Why Now?
Sunday, May 01, 2005
  Public Service
Jillian at The Snarky Cat ran a little "compare and contrast" on Bush's words in 2000 and deeds since that time.

It struck me that there is a major flaw in the system used to select people for public office. Elections are well and good for the final stage of the process, but the steps leading up to that point have a glaring omission: there's no objective proof that a politician can walk and chew gum.

For all other forms of public employment there is a series of published requirements and tests to prove an individual can do the job before that person ever gets to the final selection process. The applicant has to provide proof of education and experience related to the job, and then take one or more tests before being placed on an eligibility list. Even the military in times of drafts requires that people pass tests to actually be inducted into service.

For a politician, everything is popularity. There are no hard requirements and no background checks before you participate. At most you have to prove you live in a certain area and are of a certain age.

I'm not saying that we should be requiring degrees in certain disciplines before someone can run for office, but it wouldn't be excessive to require all elected officials prove they are of average intelligence, are literate, can accurately use mathematics through and including algebra, in other words, that they can pass the standardized testing for a high school sophomore.

Specifically, they should be able to balance a checkbook, complete an IRS form 1040 using a supplied W-2 form and family information, and create a family budget from supplied data. These are things that voters have to do, so it should be shown that elected officials understand what "real life" is all about.

I'm not requiring them to figure out which is the "best" credit card offer, whether to buy or lease a car, whether to buy the extended warranty, or any of the other truly complicated decisions people face every day, just the basics.

It is my belief that if politicians had these basic skills, and understood that the voters had these skills, there wouldn't be "60-city tours" trying to sell people "Tinker Bell" solutions.


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