Congratulations – you’ve made it to Congress. Let’s make you a millionaire. *
*Restrictions will apply
Our government was founded with the knowledge that power corrupts otherwise good people. Money and power are delightful poisons, and like our other favorite intoxicants, they cloud the vision we need to live better. As our society has struggled through its Age of Decadence, and as the federal leviathan has destructively borrowed us into financial ruin, any sense of a government for the people has slid away.
The working men and women of this country have been turned into livestock to be milked through the US dollar. Some of us, like the federal employee or the student or the soldier or the contractor or the inmate, have been turned into the tools used to bill the population for goods and services they had no hand in choosing. The Citizen, revered by our founders as the bedrock of our republic, has been devolved into a farm animal.
How do we fix this? A realignment.
Our constitution was written with the knowledge that crafty men would always seek power. The genius of the check and balance system was it pitted those wily agents against each other, and they left the Citizen to his life and property. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” James Madison wrote. Elected officials, both the virtuous and the vile, expended their energies on each other, and left us alone.
Our democratic republic sought to align the ambition of the powerful with the protection of the liberties of the people. A free market, a rigorous working ethos, a moral culture, and a productive industrial base all produced prosperity that elevated the elected officials that protected them to higher office.
Somewhere along the way this chain was broken, but it’s never too late to get it back. Let’s get started, and let’s keep it simple.
Newly-elected congressmen make around $175,000 a year, with a generous benefits package that includes healthcare and a pension. This is certainly more than the average income of $63,000 – but, in a place so soaked with money as the DC bubble, it doesn’t really go that far.
Let America buy you out.
Let’s increase it to $500,000 a year – but here are the catches.
You have from your election day to the time you are seated to sell all your assets. All of them. For cash. No trusts. No giving them to a family member. No investment properties all over the place. All of it. It goes in a checking account in U.S. dollars and stays there, at your disposal, until the time you leave office.
You’re allowed to own a residence in the district you represent. Make it a mansion, whatever. Just one. You’re allowed to rent – like the rest of us – everywhere else, including DC. You shouldn’t be planning on staying long, anyway.
Don’t buy any stock. Don’t say the word ‘stock.’ Ever. Don’t have your spouse buy stock. Don’t signal to someone at a meeting when a company’s name comes up that you know something that they don’t and they should buy it and later give your next campaign a donation with the proceeds. Don’t do it.
Don’t sit on any boards, or have a specific interest in any conglomerate or group. The American people have elected you to legislate – that is your only concern, and we’re paying you handily for it. Think of all the time you’ll save not having to get paid for not coming into an office to do nothing.
When you leave office, take all your accumulated income with you and buy whatever houses and stocks you want. Sit on the boards of everything you can. Enjoy your post-congressional bliss, knowing that the American people know that you didn’t sell them out to make millions on your position or knowledge while in office.
If this simplicity is simply too complicated for you to handle, if you are so wealthy and well-connected that you couldn’t possibly take such a massive pay cut, then, guess what – there’s the door. I guess Congress just isn’t for you. It was never supposed to be; it was meant to be for the people.
To the FBI, who seems to be so diligent at infiltrating small rings of people doing silly things and entrapping them, turn your sights on Congress. Pose as lobbyists, honeypots, average joes. Anyone or anything you think can get a representative or senator to give them a tip on the next big buy, or when to sell right before the next variant comes out.
The lawyers will figure out how to label the offense. The punishment should be swift and savage – loss of that fat paycheck or pension, maybe. Or perhaps a trial to determine their eligibility for re-election, as people have gone through those for much less.
As an elected member of Congress, you are there to protect the free market, not participate in it.
My fellow Missourians, we have to align the incentives of our elected officials with our own. Converting an elected official’s assets to U.S. dollars is not a punishment. It’s a way to ensure that they care about the currency. They might care a bit more about the degradation of the dollar if they were forced, like us, to bear the loss of a fifth of its value every year.
If someone is so corrupt that these rules would be an onerous burden, then they don’t run. If someone has been in office for so long, and they’ve missed so many golden opportunities because they were busy with the tedious task of actual legislative business that they simply can’t afford it, then they leave.
We need to throw the concept of the thirty-year congressional career into the dustbin of history. Perhaps the authors of the constitution never envisioned people living as long as we do now. Since most were military men, they probably envisioned terms in government to be more akin to tours of duty in war – elected officials were to go into battle on the floor of the House or Senate vigorously, and then return to the homelands that sent them there, spent and satisfied in their service. Term limits on representatives and senators, while a beautiful dream now, probably seemed unnecessary to the Founders.
We live in the current world, though, and are having to suffer through the rampant corruption that the 15-, 30-, or 40-year political career allows to take hold. Far from a young, vibrant, ever-refreshing class of upstarts with fresh ideas and no connections, we have a stagnant pool of old money, mockery, and monsters.
Our current political class refuses to move on, long after their minds and methods have turned to mush, because the people who put them into office refuse to not try to squeeze another two, four, or six years of return out of their investment.
I know what you’re thinking, fellow citizen. It can’t be done. It will never get done. Who would be so bold?
Yours, in service,
Candidate for U.S. Representative, Missouri’s 3rd District