Paul Jacob

The target's been chosen: term limits. The gun's being waved around, too. And there's a bullet in the Chamber.

Well, in Michigan's Chamber of Commerce. Seems that the Chamber has come up with a new way to hit term limits. The illustrious business lobby thinks it has a magic bullet. On it is carved the number "14."

So why is the Chamber gunning for term limits?

Well, the Chamber is a lobbyist group. Lobbyists hate term limits. Always have, always will. This really isn't a mystery. The longer politicians stay in office, the more time lobbyists have to work them over, put them in their pockets.

So what's with the number "14"?

At present in Michigan, a politician may serve three two-year terms (six years) in the state House, and two four-year terms (eight years) in the state Senate. After being termed out of one house, he or she may run for office in the other. The total years one may serve in this manner? Fourteen.

So some genius came up with this idea. Why not keep 14 years as the overall limit in both houses of the legislature, but allow a politician to stay that long in just one house?

Well, point that gun some other direction and let me tell you why not.

One of term limits' chief functions is to decrease the power of incumbents. Make it a little harder to get entrenched in the system. Open it up to competition.

Currently, after being termed out of, say, the House, you can run for a Senate position in Michigan. But, at this point you run as a non-incumbent. This means that some of the advantages that incumbents have disappear, or at least diminish. For a variety of reasons, Americans -- and Michiganders -- vote in incumbents at alarming rates. Without term limits, careerism is the norm, and the evils that follow creep into the system and stay there.

It's often argued, well, "tough luck." If Americans, or Michiganders -- or Lower Slobovians -- don't want careerism, then they shouldn't vote in incumbents over and over. It's as simple as that.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.