Recently, I was moved to re-read some of the founding documents of our great Nation, among which were the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in those documents are the wealthy excluded from seeking the various offices of government - nor is government set aside as the exclusive milieu of the wealthy. Abraham Lincoln, during his oft-quoted Gettysburg Address said, "... That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. ..." (At this juncture Bill Clinton may have injected, "It depends on what your definition of 'people' is.") Granted, the wealthy are, by definition, (for the most part) "people".
How did the wealthy become that way? There are several roads leading to the streets of gold:
1. Some achieved wealth by the sweat of their brow, fulfilling "the American dream".
2. Some inherited their wealth, never having done an honest days' work in their life.
3. Some made their fortunes by creating misfortune for others, which qualifies them as either wealthy predators or wealthy carrion eaters ... or both.
4. Some married into wealth - and, possibly, a few even for love. The wealth was just a bonus.
5. Some were just astute businessmen and investors, who availed themselves of every opportunity to increase their portfolio, their holdings, and their market share.
It makes no difference how the wealthy became wealthy, the difference is in perspective. I know that generalizations have a very good chance of being wrong, so I won't use the word "all", or even imply "all", but in general the wealthy tend to have a very different perspective on life, and a totally different set of values, than those of us who have worked for wages all our life. The wealthy drink Dom Perignon, and the "worker bees" see movies with Dom Deluise in them. The wealthy have their huge yachts, and the workers have their seventeen foot bass boats. Dinner out for the wealthy means a trendy high-end restaurant, and for the worker it may be Olive Garden or KFC. The wealthy have their Rolls Royce, and we have our "rolls downhill". Don't misunderstand though - I don't begrudge the wealthy any of their sensory pleasures.
The wealthy seem to live in a parallel universe - a universe of expensive excesses. Should we "redistribute the wealth"? Not on my watch! What's theirs is theirs - as long as it was acquired through legal means. Well, if that's not the point of this post, what is?
The wealthy have bought our government. Over 40% of our Congressmen and Senators are millionaires ... and the rest are very comfortable. Their personal and/or family wealth, and their wealthy connections, PACs, etc., have been buying elections for the past 60 years or more. Others, like the Kennedy's and the Dodd's have turned government into a family business. For me, the question that comes immediately to mind is, "How did they get that much money as servants of the people?" From a job that pays less than $175,000 per annum? And if they are "independently wealthy", they don't need the money, so why not refuse it and really DO a public service?
What happens when people of great wealth are put in a position where they actually make the laws of the country? The same thing that happens when they are permitted by law (which their predecessors created) to vote on their own pay raises - they will create laws that benefit themselves and their associates. It's not exactly an unnatural act! You've probably heard that variaton on the "Golden Rule" - "Those that have the gold, make the rules." Well, here you are - validation and proof-positive of that claim. And then there's "Birds of a feather flock together." Money supports money! People who have either never had to hold a work-a-day job for wages, or who have forgotten what it's like to have done so, are now making the laws by which the rest of us have to abide.
Is it possible to vote them out? Technically it certainly is ... but in a practical sense it can't be done under the present system. We can replace the incumbent, but only with another of the same kind offered by the wealthy leadership of either of the two major political parties. How do we create change? Petition our Congressmen and Senators to change the law? Not a snowballs chance ...
What needs to be done?
1. Reduce Congressional compensation by 50% - making it a reasonable living wage of $87,000 per year for rank and file, Majority and Minority leaders would get $96,700, and the Speaker of the House would receive $111,750 - and cap them all at that level with a fixed 2% COLA adjustment annually.
2. One term only. Eliminate the entrenchment of those whose who would dole out political favors - and NO "Grandfather" clauses!
3. Publicly funded campaigns with a set limit. Eliminate private donations, and demand accurate records be made available to the CBO for review.
5. In other words, make the process of government less attractive to the moneyed interests of our country, and return it to the status of "public service" so that good people, well-intentioned people, people with the best interests of our country in their hearts and minds stand a chance of winning an election.
There would be other necessary adjustments that would have to be made as well - the above is just a jumping off point.
Have you never asked yourself, "Why in the world would people spend $3,000,000 to capture a job that pays $174,000 a year??" Doesn't that raise a flag for you? If Congress is that bad at math, do you want really them deciding what to do with our tax dollars?
If you think there's something wrong with that approach, you're a bigger leftie than Obama. And, if you have a better idea, leave a comment.