Three of the current front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination are big on their fiscal conservatism, yet there's one area they're not so conservative on – their own salaries. All three are advocating 'business' positions to problems, but missing one vital fact. Were they in the private sector, all three would have been fired already.
When you have a job, you go to work, do what you're supposed to do, and then every 2 weeks, or once a month or whatever, you get your paycheque for it. If you don't do your job, but spend your time searching for a new job, then odds are you're going to get fired pretty quick. Unless you're a politician, elected to serve the people, that is.
There are three campaign hopefuls at present, vying for the republican nomination on the public purse. Texas governor Rick Perry, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. The Governor is getting $150,000/year (or $2,884/week) while the US House representatives are being paid $174,000/year ($3,346/week) from the public purse, money paid to them if they're doing their job representing the public, or if they're completely ignoring it to hunt for another. Currently, these three are doing the latter.
It's not a new thing though. In 2008, citizens of both Illinois and Arizona only had half of their constitutionally stipulated senate representation, as for more than half of the 110th Congress, Senators Obama and McCain were campaigning for the presidency, at $174,000/year each as well, and in the second half of 2008, then-Governor Palin ($125,000/year) and then-Senator Biden (another $174,000/year) were also so busy campaigning that their official jobs were not being done.
|Clockwise from top left: Perry, Obama, Bachmann, Paul|
Biden felt that wasn't enough though, as a fall back, he also campaigned for his existing job, as Delaware Senator, and won that. Biden was actually sworn in again as Senator for around 2 weeks, before resigning to let the person already selected (NOT elected) on election day to fill the seat until another election could be held, at taxpayer expense...
What we have is financial irresponsibility on a massive scale. People running for job, political grandstanding, with no worry of consequences, and no concern for the people they swore an oath to serve. It's an issue that's not gone unnoticed. In the past, Ex Minnesota governor Jessie 'The Body' Ventura, has remarked about the hard struggle he had campaigning for the position. He had no job, and that limited his ability to campaign, while his opponent the mayor of the city of St Paul’s, could campaign with impunity. Of course, that Mayor more recently gained notoriety for his 'never give up, never surrender' election fight for his Senate seat in 2008, but that's another story.
It doesn't just happen in the US, though. In the UK, Some MEP's have tried running for seats in the House of Commons, trying to abandon one elected position for one they would prefer instead. Nick Griffin, for instance, ran for MP in the London constituency of Barking, despite being an MEP for North West England, some 200+ miles away. Clearly his intention was about ideology and influence, rather than representing his constituents.
If it were anyone but politicians, we would call it theft, or fraud. However, politicians are above the law, they face no consequences. That doesn't sit well with me though, as politicians should not only be accountable to the laws they make, they should be held to the HIGHEST standards of those laws. So, what should be done?
The first thing is to require the repayment of salary for the time spent campaigning. You take time off from your job to campaign? Then it's at your OWN expense, not ours. We're not asking you to run, so why should we pay you to run?
Perhaps the best idea, though, is a 'make your mind up' requirement. If you want to run for another job, then you should give your current one up. That way, some arrangement can be made for replacement, so that the campaigning can be done at the candidates own expense, and not the expense of those supposedly represented.
It's also going to help keep some of the crazy out. Who's going to give up a job, when they know they're probably not going to win? It will also show come commitment, but most of all, it shows you actually take your word, your oath of office, seriously. That you are committed to representing effectively, because nothing says “unfit for a job with greater responsibilities” than “can't do they job they're currently employed at”.
Will this change happen? Unlikely. The current political machine works by keeping existing politicians safe. Making them have to risk their own jobs, as they so cavalierly risk everyone elses, that requires integrity, and there, current politicians are completely bankrupt. In the mean time, we'll continue the sad parade of politicians screaming "I won't do my job, I want a better one!"