Millionaires Club

It’s hardly more than a yawning headline that the average American family is growing poorer as the country’s leaders are growing richer.

Most of us know someone who has lost a job and a home over the past few years. Some of those somebodies are our loved ones. We’d do something about it, if only we knew what to do.

They say success is the best revenge but revenge is hard to come by in this economy. So instead we buy a second round of coffee and moan some more about the lack of leadership out of Washington.

Not that anyone in D.C. is listening.

It appears Congress is too busy studying their stock options. Half of all members of Congress now belong to the Millionaires Club. That’s like being a member of the Mile-High Club, only different in that it’s the American people who are getting screwed by Congress.

Of course there are reasons why so few rich are representing so many poor in this nation – only the rich can afford to run for office.

And there’s that troubling problem of ethics.

Most members of Congress appear to be lacking any.

Pressed to implement a ban on practices that amounts to insider trading, Congress challenged those complaining with a hearty, “You have got to be freaking kidding me. Why would I do that?”

It’s worth noting that seven out of the ten richest members of Congress are Democrats. If you want to see how your income compares with members of Congress check out this link.

That indigestion you feel about now, I’d wager is not the result of overindulging during the holidays.

I’ve come to believe it’s not who holds the highest office in this country that matters most, but rather the members of the Millionaires Club that we stupidly keep reelecting.

Isn’t it about time we gave them their fair share of pink slips?

 

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About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • Sherwood8028

    They all – every one with the possible exception of the Congress Lady from Arizona, deserve to be canned, fired, removed from office in November.

    That is the ONLY solution. Yeah, I have heard that such an action is beyond the realm of possibilities, but I say that is only because WE, the people, have had an even a worse record of accountability. We love to join with other voices in pleading the case for the poor, the infirmed, the un-employed and every one of those “social” programs cost money.

    The greater problem is that the monied folks – the lobbyists, have access to those we elected as OUR representatives and we really do not.

    As we change Congress to resemble representatives of the people, we must also deny access to them by the ones who run up the costs so that “social” concerns are easily ignored as being too expensive.

    Are you with me? Say – Amen

  • AFRoger

    The problem is systemic and multi-faceted. Far too much money in the campaign industry, for sure. We run the most expensive electoral system in human history, and the results seem ever more inversely proportional to the money spent.

    Legislative districts across the country have for years been coalescing around ensuring a reliable outcome from only one party. So when that outcome is generally assured, an incumbent’s bigger challenge is not from another party but from within the party. That single feature has repeatedly pushed candidates and incumbents toward the extreme wings of their own parties. (‘Cause if you ain’t on the far edge, you must be one o’ them other —– other guys.) No wonder we have a polarized Congress. Our districts have become increasingly so. I don’t believe we will change the whole, I don’t believe we can, until we begin to change the parts. Whether we will still be here as a nation, or as a nation that counts for much, if/when that’s done is very much in doubt.

    See Robert J. Samuelson’s current commentary: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-country-in-denial-about-its-fiscal-future/2011/12/23/gIQACLjpHP_story.html

    If we honestly had candidates who honestly told us the honest truth (sorry for the triple play) about where we are and what it might take to redirect our course, would we elect them? Would we inform ourselves well enough to follow the work of charting a different path for our country?

    And do we realize that every dollar we spend is a vote for what kind of future we want? Right now might be a good time for all of us to audit our trash as we catch our breath after the high holy days of Christmassmerchandising. What percentage of what we bought and gave and received was made here by our neighbors? And we wonder why there are no jobs? And we wonder why the revenue stream doesn’t match the outlay we expect? Do we care enough to pay attention?

    • Sherwood8028

      The Amen? called for a response, not a lecture. We either begin ACTING as the responsible parties in our nation or it will fail.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      All good considerations, here, Roger. We should hold ourselves more accountable. But when you say systematic, that just means people and the way they do things. We have gone looking for the enemy and discovered the enemy is us. Congress isn’t going to hold itself accountable. We the people need to do that. If we don’t like lobbyists, we the people have the power to change that. We keep giving away all our power, as Sherwood has noted.

      • AFRoger

        I’m not arguing against the power and empowerment of the people. Quite the contrary. Living in a free society by definition needs to be hard work. But don’t underestimate the formidable obstacles that have become deeply entrenched. If we wonder why we keep electing and re-electing people who perform so poorly for us, see my first paragraph. This is a systemic problem.

        Our congressional elections overwhelmingly favor the incumbent. And when the incumbent decides to retire, die or becomes discredited, the primary process within those districts tends to select for the candidate, at least within the GOP, that can most convincingly make the case for being to the right of the right wing. Just look at the current field of GOP candidates. Attacks against their fellow party members are mostly about who is the authentic, true conservative, not who actually has a plan that might work. Consider the recent experience with Herman Cain. When the allegations of his conduct emerged, the response of other candidates was not: 1) no comment; 2) reservations about reliability of the allegations; or 3) concerns about the moral character of Mr. Cain. They were about whether or not he was a true conservative (translation: he must be way to the left of me.) You don’t win without money, and you don’t win without showing that you can carry the ideological base. And when you have ten conservatives running, you don’t sitinguish yourself by being more liberal; just the opposite. That’s a systemic problem.

        But don’t take my word for it. Let’s watch the next election. Of all the Congressional districts in play, and with popular opinion of Congress at an all-time low, you’d think incumbents wouldn’t have a chance and there would be a 90+% flip in party of the winning candidate(s) to send a message. My guess is that the actual changeover will be very small.

        Another systemic problem is the decreasing number of members of Congress who actually have family residences in Washington, DC. That means they spend less time socializing across party lines when not on official duty. They know each other less as fellow Americans, as people. On the plus side, that might mean they spend more time back in the districts hearing from all stripes of constitutents. Unfortunately, many have shied away from actual town hall public meetings in their districts and instead conduct time-limited conference calls with invitees rather than the general public.

        But the bigger reason is the endless task of raising money, and that means spending more time in the district with the people who still have it. That process greatly reduces the contact with the general public, face to face exposure to the needs of real people; and it reinforces holding onto the same positions as in the past, just more tightly. Why? Because it has raised the money to get them elected and re-elected in the past. No brokey, no fixey. To me, that says “systemic”.

        So, I’m not suggesting capitulation or hopelessness. Things won’t change ’til we change ‘em. I’m simply suggesting that there is a lot more inertia to overcome than one phone call or e-mail or tweet or blog post or Occupy can accomplish. It begins with first confronting our own duplicity, squaring ourselves to the size of the task, and rolling up our sleeves.


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