Posted by: rshalomw | April 1, 2009

SECRETS OF THE AMERICAN CONGRESS EXPOSED

History contains many lessons that current citizens of America need to be aware of.
Students of American History can see clearly the reasons that Congress is in the present state that it occupies.  Educated people are a threat to those who are in power now.  The following article will be an education Americans need to learn.

The Culture of Corruption
by John W. Whitehead

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that
there is no distinctly native American criminal class except
Congress.”
—Mark Twain

The economy is in a tailspin. More than 860,000 people
lost their homes in foreclosures in 2008, while more
than three million foreclosure notices were sent out by
mortgage lenders. Roughly 11 million Americans are out
of work. And more than 37 million Americans, including
12% percent of our senior citizens, are living in poverty.
What are our representatives in Congress, many of
whom are millionaires in their own right, doing about
the toll this recession is taking on America’s lower and
middle classes? For one thing, they’ve given themselves
a $4,700 pay raise, which will cost the U.S. government
an additional $2.5 million this year.
That’s on top of their six-figure salaries and the millions
in taxpayer dollars spent to maintain offices in their
home state and in the nation’s capital, as well as other
benefits such as free life insurance, a generous retirement
plan for life, 32 fully reimbursed road trips home a year,
and travel to foreign lands. Then there are the “extras,”
including discounts in Capitol Hill tax-free shops and
restaurants, $10 haircuts at the Congressional barbershop,
free reserved parking at Washington National Airport,
use of the House gym or Senate baths for $100 a year,
free fresh-cut flowers from the Botanic Gardens, and free
assistance in the preparation of income taxes. And don’t
get me started on the pitiful number of days they actually
work, when they’re not off fundraising or campaigning
for their next election.
However, serving in Congress wasn’t always about
perks and entitlements. In the early days of our country,
members of Congress were paid $6 per day—and that
was only while they were in session. It wasn’t until 1815
that members actually began receiving an annual salary
The Schwarz Report / March 2009
6
to the tune of $1,500 per year. And if they wanted to employ
an assistant, they had to pay that salary out of their
own pockets. For many members who were not fortunate
enough to be independently wealthy, it meant working
second jobs in order to augment their personal income.
In other words, they were statesmen who served out of a
love of country and a sense of duty.
Yet even statesmen are not immune to the lure of
power and money. Before long, the revolutionary ideal of
“good government,” led by public servants who act selflessly
and promote the greater good, was overshadowed
by a culture of corruption in Congress.
The culture of corruption that eventually came to
pervade Congress was epitomized by the Salary Grab of
1873. On March 13, the last day of their term, members
of the 42nd Congress, nearly half of whom would not be
returning, voted to give themselves a retroactive pay increase
that amounted to a $5,000 going-away present. The
“salary grab” quickly gave rise to a nationwide sense of
outrage over Congress’ perceived culture of corruption. It
dominated newspaper headlines and resulted in a backlash
at the polls that year. This, in turn, gave rise to a reform
movement that succeeded in replacing the “spoils system”
of filling government jobs with civil service reform.
Yet human nature being what it is, reform rarely lasts
long. Inevitably, legislative checks on corruption give
way to renewed efforts to sidestep such controls until we
find ourselves in our current strait, in a vicious cycle of
corruption and minor reform.
Needless to say, Congress is on the downswing of
that cycle and has been for quite some time. Abuses of
office run the gamut from neglecting their constituencies
to engaging in self-serving practices, including the misuse
of eminent domain, earmarking hundreds of millions of
dollars in federal contracting in return for personal gain
and campaign contributions, having inappropriate ties to
lobbyist groups and incorrectly or incompletely disclosing
financial information.
Pork barrel spending, hastily passed legislation,
partisan bickering, a skewed work ethic, graft and moral
turpitude have all contributed to the public’s increasing
dissatisfaction with congressional leadership. Thus, it is
little wonder that a recent USA Today poll shows Congress
with a 19 percent approval rating.
You’d be hard-pressed to find employees with such
dismal performance evaluations getting a pay raise of
any kind. Conveniently, Congress doesn’t have to worry
about that since they voted in 1989 to give themselves an
automatic raise every year.
Some members of Congress have announced their
intentions to refuse this year’s salary increase if Congress
does not first vote to suspend it, and legislation has already
been proposed to refuse next year’s increase. However, the
public’s discontent over Congress’ pay raise is really not
about the $2.5 million pay increase. (After all, we spend
roughly that amount every 15 minutes in the war in Iraq.)
It’s about having representatives in Congress who truly
understand what it means to represent and relate to their
constituents, many of whom are struggling right now to
keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Today, many of our politicians live like kings. Chauffeured
around in limousines, flying in private jets and eating
gourmet meals, all paid for by the American taxpayer,
they are far removed from those they represent. Such a
luxurious lifestyle makes it difficult to identify with the
“little guy”—the roofers, plumbers and blue-collar workers
who live from paycheck to paycheck and keep the
country running with their hard-earned dollars and the
sweat of their brows.
Something needs to change, and dramatically. As
President Obama recently reminded Americans, we will
need to make some sacrifices in the way we live in order
to lift the country from recession, but we should not be
the only ones sacrificing.
For his part, Obama has taken a small but symbolic
step in the right direction. Declaring that “families are
tightening their belts, and so should Washington,” Obama
announced his intention to freeze the salaries of White
House employees who make over $100,000. Now Congress
needs to do their part.
Winston Churchill once said that “a politician thinks
about the next election—the statesman thinks about the
next generation.” It’s time for our elected representatives
in Congress to stop acting like politicians and start
remembering that they exist to serve the people, not
themselves.
—The Rutherford Institute, January 22, 2009
The Schwarz Report Bookshelf
To see a complete list of books recommended by the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade please check out our website at http://www.schwarzreport.
org. This site also has back issues of The Schwarz Report as well as other great resources.

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