Thomas Sowell

A one-term limit would simultaneously limit how long special interests could expect a pay-off from their campaign contributions. It would also limit, indeed eliminate, the need for millions of dollars of campaign contributions to stay in office.

Congressional reform should also include expanding the range of people likely to serve in Congress. Today, a successful engineer, surgeon, business executive, or even a full professor of economics at a leading university, would have to take a pay cut to serve in Congress.

We need people in government who know something besides politics, and who have experienced what it is like to live under the kinds of laws that politicians pass. We are unlikely to get many of them if we insist that they sacrifice their families' standard of living in order to go to Washington.

How much would it cost to make Congressional salaries high enough to let successful professionals serve in Congress without financial sacrifice?

If we paid every member of Congress a million dollars a year -- for an entire century -- that would add up to less than the cost of running the Department of Agriculture for one year.

To pay less than required to get people of the caliber needed in Congress is the ultimate in being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Without a financial sacrifice being required to serve a term in Congress, and no need for campaign contributions to get reelected, such a Congress might well get rid of the Department of Agriculture, among other counterproductive government agencies, repaying their own Congressional salaries many times over.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate