Yes, for a price…
By Jack E. Lohman
Congressmen make $170K per year, plus tips. I say let’s double it but eliminate the tips.
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but something he said about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich resonated with me and should with you.
Some people enter politics for good reasons, he says: like to be a good leader and serve their community. Others enter strictly for business reasons: to maximize their personal wealth.
Few are as brazen as the Governor but most politicians have found other, more subtle ways to work the system.
One is simply to sponsor and vote for legislation because it helps build their personal investments. Or buy stock in industries with favorable legislation on the table, and sell when unfavorable regulations are eminent. They, of course, can help steer the legislation, even if it has a negative impact on the taxpayers.
I am reminded of my congressman, Jim Sensenbrenner, who owns $5 million in pharmaceutical stock, voting for the Medicare Part D Drug bill that will put $780 billion of taxpayer money in the drug industry’s pockets over the next decade.
That, even though we have drug stores on every corner, and they were already equipped to bill Medicare.
Would he have voted that way without those investments? I would hope not, as the law has served neither his constituents nor the taxpayers well. Portions of the money filters to the industry executives and shareholders, of which he is one, rather than used for patient health care.
Billy Tauzin (D-LA) pushed the bill through congress and landed a job with Big Pharma at $2 million per year. Not bad.
Far more important than their salary is their take from insider trading perks. You just can’t become a multi-millionaire at $170K, as most of them have become. But insider trading put Martha Stewart in jail, and these guys should be no different.
The fix? We should pay politicians up to twice their current salaries IF they agree to several things.
- Quit taking private campaign contributions and agree to public funds only. If they’re going to work for us they should be paid by us, not by them. At $10 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain.
- Put their private wealth in a blind trust so they can’t sponsor or vote on bills that — to their knowledge — benefit their investments.
- Be banned from lobbying for ten years after leaving congress, to eliminate the Tauzin Strategy.
- Then have the CBO calculate how well they are running the country. Establish a formula for job performance, then increase (or decrease) their salaries on the basis of quality of work.
That’s how I’d pay an employee and that’s how we should pay politicians.
Yea, we’re asking a lot but we deserve a lot. If politicians want to serve on the most powerful board of directors in the world, they should be willing to remove all conflicts of interest. So far they haven’t been.
So the auto CEOs want UAW workers to accept Japanese wages? But are the CEOs also willing to accept the wages of Japanese CEOs? Japan’s CEOs get 10 times while our CEOs make 400 times the lowest paid worker. I’d say it’s a done deal if we can agree to that.
ALL THREE don’t have to go under. They need to consolidate into the BIG ONE. Get rid of the unprofitable models and join forces to compete with the Japanese. GM and Ford should merge and keep their good lines. Dump the duds. Chrysler can join them or go their separate way.
And no, we shouldn’t have to double their salaries to make them act honestly. But we are desperate, and nothing else seems to work.