If you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, you have clearly missed the obvious: the American political system is not only broken, but grossly incompetent and corrupt. Over the course of the last several months I have noticed an alarming number of reports detailing this fleecing of tax payers dollars and lack of leadership in Washington. Now more than ever, Americans are looking to our elected representatives to help get us out of this anemic economy, help create jobs, and release our future from the unbridled debt and deficit that hovers and looms. However, if that is our only plan and/or saving grace, you might want to consider what the eventual outcome will be based on hard evidence of greed and self-interest found in Washington today
According to The Tennessean in an article published on November 16th of this year “Congress includes 249 millionaires. The median wealth: $891, 506, (is) almost nine times the typical American measured by income”. That means that 47% of the people making financial policy decisions for you and I are millionaires. In Tennessee alone, just 4 of our congressmen are worth a reported $138 million dollars. And that number does not even reflect their primary homes because of disclosure guidelines. How does this reflect a representative government of average Americans? It doesn’t.
The more alarming aspect of these statistics is that our congressmen are leaving Washington with “more money in their pockets than they had when they arrived,” according to a report by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes on November 14th of this year. According to Peter Schweizer in the report, “Its really the way the rules have been defined. And the people who make the rules are the political class in Washington. And they’ve conveniently written them in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves.”
For instances, a minimal tenure in Congress allows for lifetime benefits in pension and health care. And ironically, members and ex-members of Congress will not have to participate in the new “Obama-care” healthcare legislation. Schweizer also goes on to disclose in the report that Congress is not subjected to adhering to insider trading laws governed by the SEC, “If you are a member of Congress, those laws are deemed not to apply. Corporate executives, members of the executive branch and all federal judges are subject to strict conflict of interest rules. But not the people who write the laws.” He points out that during the health care debate, leaders (Boehner) were trading health care stocks and making huge profits and during the financial crisis of 2008, they (Pelosi) were dumping their stocks before the rest of America even knew what was going on based on their closed-door knowledge of impending legislation. And guess what? According to the rules written and governed by Congress, all of this is totally legal.
In another report by 60 Minutes the week before, Lesley Stahl interviewed Jack Abramoff, Americas most infamous felonious political lobbyist, which disclosed the fact that a job in Washington is merely a stepping stone to financial security. In that report he stated that “When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him at some point, ‘You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ Now the moment I said that to them…that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we wanted, they’re gonna do.”
And don’t get me started on the effectiveness of our leadership’s responsibilities to use tax payer’s money wisely. Have you taken a look at the balance sheets, income statements, or projected cash-flows of Medicare, Medicaid, or the US Post Service lately? The last of which has been losing billions of dollars annually for years and just recently reported a $5.1B loss for their fiscal year that ended September 30, while also laying off 130,000 people this last year.
All of these accounts point to the glaringly obvious fact that our elected leaders have done the exact thing that the founding fathers tried to prevent which was government greed and abuse of legislative powers. Congress has systematically and cleverly excluded themselves from laws that are written for all Americans to the audacious benefit of themselves. They make policy decisions of today based on posh lobbying jobs promised them tomorrow, and don’t have the fortitude to make the tough decisions facing our country’s future. Because if they were to actually lead, and make the hard changes necessary to right the ship, they will become unpopular and won’t get elected. And trust me, getting re-elected takes a dramatic precedence over leadership in American politics today.
Public office was designed to be a privilege, and honor, not a resume builder or investment in future financial security. The media has spent an enormous amount of time highlighting the “Occupy Wallstreet” protests all over the nation. And I can’t say that I disagree with the unrest with Wallstreet. But until average, everyday Americans organize an “Occupy Washington” protest that demands strict rules for the ones that write laws for the rest of us during and after their “service” to our country, America will continue it’s downward spiral into insolvency and economic atrophy.
Until next time…
Jason Ritchason -President/Owner