09/13/2011 02:58 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2011

Reform Congress - Save Ourselves

We live in a fragmented society. We are overwhelmed. Influtrol (a word I will be explaining) is a major cause. Influtrol has become endemic in Congress. From the halls of Congress, it has permeated our entire socio-economic-political system down into the brains of the individual citizen and child. Influtrol is destroying us. I propose we save ourselves by first reforming Congress. We should adopt the Kirkwood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It will help. It will make life better.

What we need, but do not have adequately
We need face-to-face conversation. It brings all our bodily senses to the table. This need is fundamental. It is in our DNA. Without adequate face-to-face conversation, a person grows peculiar.

However, instead of conversing adequately, we are encouraged to "communicate" more and more. As we do, Influtrol creeps in to make us more dysfunctional. The United States Congress is a case in point.

Is Congress functional or dysfunctional?
Obviously, Congress is functioning just fine for someone. On the other hand, Congress distresses many citizens like me who are concluding it is dysfunctional. In my case, the downgrade of our nation's sovereign debt on August 5, 2011 by Standard & Poor's was the last straw.

Let me now turn to defining several terms as I build up to explaining "Influtrol."

In this essay, "communication" covers all human activity that is not face-to-face conversation. Consuming mass media is communication, as are emails, blogging, social networking, gaming and reading essays like this one or attending baseball games or town hall meetings. Even more broadly, when you are at Wal-Mart purchasing items, the Chinese are communicating to you, and you are communicating to them. The message is clear -- Buy more -- Make more. We communicate.

The key choice
Communication is not "bad." It is inadequate. To illustrate, ask yourself this -- Have you ever tried to change a screaming baby's diaper by telephone? It does not work. Communication is not good enough. It does not meet the depth of our needs. Modern forms of communication may be "good," but if they are, they are supplemental to what we need. Only face-to-face conversation -- touching with our bodies in certain instances -- can do the trick and nothing less. Conversation vs. communication is the key choice we make moment by moment. Increasingly we are making the choice to communicate rather than converse. For example, we move far away from parents, siblings and grandparents. Influtrol creeps in.

What is conversation?
Conversation means you say something with your mouth using words and I hear them with my ears. We sensually take in the whole person. Then based on what you said, I say something and you hear me. You think for a moment and then you say something in return. Conversation, back and forth, ultimately aims at getting at the truth of the matter. You ask, "Do you love me?" I reply, "Yes, truly I do."

What do words mean?
A word means what we -- a community of people speaking the same language -- intend the word to mean.

When a person coins a new word, the community determines whether that word has staying power. If a word is to survive, the community must come to an understanding of its meaning, use it and keep it in circulation. Otherwise, it withers and dies.

Words are not the private property of individuals. Words belong to the community. A person speaking too many private words clues us in that he or she is medically psychotic.

Three categories of words
Words generally fall into categories -- influence-words, control-words and Influtrol. Influtrol refers to a way in which the "speaker" uses words. It combines "influence" and "control."

Effective parents and teachers use influence-words. Influence is respectful of the other person's freewill (a spiritual idea) and liberty (socio-political-economic idea). Effective adults also influence one another. They put their heads together to understand problems and solve them. Adults send men to the Moon. That is what influence-words do. Because influence-words are respectful, generally they are good means for accomplishing good ends even when the speaker is unwittingly mistaken.

Effective authorities (CEOs, police, etc.) use control-words, too, as well as influence-words. When you fill-up your gasoline tank, the sign reads, "DO NOT SMOKE!" It is not a suggestion. It is a command. Laws, rules, regulations, budgets, and instructions are control-words. We need control-words.

However, control-words may be good or bad. Child prostitution uses control-words, too. Still, a positive aspect of control-words is that they are not disingenuous. They control and everyone knows it.

Influtrol is different from influence or control. Influtrol radiates from the "speaker" to his or her audience with the apparent good intentions of influence-words while its real purpose is overwhelming control for the benefit of the Influtroler (one who Influtrols). Influtrolers turn what belongs to the community into private property for private gain. Influtrolers are unconcerned with good means to good ends. That is not their worry. Control is. Influtrol has grown to become stupendously enormous. It has fragmented our society and overwhelmed our minds. Influtrol has become our standard of behavior.

Following are two examples, one individual and the other corporate; one seemingly benign; the other perhaps menacing, depending on one's point of view.

In past generations, if a boy felt urgent desires, he expressed his undying love for the girl, she fell for it, got pregnant and everything ended in disaster. He used conversational Influtrol. She was its victim.

Today, males and females of all ages use Influtrol mutually to meet their desires. All are equal victims or liberated persons (depending on one's point of view). Today, trillion-dollar industries encourage mutual Influtrol with communication abandon. These industries employ millions and provide jobs, jobs, jobs.

In my second example, an advertiser communicates, "Our cigarette brands are mellow." This Influtrol kills over 400,000 in the U.S. and millions more abroad annually. Compared to the first, this example is more representative of how Influtrol works. It typically results in astronomical outcome inequalities.

Influtrol in communication vs. conversation
Influtrol thrives in communication. It adores it. Influtrol "bullshits" a hundred million people routinely through communication without breaking a sweat. Face-to-face conversation mucks-up the works for Influtrolers. Imagine a sales "professional" arriving at the front door of a young couple who just had their first baby. A trillion-dollar industry has carefully trained the "professional" to sell a ton. He enters the front door, turns and there sit four grandparents. "Bullshit" will not work in such situations. The industry has figured this out. They fired the sales "professional" to concentrate on communicating Influtrol to the young couple in their residence; making sure grandparents are somewhere else enjoying Influtrol on billion-dollar beaches, golf courses and senior "gated communities."

Job of Congress
The job of Congress is to understand the problems of our nation, states and districts and then understand the solutions. If solutions require federal legislation, then Congress should pass a bill. If not, then it should not. Congress has to figure it out. Whatever "it" is, members have to do it and to do it they have two options: Converse with one another or communicate to maximize Influtrol. Members have chosen the later. Congress now houses an assemblage of non-medical psychotics who think they own words.

The turning point for our nation and you
America's future is uncertain. So is yours. Which way will you go? I do not know about your personal situation, but we all know something about Congress. What we expect of Congress is what we expect of ourselves and vice versa. Do we want to bind ourselves in our private affairs and the members of Congress in the publics' in conversation until we and they figure out the problem at hand? To be bound to others is not an easy path to follow, but it is one of our options. Alternatively, do we find it more convenient to go our separate ways and communicate at a distance where Influtrol is more effective?

Status quo (The current situation)
Again, I do not know whether your personal life is heading for the rocks, but our Titanic federal debt is definitely heading for the iceberg. We almost defaulted in August 2011. Congress is often deadlocked about many issues. Washington gridlock is evidence of something. Evidence of what?

If you defend the status quo
- Evidence Congress is perfectly functional according to your plans. Influtroling through communication is your thing. You have the inside track.

If you do not like the status quo
- Evidence Congress is dysfunctional and not working according to your plans. Change is needed.

If Congress dysfunctional - Three choices for change
If you view Congress as dysfunctional, as far as I can figure it out, you only have three choices:

(A) More communication: Hyperventilate campaigns further. Instead of mere billion-dollar campaigns; jack up trillion-dollar campaigns of Influtrol. Stop screwing around. Get that inside track you seek.

(B) More conversation: Pass the Kirkwood Amendment to the Constitution to encourage face-to-face conversation among members of Congress. I argue their example "trickles-down" down to the rest of us. Has that not been the case? How did the world come to be the way it is but by means of Congress?

(C) Other: Come up with a better analysis of the problem and then propose a better solution, one that is superior to human conversation; something the scientists can prove overcomes the limitations of DNA.

The Kirkwood Amendment

The Kirkwood Amendment is a mechanism that sequesters the members of Congress when they are deadlocked in disagreements. The sequestration ends when Congress agrees to end it. In the process, other legislation caught up in disagreement will be resolved. Sequestering Congress may seem harsh, but it has been standard operating procedure for centuries when the matter at hand is important.

For example, when we ask twelve ordinary citizens to serve without pay on a jury to decide the fate of a citizen, it is common practice for a judge to sequester the jury until its members make a decision.

In my opinion, the matters before Congress are important. When the actions or inactions of Congress have accumulated such that the People have grown frustrated, a mechanism needs to be available to sequester Congress from distractions so that they may concentrate on the important matters at hand.

I vote for the sequestration to be onerous. My hope is the "adults" in Congress, now and in future generations, will see the onerous hardship coming down the road directly at them and so prevail on the "adolescents" to "cool it" and not drive the People up the wall. The members of Congress should do their jobs without sequestration, but if they refuse, we need a mechanism to help them.

Term limits
Term limits intend to interrupt relationships and the accumulation of expertise, the thinking being that relationships and expertise necessarily become "bad" over time. Term limits help reduce the damage.

I do not understand that argument. Since some states have had term limits for 20 years, data should be available to help sort out the pros and the cons. While waiting for clear analysis of term limits, I vote against extending them to the federal level. They clearly reduce the amount of conversation over time. More communication and Influtrol will easily fill-in the empty spaces. Term limits makes no sense, yet.

Concluding remarks
The Kirkwood Amendment will not solve all problems. It will simply make the process of living from the top (Congress) to the bottom (households) a bit better. The Kirkwood Amendment encourages and supports face-to-face conversation where a person, bringing all of his or her senses to the table, asks, "Do you love me?" And the other responds face-to-face, "I do. I truly do."

Copyright © 2011, Daniel Hough Jones, Kirkwood, Missouri
May be freely copied and distributed with attribution