Congress should harness social media amid bailout

The crisis on Wall Street is having myriad unexpected results, not the least of which is the $700 billion bailout that is likely to pass through Congress in some capacity.

The crisis on Wall Street is having myriad unexpected results, not the least of which is the $700 billion bailout that is likely to pass through Congress in some capacity. Perhaps feeling that they couldn't possibly do a worse job than the heads of financial companies have done, the debate has mobilized ordinary citizens, who are blogging and commenting about the issues of executive compensation, how terms are negotiated, and oversight on how the $700 billion is spent.

Even before the cataclysm, there was plenty of noise about guaranteed Wall Street executive packages providing CEOs with little reason to play it safe and all the incentive to take on hazardous ventures.

Now that taxpayers are being called upon to foot the bill left from years of ill-conceived risks, they are proclaiming their stake in the future of the economy. Many constituents are expressing a desire for earthbound pay packages via blogs and e-mails to their congressional representatives, as The New York Times reported.

Congress should take a lesson on engagement from companies like Dell and Comcast, which have established blogs or Twitter feeds to engage in constant, transparent dialogue with their constituents, which anyone can witness online. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) has been responding to outraged citizens on his Twitter account, twitter.com/johnculberson, ever since the proposed bailout was announced. Seven senators and 30 representatives are currently on Twitter. And now that a Senate ruling confirmed that members can use these type of new media sites, they should take advantage of this opportunity to reach out to constituents.

Constituents young and old are using the Internet to foster direct and rewarding relationships with companies and brands because consumers grow more fickle by the day. Congressmen and women need to likewise embrace this online dialogue.

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