Column: Most agree: government accountability is needed

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Commentary by Bill Keller

What is at the root of our government dysfunction and stagnancy? More and more people are beginning to say career politicians and party/lobby influence are to blame. So how do we hold elected officials accountable for job performance and results?

Part of it has to be the idea of needing experience to get things done. That thought has merit. However, if longer terms are supposed to bring more and faster results, why do we see senators and congressmen who make the same speeches on the same topic for more than 30 years and never take a step toward resolution?  Immigration is the best example, as we’ve seen three decades of exactly the same speeches from both parties with little action.

Is it because someone has to get the credit (or benefit)? How self-destructive can we be? You and I are to blame, aren’t we? We let them go on with no accountability. How can we improve? We want to hold the highest expectations for our own elected officials, but just like with children, its unlikely to achieve good results without giving guidelines and boundaries and holding them accountable.

Have you and I done that? How can we make that happen? I think you all quickly recognize when the Colts, Pacers or your business has a good year. What is the metric for the person representing you?

Does it make sense that an average congressman or senator gets an annual salary of $174,000 for 120 to 130 days a year and a permanent pension of $110,000? Add to that the idea that their career in ‘public service’ has netted them a net worth, for several, of over a half billion. Is that true? Can we find out how those funds were acquired?

I encourage you to read “Throw them all out,” by Peter Schweizer. It is a little disturbing to learn about the legislative manipulation for the benefit of individuals and especially parties. Are they bad people, or are we just enablers by not paying attention and requiring fundamental accountability?

There was a proposal of a term limit amendment, proposed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and our own Indiana Sen. Mike Braun is proposing an end to the pensions. We certainly would like to know how the citizenry can make that a reality, because a huge majority of us agree on this one.

If you’d like to share thoughts about this, please visit theagreed.com. Our next discussion forum is at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at Sophia Square Community Center. We will discuss the pros and cons of marijuana legalization and/or reform.

Bill Keller is a Carmel resident and founder of The Agreed, a grassroots movement that aims to make change by focusing on areas in which there is already great agreement.

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