Monday, February 02, 2009

Democracy 101

How to write your congressman:
Start by going to this link:

  1. Select your state from the drop-down.
  2. Enter the zip code for your home address
  3. Select the button "Contact my Representative
This should take you to a page like the one for my district, which includes a host of methods for contacting my local congressman.

Chose email if possible (it should be), if not, write and print your letter and snail-mail it to the address shown.

Be polite and as objective as possible. Here's an example:

    Name: Mr Paul Ferris
    Address: My Address
    E-mail: [email address]

    Message Subject: WEBECON
    Message Text:

    Dear Mr. Boccieri,

    Recent economic events, the banking crisis and the bail-out have put our country in obvious jeopardy. I wanted to weigh in with my observations and opinions here because I'm deeply troubled. I take primary issue with the bailing out of financial institutions. I am troubled to read that the money has gone partially to bonuses for the executives of these institutions. I take issue with the fact that they don't feel that they're accountable for the money. I also don't think that our government should function as an owner of these kinds of institutions (it's a bit too late for that, I understand).

    I'd appreciate some attention to these matters, mainly in the area of better regulations for the people at the top of these organizations. If we're going to hand them cash to fix some issue then:

    1) The heads of these organizations have failed -- part of the rules of engagement should dictate that the board governing the organization choose new leadership -- leadership approved by some government regulatory committee.

    2) Bonuses in this context are out. If the leadership of these organizations are not happy with their pay and don't have faith that they can create long-term wealth with their position (future bonuses based upon performance), then they should find some other line of work. Bonus in this context: any pay beyond base. This means any kind of perk, including travel perks, housing -- anything beyond their documented pay.

    3) We should have a direct, obvious window into where the money is going -- we, being the American citizens that have provided a safety blanket. This could be done by some kind of Internet-based reporting that would be transparent to everyone.

    4) As long as the company (or bank) is receiving welfare like this, the board and the executive leadership of the company should be agreeable to scrutiny and governance. Pay levels should be set at some citizen-approved level. Excess of this level should not be allowed until the organization has gotten off Congressional welfare.

    5) People that do not comply should expect jail-time. We jail people that sell drugs in this country -- these people are doing arguably similar damage. Why they should not expect jail time for obvious immorality is beyond me.

    Please understand that I usually write my representatives only when I feel a matter is of utmost importance. If you wish to contact me via phone, I'm available to talk about this subject at any time. Mobile: [my mobile number] . Email: [my email address]

    I'm not involved in Banking industry at this time (I've worked in IT for a bank a few years back), but these recent developments are troubling and at this moment in time I am happy to report that I'm in a different industry -- and I'm saddened to see our great country projecting the image of immoral behavior at this point in history.

    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
    --Paul Ferris

Your letter should be to the point as much as possible and as professional as possible. Swearing is bad. Jargon is bad. Anything not diplomatic -- bad. You want to address issues objectively and express opinions where possible as such (in other words, you're free to put in an opinion -- just make it obvious).

It's fun, it's easy -- it's Democracy. Let's make it work!

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