113th Congress

113th Congress

Note: This article was first published in 2011 when the U.S. unemployment rate was at 9.1 percent. Although it is down by nearly two points, Congress could still do more. According to a Gallup Poll released in July 2013, the 113th Congress had the highest disapproval rating of any Congress since 1974, when data first started being collected. In light of the SEIU Fast-Food Strikes, continued congressional gridlock, and to “Advance the Dream” of Martin Luther King Jr. in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, I thought this revised version might be appropriate.

President Obama said in his jobs creation speech that his “American Jobs Act” is supported by both Democrats and Republicans. That being the case then what’s the problem in getting the bill passed?

The U.S. unemployment rate is 7.4 percent nationwide, and much higher when broken down into specific segments of our population, but some members of our 113th Congress don’t seem to be getting the message. While we can applaud the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for “taking it to the streets” two years ago and holding a well-publicized job fair tour that began in Cleveland and ended in Los Angeles, the fact remains that by and large some members of Congress are not concerned about doing what’s in the best interest of the American people. They simply won’t put America to work.

We have a “political crisis,” so if Congress won’t put America to work, then let the American people put Congress to work since it appears that some have nothing better to do than to filibuster and pull all sorts of political shenanigans. Let’s give them some real work – in the mail room! I have a proposal, but let me begin by first acknowledging the fact that we all may be getting a little apathetic about the goings-on there on Capitol Hill. I also understand that if I don’t make the process as easy as possible, response and action will be minimal at best. For instance, some citizens don’t even know who their elected officials are for their districts, and how to contact them. Also, some may not have immediate access to a computer to readily get information. That said, I’d like to propose we, the American people, begin sending brief letters to Congress via the U.S. Postal service these last weeks of Summer (Autumn begins September 22nd). The desired result will be threefold:

  1. Send a strong collective message to Congress
  2. Benefit our Military Veterans (Honoring Veteran’s Day November 11th). Instead of affixing one .46 cent stamp, voluntarily affix two (or more if you choose) and ask the Representative to earmark the postage overpayment for our veterans. This should beckon them to tally every piece of mail, and appeal to the U.S. Postmaster for  a refund (no guarantee this will happen but as the post office is able to track “Insufficient Postage” they should be able to track “Overpaid Postage”)
  3. The U.S. Postal Service will become stakeholders in that increased mail volume will boost revenues lost to e-mail and other on-line transactions

     Please keep the single page letter brief (has to be under one ounce for the .46 rate), something to the effect:

 ¨      Dear Representative (write their name): If unknown use your zip code and write, Representative for Zip Code _ _ _ _ _

 ¨      I am deeply concerned about our political crisis and our economy. Please let me know what is being done to create jobs in our district. Also, please earmark the postage overpayment for Veterans Affairs. I look forward to your reply.

 ¨      Sincerely,

(Sign it and print your name and complete address underneath signature)

Addressing the envelope: For those who have computer access go to www.theorator.com; scroll down to Government Contacts for your district; address the name and respective building to Washington D.C. 20515. Those without access address to: Representative for (your zip code); U.S. House of Representatives; Washington D.C. 20515. Also, print on the envelope in bold letters POVA (Postage Overpayment for Veteran’s Affairs). Be sure to include your return address.

People, this may be an unusual and unconventional approach, but we are seeing some unusual and unprecedented things happening in politics these days. Let’s take action! For our children who saw what took place 50 years ago, and want to get involved, this would be a good place to start.After you’ve posted your letter, please post a comment and let us know.

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) www.amazon.com.  Visit the author at www.editorialbylarry.com. (213) 220-8101.

larry buford

Larry Buford