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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IT’S HARD TO BRING HOME THE BACON… With All These Pigs at the Trough

From 1789 to 1815 Congressmen received $6.00 daily, but only on the days they showed up. From 1815 to 1855 Congressmen received a modest salary, compared to the massive salaries of the Congressmen today. In 1855 their salaries increased to $3,000 annually. Then in 1865 they gave themselves a 66% increase to $5,000 annually. 6 years later they boosted their salaries another 50% to $7,500 per year. The American People became so outraged by the greed that congressmen were showing, that congress was forced to take a 33% pay cut, which lasted 34 years until 1907, at which time they gave themselves another 50% increase back to $7,500 annually. They took two other pay cuts, both of which were during the Great Depression, for a total of 15%. These are the only 3 times in American History that any Congressmen have ever taken salary cuts.

In 1935, Congress voted themselves a 19% increase, then they didn't receive another pay raise until 12 years later, when they gave themselves a 25% increase in 1947. In 1955 Congress gave themselves a whopping 80% increase. In the years 1987, and 1991 Congress received 2 raises per year. 3% + 20% in 1987, and 4% and 25% in 1991. Within the last 10 years Congress has raised their salaries 8 times for a total of 26%. While the lowest paid American Workers have only received 1 raise within the last 10 years.

In the last 25 years Congress has seen 18 salary increases totalling 277%. While the lowest paid American Workers have only seen 5 wage increases in 25 years totalling a mere 166%. In the last 25 years the cost of living has increased 251%. The Minimum Wage has not been increased since 1997. While Congressmen's pay has increased 8 out of the last 10 years.
Walter Dimmock, US Congress Salary History.

It has long bothered me that those who work for us, those we “hire” to represent us in this Republic, make about four times the salary of the average American. I mean, how many jobs out there do you know of where the workers make many times more than their bosses?

The job of running this country is supposed to be a civil job; in other words, “for the people.” Civil jobs are jobs of duty and sacrifice, and were never intended to be jobs of profit, high society, prestige, fame, celebrity, and gluttony. They were also meant to be temporary, lest a man lose his vigilance, forget his duties, grow weary in service, arrogant in power, or deny others the privilege and responsibility of service on behalf of their fellow American.

It was for this reason that our Founding Fathers lived off the labor of their own hands, so as not to be a burden to the people they were supposed to be serving. It is why their pay was originally only stipends, compensation for the expenses and time they accrued in service of their country, and ONLY for the days they were actually engaged in civil work (what a concept!). They were NOT politicians; they were farmers, soldiers, businessmen, inventors, industrialists, etc. They despised the thought of professional politicians, or politics dominated by one profession as opposed to a cross section of American reality. They knew full well that it was not the government that created or built up nations and economies, but the people. The government’s job was to protect and defend those freedoms and rights that enabled their bosses to build the nation.

On becoming a public man he made a resolution “never to engage, while in public office, in any kind of enterprise for the improvement of my fortune, nor to wear any other character than that of a farmer.” On the close of his public career of nearly half a century, he could say that he had kept this resolution.Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson wisely knew that if the office of an elected official was a sweet deal, men would inevitably seek positions of power for the want of filthy lucre, viewing the job as an asset to his pocketbook and a boost to his resume rather than an obligation that he is willing to take upon himself to uphold and defend the ideals of this land.

I thought about this last week when I came upon an article that brought to sharp focus just how far we’ve drifted from what America is supposed to be.

Raoul Contreras wrote Feeding at the Public Trough, an article that left me both shaken and shaking, mostly because it involves a supposedly conservative candidate who is borrowing from the Communist Playbook of word manipulation to mask his larceny.

He writes: “(H)e is Republican California State Senator George Runner (Republican-17th District) and his wife, former elected Assembly woman Sharon Runner who double-dipped over $200,000 just between 2005 and 2008 according to The California Assembly Rules Committee and the California State Senate Daily File. While wife Sharon has left the Assembly under the term limits law, Senator Runner is still in office and, in fact, is running for another office now that he is termed out of the Senate.

“Senator Runner and his wife represented districts in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The Legislature pays a "per diem" to cover member "Sacramento session living expenses while away from home." In this case, the capitol is 400 miles from their home. The current individual per diem rate is $141.86 per day, tax free if the member lives away from Sacramento.

“Senator Runner and Assembly member Sharon Runner presumably shared the same residence in Sacramento while in session, while they were collecting their tax free $283.72 per day, plus state supplied cars at $500 per month each. While they were collecting their double-dipped per diem payments and car allowances they cashed their salaries of $95,200 (before December, 2009, it was $116,000) each for total annual pay of $190,582.

“Adding the Runners’ annual pay of $190,582 (it was higher -- $232,000 - when Mrs. Runner served in the assembly) and their $283.72 daily “per diem” Mr. and Mrs. Runner averaged over $300,000 a year between 2005 and 2008. During that time, Mr. and Mrs. Central-San Joaquin Valley farm worker earned an average of $31,313, if both worked on a farm – one tenth of double-dipping elected public servants Mr. and Mrs. George Runner.

“…(T)he very idea that another engorged political couple can even think of extending their years at the “Public Trough” it is my duty to scream about the giant rip-off that Senator Runner and his wife promulgated on the people of California.

“Their double-dipping at the Public Trough was and is disgraceful. His politically inspired chameleon-like change from “Full Time Legislator” to “tax payer advocate” in an attempt to fool Republican voters of the 2nd District of the California Board of Equalization in the upcoming June Primary is disgraceful, dishonest and pure political chicanery.”

One more point before I start hearing the whiny justification that we must pay high salaries to attract the best people. Civil jobs are jobs of service, and elected officials are NOT the CEO’s of private companies whose products/services are funded by the choice of the people rather than force of the IRS. We “hire” our elected officials for “jobs” that are meant to be difficult, challenging duties of responsibility and obligation, NOT to appeal to those who are accustomed to the finer things in life, but to weed out those for whom the finer things are an end justified by any means. In their boundless wisdom our Founders understood the ability of money to corrupt even the best of men, and pledged all they had to ensure their beloved America be led by men whose motives are pure and humble, be they in DC or city hall.

And we wonder why leaders in Washington are so arrogantly defying their “bosses” on what we want and don’t want. Failing close to home ultimately echoes nationwide, and as they say, “All politics is local.”

Or is that loco? Well, you tell me; with Americans struggling to bring home the bacon, why are we still feeding this pig?

Keep the faith, bros, in all things courage, and no substitute for VICTORY.

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