You may recall that back in 2009 (I think it was) we as a nation laughed when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the now-infamous statement “We’ve got to hurry up and pass this thing so we can find out what’s in it” — talking about the great new national health care law, officially the Affordable Care Act if I recall.
That came to mind when I saw this latest piece of work the U. S. House passed last Friday which is being referred to as the HEROES Act.
Now I know many of us over the years have complained about Washington lawmakers being too liberal or too conservative or too old or too young or too rich (there’s a reason I didn’t include “too poor”) or too whatever. But I am now firmly convinced these things are probably not the reasons that so many things are all screwed up coming out of that bunch — Congress. Or maybe being “dead on arrival,” as they like to say.
I pulled up this latest bill on Google to have a look (no, I didn’t read it, I don’t get paid to do that). Did you know it has 1,815 pages?
Now the pages on a Congressional bill are always double-spaced. For those of you too young, that means that there is a line of white space between each line of letters. Also, each line has a number on the left and there are usually only a few words on a line. I’m sure there’s a lot of good reasons Congress persons could give you for this but let’s just leave it at that.
Now I’m sure Congress persons can’t possibly read all the stuff in a bill like this. Isn’t it funny that when voting for a Congress person we never get to see the grades they got in reading in the fourth grade of grammar school? But I digress. Therefore, they must have these “staff” people to help them. A representative usually gets 14 staff and a senator gets 34 staff — these numbers depend on the population of the state they represent.
So if you’re a staunch conservative Congress person, you’re likely to hire people who think like you to serve as your staff. Likewise, if you’re a screaming liberal Congress person, you’re likely to hire people who think like you to serve as your staff.
This brings me to the crux of Congress’ problems: these staff people total 11,692 people! Think of what would happen if, by law, Congress persons were only allowed one secretary and one staff helper. I bet laws wouldn’t be 1,815 pages long. I bet the ones we elect would have to read them. I bet they might even have to think long and hard before writing them.
The way it is now reminds me of that old joke “If you put 1,000 monkeys in a big room with 1,000 typewriters, after 1,000 years one of those monkeys will, by the law of averages, bang out a copy of ‘War and Peace.’”
But then, our Congress persons have only been working on it for 244 years!