Jewish World Review Dec. 27, 2005 / 26 Kislev,
I don't make a million dollars a year but I think every member
of Congress should be paid at least that much. It's not because those
turkeys in Washington deserve it. It's because we deserve a lot better
people than we have in Congress.
The cost of paying every member of Congress a million dollars a
year is absolutely trivial compared to the vast amounts of the taxpayers'
money wasted by cheap politicians doing things to get themselves re-elected.
You could pay every member of Congress a million dollars a year for a
century for less money than it costs to run the Department of Agriculture
for one year.
There is no point complaining about the ineptness, deception or
corruption of government while refusing to do anything to change the
incentives and constraints which lead to ineptness, deception and
You are not going to get the most highly skilled or intelligent
people in the country, people with real-world experience, while offering
them one-tenth or less of what such people can earn in the private sector.
A professor of economics at a leading university earns more than
a member of Congress or a justice of the Supreme Court and a surgeon
earns at least twice as much as an economics professor, though still only
about a tenth of what a successful corporate executive can make.
How many people in the top layer of their respective professions
are going to sacrifice the future of their families the ability to give
their children the best education, the ability to have something to fall
back on in case of illness or tragedy, the ability to retire in comfort and
with peace of mind in order to go into politics?
A few people here and there may be willing to make such
sacrifices for the good of the country but, by and large, you get what you
pay for. What we are getting as cheap politicians are often a disgrace
and enormously costly as reckless spenders of the taxpayers' money in order
to keep themselves getting re-elected.
Whatever the problems faced by the country, the number one
priority of elected officials is to get re-elected. Nothing does that better
than handing out money from the public treasury. Cheap politicians are
expensive politicians, currently costing the taxpayers more than a trillion
dollars a year.
If you have trouble visualizing what a trillion is, just
remember that a trillion seconds ago, no one on this planet could read or
write. A trillion seconds is thousands of years. That's the kind of money
our cheap politicians are spending in order to keep getting re-elected.
Since re-election is the key, term limits are effective only in
so far as they get rid of re-election. If the limit is three terms, then two
of those three terms will be spent trying to get re-elected and the third
term will be spent trying to get elected to some other office.
What term limits need to do is make it nearly impossible to
spend a whole career in politics. One term per office and some period of
years outside of politics before running again would be a good principle.
Many people today marvel when looking back at the leaders who
created the United States of America. Most of the founders of this country
had day jobs for years. They were not career politicians.
George Washington, who took pride in his self-control, lost his
temper completely when someone told him that a decision he was going to make
could cost him re-election as President. He blew up at the suggestion that
he wanted to be President, rather than serving as a duty when he would
rather be back home.
Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be
wielded by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing
something else, but who are willing to serve a certain number of years as a
one-time duty, preferably at the end of a career doing something else.
What about all the experience we would lose? Most of that is
experience in creating appearances, posturing, rhetoric, and spin in a
word, deception. We need leaders with experience in the real world, not
experience in the phony world of politics.
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© 2005, Creators Syndicate