A Letter to Congress: Save Money on Your Salaries & Raises
Eleven score and thirteen years ago, our founding fathers and mothers attempted to form a more perfect union. They were brilliant men and women of action, willing to sacrifice their lives and livelihoods for the country they envisioned. They did not sit around the oil lamps pointing fingers and complaining about the British… well, they probably did, but that is not all they did. They worked together, brainstormed, debated, and came up with some great ideas, high concepts, inspired documents, and a game plan. Two-hundred-and-thirty-three years later, I long for such men and women.
We are deep in a pickle jar right now and we could use some great brainstorming and a really great game plan to get us out of these tough economic times. We could use some men and women of high principle, inspired intelligence, willing to sacrifice their popularity and excessive economic gains for the good of this country and its people. The honor of being elected to office should not be taken so lightly, principles should not be traded in for campaign contributions, and campaign promises should mean something.
“…principles should not be traded in for campaign contributions, and campaign promises should mean something.”
Fortunately, the legacy of our founding fathers and mothers belongs to all of us, not just to those honored to serve in office. The average American certainly has the power to come up with a few great ideas and make a few sound suggestions to our elected officials. Our first amendment guarantees us that right. So, I have been doing some thinking and I may have a few suggestions for our politicians in Washington D.C., be they Democrats or Republicans (or anyone in between) this is for you:
Suggestions for A More Perfect Union: Saving Money (part 1)
Dear Members of Congress,
These are tough economic times, as you know, and as true patriotic Americans I am sure you will not mind making the same sacrifices that all of us, the average American people you serve, are making everyday. Since you have had trouble the last nine years working toward a more perfect union, and still are, here are a few suggestions to help you help our country save some money.
- Congressional Raises: Senators and Congressmen, you vote yourselves raises, whether you deserve them or not, whether our country can afford them or not. Most Americans cannot vote themselves a raise, unless they are self-employed. And the last time I checked, elected officials are hired by us, the American voters, which makes us your collective boss, you work for us, you represent our interests, you are our lobbyists. So, I think we, the American voters, should be the ones to decide whether a raise is deserved or not. In fact, we can do it at every national election, think of it as a job performance review. In these tough economic times, in part a result of poor management and job performence by you guys in Washington, I don’t know that we’ll be able to give you a raise and we may have to lay off a few of you. (You may want to start saving up now, however, unemployment is over 10% in many states and you are going to have a heck of a time finding another job. As for the unemployment benefits I hear those are NOT enough to keep you from losing your home… And you don’t want to even try to get a home loan modification request approved by your bank – that is an exercise in frustration and futility!)
- Congressional Salaries: As your employer, the American voters might have to re-evaluate your salaries. You take an awful lot of vacation time, a lot of traveling, and not much gets done. Now, I don’t agree with Ben Franklin’s proposal that government officials should not be paid, but perhaps we should go back to that period between 1789-1855 when members of Congress received a per diem for each day of work – that might give you the motivation to work a bit more. As for the current 2009 salaries, hmmm, I don’t know if we can afford these bloated salaries… $174,000 for rank-and-file members and $223,500 for the Speaker of the House? (As you know, these salaries do not include the perks and additional multi-million dollar budgets you have for other expenses, but we’ll address that in the next blog post/letter.) We might need to ask all of you to take some salary cuts, like many members of Congress offered to do during the Depression. After all, there are many workers across America that are being asked to do the same thing. As you know, these are very tough economic times, you understand, right? (Crickets…. crickets….) Right?
There is so much more to talk about… like the ridiculously over-the-top perks you all get and your complete lack of self-control. What is this I hear about you requesting more fancy private planes for you to fly in? More than the armed forces even requested or thought were necessary? Tsk, tsk! (finger wagging) And we should talk about your pensions, why are they so much more generous than they are for other federal employees? Why? Oh, I forgot, you get to vote yourselves raises, and salaries, and pensions, and health care, and earmarks, and pork, and campaign financing, and… well, it sounds like we have a great deal more to talk about.
[NOTE: To find and write to your Congressional Representative, go to: Write Your Representative – U.S. House of Representatives Website. And to find and write to your Senator, go to: Senators – U.S. Senate Website.]
Martie Hevia (c) 2009 – All Rights Reserved