A Very Good Job Indeed
One of the best jobs in the world is to be elected to Congress. The Senate would be preferable to The House of Representatives because it has longer terms and much more prestige.
But the main attraction of having an elected position of any kind is being secure in the knowledge that none of them are real jobs anyway. You are the boss, so to speak, yet you never carry any personal responsibilities for your employees. Someone else, namely the taxpayer, foots the bill for all of it. So as long as you keep those taxpayers happy with rhetorical nonsense, pork barrel legislation and earmarks, your periodic job review occurs at re-election, usually with good odds that as an incumbent, you will blow away your opposition.
Simply put, you have to be a real screw-up to fail.
In either case, the salary is relatively low, but the benefits are enormous. On a wage of $174,000, which you get to keep, you also get: a staff of between five to fifteen people who are paid for by the tax payer. On top of that there is, an open-ended expense account that can run into seven figures, health insurance, pension benefits, free food and drink, free haircuts, free postage, free ground transportation, a free recreational gym facility, and free airfare to just about anywhere in the world which you can justify with any thinly disguised or contrived business related excuse to travel.
- Hey. Get me an airport limo. I’m going down to Aruba for a week just to be sure they aren’t leaning Communist.
- But I thought Aruba was a gambling and beach resort destination.
- Don’t forget, son. They once said the same thing about Cuba and look what happened there. Just being pro-active about it.
- No problem then, Senator. I’ll be sure to forward your tab to the GAO when you get back. Bon voyage.
As an elected official you also get to keep scads of expensive presents, trinkets, under the table qualitative deals and trades or economic heads up and Stock Market tips that admirers seem to lavish on you for no apparent guaranteed counter-benefit. You also can retain any of the money left over from the solicited funds you did not spend during your election campaign. This is otherwise euphemistically referred to as your “War Chest.”
- No. That was not a bribe, it was a “donation” that I put it into my discretionary retirement plan: my WC 401K. Is that a problem?
- Better than your colleague who stashed it all in his freezer, Senator. At least yours sounds like it’s leaning to the kosher side.
Then you can go on spending the rest of your tenure raising taxes, imposing rules for daily living, and generally investing a great deal of time legislating common sense. The power is defaulted to you; because most of your constituents are generally either too indifferent or simply just too stupid to figure it all out for themselves. This is not to even mention the fact that you screw them over every time to vote “Yea” to some new hidden tax agenda or for some subtle elimination of personal freedoms. One example of a ridiculous prohibition was legislation making it illegal for doctors to even take a pen or a post-it pad from a pharmaceutical rep because it might be an inducement to use one of their products. As if the doctor would prescribe something he did not like or did not think to be useful, just because he got a pen.
Best of all, as a Congressman you usually get to exempt yourself from all the rules you make up for every one else. This particular feature is essential to good job performance as too many restrictions on yourself might inhibit your own ability to scam incredible wealth.. After all, you know best what is ultimately good for you even if it isn’t so good for everyone else. Then just hang in there long enough and you will have accrued enough perks and taken enough under the table bribes to retire fifty times over.
When I lived in New York, my local Congressman, Tim Bishop, who was the provost of the Southampton College before he ran for office, told me after the fact that being a Congressman was the easiest thing he ever had to do in his life. By the time he began his second term he had nine staffers, as well as a sudden but mysterious shift toward an improved wardrobe that tilted toward the expensive end of today’s available haberdashery.
I tired to sign up for one of these jobs myself but was told I did not qualify. They said I would have to be more than just an ordinary American Citizen. But it was not further specified other than some vague allusion to needing substantial up-front pin money, as well as a cadre of influential sponsors, heavy hitters, criminals, and power brokers to be kept out of the limelight and hidden in the background.
Yes, being a member of Congress is a very good job indeed.
The only avocation that might be better would be if one were born to royalty. Imagine filling out this particular demographic profile on an application:
Name: Charles, a.k.a. the Prince of Wales
Occupation: Currently unemployed: seeking top Royal position.
Hobbies: Playing soldier, Hunting, Fishing, Gallivanting, World travel, Polo, Adultery.
Ambition: One day to become the King of England.
Pet Peeve: Mummy’s longevity.
Income: Variable annuity.
Or as Harry Truman put it succinctly when asked what the duties of the Vice President of The United States actually were, glibly replied:
- Every morning before breakfast to inquire first about the health of the President; and if he is doing well, then ask what time lunch is being served.
Perhaps then I am wrong. Perhaps the office of Vice President of the United States is the very best job of all.
Meet the 21st century U.S. politician
The Modern Congressional Record: circa 2000*
29 members have been accused of spousal abuse
7 members have been arrested for fraud
19 members have been accused of writing bad checks
117 members have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 members have done time for assault
71 members cannot get credit cards due to poor credit ratings
14 members have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 members have been arrested for shoplifting
21 members are defendants in lawsuits
4 have been arrested for drunk driving in one year alone
This is not to mention a few of the latest shenanigans at both the state and federal levels and include: solicitation for homosexual sex in public bathrooms, solicitation for heterosexual or homosexual sex from congressional interns, patronizing high class prostitutes, use and abuse of illegal drugs, failing to pay taxes, employing illegal aliens, sordid extramarital affairs, taking bribes for favoritism, selling Senate seats to the highest bidder, receiving special deals from mortgage companies and who knows what else.
Is it little wonder then, that because these people believe that the laws they make should not apply to themselves or that the examples they set for the general public are so jaded, that the rest of the country gets its ethical value systems a little bit screwed up?
*To be periodically updated.
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