This painfully stupid viral email from 14 years ago is now gaining a lot of traction on Facebook as a post by a dentist named Howard Farran. It draws cheers from people who apparently skipped out of high school civics class. If the authors had remained even half awake in school, they’d know what a pile of manure this really is. Below, you’ll find a list of “reforms,” each followed by the facts that reveal how uninformed the “reform” is. Can we finally just kill this garbage and be done with it?
Warren Buffett, “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.
The above paragraph is, indeed, something Buffett said. The rest of this silly meme has nothing to do with Warren Buffet.
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.
Three months and eight days to ratify the 26th Amendment — my how short a time! Or not.
First, if you’re going to create a false impression to support your assertion, at least get correct the facts that are easy to Google . You said seven amendments to the constitution took a year or less to gain ratification. Wrong. Nine amendments took under a year: 11 (340 days), 12 (189), 13 (309), 15 (342), 17 (330), 20 (327), 21 (288), 23 (285), 26 (100).
Second, you’re using the short ratification time to make your readers think amending the US Constitution can be quick and easy because “the people demanded it!” Creating a false impression –as you do here– is just a kinder way of saying “lying.” Prior to the states being asked to ratify the 26th amendment, there was a legislative effort that spanned 29 years. I’ll pause while you read that again — 29 years!
Rep. Jennings Randolph (D-WV) introduced the first federal legislation to lower the voting age in 1942 — and he would introduce it 11 more times. In 1969, there were 60 resolutions introduced in Congress to lower the voting age, but none passed.
The three-decades-long debate over lowering the voting age began during World War II. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became the slogan, and in 1943 Georgia became the first state to lower its voting age to 18 for state and local elections.
Also, claiming that short ratification times reveal great public support not only overlooks the long legislative history of some amendments, it lies about public support for others. The 11th (340 days) limits Supreme Court jurisdiction, the 12th (189 days) reworks the presidential selection process, the 20th (327 days) which sets the dates for the beginning of congressional and presidential terms, the 23rd (285 days) which grants Washington D.C. electoral votes — are you really telling us “the people demanded” these amendments? I doubt “the people” even heard about and understood them, much less demanded them. And you do realize, that “the people” don’t vote on amendments, state legislatures do — right?
Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.
No, Buffett isn’t. Buffett didn’t write this. More importantly, every single “reform” listed is based on something far removed from the truth. That is to say, it’s a list of lies, overt and implied. The “reforms” are so divorced from reality that we might as well have said “Let’s pass a law that all members of Congress must stop riding unicorns while wearing pink tutus and singing ‘I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK’ at the top of their lungs.”
*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*
- No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
There is no such thing as “tenure” in Congress. And denying members of Congress pensions when they retire only makes it far more likely that only the independently wealthy will run for office — because regular folks cannot absorb that loss to their future income. Do we really want more millionaires in Congress? No thanks.
- Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
Members of Congress DO pay into Social Security just like the rest of us — have been for more than a quarter-century! If you were a member of Congress who retired before the law changed in 1984, you had the option of staying on the old CSRS — and the youngest you could be now is 92, since you had to be 62 to retire and the law changed 30 years ago. Gotta wonder how many — if any — former members of Congress are still alive and 92 or older. Gotta wonder, too, what you think you’d be achieving by forcing a handful (at most) of guys in their 90s to switch to Social Security.
- Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
Members of Congress already DO contribute to their pension funds, “just like the rest of us.”
Before we go too far into this nonsense, let’s ask, “What do you mean by ‘the rest of us’?” Few Americans buy retirement plans entirely out of their own pockets. In fact, just under half of all Americans worked in 2009 for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan. Among those who worked full time for the entire year, 54% actually participated in an employer-sponsored plan. About 12% are self-employed, and so may be in a position to buy a retirement plan for themselves. But 27% had incomes of under $10,000 that year, too little to be putting much if anything away for retirement.
4, Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
Congress does NOT vote itself pay raises. Pay is set by law through a complex set of calculations — has been for many years — and they can only vote to DENY themselves raises, which they have done about half the time since the law took effect many years ago.
During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service, but the majority of Founding Fathers decided otherwise.
- Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
Which “system”? Most Americans are covered either by employer-sponsored health insurance or by various government-sponsored programs, such as Medicare for those age 65 and over or Medicaid for lower-income persons.
Members of Congress are covered by private insurance under the same system that covers all 8 million federal workers. It’s not free, and it’s not a “single-payer” system where the government acts as the one and only health insurance company. (And, no, Congress is not “exempt” from Obamacare.)
As President Bush’s chief of personnel Kay Coles James said in 2003, while lecturing at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “the FEHB program is not centralized, government-run health care.” It has drawn praise both from conservatives and liberals, including President Obama, who held it up as a model for his own health care proposals.
- Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
Congress ALREADY is mandated to follow all laws, just like the rest of us — with one exception that was created by the Founders in Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution. This section of the Constitution exists to protect the separation of powers and ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its own authority to influence votes in Congress. (The authors of the Constitution didn’t want any president to try what King Charles I of England had done in 1642 — sending troops to arrest his critics in Parliament.) Please note that this does not exempt members of Congress from prosecution for commission of a crime. Furthermore, it does not apply when Congress is not in session. Otherwise, the laws of our nation and state and local governments are equally applicable to members of Congress as all other Americans.
- All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their terms), then go home and back to work.
This “reform” is utter nonsense because it does not refer to anything in real life. The only contracts Congress (the Senate, specifically) deals with on behalf of the American people are called “treaties,” and it takes a two-thirds majority to ratify a treaty. (See Article 2 Section 2 of the US Constitution) The babble about citizen legislators is also entirely without meaning — either in regard to real life or in regard to treaties.
THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.
No, this is NOT how you fix Congress. This silly list of ignorant errors has been floating around the Internet for more than 14 years now. It’s as goofy now as it was then.
By the way, if you visit Howard Farran’s Facebook page, you will see that he’s never posted anything even remotely like this.