Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Congress: Public service or self-serving?

I suppose by now the assumption is logical: those voters are STOOO-PID. We keep putting them in and back in and back in some more. Congress is a club of one percenters who are simply masters of talking the talk. Almost none of them walk the walk.
Most Americans have no real problems with someone getting rich. Hey, if it's done honestly, if it's because they are smart and learn how to produce something that we can all use, we don't seem to begrudge them success.

But we don't like it when they succeed because they are corrupt and that is exactly what we don't like about Congress. Many members are directly guilty of these corrupt behaviors:

  • They have massive stock portfolios that, by the laws they pass, remain largely hidden from the public. 
  • They own stock in war profiteering corporations and they vote to fund the wars.
  • They own stock in financial institutions and favor those institutions with laws that encourage wild gambling for high returns (from which members of Congress profit) and then they vote to bail out those institutions with hundreds of $billions.
This is corruption and it's systemic in Congress. We are not talking about bringing home a few taxpayer-funded pencils for their kids. The depth and breadth of this corruption is rivaling the worst dictatorships. We are ruled by a gang of Banana Republicans of both parties, millionaires who vote against the social safety net unless it is there for their corporate investments (like the wildly hypocritical Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania car dealer and Congressman who rails against taxes on the wealthy, and against unemployment benefits, and yet benefited handsomely from the GM bailout). And it's getting worse, not better, as documented by "an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group":
While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody’s Analytics.

When Congress accomplishes at least some of the following, we may finally find some trust in them:
  • link their pay to the national median pay.
  • get the money out of elections (there are many ways to do this).
  • stop accepting donations--and stop seeing lobbyists--from DoD or DoD contractors.
  • stop accepting donations--and stop seeing lobbyists--from for-profit corporations. 
  • mandate a freeze on all their wealth development for their period of service (no stocks, no bonds, just normal savings accounts).
If these conditions are too odious, these people should not serve. Our regulators need to begin with themselves. We can require this or we can continue to watch TV and worry about inconsequential irrelevancies. We can continue to act like redirected inmates of the mental health unit or we can start to control our own country. We live in a--hello?--democracy.

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