our nation into the future, which means their pay needs to be at least comparable to what executives earn working for private industry.

It is also my purpose to create the conditions under which our budgets are completed in a timely manner and under which they would work together cohesively to reach the common goal of fiscal management of our budget. I would like to create an environment which promotes the economic concerns of their constituents simply by doing their jobs well.

1. We take in roughly $2,500 to $3,000 billion per year in taxes. I would like to separate $10 billion to act as performance pay to be split by our elected representatives for meeting performance based goals. My proposal is to create a grading system under which our elected officials will split $10 billion amongst themselves based on job performance. If they fail to meet the criteria, they will still get their original pay but no bonus. $10 billion dollars split between our 500 elected federal officials means each one could receive up to $10 million a year just to do their jobs well.

2. One criterion could be based on federal budgets being completed and signed before the end of last fiscal year, in order to promote a stable business environment.

3. They could receive compensation for lowering debt to GDP levels by 1(?)% per year without recession until debt to GDP hits a predetermined threshold.

4. A large part of whether they get paid bonuses should be based off the unemployment rate as one determining factor. If the economy goes into a crash that is usually a good indicator of the severity. High unemployment also lowers our tax base and therefore increases our deficit/debt. A perfect example of this is the trillion dollar a year deficits caused by the 2007/8 recession.

5. They could be paid on paying down the core debt.

6. Low inflation could be one performance criteria, or else inflation/deflation levels established for them to stay within.

7. We could have a bonus for growth in the real economy, possibly pegged as growth greater than inflation or quality of living standards.

8. They should get paid a percentage based on no large jumps in deficit spending or recessions.

9. Just as in the military, they stand or fall together. Whether they know it or not they are one team with two halves supposed to be doing their jobs. They either all make their bonus or none do.

10. If they want to start a war, fine, but our deficits will go up and they will lose money. They could raise taxes to pay for the war instead of adding it to the debt but then our economy will take a hit and place their other performance criteria at risk of being missed. Therefore if they start a war they better be VERY sure they need to because they will get hit in their wallet. If they deregulate an industry that causes an economic crash in return for campaign contributions or sign trade agreements that are not in the citizen’s best interest then it should reflect in their pay as painfully as it reflects in ours.

11. They could receive a bonus for achieving zero growth in our debt compared to growth in the economy.

12. A team will need to be formed, made up of economists and policy makers to determine the best practices under which to base the grading system on. A system of 100 points will be created under which they will weigh different government practice and goals with results.

13. There should be a bottom score that is the demarcation between commission and nothing in order to promote a holistic approach instead of focusing on narrow and easily hit criteria.

14. If adopted here this system is likely to get other countries to follow suit. It could also apply to the state level as well.



Conclusion: While I believe this is a great place to start, we will definitely need to have this concept reviewed by specialists in economics and government policy to determine what the goals are and how to weigh them. I am deliberately leaving this part open until we have the necessary expertise to avoid the law of unintended consequences. However by placing our elected leaders on this type of performance pay system we are going to attract higher quality candidates, curtail corruption and waste, end needless military adventures, and promote stability in the economy all by using a method that is self-perpetuating and reinforcing. This is the same type of performance pay system in use in private industry to attract high quality executives and is easily understood.

The main parties stand to gain as well so there should be little resistance from them. As an example, if a party has 100 elected representatives who are meeting their goals and the party charges the official $2 million out of their $10 million the party will be sitting on $200 million in their coffers. This will promote a desire in both of the parties to develop best practices to achieve said remuneration and will create an incentive for them to work together on fiscal issues. We won’t have to worry about backroom deals as much under a system like this.

If they do not hit their goals and the nation suffers they will not get paid either so the elected representatives pay will drop from potentially $10 million a year to their current $150k, so the incentive for our elected leaders will be huge. If they do not meet their goals they are punished as a group instead of individually or as a party. If they fail to meet their goals then at least we will save $10 billion that year by not having to pay them.

Once we fix government this time it will stay fixed, and they will be very happy to implement it. Everyone wins, nobody loses and does not add to government debt or deficit. As long as they are meeting their yearly goals the whole country will be the winners.
 

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The problem is not that there are no incentives to perform a "good job" by politicians. Rather, the problem is that of power. When power accumulates into a single body or several exclusive bodies it becomes increasingly beneficial to cater to the highest bidder. Similarly, for those looking for "freebies," it becomes increasingly simple to single out the proper avenue of manipulation. Nothing will conclusively solve the issue of political abuse and corruption until the power is removed.
 

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The problem is not that there are no incentives to perform a "good job" by politicians. Rather, the problem is that of power. When power accumulates into a single body or several exclusive bodies it becomes increasingly beneficial to cater to the highest bidder. Similarly, for those looking for "freebies," it becomes increasingly simple to single out the proper avenue of manipulation. Nothing will conclusively solve the issue of political abuse and corruption until the power is removed.

Ok so you advocate scrapping our constitution and moving to... anarchy? How can you do that without creating a power vacuum? Somalia has that now and it isn't working out too well for them.

Any government is going to have the power of force, through military police and taxation. If they didn't they wouldn't be a government. My belief is that the maximum transparency in government possible is the cure to most of the fiscal problems they can create. It is also my belief that under a performance based pay system we will truly have a government that works for the best interest of the people, because their personal pay and social status will be tied to our fiscal well being. Also, with the greater monetary incentive they would be more attentive to our wants and needs because they have to keep their elected positions to keep that fat paycheck coming in, making them more responsive to us instead of their campaign contributors. There is no company or group of companies that could afford to pay them what we can, and we would never miss it.

Also, they do not have any incentives right now to work for us. They work for their campaign contributors, which means as we all know they tell us one thing to get elected and then do something else entirely once in office. We have seen that over and over, and this is the reason why. We need to change that dynamic, and no other idea I have heard will do that. They will always have to pay attention to their campaign contributors, but this method will make sure they don't do anything too damaging because it will cost them a lot of money from their own pocket. As much as we may distrust government, what we can trust is for human beings to look out for their own best interests. I believe that is called in economics the "invisible hand", and it would apply here as well.

From Wiki on the Invisible Hand Theory. " The exact phrase is used just three times in Smith's writings, but has come to capture his important claim that individuals' efforts to maximize their own gains in a free market benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions."

Thank you for the reply though. I may not agree but appreciate you giving me your viewpoint.
 

jstepp590

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Well, thank all of you who have read this. I believe I am done with the review of my three ideas and am ready to see about moving on from here. I appreciate the time people have taken to read these ideas and will stay on this site to comment every now and then on posts that interest me.
 

TNAR

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jstep590 said:
Ok so you advocate scrapping our constitution and moving to... anarchy? How can you do that without creating a power vacuum? Somalia has that now and it isn't working out too well for them.

There is enough in this small paragraph to continue the debate for quite some time. However, since it seems as though you have determined that the debate has concluded I will keep my remarks brief for other passersby.

The U.S. Constitution is already effectively scrapped. Virtually every restriction has been breached and non-delegated and, more importantly, non-delegable have been assumed unilaterally by the federal government. “Scrapping” the Constitution would have little real repercussions. However, I suggested removing power from government, not adding to it. This would more accurately be described as a strict adherence to the Constitution than a scrapping of it.

Additionally, I am not entirely sure how you equate removing power from the central government with anarchy, but power vacuums are admittedly a logical side effect of the sudden removal of power in most cases. Somalia is not now nor never has been an anarchic “state,” though the continual use of the region as an example of anarchy’s supposed failures is quite common. But again, this was not my intent either so this discussion need not take place at this point in time.

A better first step in removing the excessive power from the central government would be, as explained above, to adhere strictly to the limitations as espoused within the Constitution. This would necessarily mean the removal of much of the federal apparatus and would do immense wonders for the economy by itself. My preferred following step would be a virtual elimination of the central government with all residual bureaucracies passing to the various states. People generally claim at this point that this feat would be impossible and ludicrous and numerous other expressive emotions, but these reactions are typically based on blind patriotism rather than fact. A simple look at the vast majority of nations throughout the world quickly dispels these notions.

These two steps would, in my opinion, all but eliminate most of the most egregious violations of individual rights in America.

jstep590 said:
My belief is that the maximum transparency in government possible is the cure to most of the fiscal problems they can create. It is also my belief that under a performance based pay system we will truly have a government that works for the best interest of the people, because their personal pay and social status will be tied to our fiscal well being.

This would actually have the effect of increasing government power (as well as likely increasing secrecy). All your proposal would do is multiply many times over the incentive to cater to special interests. You claim that politicians would be less susceptible to campaign contributors, but nothing in the system is inherently altered. A small number of people (i.e. special interests) have enormous potentials for gain by manipulating a select few individuals (i.e. politicians). Conversely, individual taxpayers have little to gain because the benefits of one particular policy over another have only minimal direct effect on his person (or so it appears to them). Similarly, the cost of affecting the outcomes or ultimate payouts to particular politicians is enormous for each individual. Additionally, the special interests could quite possibly achieve their desired ends even more cheaply than they do under the current system because they would be able to perform mass advertising for their goals to the masses. These masses, in turn, are the de facto buyout for the politicians in question. This time, however, not only for monetary gain, but for the retention of office for these politicians.
 

jstepp590

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There is enough in this small paragraph to continue the debate for quite some time. However, since it seems as though you have determined that the debate has concluded I will keep my remarks brief for other passersby.

The U.S. Constitution is already effectively scrapped. Virtually every restriction has been breached and non-delegated and, more importantly, non-delegable have been assumed unilaterally by the federal government. “Scrapping” the Constitution would have little real repercussions. However, I suggested removing power from government, not adding to it. This would more accurately be described as a strict adherence to the Constitution than a scrapping of it.

Additionally, I am not entirely sure how you equate removing power from the central government with anarchy, but power vacuums are admittedly a logical side effect of the sudden removal of power in most cases. Somalia is not now nor never has been an anarchic “state,” though the continual use of the region as an example of anarchy’s supposed failures is quite common. But again, this was not my intent either so this discussion need not take place at this point in time.

A better first step in removing the excessive power from the central government would be, as explained above, to adhere strictly to the limitations as espoused within the Constitution. This would necessarily mean the removal of much of the federal apparatus and would do immense wonders for the economy by itself. My preferred following step would be a virtual elimination of the central government with all residual bureaucracies passing to the various states. People generally claim at this point that this feat would be impossible and ludicrous and numerous other expressive emotions, but these reactions are typically based on blind patriotism rather than fact. A simple look at the vast majority of nations throughout the world quickly dispels these notions.

These two steps would, in my opinion, all but eliminate most of the most egregious violations of individual rights in America.



This would actually have the effect of increasing government power (as well as likely increasing secrecy). All your proposal would do is multiply many times over the incentive to cater to special interests. You claim that politicians would be less susceptible to campaign contributors, but nothing in the system is inherently altered. A small number of people (i.e. special interests) have enormous potentials for gain by manipulating a select few individuals (i.e. politicians). Conversely, individual taxpayers have little to gain because the benefits of one particular policy over another have only minimal direct effect on his person (or so it appears to them). Similarly, the cost of affecting the outcomes or ultimate payouts to particular politicians is enormous for each individual. Additionally, the special interests could quite possibly achieve their desired ends even more cheaply than they do under the current system because they would be able to perform mass advertising for their goals to the masses. These masses, in turn, are the de facto buyout for the politicians in question. This time, however, not only for monetary gain, but for the retention of office for these politicians.

I have to assume by your post that you are a libertarian of some kind and want to take the government back to the 1800's. That isn't going to happen short of armed revolution and in that case we will almost definitely end up with something worse.

How you can say that performance based measures that limit our accumulation of debt will give more power to campaign contributors doesn't make any sense to me at all. Would you elucidate please.

"Somalia is not now nor never has been an anarchic “state,” though the continual use of the region as an example of anarchy’s supposed failures is quite common." The definition of a failed state has Somalia right next to it. How you can say that it isn't a failed state is beyond me. It does illustrate what happens in a power vaccum though, that's for sure.

"Additionally, the special interests could quite possibly achieve their desired ends even more cheaply than they do under the current system because they would be able to perform mass advertising for their goals to the masses." Huh? So marketing to the "masses" is going to change how much our deficit is or whether the federal budgets are signed the year before? They will determine how much debt reduction we have? None of that makes any sense whatsoever in context with the ideas I put forward. If they didn't hit these well defined, not arbitrary, goals then they would simply make what they do now. Did you even read the ideas or just skip to the end?
 
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jstepp590

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From now on do me a favor and quote things directly from the idea so that we can stay on track and I know what you are talking about please.

Definition: A failed state is a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. There is no general consensus on the definition of a failed state. The definition of a failed state according to the Fund for Peace is often used to characterize a failed state:

loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
an inability to provide public services
an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community
 
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TNAR

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jstepp590 said:
I have to assume by your post that you are a libertarian of some kind and want to take the government back to the 1800's. That isn't going to happen short of armed revolution and in that case we will almost definitely end up with something worse.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I don’t have any particular period in mind because all eventually led to the current situation which means they were all insufficient. However, the government itself is doing a fine job of cutting its own head off, so a revolution is likely unnecessary (nor do I promote an armed one).

jstepp590 said:
How you can say that [Somalia] isn't a failed state is beyond me. It does illustrate what happens in a power vaccum though, that's for sure.

I interpreted your previous post as meaning Somalia was a good example of anarchy. I agree that it serves as a reasonable example of what would happen in a power vacuum with those societal norms, but certainly would not be an adequate model for other regions. Seems like this was just a simple misunderstanding of context.

jstepp590 said:
How you can say that performance based measures that limit our accumulation of debt will give more power to campaign contributors doesn't make any sense to me at all. Would you elucidate please. … "Additionally, the special interests could quite possibly achieve their desired ends even more cheaply than they do under the current system because they would be able to perform mass advertising for their goals to the masses." Huh?

This is the meat and potatoes of the argument. The first question which needs to be answered is who creates the metrics to which this pay is determined? You briefly mentioned a team of economists and “policy makers” who would create the “grading system,” but did nothing to clarify how the objective itself would be determined. After all, what is the purpose of government, if not to benefit society?

So your plan is to create a monetary incentive for politicians to “do good.” Before you can come up with a grading system you have to first determine what is “good” and what is not. How is this concluded? Do the people vote on it? Do the politicians vote on it? In either case, the outcome will be no different than typical electoral matters today. There will always be disagreement over what is “good” and what should be avoided. Therefore, before we even begin to peek under the hood of your system, we are presented with unanswerable questions.

Let us presume that a list of “good” outcomes is somehow obtained. Do means make a difference or only the ends on the list? It seems as if you are attempting to add economic theory into the realm of politics so you must realize that means are just as important (and often more so) as the ends. So once again we must come up with an adequate method of determining the means for our agreed upon ends. But then what happens when technology changes and the means are no longer viable or economical? Do we vote again?

In other words, the process required to simply create your system is, by itself, fraught with ample opportunity for special interests to embed their desires. Then there is also the incentive to create a system which is easily obtainable in order to pass the grading system and get their bonus. Remember, it is the legislators themselves who must create this system you envision. Why would they not make it easy for themselves to get these wonderful bonuses? CEOs do it.
 

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Political Performance Act

Sometimes it seems as though our elected leaders do not work for us anymore. Of course there is a lot of truth to that which is why the impression is so widespread. The true recipients of their care and time are their campaign contributors.... I say we go about it the other way, by providing a large monetary reward based on job performance criteria....

Sorry to be a naysayer, but it simply wouldn't work. They already get a number of financial "incentives" from special interests without having to "do a good job." They would also qualify for several "bonuses" under your plan by simply doing what they already are doing. (i.e. budgets before a specified time.)

The best way to eliminate this process would be term limits coupled with continued monitoring of their financials. But since THEY decide such things it will be a cold day in hell (or a citizens revolution which is even more unlikely), before any of that happens.
 

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I don’t have any particular period in mind because all eventually led to the current situation which means they were all insufficient. However, the government itself is doing a fine job of cutting its own head off, so a revolution is likely unnecessary (nor do I promote an armed one).



I interpreted your previous post as meaning Somalia was a good example of anarchy. I agree that it serves as a reasonable example of what would happen in a power vacuum with those societal norms, but certainly would not be an adequate model for other regions. Seems like this was just a simple misunderstanding of context.



This is the meat and potatoes of the argument. The first question which needs to be answered is who creates the metrics to which this pay is determined? You briefly mentioned a team of economists and “policy makers” who would create the “grading system,” but did nothing to clarify how the objective itself would be determined. After all, what is the purpose of government, if not to benefit society?

So your plan is to create a monetary incentive for politicians to “do good.” Before you can come up with a grading system you have to first determine what is “good” and what is not. How is this concluded? Do the people vote on it? Do the politicians vote on it? In either case, the outcome will be no different than typical electoral matters today. There will always be disagreement over what is “good” and what should be avoided. Therefore, before we even begin to peek under the hood of your system, we are presented with unanswerable questions.

Let us presume that a list of “good” outcomes is somehow obtained. Do means make a difference or only the ends on the list? It seems as if you are attempting to add economic theory into the realm of politics so you must realize that means are just as important (and often more so) as the ends. So once again we must come up with an adequate method of determining the means for our agreed upon ends. But then what happens when technology changes and the means are no longer viable or economical? Do we vote again?

In other words, the process required to simply create your system is, by itself, fraught with ample opportunity for special interests to embed their desires. Then there is also the incentive to create a system which is easily obtainable in order to pass the grading system and get their bonus. Remember, it is the legislators themselves who must create this system you envision. Why would they not make it easy for themselves to get these wonderful bonuses? CEOs do it.

Ah now we are getting somewhere, and this is exactly why I put these ideas forward, to develop a critique and feedback on this idea. The measures I had in mind were strictly fiscal as those are the only ones where accurate measures can be instituted and measured. Just as you mentioned and to an extent I agree with, governments do have a habit of being irrational and doing things that lead a down the wrong paths. My answer to what is "good" is strictly based on fiscal measurements which are rather more easily defined than more arbitrary measures. As an example, creating what could with some accuracy be called a Ponzi scheme like Social Security or Medicare where it creates long term strain on our yearly fiscal budgets. Another would be an unfunded war where $2-6 trillion dollars on onto our debt and deficit. These are all very easily measured as long as we have open access to the information in our yearly budget.

In a strictly fiscal sense it is much more easy to tell if the decisions they make are going to keep the long term health of our country stabilized. It was my intention to establish what those parameters would be. They would of course involve shrinking our yearly deficits until they are not adding to our debt so that as our debt, the bonds we sold, mature and are paid off that we are not adding more debt. Another parameter I was thinking was some form of standard of living as a baseline for our citizens. In essence from a fiscal sense it is not too difficult to set these parameters and as long as they stay within them our long term fiscal health will be secured. That would more than cover the $10 billion a year in performance pay we would make possible for them to earn. It would not be taking anything from them, would create fiscal stability within our country and they would be very happy to implement because it is in their best interests as well.

I have talked to liberals all the way to Von Mises economists and mostly they all like it. What I don't have is the parameters themselves. Coupled with my idea on the Strong Families Act, which even though would not pay off the debt directly but would make an excellent way to have the advantages of raising taxes or deficit spending with raising taxes or adding to the debt, we would be able to keep the government from tripping over its own feet with the most important part of their jobs which is our budget. This is a need recognized by economists, libertarians and centrist conservatives like me. The only people I know of who think that our debt isn't a problem are people from the far left, and even they would rather not have it. If we can get our deficits lower, which will be increasingly difficult as the baby boomers continue to retire, then we would be able to lower taxes and shrink government a bit in a healthy way.

I would like more ideas on how to develop those parameters because if we could get this viable idea to the action stage we will already know how to implement it and the politicians and lobbyists can't screw it up (which they will if given a chance). However if I am able to get people behind an already developed and locked in idea with easily judged criteria then it becomes an idea that fixes our government in a fiscal sense long term. By all means please critique, I would love to hear your ideas or objections. The criteria should be relatively attainable, they are right now. What they lack is the political will to do it, and that is what I see this idea providing.
 

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Sorry to be a naysayer, but it simply wouldn't work. They already get a number of financial "incentives" from special interests without having to "do a good job." They would also qualify for several "bonuses" under your plan by simply doing what they already are doing. (i.e. budgets before a specified time.)

The best way to eliminate this process would be term limits coupled with continued monitoring of their financials. But since THEY decide such things it will be a cold day in hell (or a citizens revolution which is even more unlikely), before any of that happens.

I am sorry but I have to disagree. Right now they do not have their budgets done on time and haven't for the better part of a decade. You are correct in that they get "bonuses" from special interest groups like campaign finances or a cushy job when they leave office. However if they were paid this much money, up to $10 million a year, to keep our finances in order and our economy healthy that will severely crimp the kinds of destructive lobbying we see today that negatively affect our long term fiscal health. Right now they have no incentive, zero, not to do these kinds of things except not getting elected again. Even that is an empty threat because of how polarized our political system has become. If that wasn't the truth we wouldn't be having this conversation, or the recession for that matter and all the pain that entails.

As for term limits? At first I liked the idea before I gave it some real thought. If we start term limits and bring in new people every 4-6-8 years then we are going to constantly be bringing in inexperienced people who do not know their jobs. They will be thrown into the mix with the old time sharks who know all the tricks and will constantly trip them up. They will be unsure, just like a new employee trying to run your company, probably into the ground. We have to have people make these decisions for us because we are a democratic republic and that is the way our constitution is written. I would far rather have representatives there for 30yrs making $10 million dollars a year and with a healthy fiscal environment for our country to grow into than to have some clueless newbie come in all the time messing things up. At that point we would need to drastically increase our bureaucracy just to have a smoothly running country again and our elected reps would become figureheads stripped of power because they really are clueless.
 

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I am sorry but I have to disagree. Right now they do not have their budgets done on time and haven't for the better part of a decade. You are correct in that they get "bonuses" from special interest groups like campaign finances or a cushy job when they leave office. However if they were paid this much money, up to $10 million a year, to keep our finances in order and our economy healthy that will severely crimp the kinds of destructive lobbying we see today that negatively affect our long term fiscal health. Right now they have no incentive, zero, not to do these kinds of things except not getting elected again. Even that is an empty threat because of how polarized our political system has become. If that wasn't the truth we wouldn't be having this conversation, or the recession for that matter and all the pain that entails.

As for term limits? At first I liked the idea before I gave it some real thought. If we start term limits and bring in new people every 4-6-8 years then we are going to constantly be bringing in inexperienced people who do not know their jobs. They will be thrown into the mix with the old time sharks who know all the tricks and will constantly trip them up. They will be unsure, just like a new employee trying to run your company, probably into the ground. We have to have people make these decisions for us because we are a democratic republic and that is the way our constitution is written. I would far rather have representatives there for 30yrs making $10 million dollars a year and with a healthy fiscal environment for our country to grow into than to have some clueless newbie come in all the time messing things up. At that point we would need to drastically increase our bureaucracy just to have a smoothly running country again and our elected reps would become figureheads stripped of power because they really are clueless.

I understand your position, but not only do I think it is an inappropriate use of my tax dollars to reward them for doing their job, I honestly think they would still pad their wallets with whatever special interest groups would offer. Politics, it's the nature of the beasts who work in it.

I'd still prefer newbies who are trying to improve the situation, than old sharks who use it to their benefit.
 

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jstepp590 said:
The measures I had in mind were strictly fiscal as those are the only ones where accurate measures can be instituted and measured. … As an example, creating what could with some accuracy be called a Ponzi scheme like Social Security or Medicare where it creates long term strain on our yearly fiscal budgets. Another would be an unfunded war where $2-6 trillion dollars on onto our debt and deficit.

I sympathize with your attempt, but I think you are putting effort into a dead end. Allow me to explain.

The very basic statistics of government programs are, as you said, relatively simple to measure. If we wanted to ensure that not a single penny beyond the accepted budget numbers was spent, this would be a fairly easy task to perform. However, there is more to a program than simply fiscal numbers. What is the purpose of Social Security? Nominally, it is to support aged individuals who have not saved adequately to support themselves post “middle working age.” In reality, it has gradually turned into a primary retirement program. Therefore, what is the “proper” amount to spend on ensuring the aged population is able to live sufficiently? The black and white metric is based on entirely subjective opinions. The same goes for warfare. Regardless of cost, many people believe that the wars engaged by the United States are beneficial and necessary. Others believe all wars to be reprehensible. So what is the proper expenditure on war (funded or not)?

In other words, I’m not chastising your attempt to base monetary compensation on black and white fiscal metrics, but the fact that those objective assessments are based on subjective opinion.

I think it boils down to the concept of an ideal government (if such a thing is even possible). We can spend all day debating the merits of specific programs, but will, by necessity, be required to continue the debate each and every time new legislation is introduced. On the other hand, we could talk about what the proper role of government ought to be and attempt to close the loopholes to the point of prohibiting its further expansion beyond those limits. For instance, it is universally agreed—though not typically readily admitted—that the government regularly exceeds the limitations placed upon it by the Constitution. Even the loosest reading of the Constitution must admit this in those instances where the Supreme Court rules legislation unconstitutional. So even with the most foundational of all documents of the United States is regularly ignored; why would any other limitation placed upon it be any different?
 

jstepp590

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I understand your position, but not only do I think it is an inappropriate use of my tax dollars to reward them for doing their job, I honestly think they would still pad their wallets with whatever special interest groups would offer. Politics, it's the nature of the beasts who work in it.

I'd still prefer newbies who are trying to improve the situation, than old sharks who use it to their benefit.

Uh, so you do not agree with using our tax dollars to make sure that we set goals that are healthy for our country and pay to have those performance standards kept? You would prefer newbies that will come in, do stupid things like cut our debt too quickly and drive us into recessions, and will end up doing the same thing anyway since they will get arrogant and corrupted by the system because they have nothing to keep them within a set of fiscal standards that are healthy for our government? Fine, I cannot argue with "feelings", I just hope you are never running any company I own.
 

jstepp590

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I sympathize with your attempt, but I think you are putting effort into a dead end. Allow me to explain.

The very basic statistics of government programs are, as you said, relatively simple to measure. If we wanted to ensure that not a single penny beyond the accepted budget numbers was spent, this would be a fairly easy task to perform. However, there is more to a program than simply fiscal numbers. What is the purpose of Social Security? Nominally, it is to support aged individuals who have not saved adequately to support themselves post “middle working age.” In reality, it has gradually turned into a primary retirement program. Therefore, what is the “proper” amount to spend on ensuring the aged population is able to live sufficiently? The black and white metric is based on entirely subjective opinions. The same goes for warfare. Regardless of cost, many people believe that the wars engaged by the United States are beneficial and necessary. Others believe all wars to be reprehensible. So what is the proper expenditure on war (funded or not)?

In other words, I’m not chastising your attempt to base monetary compensation on black and white fiscal metrics, but the fact that those objective assessments are based on subjective opinion.

I think it boils down to the concept of an ideal government (if such a thing is even possible). We can spend all day debating the merits of specific programs, but will, by necessity, be required to continue the debate each and every time new legislation is introduced. On the other hand, we could talk about what the proper role of government ought to be and attempt to close the loopholes to the point of prohibiting its further expansion beyond those limits. For instance, it is universally agreed—though not typically readily admitted—that the government regularly exceeds the limitations placed upon it by the Constitution. Even the loosest reading of the Constitution must admit this in those instances where the Supreme Court rules legislation unconstitutional. So even with the most foundational of all documents of the United States is regularly ignored; why would any other limitation placed upon it be any different?

"In other words, I’m not chastising your attempt to base monetary compensation on black and white fiscal metrics, but the fact that those objective assessments are based on subjective opinion." Again you are trying to use subjective morality to define fiscal outcomes when you say things like "some people think the war is good and other people think it is bad". Only if they cannot do math. It is very easy to tell whether something is fiscally good or bad for any organization, company or government, by looking at the bottom line. I am baffled by how you can not see that. If that wasn't the case then capitalism would never work.

You are continually trying to add subjective measures to something that is not subjective as a way to argue this point. If you are running a company and you make a decision that is fiscally bad for the company then you can tell by your profit loss statement, there is nothing subjective about that. Math is math, tax dollars coming in compared to money spend in the annual budget is easily confirmed by looking at your deficit. Same thing for a business. The only way that would not be the truth is if the budget is hidden and nobody has access to it but that is not the case, anyone can look up our budget. Anyone can tell the difference between what is fiscally healthy and isn't by using grade school math. Math is math, it is not subjective nor dependent on what the current morality is. How you cannot see that is beyond me so it seems you are arguing just to argue, or else you simply have a "moral" issue about paying your elected leaders more to do the job well when they are not doing it well now and causing no end of problems. Of course that does give you something to complain about doesn't it, not do something about, but complain about.

The fiscal health of our countries balance sheet has nothing to do with the constitution, morality or the shifting beliefs of right and wrong. If that wasn't the case we wouldn't have accountants. Math is not subject to those things, period. As for Social Security? I like the program, and don't want our elderly thrown out in the streets when they are too old to be economically viable and it is one of the reasons I am a center right conservative instead of follow a failed ideology like libertarianism. Our elderly being thrown out in the streets is what used to happen and it was a disgrace and a burden on their loved ones. We simply need to be more fiscally smart about it is all.

You can argue subjective things or whether our government follows the constitution all you want. Until we change the parameters within which our electoral system functions however, by making fiscal arguments against non-subjective money math as an example, we will continue to have these problems and nothing will change. We will stagnate, our government will continue to be run by morons who cannot count past 21 with their shoes on and their flies up, and eventually we will face the kind of fiscal crises that brings the whole thing crashing down. Of course you probably see that and don't seem to care because you would rather argue about inanities. So be it.
 

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Uh, so you do not agree with using our tax dollars to make sure that we set goals that are healthy for our country and pay to have those performance standards kept? You would prefer newbies that will come in, do stupid things like cut our debt too quickly and drive us into recessions, and will end up doing the same thing anyway since they will get arrogant and corrupted by the system because they have nothing to keep them within a set of fiscal standards that are healthy for our government? Fine, I cannot argue with "feelings", I just hope you are never running any company I own.

I understand you have a moral objection about spending our tax dollars on performance based goals. However, just consider how many companies have performance based commissions, not just for their sales staff but management, and then ask yourself why that should be any difference when talking about doing the same thing in a government. Do you think banks, or Fortune 100 companies, would be doing better if they scrapped their pay for performance systems? Do you think they could attract and retain the best quality staff to run their companies without these performance standards and bonuses? Then ask yourself is the reason you are opposed to this is because you have an adversarial mentality against the government and don't think it is "right" or "proper" to pay them for doing the job well. If you own a company do you think it is improper to pay your sales or manager staff for running your company better so that your long term fiscal health, growth and money saved so that you have more money at the end of the day is emotionally or fiscally unsound?

Once you make that distinction by comparing what is done in the real world to how our government is run now I would like to hear your reasoning. I cannot argue feelings because feelings by their very nature are irrational. If you can explain to me exactly why you think it would not work without invoking emotions then I have something to work with.
 

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Uh, so you do not agree with using our tax dollars to make sure that we set goals that are healthy for our country and pay to have those performance standards kept? You would prefer newbies that will come in, do stupid things like cut our debt too quickly and drive us into recessions, and will end up doing the same thing anyway since they will get arrogant and corrupted by the system because they have nothing to keep them within a set of fiscal standards that are healthy for our government? Fine, I cannot argue with "feelings", I just hope you are never running any company I own.

LOL... So you are of the "Ross Perot" variety of conservative. Let's run the country like a corporation? I see. The same ideology that over-pays senior executives, and guarantees them golden parachutes even when they screw up cuz "they did their best."

I see government the way John L. O'Sullivan did; "The best government is that which governs least." (I know lot's of people attribute that to Thomas Jefferson, but there really is no evidence he ever actually said it. He did say "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.")

Make it more profitable for participants and they'll simply try to expand it's powers to make themselves more indispensible. Whether their ultimate ideas of "efficiency" would ever follow your suggestions......
 
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