Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Old Statement on Politics That is Still Valid

Watching Brewsters Millions for the first time in years, a line in it exemplified perfectly what is wrong with "democracy" in the US, or rather why elected officials ignore common sense and the good of the people.
Heller and Salvino are both just a couple of overgrown Wharf Rats. Why else would anybody spend $10Million to get a $60,000/year job, unless he planned to steal it back with interest.
The 'job' (for those that haven't seen the film recently) is Mayor of New York City. Heller and Salvino are the two candidates running for it seriously, before Brewster starts a campaign of "vote None of the Above".

Money is a serious problem in US politics. If you don't have any, you won't get elected. If you're the incumbent, it's much easier to get money, to get you re-elected. Many people just don't realise how much getting elected costs either. In the 2008 Senate race here in Georgia (which went to a December runoff):

Saxby Chambliss (R)          $15,692,294       (FEC data)
Jim Martin (D)                       $7,508,505       (FEC data)
Allen Buckley (L)                          $28,666       (FEC data)

No surprises who won. Even less surprisingly, is that the salary is significantly less than this, $174,000 per annum. (as a side note, when the flm Brewsers Millions was made, in 1985, the Senate salary was $75,100). That's for a 6 year seat, but what about the House, where it's a 2 year seat? Again, my local race, for Georgia's 8th district,

Jim Marshal (D)     $1,736,540      (FEC data)
Rick Goddard (R)    $1,192,303      (FEC data)

No surprises, but Jim won. the Salary is $174,000/year.

Many people weren't aware of this HUGE money requirement in US politics. When this was pointed out on the Pirate Party International list, one Finn replied "My jaw just hit the floor and did not stop falling until it hit the basement." It's pretty damned crazy.

Also, at the same time you're raising funds, you're being paid for your job. Only in politics, are you paid by your job, while actively seeking another. Last year, both Obama and McCain deprived their states of half their senatorial representation, because they were busy campaigning for president, and not doing their job. That's $87,000 in taxpayers money paid to them to do a job they're not doing (assuming they spent half their time campaigning).  both were elected in the November 04 elections, for a seat that expires in January 2011 (the 2010 elections)

Personally, I'd love to be busy applying for a job,  for a year, ignoring any job I may have right now, and still be paid for it. For a public servant though, it's just wrong. If you're an elected representative, and you seek a different office, you should resign from your current one. Doesn't matter if you're Mayor and want to run for Governor, a governor and want to run for President, or a member of the House or Senate (state or Federal) If your current job isn't what you want, let someone else have it, and actually do the job. It also means you're not breaking your oath of office
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Running for another position, when you're supposed to be doing your job doesn't seem like following your oath to me.

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