SC

Hey SC: Want “Citizen Legislators?”

We hear the term “citizen legislator” thrown out a good bit in the public discourse … usually by politicians seeking to ingratiate themselves with supporters of the limited government movement. It’s code language – a phrase intended to appeal to taxpayer advocates and supporters of term limits (as well as…

We hear the term “citizen legislator” thrown out a good bit in the public discourse … usually by politicians seeking to ingratiate themselves with supporters of the limited government movement. It’s code language – a phrase intended to appeal to taxpayer advocates and supporters of term limits (as well as other common sense reforms).

But what is a “citizen legislator?” And assuming we can identify the species – how do we breed them?

Obviously we know what a “citizen legislator” isn’t. For example, despite her protestations to the contrary our current governor wasn’t one. And our current Speaker isn’t one. And our current Senate President isn’t one.

In fact good luck finding one at the S.C. State House … or the U.S. Capitol.

With one or two exceptions, they’re all whores … (some in more ways than one).

Anyway … it’s no secret what the problem is. The question is: Can we stop it? Can we ever get politicians to start caring more about our bottom line (and our future generations) than their own needs?

This question rings especially true here in South Carolina … where self-serving corruption runs as rampant as the perpetual government growth which fuels it.

Seriously … we’d drop dead if a South Carolina elected official (Democrat, Republican or “reformer”) actually did something out of a genuine desire to advance the best interests of the people of the Palmetto State. Typically the motivating factor is money, power … and of course, reelection. What ought to be the primary motivator – the public good – never enters the limited intellectual calculus of the typical state lawmaker.

Is this cycle impossible to break? Maybe … but maybe not. In fact the more we think about it, several ideas come to mind.

Obviously one of the best ways to eliminate self-serving behavior is to insist on term limits for state lawmakers – a reform this website has consistently championed.

But what else can be done? In recent months we’ve warmed to a two-step concept that’s full of promise – and fraught with controversy.

The first step? Raising legislative pay so that individuals who serve in the S.C. General Assembly aren’t compelled to cut self-serving backroom deals every five seconds.

Currently state lawmakers make just over $10,000 a year – an amount they can stretch to $30,000 or so annually if they maximize various expenses and allowances. We would propose raising this sum to $50,000 – $60,000 annually – and eliminating all expense payments (in other words lawmakers would have to pay for their own food, transportation and lodging).

Of course that’s not all we would eliminate …

Given their enhanced incomes, lawmakers wouldn’t need to rely on the sweetheart deals and state contracts they habitually award to themselves, their families or their companies. Accordingly, in conjunction with any legislative pay hike, we would institute a lifetime ban on any current or former member of the S.C. General Assembly – or their family members or businesses – receiving a dime of tax money (other than their salary and benefits, naturally).

Or ever becoming a lobbyist.

Sound harsh?

Then don’t run for office …

We’re not necessarily to the point of endorsing a specific proposal – but we’re definitely warming up to the idea of a legislative pay hike accompanied by some draconian lifetime ban on lawmakers feeding from the government teat. Along with a solid term limits bill, we think this one-two punch has real potential when it comes to weeding out those who genuinely want to serve others as opposed to those who only want to serve themselves.

What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …

***

Related posts

SC

South Carolina Attorney General Addresses Title IX Changes

FITSNews
SC

It’s Getting Hot In South Carolina

Will Folks
SC

Lowcountry ‘Defense of Democracy’ Leader Ousted Over Assassination Comments

Dylan Nolan

34 comments

gamercock February 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Institute a Legislative Draft.

Reply
? February 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Sortition has its appeal. The Athenians also performed audits going in and coming out. Short terms would help too, but so would limiting gov’t power. It is all fairy land wishful thinking…but why not pretend there’s hope?

Reply
gamercock February 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Institute a Legislative Draft.

Reply
? February 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Sortition has its appeal. The Athenians also performed audits going in and coming out. Short terms would help too, but so would limiting gov’t power. It is all fairy land wishful thinking…but why not pretend there’s hope?

Reply
Smirks February 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

How do we breed them? Well, when two citizen legislators love each other, and/or are sufficiently inebriated, and are of the opposite sex…

Reply
Smirks February 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

How do we breed them? Well, when two citizen legislators love each other, and/or are sufficiently inebriated, and are of the opposite sex…

Reply
BigT February 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I hate to say this: Why does FITS idly call all of them names…Who has a CRIMINAL Record???
It drives me crazy to see the lazy-minded throw out non-supported cliches bashing other peiople, just because …
If you have a SPECIFIC charge..level it…and we’ll see who is justified.
Otherwise: FITS looks like some juvenile complainer, too ignorant to articulate his thought (provided he ever had an original one)…

Reply
BigT February 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I hate to say this: Why does FITS idly call all of them names…Who has a CRIMINAL Record???
It drives me crazy to see the lazy-minded throw out non-supported cliches bashing other peiople, just because …
If you have a SPECIFIC charge..level it…and we’ll see who is justified.
Otherwise: FITS looks like some juvenile complainer, too ignorant to articulate his thought (provided he ever had an original one)…

Reply
mat catastrophe February 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Yes, let’s give members of the professional class who also happen to be legislators an extra $20,000 a year, but oppose a minimum wage hike for the poor and Lord Have Mercy, we don’t even mention the words “maximum wage”.

Reply
mat catastrophe February 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Yes, let’s give members of the professional class who also happen to be legislators an extra $20,000 a year, but oppose a minimum wage hike for the poor and Lord Have Mercy, we don’t even mention the words “maximum wage”.

Reply
Recovering Lobbyist February 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I always enjoy the ignorance of the term limit proposal. Ask a Californian how that has worked out. The year after term limits took effect in that state the Speaker of the House had two years of experience, and the power in that state shifted overnight from elected officials to the bureaucrats and lobbyists. There is no simple solution to our state’s, or country’s problems. But I would much rather have someone I elect driving the agenda in my state. Now, if you want to discuss term limits for leadership (Speaker, committee chairs, etc.), that is a proposal I could support.

Reply
Recovering Lobbyist February 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I always enjoy the ignorance of the term limit proposal. Ask a Californian how that has worked out. The year after term limits took effect in that state the Speaker of the House had two years of experience, and the power in that state shifted overnight from elected officials to the bureaucrats and lobbyists. There is no simple solution to our state’s, or country’s problems. But I would much rather have someone I elect driving the agenda in my state. Now, if you want to discuss term limits for leadership (Speaker, committee chairs, etc.), that is a proposal I could support.

Reply
Fly on the State House Wall February 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Believe me, they get much more than the $10,000. All of the free trips, meals, medical care, etc. The average taxpayer has NO idea.

Some of these people spend $250,000 to $500,000 to get elected and re-elected, check it out!

Do you reaally think they would spend this kind of money for 10 grand. Show me One who isn’t well off, on some kind of contract (Nikki Haley) or does not benefit (attorney legislators voting for the judges they appear before), or are hired by some special interest , as a consultant or employee..? You would have a difficult time trying!

Reply
Fly on the State House Wall February 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Believe me, they get much more than the $10,000. All of the free trips, meals, medical care, etc. The average taxpayer has NO idea.

Some of these people spend $250,000 to $500,000 to get elected and re-elected, check it out!

Do you reaally think they would spend this kind of money for 10 grand. Show me One who isn’t well off, on some kind of contract (Nikki Haley) or does not benefit (attorney legislators voting for the judges they appear before), or are hired by some special interest , as a consultant or employee..? You would have a difficult time trying!

Reply
Yowser February 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

If you offered them 1,000,000,000,000.00, there would still be a back door deal!

Reply
Yowser February 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

If you offered them 1,000,000,000,000.00, there would still be a back door deal!

Reply
BinxBolling February 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm

It sounds good. I’d really want this kind of plan to work. But I have no faith…people will just find new and fascinating ways to fuck things up.

Reply
BinxBolling February 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

It sounds good. I’d really want this kind of plan to work. But I have no faith…people will just find new and fascinating ways to fuck things up.

Reply
Moman50 February 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I remember reading this same stuff twenty five years ago.Good ideas,but wont happen.Why?The people of SC LIKE the government they have,the protestations to the contrary here notwithstanding.

Reply
Moman50 February 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I remember reading this same stuff twenty five years ago.Good ideas,but wont happen.Why?The people of SC LIKE the government they have,the protestations to the contrary here notwithstanding.

Reply
9" February 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

everybody loves the hustle,but nobody loves the hustler

Reply
9" February 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm

everybody loves the hustle,but nobody loves the hustler

Reply
MoralActivist February 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm

We’d probably be better off using the jury duty method! That’d really shake things Up!

Reply
MoralActivist February 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

We’d probably be better off using the jury duty method! That’d really shake things Up!

Reply
Mae West February 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm

No salary increase!
No golden retirement benefits!
No retirement period!

Reply
Mae West February 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm

No salary increase!
No golden retirement benefits!
No retirement period!

Reply
LD February 19, 2013 at 8:29 am

Did you know the legislators get 75% of their salary on the first day of the session and the remaining 25% by the end of January?

Reply
LD February 19, 2013 at 7:29 am

Did you know the legislators get 75% of their salary on the first day of the session and the remaining 25% by the end of January?

Reply
katlaurenscounty February 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm

This is a FOOLISH, Irrational, moronic, ill reasoned, DUMB DUMB DUMB article. Proposing term limits or any ‘procedure’ based on premise that legislators uphold and respect law, so better laws = better behavior. DUHHH!! NOT RATIONAL!!! Flabby mental reasoning.

The concept of ‘citizen legislators’ means legislators aren’t citizens. This is a paradigm of gov operational autonomy that cripples self governing and breeds corruption.

Legislator serving self interest isn’t a function of weak laws, it’s a function of human nature. We all serve self interest first. Flabby thinking, legislators should be ‘different’ type of human being.

Founding Fathers included checks and balances to restrain servant self interest. The only source of servant positional authority is delegated and limited, from our INDIVIDUAL authority and unalienable rights. Get the individual part? Balance of powers between gov entities is only one check.

Other checks on servant self interest, citizen must INDIVIDUALLY exercise duty of self governing to face a particular specific official, (Wo)Mano a (Wo)mano, with inherent authority, and disrupt particular official’s autonomous operation. Too many citizens don’t, they are scared, stomp around snorting about voting and political action, instead. Officials set their own objectives. Of course they serve self interest first!!

Reply
katlaurenscounty February 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

This is a FOOLISH, Irrational, ill reasoned, DUMB DUMB DUMB article. Proposing term limits or any ‘procedure’ based on premise that legislators uphold and respect law, so better laws = better behavior.

The concept of ‘citizen legislators’ means legislators aren’t citizens. This is a paradigm of gov operational autonomy that cripples self governing and breeds corruption.

Legislator serving self interest isn’t a function of weak laws, it’s a function of human nature. We all serve self interest first.

Founding Fathers included checks and balances to restrain servant self interest. The only source of servant positional authority is delegated and limited, from our INDIVIDUAL authority and unalienable rights. Get the individual part? Balance of powers between gov entities is only one check.

Other checks on servant self interest, citizen must INDIVIDUALLY exercise duty of self governing to face a particular specific official, (Wo)Mano a (Wo)mano, with inherent authority, and disrupt particular official’s autonomous operation. Too many citizens don’t, they are scared, trying to use voting and political action, instead. Officials set their own objectives. Of course they serve self interest first!!

Reply
lawzoo February 20, 2013 at 11:57 am

I like the way it was 40 years ago and beyond. More transparent . Also more fun. This crowd is simply a bunch of ignorant sllime who inherited Daddy’s bidness . They have no clue as to anything. Purport to be bidnessmen. Bullshit !

Well, they are pretty astute in the ways and means of graft and corruption.

Reply
lawzoo February 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

I like the way it was 40 years ago and beyond. More transparent . Also more fun. This crowd is simply a bunch of ignorant sllime who inherited Daddy’s bidness . They have no clue as to anything. Purport to be bidnessmen. Bullshit !

Well, they are pretty astute in the ways and means of graft and corruption.

Reply
yup February 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm

GREAT article. I agree with the majority of it, but I’d also add shortening the legislative
session. Just look at Texas, they assemble every other year and get everything
done – maybe the fact they don’t have an income tax helps with the lighter load.
Or take the Virginia model. 60 days of leg session and members get 18k. Thank
you Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_General_Assembly

People may say nothing will change, but I guarantee if you would make it to
where a normal citizen could afford to be in the General Assembly you would see
more credible candidates running which will hold legislators more accountable
if they know people are paying attention and more importantly, looking for a
reason to run against them then they might vote and act a little different.

You wonder why there is so much corruption now? Just think about it; who can
afford to be in the state house? You have to own your own business and afford
to leave it for 6 months, work for a company that is ok with you not being
there for 6 mths (Larry Martin) which i’m sure they don’t expect anything in
return, or you have to be retired.

With the current system there is no way a normal person can be in the State House
which is of course the way they all like it. The past election showed us
how far legislators will go to make sure they don’t have an opponent. I know there are those that say that legislators make more than they should now or why pay anyone at all, it should be a public service. Again, if you do that you knock out just about everyone
and only a few can afford to be a representative and that has gotten us into
the mess we’re in now.

Reply
yup February 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

GREAT article. I agree with the majority of it, but I’d also add shortening the legislative
session. Just look at Texas, they assemble every other year and get everything
done – maybe the fact they don’t have an income tax helps with the lighter load.
Or take the Virginia model. 60 days of leg session and members get 18k. Thank
you Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_General_Assembly

People may say nothing will change, but I guarantee if you would make it to
where a normal citizen could afford to be in the General Assembly you would see
more credible candidates running which will hold legislators more accountable
if they know people are paying attention and more importantly, looking for a
reason to run against them then they might vote and act a little different.

You wonder why there is so much corruption now? Just think about it; who can
afford to be in the state house? You have to own your own business and afford
to leave it for 6 months, work for a company that is ok with you not being
there for 6 mths (Larry Martin) which i’m sure they don’t expect anything in
return, or you have to be retired.

With the current system there is no way a normal person can be in the State House
which is of course the way they all like it. The past election showed us
how far legislators will go to make sure they don’t have an opponent. I know there are those that say that legislators make more than they should now or why pay anyone at all, it should be a public service. Again, if you do that you knock out just about everyone
and only a few can afford to be a representative and that has gotten us into
the mess we’re in now.

Reply

Leave a Comment