Saturday, September 10, 2011

HELP WANTED: 435 JOB OPENINGS No experience or education needed. Attractive hair and acting ability a plus. $300,000 a year salary and benefits. Ethical people need not apply.

     That’s right. Every two years, the government of the American Empire—previously known as the American Republic, or the United States of America—announces the opening of 435 high-paying jobs. The base salary is $174,000, but the salary plus benefits easily exceeds $300,000 annually.
     Let me tell you just some of the benefits:
     Hidden away from public view and inaccessible to the public is a full-blown restaurant reserved for House members and Senators. Gourmet meals served in this restaurant are partially subsidized by the American taxpayer.
         A spa is also provided for congressmen at taxpayer expense.
    For the benefit of congressmen and their staffs, a subway runs between government buildings on Capitol Hill and between Capitol Hill and the White House. While I was an intern in Senator Strom Thurmond’s office in January 1973, I used it a couple of times. It’s only a little larger than a roller coaster, but it’s comfortable, runs very frequently, and there are plenty of seats to go around. They may have upgraded it since then.
     Unlimited mailing privileges, also known as franking privileges, usually amounting to thousands of dollars a year per congressman. Franking privileges are supposedly reserved for letters addressed to constituents, but that restriction isn’t enforced and is routinely violated.
       Personalized elevator services. Even in Washington, elevators have been automated for several decades, but congressmen are unwilling to give up the “schmooze” benefits of appointing an elevator operator from among their constituents. There’s an added benefit: If a person wishing to use the elevator presses the button three times, the elevator operator takes it as a signal that a congressman wants to use it. Regardless of how many people are in the elevator car at that time, the elevator operator directs the car to the congressman’s floor to pick up the congressman and take him where he wants to go. This fact isn’t commonly known; I discovered it by accident.
       Paid flights to and from Washington twice a week.
      Paid luxury vacations. They’re more formally known as fact-finding tours or junkets. In fact, the overwhelming majority of junkets are taken to popular vacation spots where no useful political information can be gathered.
     Automatic pay raises. Voting themselves a pay raise has always been politically unpopular. During the 1980s, congressmen discovered a politically safer way to ride the gravy train: automatic pay raises. That way, they can tell their less-informed constituents that they had never voted for a congressional pay raise.

     Congressmen can enjoy many other benefits, but I’ll mention two more: the freedom to avoid having to live under the laws they pass, and the freedom to “legally” embezzle millions of dollars from American taxpayers, directly or indirectly.
      People who make more than a certain amount each year are not entitled to receiving Social Security retirement payments, although almost every American has to pay into the system. For many years, congressmen were exempt from Social Security taxes, but that has changed. With their extravagant retirement pay, they don’t need it anyway. They are, however, exempt from many other hindrances they’ve placed in the way of the American people. To give two examples, civil rights legislation doesn’t apply to congressmen, and neither does the recently passed Obamacare. All these laws that they’d touted as good for the American people are somehow not good for congressmen.
     It takes more money to win a congressional election campaign than a congressman receives in salary and benefits. Congressmen can get around that problem by doling out billions of tax dollars to companies whose CEOs have formed political action committees to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to congressional campaign funds.
   Congressmen who’d rather have the money in their own bank accounts can introduce legislation that serves that very purpose. The bankster bailout known as TARP is a case in point. The original amount was around $700 billion. To get it passed, congressmen padded the bill with another $500 billion with benefits for themselves. Millions were provided for the rum industry in Puerto Rico, in which the Kennedy family has a major stake. $2 billion was earmarked for companies operating in American Samoa. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband owns a huge share of Del Monte, a fruit company based in American Samoa.
     Before assuming office, a congressman has to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. It’s only a formality. Many congressmen have expressed abysmal ignorance of the Constitution, and some of them have openly said that they didn’t “care about” the Constitution.
     Isn’t there a better way to run a country? Yes, there is. Read the Constitution for yourself. Decide for yourself what the issues of the campaign really are rather than swallow whole what the candidates tell you the issues are. When a candidate promises anything at all, ask yourself three questions: 1.) Is it constitutional? 2.) Is it wise? 3.) Can we afford it? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s bad policy or worse.
     Most of all, remember that every “political” issue is a moral or ethical issue or one pertaining to virtue. Sharpen your sense of morality, ethics, and virtue. Government exists only as a social construct; no one in government has the right to do anything that, if done by a private citizen, would land that citizen in jail. Putting the government stamp of approval on a criminal act doesn't change the fact that it's a criminal act.  If you vote for criminality, you're an accessory to it.  Remember that when you vote.

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