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A Bogus 28th Amendment and What This Says of the American Condition

 

Warren Buffett, during a May 6, 2005 speech before students at University of Kansas School of Business.
“Warren Buffett KU Visit” by Mark Hirschey – Work of Mark Hirschey. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Warren_Buffett_KU_Visit.jpg#/media/File:Warren_Buffett_KU_Visit.jpg

In a July 7, 2011 appearance on CNBC, billionaire Warren Buffett stated, “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes.” The Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and arguably America’s most most successful investor continued, “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.”

Whether Buffett stated this as a serious proposal or some good old tongue-in-cheek political hyperbole is known only by him. The idea is fraught with Constitutional problems and political shortsightedness. Four of the many issues include:

  • Buffett’s measures must contend with crises that can pose great challenges to any administration or congress. Ultimately, the confidence America enjoys domestically and internationally rests largely on the shoulders of a strong central government that response to massive emergencies. Acts of God (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy) and man-made disasters (e.g., 9/11), economic crises, and other national emergencies can have enormous effect on fiscal policy in way that on can hardly “blame” any branch of government. Buffett makes no allowances for spending that came by way of national emergency as opposed to strategic planning.
  • The measure called-for by Buffett ignores what I call “calibration effect“.  That is, we can be certain that politicians that come to office with [special interest] agendas would, over time, calibrate their aims for a shorter term in government, while advancing policies that would later land them lucrative careers after their [short] stay in public service. The idea of kicking the bums out would have little lasting impact on our nation’s financial conditions as long as a revolving door welcomes retiring those leaving the public sector.
  • And even if the calibration effect did not occur, the very idea of some automatic pink-slipping of elected officials could lead to disastrous impact on states and municipalities. Imagine Congressional legislators concerned about their seats in the face of states grappling with  displaced workers that need the re-authorization of unemployment insurance. Perhaps the latest health epidemic, aging infrastructure, or crumbling schools do not receive federal infusion due to congressional paranoia.
  • Lastly, those who would support Buffett’s plan readily cite Congress as the problem given its responsibilities to manage the nation’s purse-strings. While this fits a strict Constitutional analysis, the history of our nation is replete with examples of a charismatic President that literally moves the country into a certain direction as did Reagan with small government, Kennedy with NASA, and Obama with healthcare reform. Presidential priorities, however, often lead to exacerbated deficits and debt. Wars in Irag and Afghanistan, Bush Tax Cuts, and the expansion of social programs (e.g., Head Start) are just a few examples. Buffett’s idea is hawkish on The Legislative Branch, but fails in holding the The Executive Branch accountable for its misadventures. One might posit that Buffett’s political ties to the White House makes the latter most inconvenient. 

Buffett’s ambitious fiscal solution might sells well in the peanut gallery, but lacks serious consideration. And yet, internet mis-information artists have taken Buffett’s 5-minute over-simplification, extending it to what has become in some ways myth and in other ways legend.

The CNBC interview provided a shot in the arm for spammers to repackage a bogus Congressional Reform Act of 2012 that is now circulating on the internet. It is the latest adaptation of the same-named Act of 2011 and Act of 2009. The supposed 28th Amendment is one of many proposed legislative reforms that go by the same name given our current number of 27 Amendments to our Constitution. However, the measure does not have its roots in Congress, but rather in the creative minds of skillful internet spammers. You will not find the related Acts in the various indices that track emerging legislation on Capitol Hill. What sounds like the fast-tracking of Buffett’s grand idea is little more than a constitutional fairy tale.

What This Says About Us

How spam, hoaxes, urban legends and other fictitious communications propagate over the internet can largely be explained in the technologies themselves that connect billions of people. Electronic multimedia — images, videos, blogs, etc — place us in a 24-hour information bubble. Bandwidth enables instantaneous sharing. Grossly under-developed authentication infrastructure enable perpetrators to create bogus content. And unsuspected consumers, across socioeconomic strata becoming unknowing co-conspirators in the diffusion of false information.

These factors, however, do not fully explain the successful continuance of a 28th Amendment myth targeted at expiring the retirement of fiscally inept legislators. After all, what would be a watershed piece of legislation was never mentioned in the recent presidential campaign. C-SPAN and other media outlets that rigorously cover Capitol Hill certainly have not reported that this addition to our Constitution is in the pipeline. Congressional hearings have not taken place. And this is particularly insightful because the vetting of constitutional amendments is like washing with #30 sandpaper!

This specific amendment would have profound effect on Congress itself. In addition, someone of the stature and media access of Warren Buffett surely would be captured in mainstream news reports, commercials, and infomercials, promoting the merits of the amendment and calling for its passage. And finally, with the party and branch intransigence now on display in Washington, are we to believe that President Obama would be doing anything less than using this proposed amendment as a hammer in every State of the Union address, major press conference, and Cabinet meeting?

Nothing of the slightest evidence exists to support the authenticity of some 28th Amendment. 

How then has this bogus idea continued?

Simple. This rather outlandish set of ideas packaged as a proposed 28th Amendment reflects the desperation of   Americans who are weary of mounting national debt, fiscal cliff bantering, and sequestration. We have so reached no-confidence tipping point that what sounds remotely plausible, at least in a visceral sense, is acceptable conversation.


BOGUS 28th Amendment Spam 


 [important]

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“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 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 one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure. 

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to SHARE this on Facebook or 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.

Congressional Reform Act of 2012 

1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. 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. 

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congress 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 term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person SHARES this on Facebook or contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Don’t you think it’s time?

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!

If you agree, pass it on. If not, delete. You are one of my 20+ – Please keep it going, and thanks.

[/important]


This is the untold story of the recent presidential election and the upcoming 2014 election. Beyond the fierce competition for their party to “win”, Americans are deeply troubled. Troubled so much so that even a mythical constitutional amendment can take on legs. The most absurd ideas are welcomed relief from the malaise of contentious inaction and inappropriate action often seen in Washington.

Circulation of the mythical 28th Amendment should cause our political leaders to take pause. Those who eyes and ears are close to the pulse of the American public should consider the implications of a citizenry so hungry for solutions that it will readily believe a lie.

Will career legislators read the signs of the times?

That remains to be seen. But if history serves as our guide, we might expect even more myths and legends to fill the internet airways in a desperate cry as our nation’s legislative halls bog down like the freeways that surround them. Unless some act of God or major crisis rocks our nation, forcing the elites to act decisively on fiscal solutions, I expect more party minutia and Washington’s ongoing version of The Hatfields vs. The McCoys.. 

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