Meritocracy Part II

Since this has turned into more of a frustrated appeal to reason, let’s take it one step further…

Congress (You had to know this was coming)

(http://library.clerk.house.gov/reference-files/114_20150106_Salary.pdf)

CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE Representative Annual Salary Total Annual Salaries of Staff Per Rep # of Reps TOTAL
House of Representatives $ 174,000.00 $ 944,671.00 435 $ 486,621,885.00
Speaker of the House $ 223,500.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 223,500.00
Majority Leader $ 193,400.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 193,400.00
Minority Leader $ 193,400.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 193,400.00
Senate $ 174,000.00 $ 944,671.00 100 $ 17,400,000.00
President pro Tempore (VP) $ 230,700.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 230,700.00
Majority Leader $ 193,400.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 193,400.00
Minority Leader $ 193,400.00 $ 944,671.00 1 $ 193,400.00
Total Cost of Salaries

(*doesn’t include budgets for offices/extras*)

$ 661,849,685.00

 

“Government shutdown” is such a common state of “emergency” today that kids probably think it is part of the Congressional schedule. The irony is that when the government “shuts down,” most of the people in the table above continue working and getting paid. Why? Because they think they’re the “core” of the government. Like your body protects the essential organs (heart, lungs, brain) when there’s a crisis, the government protects itself (literally).1

How? The 27th Amendment protects the members of Congress from not getting paid during a shutdown…

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxxvii)

How nice it must be to write the laws in such a way as to make yourselves the only protected class in case you (collective) can’t get it together enough to pass a budget for every other government entity. 2

What are those other entities that feel the wrath of Congress’ discord? Here is a sample of some agencies that lost all or part of their funding during the 2013 shutdown:

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Department of Defense

Department of Education

Department of Health & Human Services

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Food & Drug Administration

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Justice

Department of Veterans Affairs

Internal Revenue Service

Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Communications Commission

Social Security Administration

 

Though some of you may be excited about the IRS losing funding, what it caused were delays in the payment of tax refunds, not tax collection. The money they did receive was funneled into criminal investigations. (Erb, Kelly Phillips (October 1, 2013). “With Shutdown, Taxes Still Due But You Can’t Ask IRS For Help”. Forbes. Retrieved October 1, 2013.)

The CDC had to lay off 68% of it’s employees which prevented flu surveillance to help prevent a pandemic.  (“CDC Shutdown: No In-Depth Investigations of Outbreaks”. The Wall Street Journal. September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.)

Let’s pretend for a minute that the members of Congress and their staff work full time (2,080 hours a year), that means that every hour they work costs the US Taxpayers $ 318,196.96.  Ted Cruz filibustered for 21 straight hours during the 2013 shutdown. That alone cost tax payers, $ 6,682,136.16. Over Six and a Half MILLION dollars of wasted time as one Senator attempts to prevent or delay a vote (Obamacare this time).

Best part… there’s no way to fix this because how would you ever get a majority in Congress that would agree to pass an amendment to counter the 27th’s guarantee of a set salary?

So what do we do? Raise money to buy an island and form a utopian society? Maybe… I prefer to “jump.”

 

Sources

1 – They had the option to furlough their staff, but most representatives kept their staff working “for the constituents.” (Todd Spangler (October 1, 2013). “Furlough of congressional staff depends on who you work for, what you do”. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved October 4, 2013.)

2 – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/30/how-congress-will-still-get-paid-in-a-government-shutdown.html

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