Why Politicians Don't Get No Respect
Deep Throat said it all: "Follow the money."
Pennsylvania lawmakers want a $11,402 raise--up from the $69,649 per year they get now. Already the fourth highest-paid state legislature in the country, the Keystone state boys and girls would surpass New York ($79,500) and Michigan ($79,600). Only California pays its legislators more-- ($99,000 now, $110,800 come December).
The average Pennsylvanian earned $38,532 in 2004.
Should lawmakers earn twice the state average and 8-1/2 times the minimum wage of $5.15?
Is this not positively indecent?
On the other hand, could it be that state legislators and members of Congress are held in such low regard--and accomplish so little--because they are all wildly underpaid?
The U.S. Congress as Wedding Crashers
Many years ago I read a story of three freshmen congressmen rooming together in a Washington, D.C., studio apartment because they could not afford to get a place of their own--a throwback to the college frat experience and the movie, "Animal House.'
Trying to support families back home, these three desperate and displaced politicians spent an inordinate amount of time wheedling invitations to corporate conferences, diplomatic receptions, lobbyists' bashes and Georgetown dinner parties--even debutante balls--in order to eat.
Like poor snakes, they did not have a pit to hiss in.
Sometimes they just showed up, introduced themselves as congressmen ("Oh, what an honor to meet you congressman! Thank you for coming!"), scarfed down drinks, grazed at the mighty buffet spreads and slipped out the back door.
In short a congressperson that is not a millionaire--or married to Teresa Heinz--is living on the edge and probably behaving like something out of the movie "Wedding Crashers."
In fact, if screenwriters Steve and Bob Fisher had striven for a reality film--which, by the way, was set in Washington, D.C.--they would have made Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn congressmen rather than marital counselors.