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Should Congress Telecommute?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the virtual-personal-assistant-spam-convinced-him dept.

Government 213

schwit1 writes "Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a 'virtual Congress,' where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct their daily duties in Washington from their home districts. Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, lawmakers would be able to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their district offices. The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular. The change would also be a double-edged sword for security."

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213 comments

Yes! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263037)

And then President Marissa Mayer should fire them for not working.

Re:Yes! (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43263065)

They don't work now, so why not? I mean hell, the Senate just passed a budget for the first time in how many years?

Re: Yes! (0)

downix (84795) | about a year ago | (#43263135)

You do realize that the budget is a meaningless piece of paper holding no authority, yes? Spending resolutions are the real thing and the Senate has passed those. Why waste time on hollow gestures with no authority?

Re: Yes! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43263401)

Because it makes it look like they are doing work?

Like connecting to the VPN at work, then having a script 'check' for new mail with a random time interval between 5-15 minutes.

Re: Yes! (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43263823)

here's the deal though: the things that congress actually does in chambers - voting, whatnot - are like 2% of their actual jobs. The other 98% are meetings, etc. you cant do this from palooka MT.

Re:Yes! (0)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43263261)

4 years. Yes, that Harry Reid is a great leader isn't he. Everybody promptly went on a two week break too. I swear every other week these 'tards go on a break or a vacation or a recess. They're hardly ever in DC. I wonder how much the congressional travel budget costs us Taxpayers?

Re:Yes! (1)

TheRealDevTrash (2849653) | about a year ago | (#43263371)

you know you can run for office, too?

Re:Yes! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43264605)

you know you can run for office, too?

That's actually much of the problem. Sure, it isn't worth denying that elected office gets more vacation time than a lot of peons do; but if you want to stay elected you are lucky if 'whoring for votes and cash' occupies only 25% of your time in office. That isn't the work we want them do be doing; but there are very, very, strong perverse incentives in favor of people in office running around hugging babies and schmoozing with lobbyists rather than actually working.

Re:Yes! (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year ago | (#43263465)

They are as bad as The Daily Show and their breaks!

Re:Yes! (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#43263855)

They are as bad as The Daily Show and their breaks!

The Daily Show does not have inroads into my wallet.

Re:Yes! (5, Interesting)

camg188 (932324) | about a year ago | (#43263679)

If it decreases the influence of lobbyists, then yes.

Re:Yes! (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#43264441)

I think they should KEEP them in D.C. outside their Constitutional rights. Yeah, keep them there for 30 days or however long residency is established then hold them to Federal law without constitutional rights. Make them go to work everyday and establish regular hours with vacation starting after you've been there 4 years if you last that long.Make them educate themselves on the issues and care about their constituency or face fines. Charge them for every word of law they write. Make it expensive too. Lock em up while they're elected letting only family visit.Scan all communication with lobbyists for bribery and make it a capital crime to both parties.
Make the job less profitable , corruptible and attractive, see if it doesn't change the caliber of represenative we get.
Bah! What sister-boy wants to let them telecommute? I say take away their soft toilet paper and make them wipe with dried corn cobs and the Montgomery Ward Catalog.

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43264563)

Will this allow one to more easily filibuster by playing a video in a loop?

What happens if you lose connectivity right before you cast your vote? Is that an automatic filibuster too, or an automatic abstain?

I support this for any level of debate/communication that does not involve actually casting a vote.

Why not? (4, Insightful)

Das Auge (597142) | about a year ago | (#43263069)

Sure... Why not? They can work from the offices of the corporations and special interest groups that actually fund their decisions.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43263083)

On the other hand those offices and corporations wouldn't have a single spot to send all their lobbyists too any more.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263115)

I wasn't real thrilled with the idea at first due to concerns around the integrity of the system, but then I imagined them working from a remote town hall and surrounded by their constituants instead of their peers and lobbyies. I think it could do great things for establishing accountability.

Re:Why not? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#43263249)

I think it could do great things for establishing accountability.

Dream on. The problem with "accountability" isn't that they are in Washington - it's that most people don't pay attention except to campaign and part spin, and otherwise don't really care so long as their district gets the bacon.

Re:Why not? (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about a year ago | (#43263723)

but then I imagined them working from a remote town hall and surrounded by their constituants instead of their peers and lobbyies

Never having to leave their 'one viewpoint', 'no compromise required', gerrymandered home district will surely increase their awareness of others, empathy towards others, and enhance that necessary ability to find common ground and compromise when legislating.

Clearly one of congress' biggest problems until now has been that members are entirely too familiar with each other and each other's constituents and that extreme familiarity is what breeds all of this contention that keeps them from getting anything done..

Yep, Sure sounds like a great idea to me!

Re:Why not? (2)

Jubedgy (319420) | about a year ago | (#43264541)

On the other hand, my elected representative was elected to represent MY (and my neighbors') interests, not the interests of bleeding heart liberals in NY. If by "increasing their awareness of others, empathy towards others" they stop representing my and my neighbors' interests, they will not be re-elected.

Put another way, their power derives from consent of the governed. If they lose that consent by legislating in a way counter to their constituents' wishes, they will not remain in power. Even if it means the feelings of someone from the other side of the country get hurt.

Re:Why not? (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#43263957)

I wasn't real thrilled with the idea at first due to concerns around the integrity of the system, but then I imagined them working from a remote town hall and surrounded by their constituants instead of their peers and lobbyies. I think it could do great things for establishing accountability.

The congressman, surprisingly enough, likes the visibility of having offices in the bigger and more politically potent cities and suburbs in his district. This is where his district's major employers, economic and political interests are centered.

This is where the lobbyist draws his strength.

The whole point of having a national capital is to encourage your representatives to take a wider view of things.

Re:Why not? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#43264489)

but then I imagined them working from a remote town hall and surrounded by their constituants

Yes, especially if those town halls and constituents are in barbados, or tahiti. IT people working remotely is a whole different ball of wax than a bunch of politicians already suspect of corruption.

Re:Why not? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43264625)

I wasn't real thrilled with the idea at first due to concerns around the integrity of the system, but then I imagined them working from a remote town hall and surrounded by their constituents instead of their peers and lobbyies. I think it could do great things for establishing accountability.

You wouldn't want them skyping in from their random porn-browsing PCs or anything like that; but if you can't get a fixed-function videoconferencing link and VPN appliance setup for each congresscritter for a relatively modest amount of money(by enterprise IT standards) the state of network security is so fucked that we have deeper problems. Plus, a substantial percentage of congressional activity is banal shit that ends up being televised on CSPAN anyway. If they occasionally have to fly in for a session in the lead-lined congressional intelligence committee bunker, so be it.

Re:Why not? (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | about a year ago | (#43263181)

Sadly i don't think this will have the effect you hope.

Every reasonably large corporation has lobbyists for various regions to track and lobby state governments. They would just beef this portion of the lobbying arm up.

Smaller entities that don't run lobbying organizations of that scale would be the ones that lose influence, which really isn't the desired effect.

Re:Why not? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43263283)

On the other hand those offices and corporations wouldn't have a single spot to send all their lobbyists too any more.

The lobbyists will just start teleconferencing too. They will probably pass a law to make illegal to record any of those sessions and we'll be back to square one.

Lobbying just has such a huge ROI that a little change in physical distribution of the targets will be nothing more than the most minor of speedbumps

Re:Why not? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43263347)

still a minor speedbump is better than the current drag strip that is K street.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263405)

still a minor speedbump is better than the current drag strip that is K street.

Lobbying happens in every state capitol as well. Moving lobbying from K street to 50 other towns doesn't change anything.

Re:Why not? (2)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year ago | (#43264387)

On the other hand those offices and corporations wouldn't have a single spot to send all their lobbyists too any more.

Yes, that does reduce access to lobbyists, but also to other congress staff, voters, executive staff etc. Most congressional influence doesn't happen with face-face lobbyist time anyway. It's done with discreet campaign contributions after filtered and laundered through.other indirect channels.

I do encourage more use of VTCs and teleconferencing because congressional travel expenses are excessive. If we're being told to VTC instead of travel at the working level (even for technical stuff that requires hands-on) then it's appropriate that the higher ups honor that mandate as well.

Re:Why not? (1)

unamiccia (641291) | about a year ago | (#43263279)

I wouldn't want Representative Pearce's commute, and his huge district means long travel hours even when back home with his constituents. However, making Congress even less collegial than it's become sounds like a bad idea. There is a world of difference between negotiating on the floor of the House versus a 435-thumbnail Google Hangout. The effectiveness of your political representatives depends on them forming alliances, winning over opponents, remembering the names of their colleagues' kids, and generally treating each other like human beings. These relationships are still stronger when developed face-to-face, and probably always will be. If I disliked my representative's politics, maybe I'd like her to laze around in the district. But I strongly support her, and I'm glad she spends long days in Washington, DC doing the hard work that being effective requires.

Just outsource the job altogether (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263787)

I'm sure the lobbyists would be willing to do the job directly for minimum wage or even for free, instead of having to pay all those congressional salaries and benefits.

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43264621)

If you don't have to show up, it removes most of the logistical issues that prevent regular people from serving. So the "fix" to government is to have a senate that looks like the house, and a house that is made up of 1,000,000 Americans representing local areas of 300-400 people each. The legislation from the house can be written like drunken ramblings, and the "bill" would be re-written in the Senate to resemble the existing laws. The Senate would be a sanity check on the mob, but reduced in power. 3/5 majority for anything to pass out of the house, and anyone with a 0% pass rate after 10 submissions loses the right to submit for the remainder of his term, but the people he represents can hold a re-election to fill the seat.

If we are going to move to the information age, we might as well continue this "great experiment" as an experiment.

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263087)

they should resign

Love the idea! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263089)

The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular.

That sold me!

And as an added benefit will be all the wonderful scandals! You know,just know, the teleconferencing sytem will catch a Congressman doing coke off of a transvestite stripper while having anal sex with a midget.

Re:Love the idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43264565)

Crap! I didn't think I made that video available to the public when I put it on youtube. Stupid internets!

What?! (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about a year ago | (#43263101)

What?! Doing nothing AND wanking the whole day?

Re:What?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263127)

You mean they already don't do this with expensive transvestite (the best kind you know) hookers in their offices and on their corporate funded vacations in Thailand?

Re:What?! (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about a year ago | (#43263141)

You would see obscenity laws and digital copyright laws revoked in record time.... And then congress would do nothing ever again.

Perfect!

Maybe not perfect, but better than them eroding rights and raising taxes....

Re:What?! (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43263167)

You would see obscenity laws and digital copyright laws revoked in record time....

For Congress. They've made plenty of exceptions for themselves. The rest of us would have the usual law.

only if it saves money (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43263129)

One justification for Congressional salaries is that they have to pay for a 2nd home in D.C. They also get taxpayer-funded travel between their home districts at DC, averaging >$2m per member of Congress. Are these expenses going to actually be cut if they move towards telecommuting?

Re:only if it saves money (1)

sbrown7792 (2027476) | about a year ago | (#43263171)

Hell no! They'll give themselves a raise for being 'green' since they don't have to travel anymore!

Re:only if it saves money (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#43263409)

My first thought is that TVs are cheap, so this shouldn't cost much.

My second thought is that my school spent tens of thousands of dollars on a fancy video conference equipped meeting room. Sure it had all the bells and whistles, like a second camera in the ceiling that can be moved and zoomed to look at individual documents from above, but still that's tens of thousands of dollars.

On the other hand, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what they normally spend. I just hope they don't drop all this money trying it then it just ends up gathering dust in the corner because it wasn't good enough, or none of the staffers know how to use it.

Likely not actually saving any money (2)

lorenlal (164133) | about a year ago | (#43263829)

It may cut down on their travel expenses... but likely only to levels seen before congress adopted a "business in the middle of the week" schedule.

They already have a hard time communicating and working together. If anything, they should be forced to live in close quarters and deal with each other until they can learn to get along like adults.

Re:Likely not actually saving any money (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43263833)

If anything, they should be forced to live in close quarters and deal with each other until they can learn to get along like adults.

Perhaps a budget conclave? Two votes a day, and send black or white smoke up the Capitol chimney to communicate whether we have a budget yet or not.

Should Congress Telecommute? (0)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year ago | (#43263133)

No.

Ha Ha Ha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263137)

It would be amazing if they did anything to begin with, telecommute or show up in person.

Not going to happen (2)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43263145)

This proposal fails to account for deals cut in smoke-filled back rooms (smoke-free back rooms for younger Democrats). Since most of what matters in government happens in such places, and they can't be replaced with teleconferencing for various reasons, this proposal won't work.

Re:Not going to happen (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43263219)

Of course they can be replaced with telecommuting and conference calling.

Ultimately, as a resident of WA, I'm in favor of this, the capital being located where it is, makes it incredibly inconvenient for me to observe what goes on there or meet with my members of congress. With this, I'd at least know that most of the time they're in the same state as I am and can more easily contact them.

Re:Not going to happen (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#43263869)

Ultimately, as a resident of WA, I'm in favor of this, the capital being located where it is, makes it incredibly inconvenient for me to observe what goes on there or meet with my members of congress.

If they can meet with their peers electronically, why can't you/we do the same?

Don't they already? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263185)

I could swear 80% of them are just phoning it in.

I've been yelling about this for a few years now. (4, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year ago | (#43263205)

I've got mod points, but I don't care. This is one of my hot buttons. :)

1. Senators and representatives would be closer to their actual constituents. There's at least a slightly improved chance that they'll actually vote the way the people who elected them want.

2. It wouldn't save a lot of money on the grand scale, but it would be a useful symbol to cut the costs (heating, cooling, transportation) of clustering all the morons in Washington.

2-1/2 - it would make it more difficult for lobbyists to buy an entire block of votes. This would force the LOBBYISTS to sink tons of money into travel to visit each Congresscritter. It's a beautiful thing. :)

2-3/4: LOCAL news media would have better access to the Congresscritters, and if we're really lucky, they could watch the 'critter's local headquarters and report on who came and left that day -- including the aforementioned lobbyists. No large parking lots or hallways to more easily become "lost" in.

3. We have the technology to make it secure. Video conferencing could replace endless meetings. AND SPEECHES. Man, getting rid of the speeches alone would be worth it.

4. The really dumb ones wouldn't know how to vote electronically or attend the video conferences, acting as a natural selection effect on dumb votes!

Who knows? We might actually (OK, I'm dreaming now) elect people with brains, who would at least be required to know how to write and operate a computer, instead of blowhards who are elected simply because they know how to speak well in front of a camera.

Do it. I'm all for it.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43263281)

I agree, it would be an improvement for most of the reasons you listed. But also consider that the current form of government reflects the technological state of society (communications, travel, etc.) at the time it was formed. The subsequent advancements in technology ought to be reflecting an advancement of what the form of governance itself looks like.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43263303)

Isn't teleconferencing all about speaking in front of a camera?

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#43263329)

As long as it's properly transparent.

You can watch quite a bit of congress on CSPAN. It's mind numbingly boring most days, but you can watch it. (Mainly because all of the interesting stuff is done via back room deals.) I just hope that I can watch the teleconferenced stuff as easily, if not easier.

I'd also love for most of it to be recorded. I know it wont (thanks Nixon), but it would be awesome.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about a year ago | (#43263537)

2-1/2 - it would make it more difficult for lobbyists to buy an entire block of votes. This would force the LOBBYISTS to sink tons of money into travel to visit each Congresscritter. It's a beautiful thing. :)

So the interests with less money will fade away and only the richest and most powerful lobbyists will be able to continue to exert their influence?

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43264213)

Yes and no. Biggest lobbyists would continue, but the constituents (least money) would have better access.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

The Lesser Powered O (20857) | about a year ago | (#43263617)

I, too, have thought about this idea for several years. It seems like it is a simple way to add another (greatly needed) check to balance out some of the issues our current mode of legislation lacks.

A few others are documented at:
      http://miscreantsinaction.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

webdog314 (960286) | about a year ago | (#43263623)

Well, you make the assumption that lobbyists won't use telecommuting to speak to them from Washington (or wherever) instead of visiting them in person. They'll be able to have a completely private and secure (read unrecorded or unmonitored) session with their respective purchased Congressman and no one will ever know. Park your local media outside the office all you want. They're not going to see anything.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43263745)

5. You could MITM the votes, rather than relying on Deibold to do it.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263777)

In response to #4, the really dumb ones would have their voting system setup to allow remote desktop control to Karl Rove. (Bad idea!)

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263979)

I'm not for or against. However, one of the keys to sustaining polarization and gridlock is keeping people separated. Not long ago congress changed its working hours to essentially get everything done Monday thru Wednesday. That gives them the rest of the week to go home and phone it in. Having all of the congress packed together into the same place tends to get things done and encourages socialization. It brings people closer to the middle. If letting people videoconference will get them less polarized and more productive, I'm all for it. My experience has been that letting people flame it out on the internet doesn't lead to consensus or productivity.

When everything is mostly fine, gridlock is OK. Except right now, everything is mostly not fine. I suspect we might be better off locking them all in a big bubble until the budget is balanced and healthcare and taxes are overhauled.

Re:I've been yelling about this for a few years no (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#43264435)

1. Senators and representatives would be closer to their actual constituents. There's at least a slightly improved chance that they'll actually vote the way the people who elected them want.

Look closely at a man's home district and you can almost always predict way he will vote. There are very few surprises. The geek doesn't want to hear that because the decisions the Congress makes almost never go his way.

2-1/2 - it would make it more difficult for lobbyists to buy an entire block of votes. This would force the LOBBYISTS to sink tons of money into travel to visit each Congresscritter.

You don't get out much, do you?

The lobbyist already has a presence in your Congressman's home district.

He's been there from the beginning, lobbying state and local governments. In the old days, before the direct election of the Senate, he would often be appointed to the Senate. The Senator for Pennsylvania Coal. The Senator for Nevada Silver.

We might actually (OK, I'm dreaming now) elect people with brains, who would at least be required to know how to write and operate a computer, instead of blowhards who are elected simply because they know how to speak well in front of a camera.

Social skills win elections. Build effective coalitions.

Jimmy Carter had as fine a scientific and technical education as one could ask for. He can be an able and effective writer. But that does not make him a politician.

Carter paid too much attention to detail. He frequently backed down from confrontation and was quick to retreat when attacked by political rivals. He appeared to be indecisive and ineffective, and did not define his priorities clearly. He seemed to be distrustful and uninterested in working with other groups, or even with Congress when controlled by his own party, which he denounced for being controlled by special interest groups.

In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan projected an easy self-confidence, in contrast to Carter's serious and introspective temperament. Carter's personal attention to detail, his pessimistic attitude, his seeming indecisiveness and weakness with people were accentuated in contrast to Reagan's charismatic charm and delegation of tasks to subordinates. Reagan used the economic problems, Iran hostage crisis, and lack of Washington cooperation to portray Carter as a weak and ineffectual leader. Carter was the first elected president since Hoover in 1932 to lose a reelection bid.

Jimmy Carter [wikipedia.org]

Videoconferencing (4, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year ago | (#43263213)

Anybody who thinks videoconferencing is good must not have spent much time videoconferencing

Re:Videoconferencing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263439)

Tell that to Dreamworks [fastcompany.com] .

Re:Videoconferencing (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#43263781)

The article that you linked to proved the point. Dreamworks found that teleconferencing was so bad that they had to design their own system in order to get something that actually worked for them. My experience with teleconferencing have been that it is a nice idea, but it does not work very well in the real world.

Re:Videoconferencing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263457)

Certainly it'll make recording and eavesdropping on closed door sessions easier.

Re:Videoconferencing (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#43263551)

I've done it enough to know that it can be done well. Just sink enough money into it. And you'll still save money on airfares, private jets, 2nd houses, etc.

A first step (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263231)

To start with take one step: Allow votes to be entered without having to visit the floor. If you watch house hearings you see them take breaks for votes on the floor. Why not a special device that allows a vote based upon reading a fingerprint. Have it at least work anywhere on the capitol grounds.

Re:A first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263331)

I'm not sure I want my congressman voting if he didn't listen to deliberation.

Re:A first step (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43263763)

To start with take one step: Allow votes to be entered without having to visit the floor. If you watch house hearings you see them take breaks for votes on the floor. Why not a special device that allows a vote based upon reading a fingerprint. Have it at least work anywhere on the capitol grounds.

Then take the next step and let the American public do the voting instead of the Senators or representatives.

Sure, why not? (2)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#43263241)

And not only parliaments and similar, but also the various international gatherings, like the G20, APEC, and similar. Think of all the money that is spent on security at these big international conferences, protecting some of the scum (floats to the top) from the protesters. You could spend that money upgrading telecommunication links, invest in some really good videoconferencing stuff, and go.

And it would work just as well for parliaments and congresses. The same argument for upgrading telecommunications links, which should go down well in rural areas. It would reduce the number of fist fights (one of the few downsides), get rid of heckling (the speaker can simply refuse to let a person's microphone be live) and so on. It would save a silly amount of money on airfares, 2nd houses etc. It would also reduce the amount of influence lobbyists have, as they can't just spend a day going and seeing six different people (30 in a week). They would actually have to fly or otherwise travel to each home district.

Now, someone is thinking, but the real business gets done in the corridors, not in the actual meetings. And? All those lackeys can just get on the phone and talk to each other that way. It might even reduce the number of laws passed!

Really I can't think of a major downside (OK, it does make it harder to bomb them all and thus wipe them all out at once).

Bulldoze K Street! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263269)

Anything that weakens K Street, I favor almost irrationally.

Re:Bulldoze K Street! (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43263335)

Why would this weaken K Street? The average member of Congress doesn't spend much time in DC as it is. It would weaken the Houses as deliberative bodies, and I'm sure that lobbyists will find ways to exploit that.

Filibuster how? (3, Interesting)

Pitawg (85077) | about a year ago | (#43263315)

This will give the old ones in power a means of censoring or silencing unpopular (to them anyways,) rants from either the other side of the aisle or freshmen seats. "He is not following Majority Rules! Cut that guy's feed!" C-SPAN cannot even keep a feed coming during "public" events, and you think this will change?

This is just adding a new power to those in charge that would directly effect our governing. A switch to silence instead of a gavel and pleading.

this may require changes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263351)

Legislators are all trolls. One will figure out how to loop video of himself reading something and fillibuster until they change back the laws.

Re:this may require changes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43264073)

They already can call it in if enough agree to filibuster that the opposition can't get the 3/5th vote to stop it.

No way (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#43263375)

They already spend too much time in their home districts. Jet air travel allows them to constantly return to their home base, where they get constant earfuls of whining from their gerrymandered constituents (whatever the political slant of the particular district). So they pop back briefly into DC to work with colleagues who they now barely know, and with no motivation to compromise on *anything*.

Hence, nothing gets accomplished, least of all steering this country away from financial crises.

Presumably, this country was set up as a republic for a reason. One of those would be for the members of congress to actually spend time working together, for the good of the country as a whole.

Now, if they want to improve how congress works, it would be better to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting *lobbyists* from interacting with members of congress in person. Trackable email and video calls only.

Re:No way (1)

richg74 (650636) | about a year ago | (#43263651)

Agreed -- this is a Really Bad idea. Yes, we have some cool technology, but human nature doesn't automatically and instantly adjust. We've evolved to know, more or less, how to work in face-to-face interactions. If you think video links, or other E-interactions are just as good, think about the people who have, say, virtual girlfriends that they've never met. And the parent poster is also right: there are reasons that the country is a republic. Direct democracy is not necessarily all sweetness and light.

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263715)

I cannot fathom how someone can be so misinformed or deluded to believe that the problems with Congress have anything to do with politicians being too heavily involved with their constituents. The reason for lack of agreement in congress is party politics -- e.g., when the party line is to vehemently disagree with something it previously suggested because the other party is now suggesting it, that has nothing to do with what any individual politician's constituency wants. Even past that, politicians are more inclined to served their corporate sponsors than their constituents.

CONgress (1)

din0 (2608929) | about a year ago | (#43263393)

Are we talking about the same Congress that revels in the fact that they know nothing about technology?

Filibuster from your Bed? (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43263485)

That would be fun to watch.

I love the idea of a virtual congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263487)

I think it is a great idea...long overdue.

        It would negate the effectiveness of DC Lobby interests, remove the scads of sychophants and perks in washington...steadily draining tax dollars.

        If the representatives of congress are home, instead of concentrated in Washington DC, they will remain significantly more responsive to their constituency, and somewhat insulated from the untoward external effects of big money focussed in one spot.

        To me it is an idea who's time has come, and I definitely welcome it.

        Instead of being "Washington Insiders"...and being the best congress money can buy...they truly will have to remain one of us...the real people...the electorate.

        Get them away from the ivory tower...and back among the people they supposedly represent.

Should congress telecommute? What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263511)

No! They should pack their shit and leave us alone. Same goes to every politician out there. And the "special interest groups", corporate managers and CEOs and all the other greedy, power-hungry scum. We have the Internet, we can manage ourselves now, as long as the assholes in suits stay out of it.

What security problem? (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#43263591)

Aren't Congressional sessions open to the public anyway? They can still get together physically for backroom deals or whatever.

Re:What security problem? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43263695)

Instead of one Congressional office building you now have 535.

Phone it in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263665)

Can't we just phone it in? Instead of all of this suit and tie stuff, the congress critters personal assistant can get them a nice cup of warm beverage, mixed with Jim Beam, and they can also vote in a more comfortable bathrobe. The personal assistant can help with that too.

Neat idea, but Constitutionally will not happen (1)

will_die (586523) | about a year ago | (#43263727)

There are various portions of the Constitution that mention the house location and what defines a session. So you would have to make some changes to the Constitution to get this to work or just claim it is a "Living Document" and go and do it.

Absolutely NOT (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#43263731)

These ppl need to meet each other and learn to trust the other guy.
In fact, 3 nights a week, these ppl should be required to dine with each other.
It is the insane attitudes towards each other that is causing them to not compromise.

Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263735)

To call the pace of activity of our current Congress "galacial" is an insult to glaciers; further separating them is not going to help. I think they need to spend more time in Washington. If they actually spent the majority of their time in D.C. they would be forced to spend time together at extra-curricular activities which would eventually lead to them viewing each other as people rather than adversaries and be more willing to listen to what the other guy has to say rather than living in their walled gardens.

But think of the lobbyists... (1)

cpghost (719344) | about a year ago | (#43263747)

A telecommuting, decentralized Congress would make life for all those "poor" lobbyists much more difficult. They'll have to travel to all kinds of weird States they never heard before to deliver their corruption^Wcampaign money to Congresspeople, instead of having them all in one nice place inside the Beltway. Won't anybody please think of the lobbyists?!

But think of Al Franken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263795)

I mean he got the hell out of Minnesota for 40 years and only came back long enough to run for office so he could go to DC. You actually want him to go back there full time? How can he possibly deal with that?

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263813)

You mean that someone else could take actually worse decisions?

This Could Be a Good Thing (1)

Froggels (1724218) | about a year ago | (#43263843)

It would be beneficial to force these politicians to actually use the technology, of which so many of them are so proudly ignorant. Most of them know less (and that's no exaggeration) about computers and the Internet than an average 8 year old child, yet in their hubris they feel that they are qualified to enact legislation to regulate it.

We would all benefit if they understood what the Internet is and actually used it in the course of their jobs. On Youtube I watched (or rather listened to) the entire congressional SOPA Hearing from 12/15/11 and was shocked at the general profound level ignorance of technology in general. It reminded me of a bunch of drunk blind people discussing a photograph of an elephant.

These people flat out dismiss any expert opinion regarding technology as "technical Jargon" and feel that there is no need for them to understand any of it, but they are nevertheless hell-bent on trying to control it. I think having them work virtually as well as maintain their own computers would be an excellent start.

Re:This Could Be a Good Thing (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year ago | (#43264461)

It would be beneficial to force these politicians to actually use the technology, of which so many of them are so proudly ignorant. .

I'm sure most of them already understand how a VTC works in practice. You don't really expect them to setup the calls, deal with the implementation, or even understand what a codec is do you? They have aides to handle the details like setting up meetings and writing legislation.

Either way ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43263845)

... they lack adult supervision. So how could it get worse?

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43263887)

From the lowest circle of hell.

They need *more* face time, not less. (3, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#43263925)

One problem with our congress is that they don't like each other and they don't have much incentive to get to know each other. If they were to never actually meet one another, that would only make things worse.

I would much rather have Congress work more like a game show, in which a congressional session lasts two months and takes place on a jungle island where the reps have to cooperate or die. When not in session, they could be in their home districts or whatever. For the same reason why juries can't produce just rulings if they're not sequestered together, Congress should be forced to hash out their business while sequestered. They could still have contact to their aids and research staff, but on the island, it would just be them, wild boars, and the occasional helicopter bringing food, beer and medicine.

A telecommuting congress is pretty much exactly the opposite of what would help.

Won't somebody think of the lobbyists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43264231)

Having all the congress-critters in one convenient location makes the job of a lobbyist so much easier. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for them if they had to cross the country all the time? It's practically un-American to make their job so inefficient and time consuming! Why, only lobbyists from that congress-person's own state would be in frequent contact, rather than those representing huge multi-national interests. We can't have any of that.

On behalf of the lobbying interests, I think this is a terrible idea.

Hah! (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#43264291)

The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular.

Not hardly. K Street will just start telecommuting too.

They already are. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year ago | (#43264445)

Seems like that's what they've been doing for years. Thing is, they don't have computers.

Direct Democracy (2)

tiger_turned_lion (949703) | about a year ago | (#43264449)

200 years ago, the common, simple folk toiled in the fields all day while their better, nobler representatives gathered to discuss important issues in a far off city. This was the best way to self-govern based on the communication technology that was available: screaming at each other face-to-face in a capitol building. Since then, communication has come a long way. We have things such as email, phones, text, blogs, video, etc. So, now these "representatives" want to tele-commute? You bet! Maybe even the common, simple folk will realize we no longer need representatives. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy [wikipedia.org] We're moving in the right direction.

total bolocks i am afraid. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43264623)

Polatics is not a fracking desk job a lot of politicking goes on both inside and outside the chambers - would you want your senator congressman to miss some pork for you home state because of his.

Mr Pearce seems to be "away with the faeries" as they say in Scotland - some needs to arrange a recall vote asap he doesn't seem capable of representing his constituents.
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