Don’t ya just love feeling inspired? Heck, I know I do. In fact, there’s this tingling sensation that sends a thrill up my leg every time. Chris Matthews eat your heart out. Especially when it relates to those in congress. No matter what side of the aisle s/he may be on.
So, I decided today I’d scour the web to find a simple list on what is wrong with congress in a nutshell. This enigmatic juggernaut we know as Washington D.C., filled with shady congressional delegates and shadow governments (i.e. special interests, lobbyists etc.) are all talk and no walk. At least is seems that way more and more each day. I’d like to think the recent mid-terms helped curb this little conundrum of he-said-she-said b——-, but it feels as to no avail. Michelle Obama has recently stated that hope and change take a while and I hear ya Mo. I just hope that congress changes its ways soon because as my former English teacher, Mr. Gulner in high school loved to say, “talk is cheap.” The man couldn’t have been more right. This article I found was that inspiration ladies and gentleman and though I must confess I would have loved to have called this one my own I simply cannot. Here’s why:
1. Too Many Rich People: About one percent of all Americans are millionaires, but roughly 46 percent of those serving in Congress are. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. But there is a problem when the people creating tax and economic policy fail to understand the financial stress a typical family faces.
2. Automatic Pay Raises: Every year, members of Congress get an automatic cost-of-living increase in their pay, which is now $174,000 per year—about 3.4 times as much as the average worker earns. For the last two years, Congress has voted to forego its annual raise. But even flat pay would be a luxury to millions who have endured pay cuts, been relegated to part-time status or lost their jobs.
3. Gold-Plated Benefits: Members of Congress are eligible for two types of retirement plans and a retirement healthcare plan that in nearly every way are more generous than benefits typically offered to private-sector workers. One research group estimates that fringe benefits alone are worth about $82,000 per year to a federal legislator.
4. Free Parking: In addition to generous pay and gilded benefits, members of Congress enjoy a long list of conveniences and other perks, including free parking at their workplace on Capitol Hill, and at priority lots at Washington, D.C.’s two airports. They’re special, you see.
5. Earmarks: Congress has temporarily banned these pet spending projects, which evade ordinary budgeting procedures and often amount to home-district favors for donors or supporters. But some lawmakers want them back. The test will come in 2013, when the next Congress will either extend the ban or revoke it and start delivering overdue favors.
6. Speeches to Nobody: Some of those Congressional speeches broadcast on cable are given before an empty chamber in the Capitol, simply because politicians know they might get on TV. Expanded TV coverage of Congress has been a welcome bit of sunshine, but it also encourages posturing and sensationalism.
7. A Lack of Competition: In the private sector, competition punishes the obsolete and rewards those who deliver. Congress, however, holds a monopoly on legislating, so it still operates by ancient procedures and dallies indefinitely on urgent matters. There’s no measure of effectiveness for the body as a whole, and some members insist that gridlock—a euphemism for accomplishing nothing—is in the nation’s interest.
8. No Penalty for Ignorance: Members of Congress sometimes reveal a dangerous degree of ignorance on vitally important issues they have considerable power to regulate. This year, for instance, the science journal Nature said a House committee had “entered the intellectual wilderness” on climate science, and The Economist called Republican debt-ceiling negotiators “economically illiterate.”
9. Lobbyists: For every member of Congress, there are about 22 registered lobbyists who donate money, throw fundraisers and manipulate legislation to the benefit of corporations and interest groups. Some of the most powerful lobbyists are former members of Congress, who form a “shadow Congress” more influential than pressure from voters.
10. The Media: Journalists, bloggers, and pundits jump on every argumentative word in Washington, while underreporting key issues like unemployment and poverty that matter more to real people. This makes politicians even more narcissistic and combative, since they know they’ll generate coverage if they say something controversial.
11. Voters: Politicians manipulate voters every day with half-truths—or outright lies—about taxes, spending, and many other issues that directly affect the nation’s prosperity. Too many voters embrace feel-good propaganda that they want to hear, instead of learning the basic facts about issues they care about. They should do a better job of calling out dishonest politicians—and shunning media outlets that stoke political food fights.
One little facet I’d like to point out is how those on capitol hill like to use taxpayer money to lease their nice big body luxury autos because that’s just the ethical thing to do. Isn’t it?
However, the last two really start to boil down to the individual’s responsibility. Including myself. It’s always imperative to really look what’s out there.