What I wrote to my congressman, Adam Smith, on 27 June 2009

Dear Representative Smith,

I write to express my disappointment with your recent vote for H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act.

I’ve read your statement regarding this Act and the perceived necessity for it. You write that this act is “far from perfect.” How far is it, exactly? Did you read each of the 1,000 pages, including the 300-page long list of changes? Speaking generally, how can you vote for or against a bill you have not read?

In your statement you also focus on reducing pollution. Yet by capping emissions we nearly guarantee that those pollution sources that are able will simply relocate to nations with less strict emissions standards. Thus, not only will pollution be equivalent or worse, but it comes at the cost of American jobs and the associated tax revenues.

The passage of this Act was irresponsible and ideological, and yet, unsurprising. This is the way this Congress (like the many previous to it) works.

Indeed, Congress as a whole stopped being a representative body a long time ago. Once upon a time a congressman’s primary role consisted of listening to and responding to the concerns of constituents. Today, the average congressman behaves as if his top two priorities are to look out for himself and to listen to and respond to the concerns of special interest groups and his party leaders, in that order. If we are lucky, we mere citizens (subjects?) are invited to comment on what our local representative already plans to do (cf. Patty Murray’s search for stories that support the planned healthcare ‘reform’).

I censure all those congressmen who voted either way without knowing exactly what yet another huge bill says, and those who voted without any consultation of their constituents.

Unless you change your ways, you will be remembered as yet another Congressman who put self, special interest groups, and his party above the real needs of his constituents and his country.

Benjamin W. Pratt

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About Ben Pratt

I am married to a brilliant and lovely woman. Remarkably, our union has produced three brilliant and lovely daughters! We enjoy reading, going for walks and bike rides, and Friday night pizza picnics in the family room. Descended from Parley P. Pratt (founding editor of this blog's namesake), Charles Henry Wilcken, Zachariah Bruyn Decker, Jesse N. Smith, Frederick G. Williams, and a host of farmers, missionaries, colonizers, businessmen, and pilots, I was raised in Chandler, AZ. I have degrees in physics from both Brigham Young University (BS) and the University of Washington (MS). I earn my filthy lucre teaching physics, mathematics, and fine arts at a public charter school in Mesa, AZ.

18 thoughts on “What I wrote to my congressman, Adam Smith, on 27 June 2009

  1. I met Mr. Smith when he was in the legislature. I wasn’t impressed (was offended, actually). Good luck with this.

  2. Do you send him a letter every time he votes on a bill he hasn’t read? Since most representatives hardly ever read the entirety of the bills they vote on, that’s a lot of letters since 1997.

  3. Ben, good letter. I tried unsuccessfully to reach my congresswoman Betsy Markey before the vote on this ridiculous bill. She was supposedly on the fence on this bill. It turns out she voted for it and planned on voting for it from the beginning — following party leaders instead of listening to her constituents, who, according to polls were overwhelmingly opposed to the bill.

    I have since found out that e-mailing your congressman or woman is a waste of time — they never even look at the e-mails they receive. The only way to make a difference is to write a physical letter (which by law they must open), call the office, or hopefully meet them in the district.

    A very large group of constituents is dedicated to getting rid of Betsy Markey in 2010. She is a party-line Democrat in a mostly conservative district. Let’s hope we succeed.

  4. Bill, I’m sure congresspeople do a lot of things we can object to, but this bill was especially egregious. More than 300 pages of new items were added at 3 a.m. the day of the vote. Members of Congress did not even try to show they had any concern for its actual content. The same thing happened on the stimulus bill, and we are finding new provisions in the bill every day that congresspeople had no idea they were supporting. At some point this kind of garbage must be stopped.

  5. Geoff B., the same type of midnight additions and worse abuses happened constantly when Tom DeLay ran the show. Lobbyists were routinely writing the bulk of legislation.

    As for the UK, I think we can agree that your link was “a view” rather than “the view”, and probably a minority one at that. Most of the UK is probably relieved that the US is finally making a start at doing its share, and happy that it will have slightly more credibility at Copenhagen.

  6. Great post. I wrote a similar one to my congressman, Harry Mitchell. It’s posted on my website, thepressurevalve.blogspot.com

    [edited to correct link -Ben.]

  7. Someone should reverse the e and r in Cory’s website so that it will link properly.

    Geoff, I wish you luck in 2010, but you may have to find a better candidate than Musgrave, one of the truly crazy radicals on the fringe of the party.

  8. Hey Bill,
    How many of those Delay abuses cost us trillions of dollars, drove away the remaining industries, multiple, higher taxes, rationed energy, rationed healthcare, rationed freedoms, additional taxes to pay on top of higher costs for manufactured goods, with fewer jobs? If delay paid for it with his job, how much are dems going to pay for their turn at the looting binge?

    As I look at this administration I just see rocketing taxes, ballistic spending, never ending regulation, continued cronyism and kickbacks to unions, smearing, intimidation and investigating of whistlblowers and people who ask questions, compliant news coverage (suddenly all the booosh policies are not so bad).

    And Europe’s opinion of this? Which europe do you mean? The ruling EU class that strives to dictate to the citizens and has recently had to cut back on statist policies that we are now rushing to embrace? Constantly rewriting the EU rules to make it harder for challenges to the statist status quo? The adoring welfare class that gets paid $10,000s for not working? The cronies constantly in cahoots like major industries, or idealogical media?

    Or do you mean the Daniel Hannons who are putting pressure on Gordon Brown (how did brown fare in the last election, bill?) Or political refugees who come here and are chilled by the similarity of what’s happening here to what they had to endure under communism.
    Or Europeans who comment that there is something really wrong going on in the endless managing of people and freedoms by bureaucracies of Europe. And they wish they could do something about it. Except it seems those options may have been taken out of their hands at this time.
    And they often say “Don’t let it happen to you, America”.

    So I agree with Ben Pratt’s points on this.

  9. One minor complaint – carbon dioxide is not “pollution”. It is absolutely necessary for life on earth. There could hardly be a greater catastrophe than to cut (total) carbon dioxide “emissions” to zero.

    The leading economic expert on this issue in the country (a certain William Nordhaus) says that allowing for the accuracy of the present scientific consensus on the contribution of CO2 levels to global warming trends, a milder measure could be justified, but a bill like Waxman-Markey will cause far more harm than good, harm that will multiply if developing world adopts the same policies.

    Economically speaking, measures as severe as Waxman-Markey are equivalent to pouring $14-$40 trillion dollars down the drain. Think of spending the entire federal budget for five years running and accomplishing nothing. Not a single road built, child educated, or medical bill paid for. We could conduct twenty drawn out Iraq-like wars and lose each one of them, and still be better off than implementing the climate change bill that the House just passed.

  10. Bill, there is no movement to bring back Musgrave. She is universally recognized within the Northern Colorado Republican party to have been a truly mediocre politician with almost no charisma. The district Betsy Markey now represents is 60 percent Republican — Musgrave lost it because of her mediocrity and the general Democratic wave in Colorado in 2008. I’m hoping things will change in 2010. There are several good Republican candidates who will fight it out to take on Markey in 2010.

  11. I truly fear for our future. We are progressively becoming a socialist state where it no longer pays to have integrity or work hard. Our children will grow up in a different America, one where sloth and stupidity are rewarded and we are led by a pack of puppets being paid by special interest groups.

  12. Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    Bill (#2), I didn’t send a letter after the passage of any of the (unread) stimulus bills either. What better time to start taking action than now? I recognize that this is not different from any other bill in this regard, but I need to make sure Mr. Smith knows how absurd I consider this method of doing things.

    Geoff (#3), I actually did send this as an email, but I have printed it and will mail it tomorrow morning. I agree that otherwise it has no chance of being read. Emails are cheap.

    frankg (#9), there are moments I wish I were a resident of Southeast England (and a UK citizen) just so I could vote for Daniel Hannan.

    Mark D. (#11), I didn’t specify which pollutant. I am speaking in Mr. Smith’s own terms when I discuss the pollution. See http://adamsmith.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=134791

    Jeremy (#12), sometimes I wonder if “socialism” and related words have lost all meaning. I think you are generally correct, but it seems to have become an accusation used by grassroots conservatives and libertarians, and something dismissed as ridiculous by the Washington elite. On the other hand, I think your final sentence is spot on. In fact, one might argue that we are seeing so much nationalization only because it fits with the desires of so many special interest groups.

  13. Ben, as you say calling it socialism is not exactly correct. It is really corporatism, which is a precursor of fascism, which is when the state begins to pick winners and losers in the marketplace by subsidizing certain industries and promoting them at the expense of others:


    Think about it: why General Motors and Chrysler? Are we tied to the names and brands? Who cares if GM is allowed to fail and is broken up, and its individual subsidiaries bought by Ford or Toyota? That happens all the time in industries, from the steel business, to railroads, to telecommunications, which were all “too big to fail” but were allowed to consolidate, with some losers and some winners based on how well-run the companies were.

    This whole global warming bill is a massive fiasco because it involves the state, in an unprecedented way, subsidizing certain industries at the expense of others, when it comes to energy policy.

    You may argue that this happens in other ways and in other industries, and it does. That is exactly my point: we have created a system where such intervention is no longer scandalous. I say get the government out of industry and other commerce as much as possible.

  14. Ben, while the term “socialism” is indeed being thrown around a lot lately, what is happening to our beloved country certainly fits the dictionary definition:

    “An economic organization that advocates state or cooperative ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of any goods.”

    With the soon-to-be-implemented cap and trade and likely State-run healthcare, almost all aspects of our life will be dictated by politicians in Washington. If that is not socialism, it is as least corporatism or fascism as Geoff explained.

  15. Bill, adultery has been part of human history probably from the very beginning as well. Doesn’t make it right.

    I think that we would agree that there is a continuum from a complete free market (think Hong Kong during the late 19th century) to a corporatist state where the government is involved in most industries (modern-day Brazil and China, much of Western Europe). My point is that on that continuum we are consistently, under Democrats and some Republicans, moving closer to the corporatist model. Personally, I favor something very close to the 19th century Hong Kong model, which will never happen in our lifetimes but would bring a lot more happiness, freedom, entrepeneurial spirit and innovation than the road we are headed down. If I can’t take that, I’d take the 1920s in the U.S. with a president like Calvin Coolidge (not Hoover, he was a corporatist) who favored the government staying out of the way of business. And if we can’t have that, I’d favor another Reagan (Romney is the closest current politician) who would at least take some steps in the right direction.

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