By Nathan Barton
Sometimes, people can shock you. Maybe it is the bully that runs out into the street to rescue a kitten (or even one of his victims) from being hit. Sometimes it is the three-year-old who can’t remember his letters who suddenly started reading the back of the cereal box nearly perfectly. Or the puppy that, even if just one day, doesn’t poop in front of the fireplace.
So I’m talking about a “good” kind of shock.
That happened this week in DC. The 2018 Poster Child of the Social Revolution herself made a suggestion that actually makes sense!
I am, of course, talking about the cute, mathematically-illiterate, congress-critter-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herself. Let me quote her Tweet:
Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressionaalaries should be furloughed as well.
It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision.
Have some integrity.
She is, of course, pointing three fingers back at herself with that last sentence. She has displayed a singular lack of integrity before and after the election.
But she makes, here, a very good suggestion. If Congress can’t get its act together, then why should it not be punished, as it punishes the rest of the federal workforce? And for that matter, the nation: voters and non-voters, taxpayers and parasites on taxpayers. (Among which, of course, they are numbered.)
So to have Congress-critters (both House-sitters and Conscript Parents (Senators)) not get paid, when they can’t come to an agreement and do what they are officially supposed to do, is only fair and just, no? No work, no pay.
Sure, her idea has lots of flaws, and it is at best only a start on fixing the problem. The problem of all parts of the FedGov and its insane power.
First, too many of the parasites in Congress actually don’t really need that Congressional salary to begin with. They’ve parlayed their past and current political power into wealth. A lot of it. (The best way to hit them in the pocketbook would be to also deny them their expense accounts AND the salaries and expenses of their bloated and far too powerful staffs.)
Second, even for those who are not “independently wealthy” from years of sucking off the taxpayers’ teat (like maybe Cortez herself), they have their own private banks to borrow money (or float checks – same thing) from, to tide them over. And seriously, do you think Discover or AmEx or BoA give a member of Congress or senator less than a six, even seven-digit credit limit? And perfectly willing to write some or all of that off, provided they have the loopholes to do it “legally?”
Third, resolving a “budget crisis” by spending a few billion dollars more is pretty simple and straightforward, if you don’t care about whose money it is – or think it is yours to squander, knowing that your own money will continue to roll in from your pension and investments long after you leave Congress. (Consider, please, the net worth of the Clintons and the Obamas, after their “years of public service.”)
But her suggestion could be a start.
What would it take to get Congress to stop acting like pre-schoolers in an unsupervised playroom?
More draconian actions if they fail to do their work. Someone has suggested that if Congress cannot pass a balanced budget AND ensure it is enforced, then the whole lot of them should be ineligible for reelection to ANY office. Not even to the Administrative Board of Control for a Special Services District in the rural or frontier hinterland of far northwest Utah or eastern Montana.
Some have even considered an option that a Science Fiction writer once proposed. (I think it might have been H. Beam Piper in one of his “Planet for Texans” stories.) All the politicians had a very nice, fancy, elaborate gorget of office, placed (and locked) around their neck upon their swearing-in. Their constituents could go to booths scattered throughout the country at any time to vote on whether or not their representative or other officeholder was doing a good job (or not). Too many thumbs down, and “bang” – the small charge of plastique in the gorget removed the politician’s head from his (or her) body, removed the politician from office, and from life. A bit drastic, maybe. But effective!
Of course, that would be inhumane, and no doubt a cruel and unusual punishment in the eyes of the Nine Nazgul. Who would never agree to add such a symbol of office to their black robes.
But this is all fantasy: Congress would never vote to limit their terms or their lives, whether to a disgraced retirement or a nice six-by-three piece of ground.
Which is why the real solution is much more desirable and doable, if not easy. Take the power away from Congress, White House, and Supremes. And the states and local governments. Set us free – give us liberty.
Still fantasy? No, I pray and work for that goal. It has happened before, and we can do it again.