Let’s just say it: There are two classes in the United States. There is a 99% (Us) and a 1%, but they’re not the entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs, or even the greedy, self-serving stock market suits on Wall Street. “They” know exactly what they’re doing. They are Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Christians, Jews, and Atheists, Gay, straight, (and some just plain strange), all united under the American flag in a fraud against the American public that is beyond unconscionable. They are Congress.
To “serve” in the United States Congress is to gain membership in the most exclusive club around: not only will you enjoy the perks of the Capitol fitness center, free parking, and your own private staff, you’ll receive the best health care choices available, a generous salary (whether you do your job or not), and fun stock tips from friends in high places (Of course since you’re voting on legislation that may affect the stock market, you’ve already got a leg up on the rest the population anyway—wink wink!) As part of your very exclusive membership, no need to worry about pesky performance reviews from your boss; you’ll be able to vote yourself a raise anytime you like – all part of the fun! And if for some reason you don’t get re-elected, no worries – you’ll still receive that nice pension you have coming, so go ahead and buy that house in the Caymans, you deserve it, Mr. and Mrs. Career Politician!
Doesn’t that sound like a great job? Well dream on, because it’s not for you; it’s only for the elite few who get elected to go “inside the beltway” to the club of private perks and yes – a class apart. And the best part is that we – -the stupid hard-working, tax-paying public – get to fund their lavish lifestyle while they continue to produce convoluted, thousand-page bills that no one reads, much less understands.
The folks on the Hill know what they have and they want to keep it quiet. Every few years when elections come around, the media churns out a few stock stories about the lavishness of Congress, and so a few Reps make the talk-show rounds, shaking their finger at the immorality of it all. But nothing really changes, and then it all goes away for a while, just like it’s supposed to. Ah, the great circle of life…
But how much should Americans pay for when today’s House and Senate are more shamelessly incompetent than ever before? There is no other job on the planet where you can so consistently screw up and yet still keep your job and get perks on top.
Take fun stuff like insider trading: Like Martha Stewart, a few politicians may have gotten her hand smacked, but Congressmen and Senators have profited for years from a wink here and nod there between friends. Sure, they’ve put forth a bill to “stop” this kind of shenanigans, but is there any surprise that as soon as the ink was dry on the press releases the bill is now stalled and going nowhere?
How about pay-raises? What alternate universe has jobs where you vote for your own raise? Currently, Senators and members of the House make about $175,000 per year, give or take. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes $223,500 (source: Congressional Budget Office), and incidentally President Obama makes $400,000, but I digress. These salaries are completely separate from the thousands in travel, speaking fees, book deals, and the many other cash cows in the Capitol Hill stable.
Now I fully realize that these poor folks need raises every now and then so they can continue paying their bevy of illegal immigrant servants, and I’m sensitive to that. I don’t want any Congressional gardens wilting or pools turning green, Lord knows.
But they know they don’t deserve it, and for the last 4 years they grit their teeth and forego the raise just to keep an outraged public from rushing the Capitol steps with torches and pitchforks. Actually the last time Congress opted to take a pay increase was in 2008. Websites like Snopes.com just live for these kinds of votes so they can wag their liberal fingers at the evil conservative ne’er-do-wells who dared to broach the subject of what Congress does with our money (the nerve!).
But Snopes and others are missing the point: Members of Congress should not even be in the position of determining their own pay raises, period. Even if they sometimes make the right choice, citizens who are paid by the People to serve the electorate have no right to determine their own salary. Imagine a shoe store where the sales people assembled in the stock room and decided to raise their hourly wages and commission, and their stupid employer sat at the register biting his fingernails? Imagine the same scenario for the shoe salesmen who, week after week, couldn’t manage to sell enough shoes for the store to even turn a profit, and yet they still held the power to pat themselves on the back with a pay increase? The whole idea is utterly ludicrous and yet utterly brilliant, since the only people who can vote to abolish this parasitic practice are the very ones who benefit from it.
But oh, that’s right, we’re living in some crazy, upside-down universe where spoiled skanks like “Snookie” are role models and “housewives” from Beverly Hills define the kinds of problems we should be thinking about. Americans need to come out of their entertainment-induced coma long enough to see what’s going on.
Just as far off the mark are the reports that make it sound as though Congress is demonstrating a grand magnanimous gesture for not giving themselves a raise with our money, as if we should thank them. Their defenders would have us believe that “Sure, they could give themselves a raise, but they didn’t this time, so what are you people complaining about?” That kind of “logic” is like saying, “Sure, I could shoot you with this gun in my hand, but I didn’t this time, so what’s your problem?”
Fans of big-government power also say that members of Congress have the same health care options as all the Federal Employees, hoping that will put an end to arguments that they have special plans apart from the rest of us. But all that proves is that ALL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HAVE BETTER INSURANCE PLANS THAN THE REST OF US!
Oh and there’s more: the elite Congressional Class are guaranteed cushy lifetime pensions, too. Why not? While you’re busy funding your own retirement you can pay for theirs, too. And don’t think you can change it, either – you working people should really know your place by now:
Earlier this year a Florida court overturned Governor Rick Scott’s and the Legislature’s new law that required State-workers to contribute 3% of their paycheck towards their pension (something that most other states already do). The backlash from the Florida Education Association and other big unions was something similar to a four-year-old temper tantrum. State workers were livid at the very thought that they – “hard-working public employees – would have to contribute to their own retirement like the rest of us (Gasp!). It seems that state employees in Florida are kindred spirits to the powerful D.C. counterparts, who are all utterly gob-smacked at the idea that taxpayers might not support them from cradle to grave.
Members of Congress are no more tolerant than State workers when it comes to the shocking idea of living like the rest of us mere mortals.
Although Senators John Kerry (D–MA) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) introduced a bill that would cause a member of Congress to lose their pension due to certain infractions such as bribery, the bill has thus far not moved (Surprise, surprise).
Some guys do the right thing anyway: Long time Congressman Ron Paul has always refused to participate in the congressional pension system, labeling it “immoral,” and North Carolina congressman Howard Coble doesn’t participate either.
But where’s the rest of the gang? If you ask the average member of Congress, they’ll probably tell you that these days their high-rolling ways are under the microscope, and they don’t like it one bit. In his piece on the subject of luxurious Congressional lifestyles, Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post said, “The times have just changed for today’s legislators, who have to wake up every morning to the news that their approval ratings hover one or two points ahead of people who desecrate graves for fun.”
When questioned about perks of the Office, responses from the Hill are eerily similar to that of a pre-pubescent teen rolling her eyes at her parents when they dare to ask where she’s going: “Ugh, seriously dude? You are so totally lame for asking me that…Whatever…”
As Linkins puts it, “There’s this annoying expectation that when you’re sent to Washington, you’ll actually do work, or something.”
And how about no term limits? This idea that someone can get elected and then shirk their previous job in exchange for a life of schmoozing on the Hill and living off the public dole is a notion directly in contrast with what the Founding Fathers envisioned. Sadly this practice has been around for so long now that most people perpetuate the idea of an “us” and, “them” by believing that the more years of experience a politician has, the more successful they will be. Sad times.
In 2009 Pamela Geller, author of, The Post-American Presidency: Obama’s War on America wrote on her website:
“The US is becoming more like the old USSR, where the good jobs are government jobs and the only way to get something done is to have a “friend” in the government. The USSR or Chicagoland gangsta politics.”
And the divide between “us” and “them” isn’t going to shrink any time soon. Today the public has the ability to snap a picture of an elected official anytime and have it on YouTube in minutes. As more and more in Congress have seen their careers go down in a flaming ball of public humiliation from the slew of technology that’s controlled by the masses, many lawmakers have had to beef up security to protect themselves from their own constituents, creating even sharper lines between “Us” and, “Them.”
Rep. Barney Frank told Politico that he felt too constrained to legislate effectively because the public no longer tolerates deal making (Awww, poor little scheister!).
So there’s your class divide, America. Us and Them. And what can we do? The “Proposed Congressional Reform Act of 2012 and Amendment 28” have been making the latest run on the internet to “Eliminate the Royal Class in America.”
Say what you will about internet wackos – and there are a LOT of them – but I personally don’t care who came up with this stuff; it’s not a completely bad idea, even if the cons in Congress would never pass it. The proposed Amendment basically states that, “Congress shall make no law that applies to any citizen of the United States that does not apply equally to all US Senators and Representatives.” Sad that we need it, but what’s so bad about that?
As Obama’s Socialist health care reform bill continues to piss people off, the internet has seen resurgence in traffic for the Congressional Reform Act of 2012, which would put a chokehold on Congressional shenanigans. “Congress are not Royalty and it’s time they realized it,” is the spirit of the Act. Reading like Nancy Pelosi’s worst nightmare, here are some highlights:
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and
participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void
effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this
contract with Congressmen/women.
“Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers
envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.”
Come on, guys, is that so bad? At least you get to keep your parking space and fitness center. So 99%, unite! Pass this around to at least ten friends and they will pass it around and…oh who are we kidding, nothing is going to change. It’s “Us” and “Them” now. It wasn’t supposed to be, but that’s what it is. Perhaps Peter Schweizer has the right idea in his book, Throw Them All Out. You get the torches, I’ll sharpen the pitchforks.