James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, April 11, 2008

Truth or Satire?

Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . .


Quote of the Day:

"Join Downsize DC, that marvelous organization building a non-partisan army to force our representatives, regardless of party, to actually represent us."

- Dann McCreary, Truth Realm

Subject: Truth or Satire?

Did Congress ban wireless internet networks last week?

According to John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine, it did. He goes into detail in his article, Onerous New Law to Phase Out Wi-Fi:

  • The bill, with the pretentious title Telecommunications Restructuring Act, passed with little or no debate.
  • The bill was bipartisan. Co-sponsors were from both parties.
  • The beneficiaries of the bill are large telecoms, who can afford to purchase the currently free, unlicensed spectrum, which will be auctioned off.
  • There is a "phase-out" transition period, which is why the bill slipped under the radar of major media and activist groups.
  • Harsh penalties are imposed, and the bill would apply not just to network users, but ham radio operators and microwave oven users. It is unclear whether this was intentional.
  • The bill was debated on CNBC, where one of the bill's sponsors clearly didn't know what he was talking about.
  • Only two members of Congress, Ron Paul and Ted Kennedy, opposed the bill.
  • Presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, and McCain didn't have the guts to show up to vote.

The good news is, it was an April Fool's joke. There were hints throughout the article. The bill numbers weren't in the proper format, and the procedures for passing the bill were unusual. But the article had all the hallmarks of a good April Fool's joke. A headline like "Scientists Declare Moon is Made of Green Cheese" is too stupid to be believed, but any story about how Congress will wreck or complicate our lives is all-too believable.

That's because members of Congress don't read or debate most of the bills they pass. For instance, last week the House passed 15 bills, but only two were actually debated. Congress also doesn't give the people a chance to provide their opinions before bills come to their final vote. Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year, and referred to a committee. Even activist organizations such as DownsizeDC.org can't keep track of every bill that moves out of committee for a vote.

But if bills, including amendments, were placed on a calendar and posted on the Internet for seven days before passage, the public would be able to object and pressure Congress when a bill spends too much, infringes on our liberties, or sacrifices our interests for those of Big Business. This is why DownsizeDC.org wrote the Read the Bills Act (RTBA).

The RTBA requires each member of Congress who plans to vote yes on a bill to have read it, or heard it read, before voting for it. It also requires that . . .

  • All bills must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote
  • Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill
  • Congress will not be able to waive these provisions

The Read the Bills Act requires sponsors in both the House and Senate. Please tell your own Rep. and Senators to introduce the RTBA. You can even refer to the April Fool's article above and tell them Congress wouldn't be the target of that kind of satire if the RTBA was passed. You can do so here.

We also invite you to join the Read the Bills Act Coalition. By joining the Coalition, visitors of your website will be just one click away from learning about the RTBA. We will, in turn, add you to our roll at the Downsize DC blog and mention your site in a Downsizer-Dispatch, reaching 22,000 subscribers. Click here for details.

And to place an RTBA Coalition button, banner, or web-ad to your site, click here.

Last week, the Senate passed on 40-page bill and the House passed 15 bills totaling 227 pages. You can learn about the bills below my signature in the original version of the post at Downsize DC.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Sincerely,

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

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