Archive » September 23, 2010
DOING THE JOB
By Brad Ross, Guest Columnist
I have had many exciting assignments over my career as an engineer. I started out my career making sure that the chemists and chemical engineers didn’t blow off their heads while performing research using high-pressure chemical reactions. I later had stints involving nuclear energy, solar energy, energy conversion, thermal transport systems and mechanical systems. In all cases, I was expected to do my job as a mechanical engineer, using science and technology to solve problems and enable systems, and I believe that I have maintained that focus. More than 200 years ago, the framers of the Constitution came up with job descriptions for the three branches of federal government. The legislative branch was assigned to manage laws. The judicial branch was assigned to judge whether the laws were consistent with the constitution. The executive branch was assigned to enforce the laws.
I have been amazed to see how each of these branches has abandoned their assignments over the past few years. The legislative branch has recently distinguished itself by passing a bill that was too lengthy and complicated to read. One lawmaker stated, “We have to pass the bill so that you can, uh, find out what is in it.”
We refer to those in Congress as representatives. I wonder why. Most citizens do not want the federal government to be in charge of health care, but the bill passed anyway. They did not do their job. Managing laws means keeping the laws simple and not having too many of them. These lawmakers take credit for passing laws. I instead value “lawmakers” that remove or simplify laws.
The judicial branch provides checks and balances to the legislative branch, by making sure laws are consistent with the Constitution. Somehow this concept has spun out of control, as judges stopped using the Constitution as the reference point. Instead, the basis for judgment is a collection of prior court decisions, which has allowed the original intent of the constitution to become lost. The judicial branch is not doing its job when it reverses the vote of the people, declaring it unconstitutional, without there being any corresponding reference in the constitution.
The executive branch is not doing its job if it does not enforce the law. The federal government is supposed to enforce border control. How can we justify putting our military in the Middle East to reduce the threat of terrorists if the borders are open? It takes the cake when the federal government gets upset with Arizona for enforcing the laws that the federal government has been delinquent in enforcing. It is entirely possible to control the borders (I am familiar with the technology), and it can be done without taking away the rights of U.S. citizens.
It is the voters’ job to provide feedback when the branches of government are not doing their jobs. Let’s make sure we do our job as voters, especially over the next several years. Look for candidates that understand what job they have to do, that promise to do the job, and promise to provide a clear accounting of how they are doing their jobs. The concerns are across the board, and have little to do with political party. That means our job will involve careful study of each candidate. It won’t be easy, but that doesn’t matter. We’ve got to do our job.
Brad Ross is an engineer who lives in Los Olivos. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to share principles that affect your life, or to provide feedback.