This morning while driving my wife to the train station I tuned-in a talk radio station with Glenn Beck ranting about congressional salaries. I listened as he express a bit of outrage over the fact our congressmen each get an annual salary just over $170k. The last increase of note came as an “automatic” pay increase. The only way this increase could be stopped would be by another congressional vote to repeal it. Thus, flying under the radar, in our tough times congressional representative are doing fine. I’m guessing the last discussion of pay increase came during the Bush years and everyone loved the idea of an automatic increase to avoid much fanfare about it all when the time came.
This got me to thinking about our early years as a country. Being a representative was not for the casual person. In fact, historians generally agree the business of running the government was meant for the wealthy, educated folks of the day. The few elected representatives from modest means were often discounted due to the curious class distinctions of the day.
In time the entire congress began to provide a living stipend to elected representatives while congress was in session. This gave way to full time salaries, bringing us to the current salary provided to them.
I don’t actually begrudge an acceptable pay for the job they do, but I do think some adjustments in who actually pays them is in order. After all, we want our congressmen to truly remember who it is that is paying their salaries.
I would propose that each state set the pay range for their elected representatives. Further, I would propose that each state purchase and maintain the living quarters for the same. Many of our elected officials become so vested in real estate and the Washington lifestyle they lose sight of whom they represent.
By providing living quarters that are fully maintained by state dollars, their salaries could be reduced significantly. Further, in time, the quarters would be paid for and only on-going maintenance cost would be incurred. I like the idea of apartment style housing for them.
Considering all the Czars being appointed to watchdog the pay of non-elected officials, why don’t we become a collective Czar for our representative. I think the system of compensation for elected officials should be returned to the folks that actually vote them in as representative. No more sneaky pay increases without a public vote from the home folks.
What say you?
Thanks for reading this far. Power to the people!