Archive for pretense of piety

Pay to Play Politics and Phony Piety

Posted in Atheist, belief, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , on November 14, 2011 by chouck017894

In the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s, members of the US Congress have tended to nonchalantly warm their congressional seats rather than to actively fulfill their oath to protect rank and file citizens.  They can afford to just sit on their butts (and just say no); their personal wealth continued to grow by an average of 16 percent.  Indeed, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that the median personal wealth for members of Congress grew from $785,515 in 2008 to $911,510 in 2009.  And that advantage certainly is not threatened in this 2011-2012 economy.

For the most part the professional politicians in the USA of today are not exactly the dedicated patriots as were the self-sacrificing men who founded this nation.  There is a super abundance of all those rah-rah politicos today who strut their stuff and wave flags and wear little flags on their lapels and shout “in god we trust” as they pretend devotion to democracy.  Ignored are the true workers who built this nation, and dishonored are the true defenders of democracy who physically protect the liberty which allows those professional blowhards the privilege to indulge in such charade.  Shamefully, the average combat soldier (such as those deployed in Afghanistan) earn a paltry $38,000 a year salary.  Meanwhile…

  • Retired US Presidents (such as born again G. W. Bush) receive $180,000 salary a year for life.
  • Members of the House/Senate now receive $223,500 salary for life.
  • Speaker of the House receives $193,400 salary for life.
  • Majority/Minority Leaders each receive $193,400 salary for life.
  • Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court receives $223,500 per year for life.
  • Associate Justices of the US Supreme Court receive $212,900 per year for life.
  • Rank and file members of the House and Senate each pocket $174,000 per year.

Out of the 535 voting members of Congress, 261 of the members, or nearly one half of Congress is composed of multimillionaires.  Results from the study conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics noted in November 2010 that “Congressional representatives on balance rank among the wealthiest of wealthy Americans and boast financial portfolios that are all but unattainable for most of their constituents.”   The executive director of the Center, Sheila Krumholz, pointed out that, “Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills–unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings—that have befallen millions of Americans.”  We should remember, the salaries of our so-called “representatives” are sucked out of tax payers’ wallets.  Such is the glory in the land of opportunity.

The recession in the US began in December 2007 under the G. W. Bush administration, and American workers found huge bites taken out of their paychecks.  But members of the House and Senate, while warming their seats in tax-funded marble halls, watched their salaries increase through 2009 by more than five percent—which has added up to $8,800 for each of  them from the time the recession began to 2009.  And their salary figures do not account for the many perks the lawmakers granted themselves—like health benefits, pension plans, etc.  In that same period, 2007 to 2009, the per capita personal income of citizens dropped from $39,392 down to $39,138–a drop of more than one half a percentage point.  But the far right, seeking to cut “deficits” that their own incompetence initiated, were clamoring to abolish Social Security, Medicare, and other safeguards for working American citizens!  Isn’t that rather like biting the hand that feeds them?

The loophole for these dedicated “representatives” of the citizens is provided in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 6, which allows Congress to determine its own pay.  From 1789 up to 1968—or for 179 years—members of Congress found it convenient to use that allowance only twenty-two times.  But in 1967 (Lyndon Johnson was President) Congress established the Commission on Executive, Legislative and Judicial Salaries (P.L. 90-206) through which salary increases could be recommended for top-level federal officials.

Then another method for determining pay increase (P.L. 94-82) was dreamed up in 1975 (Gerald Ford was President) by which the salary for Congress could be changed—through annual adjustments.  The annual”adjustments” could then go into effect automatically.  However, these raises can be voluntarily restricted if: 1) Congress selflessly decides to statutorily prohibit the adjustment; or 2) If Congress statutorily revises such adjustment; or 3) If the scheduled increase for members’ annual base pay has to be adjusted due to a formula using the Employment Cost Index, which would mean a lower rate of payment for members.  (The Employment Cost Index records private industry wages and salaries, which are not seasonally adjusted.)  By law Congressional Members may not receive an increase greater than the increase in the base pay of General Schedule (GS) federal employees.

After the “born again” and god-led Republican takeover of government in 2000 the payment rate for Representatives and Senators rose steadily.  In January 2000 their payable annual salary was $141,300.  January 1, 2001 their salary rose to $145,100; January 1, 2002 up to $150,000; January 1, 2003 an increase to $154,700; January 1, 2004 up to $158,100; January 1, 2005 up to $162,100; January 1, 2006 it jumped to $165,200.  And there it paused as the war on terror began to awaken public suspicion on national leadership.  But on January 1, 2008 Congressional pay rose to $169,300 a year.

Since the takeover of the Republican party by religious extremists in 1996, and later abetted by the tea baggers who were manipulated by the undemocratic wealthy, the lives of working  people are presently set up as sacrifice for material accumulation (in the name of faith).  And they loudly bray “in god we trust, but it is obvious that they pay little attention to the texts they consider holy.  Ignored is such wisdom as: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…” (1 Timothy 6:10).  And it is observed in the book of Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: that is also vanity.”  Ignored too by those clamoring to put god in government, is Hebrews 13:5, which advises, “Let your conversation (such as in all your unproductive committees) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:…”  (Schofield Reference Bible versions.)

If only our elected officials had a smidgen of the integrity and love for true equality as our nation’s forefathers.

  • Related blog: Abuse of Democracy Within US Congress, July 2011