Weir Only Human
Given all the recent sexual harassment accusations against elected officials across the country, one might think that it’s the only prevalent form of corruption in those corridors of power. Lest we forget, it was candidate Donald Trump who said if elected he would drain that swamp known as Washington DC. He wasn’t merely referring to the overactive libidos of entrenched politicians; he spoke of an establishment that perpetuates itself by building their individual treasuries, aka, reelection accounts, which make it next to impossible for opponents to unseat them. The campaign finance system allows officeholders to host fundraisers even when they don’t have opponents challenging them. Their explanation is that they want to be “prepared” if and when someone does.
Of course, the fact that it gives them a major advantage over challengers doesn’t seem to ignite a benevolent spark of fairness in these otherwise benign servants of the public. Similarly, those “employees” of ours don’t think enough of our judgment to put term limits on the ballot and let us decide if they should remain in office in perpetuity. According to Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute, “Washington DC has the highest rate of fine wine consumption in the United States, while one out of every 6 Americans wonder where their next meal is coming from.” Schweizer also pointed out that one out of four Americans has a mortgage that is underwater, while 7 out of 10 of the wealthiest counties in the nation are in the DC area.
Furthermore, DC now has the highest per capita income in the US, recently passing Silicon Valley. How was this wealth created in a geographical area that doesn’t produce a product or create anything the public wants to purchase? Other boomtowns in our history became prosperous because they offered something to build upon. DC, however, offers nothing but connections to power and patronage. The result is a permanent political class invested in the growth of government as they grow their personal portfolios. It’s quite evident that an aristocracy has taken over because of greedy officials who parcel out patronage to relatives, friends and business associates.
The federal government employs about 245,000 people, and the average pay and other compensation is about $120,000. Keep in mind, in addition to the president and vice-president there are only 435 members of Congress and 100 Senators. That leaves over 244,000 others being paid handsomely by the taxpayers, most of whom earn considerably less than the people working for them. The Founders of this great nation never intended that our elected leaders would run for office in order to make a career out of it and enrich themselves like potentates along the way. In the spirit of national service, people would leave their businesses, come to Washington and use their leadership skills to improve the lives of their fellow Americans. After a few months or years, they would return to their chosen professions, having done their part for their country. Not anymore! These days, because corruption has become so bold and virtually accepted, the best and the brightest view politics as a road to riches, flocking to the nation’s capital to get their pot of gold.
The public has been lulled into believing that the 2 political parties are actually fighting about differences in ideology, while it seems they’re really fighting for more personal wealth. We can look at political maps indicating red and blue, i.e., Republican and Democrat, but the fact is, the most important color is green. Access to power is the job of lobbyists, and they have enough cash to pave the way to the highest echelons. Lobbying takes place on K Street in DC, only a stone’s throw from the White House and the Capital. Representing hundreds of successful companies, all of whom need influence in those powerful committee rooms, lobbyists spread the wealth around lavishly in order to buy favors. Forget about love of country; these deals are all about love of money!
For example, when we view politicians taking one side or another on a budgetary issue, it’s similar to professional wrestling because the outcome is predetermined, and each side gets a piece of the action. Many members of Congress (House and Senate) have relatives who are registered lobbyists. Hence, if John Q. Senator has a son or daughter working as a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company or an energy corporation; where do you suppose his votes will go when those entities need legislation to help them augment their profits? President Trump has threatened this mercenary arrangement by imposing a 5-year ban on lobbying after an elected official leaves office. That’s one way to stop people from expecting to become wealthy through the election process. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop them from accepting numerous perks while in those once hallowed offices.
While many of these venal politicians are accepting large contributions to their reelection efforts, free flights on chartered jets and invitations to elite cocktail parties, where the caviar is more expensive than the cabernet, most Americans are working their nine to five jobs for less than half of what’s being paid to their “servants.” It’s truly sad that we, The People, have tolerated a system that produces the best leaders that money can buy. If the axiom about getting what you pay for is correct, it’s obvious that lobbyists and their bribe-taking accomplices have been eating very well, while most Americans were going to bed hungry.
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”