Saturday, November 04, 2006

Oregon Measure 45

More local blogging.

OK, I'm kind of bringing up the rear with these last few state ballot measures.  The vote is on Tuesday, and since our state is vote-by-mail, most of you have already sent in your ballots, I'm guessing.  I've looked somewhat at these, but I'm running out of time to do any thorough research, so I'm going to wing it a bit and just give you my opinion about where I'm at.

Measure 45 is about term limits.  The rule would be 6 years in the House and 8 years in the Senate and no more than a total of 14 in both (which just adds up, so why even say it).  I'll admit right now that this measure tugs at my heart strings.  I've never wanted to vote for a measure concerning a limit on political terms so badly in my life.  Why?  Well, all you have to do is look nationally, where the longer a person lives in Washington, presuming to represent the boys and girls back "home" the longer they seem to entrench in a pseudo-corrupt, pork infested and insulated world and lose any conception of how regular people think and what people really need.
However, two things cross my mind before I look into the arguments.  One is that this isn't the national congress, and that means that a. congresspeople are not living thousands of miles away and b. they aren't full time and have to return home for part of the year and tend to their actual life, job and all.
Two is that the limits on tenure are pretty small.  Three terms for House and 2 terms for Senate.  Is that too short a time to really get to understand the runnings of our government? 
Also, I'm naturally opposed to amendments to the state's constitution unless I think they're a really REALLY good idea that is necessary to the underlying structure of the government.

Anyway, I looked throught the arguments and here's what I'm thinking. 
The major arguments of the opposition that were persuasive boil down to the effectiveness of the legislature.  Argued over and over again, with some detail, was that without some legislators that have been there for long periods of time, the experience to handle bureaucrats and other parts of government that don't cycle in and out like congress people dimminishes. 
I'm slightly less convinced that influence by lobbyists would be more pronounced.  I think the supporters argument that lobbyists rely on long term relationships and legislator's desires to stay in office after the next election make long-term legislators more beholden to them.  But that's just my logic working it's way out.  And government has never been a very logical place.
However, I've read and heard from several sources that the 90s was a particularly chaotic place for legislative action, and wonder if it's right that experience is a necessary thing.  Gridlock was pronounced in the 90s, and there was trouble trying to solve funding for education and other things.   Is this because legislators weren't experienced enough, or is it because bureaucrats are too powerful in the government?
I am sympathetic to the supporter's argument that the citizens of Oregon voted for term limits, and the decision to turn back was not placed back on the citizens lap, but was reversed by the legislature and the courts.   Would the public have agreed? 
I'm generally against this measure, but on principle I like the idea.  I wish that the legislature would understand that it's not about being in power, but I think that the only way to really solve that is going to be to remove the power from the government, i.e. reduce the size significantly (and no, I don't think there's been a Democrat or Republican who's ever put up more than petty and insignificant ideas to reduce only peripheral areas of government.  No one's really serious about it).  The more money the government takes from us, and the more it tries to do "on our behalf,"  the more power it offers to the bureaucrat AND the elected official AND the lobbyist.  Only by reducing it will we lessen the lure of the career politician and corrupt state.
But for now, I'm voting: NO

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

seriously, term limits help the state. If a politician knew he was going to be there forever, he wouln't do anything. i voted yes