If Fire Fighters Ran Congress

Published: April 23, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
Image
Read More

There’s a new TV commercial making the rounds.  It shows a large group of fire fighters assembled in a room that looks much like the House of Representatives.

The House speaker is a fireman, and the man at the podium is a fire chief.  The speaker gavels the group to order and the chief speaks.

Alright, firefighters settle down,” the chief says.  “How about the budget?”

“Balance it!” they all shout.

“And the taxes?”

“Don’t change the list!” they say.

The chief looks around the room,“Anyone want better roads?”

“We do!” they say.

“All in favor?”

“AYE!” 

“Opposed?”

Not a sound.

When an emergency happens fire fighters have no time to equivocate, parse language or argue nuances. They’re presented with a critical situation to solve, and how do they respond – with duty, honesty, loyalty, caring, and integrity.  All universal, ethical values.

The Fire Fighters Code for the City of San Diego, California states:

“As a Fire Fighter, my fundamental duty is to protect or save lives and safeguard property in the service of my community.

“As a public employee, I will set a good example in all actions and deeds. I will never use my position for personal gain, recognizing it as a symbol of public trust.

“I will constantly strive to achieve the high objectives and ideals of this department and shall conduct myself at all times, both on and off duty, in such a manner as to reflect most favorably on the department.

“I do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of The State of California. And I will respect, honor, obey and enforce the laws and ordinances of the jurisdiction in which I serve.

“Today, I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith and I accept it as a public trust.

“And I hereby rededicate myself to the citizens and visitors of the city of San Diego to ensure their safety in the discharge of my duties.”

That’s 183 words.  183 words that the fire fighters of San Diego, and I would guess a similar code for fire fighters around the country, live by on and off duty.

Want to know the code for members of the U.S. House of Representatives?  Well to start with it’s 1,562 words, too long to print the whole thing here.

1,562 words and some of them still can’t get it right.

Can you imagine a fire fighter having lunch with a special interest group that, let’s say, wants to change the fire safety code for a building complex?  How about a fire chief who’s seen relaxing on a fishing boat in Cabo with lobbyist Jack Abramoff?

To be fair, not all members of Congress are corrupt.  In fact, most of them are hard-working, honorable people with hard-working, honorable staff.  But you can’t deny the fact that the individuals we elect to make the critical decisions for the rest of us do seem to find a way to complicate the decision-making process.  Although issues like healthcare, immigration, the economy and the war in Iraq are more complex than those faced by fire fighters, shouldn’t we expect those issues to be handled with the same integrity that fire fighters approach their job?

Maybe Congress could take a few lessons from fire fighters.  Instead of equivocating, how about telling us the clear, honest truth?  Rather than attack or criticize, how about showing more teamwork – with people you don’t agree with – to find solutions?

I’m not pretending that the issues before Congress are easy.  They’re not.  But how they work to solve those issues is clearly an area where Congress can and should improve.

“Anyone want a better Congress?”

“We do!”

“All in favor?”

“AYE!” 

“All right, we’re out of here.”

Comments

There are currently no comments. Why don't you kick things off?

Leave a Comment



Read More Articles
The Latest... And Sometimes Greatest
Fraud at the Polls?
The cancer of false conspiracies, lies, and cynicism eating away at the Republic—lies propagated and fed by the former president and his allies—has metastasized to...
September 20, 2022
“I. Do. Not. Like. Bullies.”
That’s Arizona Republican and Speaker of the House . . . correction, former Speaker of the House, Rusty Bowers who had been abruptly shown the...
September 16, 2022
Debate: How We’re Doing It Wrong
Every time another mass shooting occurs, the debate begins again. FOR GUN CONTROL – Nineteen, the number of mass shootings that have occurred since January...
September 13, 2022
Think It Can’t Happen Here?
     “If there’s one American belief I hold above all others, it’s that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what...
September 9, 2022
The Man Who Made America’s Spirit Come to Life
Of all the books written by historian David McCullough the book I return to is a compilation of his speeches. The American Spirit offers exactly...
September 6, 2022
American Integrity in the Era of Trump
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in...
July 29, 2022