Another issue was campaign finance reform, which has come back to bite its chief promoter, Sen. John McCain. It is a maze of incomprehensible regulations. Stossel displayed the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation book, which contains nearly 500 pages of small print set in double columns. For effect, he taped the pages together and then stretched them out on the Giant's football field. The pages "spanned the whole field and halfway back."
He showed people who ran afoul of the law by placing signs in yards in opposition to an annexation ballot initiative. It's a head-shaker. Another example: Ada Fisher, a retired doctor, ran for Congress in North Carolina with an all-volunteer staff. The FEC imposed a $10,000 fine on her because she somehow violated their rules. She noted that even "reform" laws are designed to help incumbents stay in office. Stossel said the extremely high re-election rate of members of Congress remains the same as it was before "reform," which was promoted as a way to open up the system to more challengers.
Stossel used a visual metaphor to demonstrate why government regulations stifle individual initiative, leading to dysfunction. He visited a skating rink where people managed to go in the same direction and at about the same speed without instructions from anyone. Then he introduces Brian Boitano, a former Olympic skater, who begins telling some skaters they are going too fast and others too slow and shouting other commands. Chaos results. The moral? "Intuition leads us to think that complex problems require centrally planned solutions, but political decision-making is rarely the answer. Life works best when we govern ourselves."
Both John McCain and Barack Obama are asking us to trust them to "fix" what is wrong in Washington. One would make things worse, but neither would have the power to make things much better. That would take cooperation. Politicians promote faith in themselves, though such faith has proven to be misplaced. They want the power. The worst thing the public can do is to give one party unchecked power with no restraints.
If Obama wins and Democrats expand their congressional majorities, especially to a filibuster-proof advantage in the Senate, this will be to our collective detriment.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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