Thursday, December 09, 2004

Silly Nonissue - Congressional Attendance

This seals it. USA Today reported (see - Electronic payments surpass paper checks - Posted 12/6/2004 3:17 PM, Updated 12/7/2004 8:13 AM) that "The number of electronic payment transactions last year totaled 44.5 billion — exceeding the number of checks paid, 36.7 billion — according to Federal Reserve studies released Monday."

What does that have to do with absenteeism from Congress by our Senators and Representatives?

Come on, with 44.5 billion electronic transactions zipping around the Internet in a year, the sheer silliness of whether a US Senator was physically present to cast a vote on an issue is revealed for all to see. What a phony issue!

If we Americans can (and I certainly do) trust the "e-ether" to send our precious, hard-earned $$ to pay our bills every month, and keep ourselves out of debtors' prison, surely a workable means can be found to let lawmakers cast their votes safely and securely and, if necessary, from a distance.

Then, being physically absent from the floor of Congress would be irrelevant to casting a vote. And, much more important, our elected officials could no longer escape showing us how they voted on any issue.

You tell me: How hide-bound is our beloved Congress for not implementing something like an e-vote process long, long ago?


virtualworldlord said...

This is a very dangerous suggestion. We are becoming ever more disconnected from each other. What would prevent congressmen from staying in their districts going on vacation to Aruba while congress is in session? Don't we want our representatives to meet with each other and discuss issues before voting on them? The virtual universe is a great tool, but the real world cannot be abandoned without risk of creating a culture of personally isolated individuals. I'd rather have my reps talking to other reps and having lunch with them.

E-RM: Your Research Resource said...

I grant that, as it is now, our reps are bound somewhat more to the Capitol to cast their votes, but they do need to travel, often very legitimately, and to tend to constituent matters. Perhaps this does encourage more in person contact with each other, but who's stopping them from seeing each other as they will? Do you regret occasions when they may choose to talk by phone, send e-mails, blog each other - as you and I are now doing - as well as meet in person? Perhaps you'd urge us to ban those forms of communication, too, in favor of face-to-face contacts? The purpose and benefits of having many ways to "talk" to each other are to enhance and increase communications and understanding, just as you are urging.

Besides, every procedure or protocol can be abused. For the Aruba situation, as with countless other possibilities for abuse, we need full disclosure so it can be observed, exposed and roundly criticized, as appropriate.

Meanwhile, too many of our Senators and Representatives are inadvertently missing, or deliberately skipping, their duty to vote on key issues of the day. Sometimes votes they very much want to cast, publicly and proudly, but can't, merely for what I say are artificial physical reasons. To me, the fundamental and overriding point is that their constituents deserve to know where they stand!