Riddle: What do all one hundred United States Senators -- regardless of the State they represent, their party affiliation, their number of terms in Congress, or any other variables -- have in common? Answer: their negligent failure to even acknowledge, let alone respond to, important communications from the public which deal with their job duties.
One would think that, given the national uproar of protest over the attempted imposition of new and unjustified debit card usage fees by America's mega-banks, our Congress would be sensitive to any communications dealing with that issue. So when this particular American, a retired professor of money and banking and related subjects, faxed the entire United States Senate with a multi-page and well-documented call for a full investigation of those improper new fees, one would think that at least one Senator would have responded. But, sadly, one would be wrong in that supposition: on this matter, faxed to the entire U.S. Senate over a week ago, there have been only the Sounds of Silence. Not a single Senator has responded in any fashion.
That list of non-responders includes my own Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson; Illinois Senator Dick Durbin who has been the key Senate watchdog over the banking industry; my old former friend Senator Joe Lieberman who used to be a Democrat before he sleazed out of his own party; Senators in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire whom I know personally; and the rest of the U.S. Senate. The reason I sent faxes is that I have learned that they are so deluged by email that those communications tend to get lost in the shuffle. Faxes are much less common and formerly more effective. But it seems that times have changed, and so has our once-proud -- and once-responsive -- Senate. If the problem lies with those who field faxes and emails for their Senators, a change in staff is long overdue.
At the same time, the response rate from the White House and a host of agencies charged with overseeing the U.S. banking industry is no better. The same well-documented complaint over those new bank fees which abuse their customers' trust was sent to the President and Vice President, the new Financial Services Consumer Protection agency based in the White House, United States Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, the FDIC, the Comptroller of the Currency, and a host of other suppossed regulatory agencies as well. The Sounds of Silence from all of them have also been deafening, even though I offered to assist in any investigation pro-bono in my professional capacity as a monetary economist. Such behavor, if widespread, becomes malfeasance by neglect.
What seems to be needed in this country is a form of the Ombudsman system common in Scandinavia, where each citizen can appeal to one or more officials charged specifically with dealing with any and all public concerns. It seems our own Senate and top Executive Branch officials and agencies are typified by the story of the two Senators walking down Constitution Avenue in Washington, when one says to the other: "Don't you think that the worst two things in the world are ignorance and apathy?" The second Senator replies: "I don't know and I don't care." The Occupy America movement might want to consider that reality, as it is truly a movement which, unlike our Senate and many officials, does know and does care about the people.