There has been a flurry of attention given over the past week to the realization that only twenty eight — count ‘em! 28! — working days remain for the United States Congress between now and the November midterm elections.
Since, by contrast, ordinary Americanos face roughly eighty (80) working days until those congressional elections, some see this as an outrage.
And I get their point. Our representatives in Washington are not only paid fairly well ($174,000.00 per year for members of both houses), but, on top of their salaries, they receive a huge array of perks and have enormous allowances that they can use on a wide range of goods and services. Yet fifty ambassadorships remain to be confirmed (some of them pertain, I admit, to places of little or no significance, such as Egypt and Iraq), vacant judgeships need to be filled, a whole host of Obama administration scandals need to be investigated, Mr. Obama’s executive power grabs need to be resisted, and the Veterans Administration desperately needs to be reformed. Among other things.
However, as Gideon Tucker observed in an 1866 New York judicial ruling, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
On the whole, therefore, I would prefer that our representatives in Washington work as little as possible.
When legislators meet, their natural urge is to legislate — to interfere in the lives of other people, to generate vast forest-destroying attorney-employing reams of rules and regulations, to make the tax code even more arbitrary and complex, to obstruct the free market, to meddle with businesses, to micromanage things of which they have little or no knowledge and in which they have at most minimal competence, to choke the very life out of a society of free people, and, very occasionally, to accomplish something worthwhile.
I would be happy to increase the salaries of members of the House and Senate if they would agree to spend much of each year on vacation, separately, to gorgeous and exotic locations around our fair country and the world. Perhaps each representative could be given a beautiful but isolated Alpine chalet or Rocky Mountain cabin, a private island in the South Pacific, and a private jet with which to reach them. On balance, the world would be a better place, and the citizens of the United States would save a great deal of money.