With Carter, Reagan, Anderson and None Of The Above closely bunched for the lead in the presidential race, I would like to propose a new ticket: Ivan Hill, who is 73, and Rep. Charles C. Bennett (D.-Fla.), who is a mere 69.
You can put the two names in a hat and draw one of them as my presidential candidate. The other man can be his running mate.
My enthusiasm for these two stems from an article on page A3 of Saturday's Washington Post by staff writer Ward Sinclair. The article was about H.R. 5997, which became law recently.
H.r. 5997 requires that there be posted in every federal office with 20 or more employees a copy of the Code of Ethics of Goverment Service. The code was passed 22 years ago, mostly because of Bennett's efforts.
The code has received little attention recently, so Bennet and Hill would like to give it greater visiblity.
H.R. 5997 was designed to let federal workers see what is expected of them in their decalogue of ethical commandments. Typical of the code's 10 points are the ninth, "Expose corruption wherever discovered," and the tenth, "A public office is a public trust."
The president's signature on H.R. 5997 did not, alas, result in copies being framed and hung in federal offices. In fact, copies may never be distributed.
President Carter signed H.R. 5997, but his Office of Management and Budget considers it "too expensive, too duplicative of other laws." The General Services Administrastion, "which has had its own ugly ethical problem," agreed that it would cost too much and would "be a bother."
How much is "too much" to a government that can't predict the size of its annual deficits within $25 billion? GSA and OMB both estimated that it would cost $200,000 to frame and hand the code of ethics. People who don't want to do something can always think of 47 reasons why it shouldn't be done.
Hill, described by Sinclair as "retiired but relentless," heads an organization called American Viewpoint. The purpose of American Viewpoint is to promot ethical behavior everywhere.
The way Hill got to Congress to pass H.R. 5997 was to promise that American Viewpoint will pay the cost of printing and laminating 200,000 copies of the code of ethics. Hill says the cost will be $65,000 "at the most."
So that takes care of the 47 reasons for not posting the government's code of ethics. Hill must now turn his attention to other 46.
His first problem, he indicates, is with an agency whose lack of ethical conduct has been spelled out in miles of newspaper stories in recent years. Hill says, "Now the problem is GSA. Nobody down there wants to talk to me about distribution . . . If they think, after all this, that I'm going to leave them alone, they're crazier than hell."
Hill's determination to bring the code of ethics to the notice of federal workers is based on his belief that once the code takes root in bureaucratic minds, it will "create an ethical revolution" that could save taxpayers billions of dollars that are now lost through waste, fraud and absenteeism. "It's going to open whistle-blowing from top to bottom," Hill says.
Well, good luck, pal. I hope you and Rep. Bennett live long enough to see dedication to ethical concepts become the domination force in government. By my calculations, you'll be 120 years old by then and Bennett will be 116. postscript
Incidentally, a front page Post news story this weekend began with the words, "The Carter administration, nervous about low farm prices and their possible impact on the election, is moving toward raising farm prices supports."
Two questions: If the administration thinks it is unfair to keep farm price supports so low, why didn't it raise them earlier? If it thinks the present level is right, why is it now moving toward raising price supports for a political purpose?
Maybe that Code of Ethics of Government Service needs an eleventh commandment. THIS IS WASHINGTON
The traffic signal system at Dupont Circle malfunctioned on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. By Saturday, lights that had been stuck on red (you could have taken root waiting for the green) were changed to flashing red.
A flashing red light is an order to stop, yield the right of way, then proceed with caution. But that's not what motorists were doing over the weekend. Almost nobody stopped. Few drivers yielded the right of way willingly. It was a mess.
By the time you read these lines, repair work may be under way, but don't hold your breath. A complete modernization of Dupont Circle signal system was promised 10 years ago.
But like the synchronization, repair and upgrading of all our traffic signals, those at Dupont Circle are a wee bit behind schedule.What else is new?