I just learned this, so I thought I'd pass along: Did you know that email forwards account for 31.6% of all American stupidity?
OK, I admit, I just made that number up, but I did so in the spirit of all of the completely fabricated garbage (let's call it CFG) that gets forwarded around the internet by gullible people on an everyday basis.
And don't tell me you didn't believe that number, if only for a moment. It sounds plausible, right? My experience is that this follows the GIGO principle: Garbage in (your inbox), garbage out (your mouth). If you've got a family like I have, where both extreme ends of the political spectrum (and everything in between) are represented, then you probably get CFG of a political nature on a regular basis.
My dad usually doesn't participate in this chain of ignorance, so when I got an email forward from him that contained what sounded like a common-sense idea:
Proposed 28th Amendment: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."
...I actually took the time to read the supporting evidence. Here's what it said:
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law.
Of course, after a quick check at Snopes.com (the first stop on any of my factchecking journeys) I found what I suspected, reading this paragraph, was the case -- that this was completely false information. To quote Snopes, "the supporting arguments it puts forward are all false, and the answers to common questions asked about it are all negative."
Of course, Congressional accountability in any form is a much-needed step in the right direction, and just because the supporting information is false doesn't mean the idea isn't a good one. But, conversely, the fact that whoever originally wrote this email had to make up CFG to support a proposed Constitutional amendment probably means that the proposed amendment isn't actually necessary. And, in my (at least somewhat educated) opinion, there are a few things we as a nation could do that would shift the needle in a positive direction -- namely, publicly-financed elections (to remove the perverse incentives of catering to moneyed special interests on either side of the aisle) and term limits (which would remove the "comfortable incumbency" that lies at the root of many of the problems we see in our government.
What say you?