Two dozen wise words

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The Independent Online

It took 203 years, but a decade ago the United States did the right thing. The last of the required states (Michigan) finally ratified the 24 words that became the 27th amendment to the US constitution. "No Law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." The amendment was proposed in 1789 but not ratified until 1992, after an assistant to a Texas politician discovered the dormant words and began a grass-roots campaign.

It took 203 years, but a decade ago the United States did the right thing. The last of the required states (Michigan) finally ratified the 24 words that became the 27th amendment to the US constitution. "No Law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." The amendment was proposed in 1789 but not ratified until 1992, after an assistant to a Texas politician discovered the dormant words and began a grass-roots campaign.

Before they vote themselves enhanced pensions at their constituents' expense, Members of Parliament here could try enacting a one-line Bill along similar lines. They could even, with advantage, copy the clarity and concision of James Madison's diction and punctuation. We wonder how many centuries would have to pass in this country before such a Bill received the royal assent.

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