Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Bill for Congress: Rough Draft

I had a thought today (just one?!) regarding the way Congress operates. You know, it seems to me like folks in politics tend to either get too bogged down on little details to see the big picture, or too swept up in the big picture to see the little details. Those groups are probably Republicans and Democrats respectively. Or Liberals and Conservatives. Or Conservatives and Liberals. Or Sharks and Jets. Pair it however you want.

Now, here's the thing: there's nothing wrong with having people with different viewpoints. In fact, it's a good thing. A group of people with differing viewpoints, when working together, are able to achieve better results than any one of them working alone. The trouble is, people often get caught up in their differences. In practice, a roomful of people with different viewpoints may find themselves unable to come to an agreement, or at least unable to agree in a reasonable amount of time.

So, I had this thought: Bills that go through Congress are huge, and have so many little points to them, it becomes easy to get stuck. I think what they need is a way to sum up bills more clearly and concisely. This could work as a shortcut for discussion to help get decisions made more quickly.

Anyway, it's still a work in progress, but I've decided I want to propose this idea to Congress and see if it can't help them work more efficiently. If it can, great. If not, at least I can say I tried to help. I'm not really sure how to go about submitting a bill to Capitol Hill, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Untitled Bill

Purpose: To help streamline the way legislators consider new legislation.

From now on, all proposed legislation documents should include on the first page a brief (one paragraph or less) and concise description of what the intended purpose of the legislation is. This description should make clear what goal(s) the originating party had intended.

Many bills that pass before Congress and other legislative bodies are extremely long. Although this may be necessary to fully describe the content of the bill, this may lead to legislators spending an inordinate amount of time discussing the finer points of the issue without addressing the actual reason the bill was made.

If all bills included a short statement of purpose, it would help to accelerate the discussion of the bill. If all the legislators present can agree first that they would not like to see the goal of the bill achieved, then they can reject it without having to spend a lot of time on the details.

If they decide they do want to achieve the goal, then they can address the next logical concern: do the contents of the bill actually work to achieve that goal? If so, then the bill may be passed. If not, legislators may deliberate on changes they would like to see made. Throughout discussion of possible changes, legislators should always consider whether a proposed change would serve the intended goal of the bill. In general, if a particular change to the bill does not serve its initial goal, then it should not be applied.


Again, this is just a rough draft, but I think I could be on to something here. People can't always see the forest for the trees (even I'm still not sure what that phrase means), so a direct change to how government operates could be a good idea. After all, the advent of the Powerpoint presentations and bullet-points helped to reshape how business meetings work. Why shouldn't the business of government be improved in the same way?

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