I know some of this is old news, but the ire I feel seems to get stoked more every day. My family has been so blessed by God, and with hard work and diligent financial planning, we are likely to weather this economic storm in pretty good shape. Thank goodness retirement is a long way off, though. But I can’t say the same for all of my friends.
Let’s face it: my friends are just everyday, normal Americans. (They’d probably laugh to hear me call them ‘normal,’ though!) And now I’m having to watch them struggle with paying their mortgages & utilities, worrying about employment, and even wondering how they can keep healthcare coverage for their families. And I frankly don’t have any answers, except to lend an ear or a shoulder and to keep them in my prayers.
From what our elected officials say, you’d think that they would understand the difficult circumstances that many Americans are in right now. Here’s what we’ve heard:
President Obama’s Inaugural Address: “…What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship…”
Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress 02/24/09: “…Now, I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. And I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right…Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility…So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary…Given these realities, everyone in this chamber — Democrats and Republicans — will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me…As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us — watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead. Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege — one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill…”
Now, I’d better not hear anyone whining that I took the above quotes out of context. If you want to read or hear the speeches in their entirety, just go looking online. They’re easy to find.
OK, so America is being asked to suck it up, to tighten our belts, to let go of our extravagant and frivolous ways. But that doesn’t apply to everyone, just the commoners. Already, Wednesday has become party day at the White House with plans to make cocktail parties a Wednesday “tradition.” Gosh, I guess I should forget that Wednesday is “traditionally” a church night. Maybe I should start making plans with my friends for a new happy hour tradition. But we won’t be having waygu steak at $100 per serving – we’ll probably stick with hot wings, they’re expensive enough. Hmmm…I wonder if these White House party-goers have to be at work early the next morning. I’m guessing not, thanks to the next two stories.
Congress just got their annual pay raise (2.7% ), so the average congressman makes $174,000 per year. Luckily for them, their raises are determined by private sector raises, and cannot be more than the raises for the general government employee. Gosh, I know that a lot of people, especially those who have lost their jobs, had their hours or benefits cut, would love to have that guarranteed raise. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/02/congress-gets-automatic-raise-now-paid.html
OK, so they are getting more money. They work really hard. That must be why they need so much petty cash. What could you do with an extra $93,000 in mad money each year? That’s in addition to the $1.3-$1.6M they already get for their expenses. But don’t worry – it’s going to help the economy and their constituents. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/01/its-recession-congress-gives-lawmakers.html It gives a new meaning to MAD Money.
Let’s run the numbers: Uncle Sam is preparing to spend $4.4 BILLION on themselves, just in this year. Some of the money goes for maintaining and updating the Capitol facilities. That sounds reasonable. But then there is $800,000 so the gift shop can stay open for longer hours (but it also pays for event workers & guides). And don’t forget about the $480,000 to produce new informational brochures for the public. http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090304/pl_mcclatchy/3181135
It looks like frugal living is only for the average American, not for the elected officials. In fact, with this new administration, it looks like rules only apply to average Americans. Like paying taxes. How many of us can get away with not paying them?
So I’ve come up with an idea to help the congressmen control their expenses. Since they are only working usually 3 day weeks, why doesn’t the government buy a nice hotel or two close to the Capitol where the legislators and their staff can stay while they are in town. They can have a cafeteria that serves nutritional food and a work-out room and pool so they can stay in shape. I’m sure DC has some busses & subways they could take to work or to the airport or to meetings. Or, if they really want to go green, let’s get those legs and bicycles working! Just imagine the Congress shedding pounds and dollars at the same time!
And with all of the money we are saving, perhaps we can afford to give visiting dignitaries some really nice gifts, instead of DVD deals from Amazon.com and plastic toys from the WH giftshop (was that on the first or second shift?). Sorry Mr Prime Minister Brown and the British nation, most Americans value our relationship. And some of us really love our Brit Com night on PBS!
So have courage, America, and hang in there. We’re all in this together.
Until next time…