The Perks And Privileges Of the Political Class
Common Sense – Chapter 4; Part 1
Would you apply for this job?
Be your own boss. Performance reviews are conducted but then immediately shredded! Make mistakes and assign the blame to other people with no consequences. Hefty six-figure salaried position with annual increases automatically granted without regard to work performance. Medical benefits are top of the line and are publicly subsidized. Pension plan is extremely generous and has a very short vesting period. Work onsite 118-184 days a year and then work from home… or not! Travel the world and attend elaborate cocktail parties, all for free. Regularly meet people who think you’re personally revolting and professionally inept but are forced to call you “sir” or “madam” out of sheer fear.
If the job of a congressman were described candidly and truthfully, only two types of people would apply: Jimmy Stewart’s idealist Mr. Smith, or a grifter. The idealist would be drawn to the task of reforming the obvious corruption, and the grafter would be drawn to the power and pleasures of the office.
We need to find more Mr. Smiths, and get rid of the grifters.
Congress: America’s Aristocracy
It’s kind of ironic that those who are first to play the class card against the rich while positioning themselves as one of “the people” are in face only $26,000 dollars a year away from becoming “villains” themselves.
While the average American earns between $40,000-$50,000 a year, your congressman stuffs $174,000 annually into his pockets—an amount greater than the salary earned by 95% of all American families. I don’t begrudge anyone for making as much money as they can, unless they do it while also: (a) stealing from me or (b) condemning me. Our politicians are doing both.
Being in the top 5 percent of all American families isn’t enough for the aristocrats in Congress, so they also provide themselves with perks like subsidized gym memberships, free parking at Reagan National Airport and on Capital Hill, plus their own cafeterias where members can eat without being bothered by the “unwashed masses” they purport to serve.
All of that creates a bubble around our representatives that makes it hard for them to understand what life is really like across America. Sure, they say they know what it’s like to lose a job or have a home foreclosed on—but even if they “get it” do they really care or are they doing what they need to do to win their next campaign?
One way that Congress could’ve demonstrated their willingness to live like the “average Americans” they claim to represent would’ve been to comply with the laws they created. In an astounding case of “do as I say and not as I do,” it wasn’t until 1995 that Congress was forced to fully adhere to these federal laws:
–> The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
–> Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
–> The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
–> Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
–> The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
–> The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988
–> The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
–> The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
–> The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute
–> Veterans’ employment and reemployment rights at Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code
–> The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
What happened in 1995 to force Congress to start abiding by the laws they had passed, in many instances, decades earlier? Two major revolutions, both of which took place a year earlier. First, Democrats, who had controlled the House for forty years, were swept out of power, and second, almost one-third of the House Republicans who ran for office were new candidates. They campaigned on a platform of accountability and had enough critical mass to force their own party to make changes.
In hindsight, the promise and potential of that political revolution was short-lived as idealists gave up or lost their seat and opportunists chose power over principles, but those elections still serve as a reminder that real changes is possible when enough people support good candidates, regardless of party.
Politicians never change, and neither does their hypocrisy. Congress is now pushing legislation to make unionizing in the workplace easier. Meanwhile, their legislative staffs remain union-free. They seek to destroy the “secret ballot” for you and me while preserving it for themselves in their closed-door caucuses.
It is possible they don’t want to live under these rules because they know they’ll impact their ability to do their jobs effectively? Or maybe it’s just that they don’t want to deal with all of the union rules, regulations, and bureaucracy? Whatever it is, they seem to have no hesitation about imposing that workplace lifestyle on the rest of us
When it comes down to education, many politicians send their children to the best private or charter schools while blocking programs that would allow others to do the same. James Madison would have been appalled at the double standards we’ve created:
[Congress] … can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples, but without which every government degenerates into tyranny… If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.
These people could not be more out of step with the Founders if they tried, and poll after poll shows that Americans despise them for it. So why can’t we get the fortitude to just vote them out and start fresh? Do we really buy their lies that no one else could do their job?
Until we are ready to wipe the slate clean and bring in new leaders who are beholden to no one but us and to nothing but the Constitution, we must demand a political “mutual-assured destruction” policy: every law imposed on the people must apply with equal force to those who passed it.