Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Congressional Gods?

"I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. ... You want people who don't worry about the next election."
…..North Carolina governor Bev Perdue

Now, there's a great idea.

We have a Congress today that does not play well together….so let’s give them another two years in which to learn to play well. In the meantime, Congress will remain gridlocked in the same way it is today.

How typically "cartoonish" of the liberal mindset. It reminds me of the Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote cartoons I used to love as a kid. No matter how bad things get, if you just keep trying variations of the same theme, you are going to catch the roadrunner.

Or in this case…if you just throw more money at the problem it will solve it, or if you just give Congress more time, they will start working, or if only you gave Obama another ten years world peace would miraculously happen, the US economy would be a powerhouse and the world would be bowing before America welcoming the impact it has on their economies, and freedoms bells would ring out from every minaret on every street corner…5 times a day!!
Yep…that is how it is in liberal land.

If something doesn’t work, try it again…and again…and again.

The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”…and based on that definition, the left is truly insane.

But that is not what I want to concentrate on today.

That stupid Governor Perdue did identify a truth in her outlandish statement.

Congress is not working and part of that is because of the need for politicians to protect their positions for the next election.

Her solution is to abandon the constitution and just give a failing Congress more time to fail more often.

I guess I can be as critical as I wish to be but without providing some ideas for potential solutions, I am just another hot air purveyor throwing out criticisms.

That is not me…so today I will throw out some ideas for real change in Congress…but not stupid unconstitutional ideas.

We have heard much talk of term limits to prevent the professional politician from remaining in office forever. I do not think that is necessary. The constitution clearly sets out the terms between elections and the people have the opportunity to remove those members every two years for the House and every 6 years for Senators. The decision of who one should vote for should be taken with extreme caution as you will be stuck with the election winner for at least 2 years in the case of the House and 6 years for Senators.

The problem I see is that the political game has become a power play and a career and a route to significant wealth.

The prestige and power that comes with being a Member of the House or a Senator is a drug that is not easily ignored. The politicians become seduced by this drug, craving more and more, and, as a result lose sight of the reason they wanted it in the first place.

And of course, with the power and prestige great wealth will soon follow.

Currently these politicians pay is about $163,000 per year (more for the leaders with House minority leaders getting $193k and Leader of the House $222k approximately). On top of that they all receive budgets for the staff, their offices, their meals, their travel and accommodation costs, even the cost of parties etc in some situations.

Quite frankly, it does not surprise me that people want to be career politicians. They get a great salary and most of their expenses are covered…and it is us, the taxpayer, who foots the bill. In addition, their power and prestige provides opportunity to meet people they would not have met otherwise, and do deals they would never have been exposed to, and make money they would never have had the opportunity to make. I am not even going to go into the corruption aspects….let’s simply assume that everything is above board.

The opportunity for large financial gain while a member of Congress is significant. So, a career politician has significant wealth creation opportunities. He doesn’t want to give that up easily.

These facts make it very appealing for people to want to enter politics for the wrong reasons. People enter for the purpose of long term financial success…and to achieve that they must stay in office. To stay in office they must give freebies to their constituents as often as possible…buying the votes that keep them in power, regardless of what is best for the country.

How do we stop this cycle?

A simple answer.

Make it unappealing financially for them. Instead of paying $160k - $220k salaries each year, pay them at a MUCH lower rate. Congressional salaries are set by Congress. Of course, this creates a conflict of interest, so the Constitution requires that any changes cannot kick in until AFTER the next election. Nevertheless career politicians know that they will likely still have their job after the next election anyway.

What if Congress was to set salary levels at , say, $100 per day, and payable only when Congress was in session and they were in their seats that day?

Would the same hungry career politicians looking for financial gain still want re-election? Human nature says that they would be off looking for another easier opportunity to make money.

I believe people would run for office because they BELIEVE they have something to offer in service to their country, not because they have the opportunity for financial gain!

But why stop there?

What about the costs of their staff, their offices, their offices in their constituency and so on? If the aim is for smaller, less wasteful government…then some simple answers can be found here.
Travel should be in the back of the bus on commercial aircraft. No first class seats, no chartered planes. If the politician wants anything else, he pays for it himself. I know people will claim that security is an issue, and that is a fair statement…so I would be willing to provide a small security detail when requested.
No government vehicles to be provided. When in Washington, they can rent a vehicle or use public transport just like we do.

No allowances for lunch, dinner, food, entertainment or parties. The taxpayer does not need to fund these things. When they are an essential part of the politician’s job, they can pay for it themselves. (This one change alone will make a huge difference!)

So, what about their staff? I do not see why they need a staff of 20 or 30 staffers all running around messing up the works. Two staffers and two interns should be plenty.

The time for giving politicians unknown sums of money has long passed. It is time for us to make it clear that government must no longer waste our taxes, and that the politicians will take the lead by reducing their remuneration and expenses.

While it will never happen because there are too many greedy corrupt politicians in Washington, it is at least a better solution than taking away the rights of the people by deferring elections.

If America is to see long term success, it must start with the leaders on The Hill. They must stop seeing themselves as the elites, and start seeing themselves as our SERVANTS, paid for by us to do a job that we define, and to execute the people’s wishes.

What they want, or believe, or desire is totally irrelevant. We have done ourselves a great disservice by allowing the men and women in Congress to believe that they are more important than us. They are not. They are our servants. Nothing more.

And yet they pay themselves more than the average American earns, they build their own little empires and strut around like they own the country. People fawn at their feet like they are Gods. They are treated with great reverence. It is our fault they believe the way they do.

Is there a problem in Congress? Hell yes, there is.

It is filled with minor Gods who care not about the people who put them there, or what the people want. They care only about the next election, and their financial success.

2012 provides a chance to continue to change the status quo. What started in 2010 must be continued. The people must send to Washington only those folk who have a love of Country, and will do the people’s wishes disregarding their own.

After all, THAT is their job.



  1. I agree to a point, the careerist politician, the one's who are only in it for what they can get out of it, need to go. But those who are doing a good job need to be allowed to keep working.
    There are two larger points, the 800 lb. gorilla and the elephant if you will.
    The gorilla is the tax code, stop letting the Congress set up preferential and/or punitive tax conditions (limit their ability to reward their corruptors), and maybe some of the lobbyists will stay home and the Member won't feel like they need a big staff to answer all the calls and letters.
    The elephant is the electorate, we the people.
    I don't remember the quote exactly, but I do believe that we keep voting in the government we deserve. As long as "bringing home the bacon" is an electability issue, we will keep having bridges to nowhere and shrimp excercise studies. The Member has to have the freedom to consider whether the legislation is good for the country too, not just his constituents. More importantly, his constituents need to realize that getting what they think is good for them today, at the expense of others, may end up being far worse for them tomorrow.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    yes, there are definitely good politicians out there who are trying to do the right thing. But the difference between a good politician and a corrupt politician is simply that first irresistible temptation. We need to watch out for those.

    The rest of your comments are well made. I believe the quote you were looking for is:-
    ...we may not always get the government we want, but we always get the government we deserve.

    As Will Rogers said..."Be thankful we are not getting all the government we pay for!"


  3. So nice to read a cogent opinion piece, and I agree somethings got to give. I do worry, however about all the people behind the scenes that actually write the laws. Who, exactly, wrote the health care bill that NOBODY read, who delineated the parameters. I keep getting the impression the the actual "lawmakers" had nothing to do with it. Who ARE these people and who elected them.

  4. Thank you Unknown,

    It is often difficult to encapsulate complex situations into simple explanations. One of the problems we conservatives face is the extreme number of issues and the ability of the left to throw out straw men to take our focus away from the real issues.

    In most cases, when stripped of all the surrounding paraphernalia, the problems are really easy to fix...but it is the straw and chaff that diverts us.

    Your question about WHO writes these laws is a good one. It is fair to say that nobody elects them, yet they have enormous power....but that is simply a function of a broken political process, ....a symptom if you will. If politicians did their jobs and actually wrote, or at least read, the legal structures of the Bills (what we elected them to do) then it would not matter who put pen to paper....bad bills would still be stopped prior to entering the halls of congress.

    The disease that must be fixed is the politician who either through laziness, corruption or ignorance, delegates his work to people who have an agenda different to their own or who are bought and paid for by groups outside of the congressional membership.

    Care must be taken to focus on the disease, not simply the symptoms.