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Let the sunshine in

By James Hall
web posted June 11, 2001

With the crazed taking over the senate, surely this will be the dawn of a new era! With the protege of the infamous George Mitchell becoming the fearless leader, we are in store for, as the song goes, harmony and understanding . . . Peace and love will guide and steer the upper chamber. No more falsehoods or derisions, for the mystic revelation will liberate our minds.

With such hope coming, just where should all that sympathy and trust abound? Well the answer, fellow friends is in the sunshine; where else!

But the sunshine that will brighten up this day will be the kind of legislation that will automatically expire on a specific date in the near future. The concept that all laws would be required to be reviewed and voted on periodically, in order to stay enforced and on the books, is the single most important reform that could be instituted into the legislative process. If people expect cooperation within Congress, let us all agree upon a systemic problem that crosses all party line.

No reasonable person could dispute that government administration is notorious for waste, inefficiency and outdated policies. Often obsolete programs exhaust continual expenditures when circumstances alter, and may well suggest that the undertaking is no longer needed. But government programs are a species of being, that have a life of their own. All other segments in life are affected by change and must adjust accordingly. This basic law of nature, seems to ignore bureaucratic agencies and programs emerge intact. Reprieve from reform seems to be the only universal characteristic.

The solution to this freak mutation in the cosmos is setting a required time for extinction. A serious review can always be utilized to scrutinize if the law has current merit. But the expiration of programs, that saw their best day decades ago, will be ushered into the government hall of shame automatically. Now how can this approach be condemned by responsible citizens? Sunshine laws have one great advantage. The clock always works to achieve smaller government. Active decisions are required to continue with the status quo. Left to its ordained expiration, laws and programs would die a natural death. Bill of Right Amendments could be exempt, though the first ten are really all that are worth keeping.

Of course the permanent ministerial class will be outraged! The pandering politicians will denounce such an assault upon the mechanism of government, as un-American. And the lobbyists will schedule some more fund raisers to combat this threat to the normal order of the Beltway. K street will never be the same, we must unite before we get good government! The sponsors and supporters of such legislation will be called the new McCarthyist.

No one is saying that true reform is ever easy or can even be accomplished any longer through the existing mechanisms. But this issue strikes at the very core of the systemic leviathan. It is immune to the standard left right, double speak that confuse and exclude the debate. Those who wish to defend useless programs with more than just empty rhetoric, be our guest. Now there would be the need to demonstrate proof of results and a reaffirmation that new support is warranted and voted upon. How many Department of Education's can be shielded from their superfluous failures at the same time? With any luck at all, a few departments might actually go out of existence.

All that is left to the voter is their ballot. Since the vast majority of those who still participate, are resigned to select between the better known, worst clone; what can be accomplished when trust is bestowed upon officials? The record speaks loudly that disappointment and excessive growth of the budget is the only result. But on those rare occasions when public sentiment is ratchet up to fever levels, the political class takes heed. This is an issue that may not have glamorous appeal to the ardent or the emotional, but it strikes as reasonable to the average citizen. In an era where we are told that the public wants civility, how can patricians go to war over this one? Who will be made into their enemy and demonized?

Can't you see the public service announcements with Marilyn McCoo belting out "Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in" . . . This is a winner. Not only for the music, but for the country. Daschle and the rest of the crazies will need to dance with the rhythms or they will be living where the sunshine never shines. Don't you want to see that performance? Let's all start singing the tune, right now.

James Hall is the driving force behind Breaking all the Rules, a collection of his essays.

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