"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Senator Craig Flap

I've been told that August is normally a slow news month. I guess that's why, on any channel of my television that I turn to, to watch news, all I see are stories about Senator Craig.

Personally, I don't care if he is gay, or if he is just bi. I do care if he is stupid, because, as the comdian says, "you can't fix stupid." And let's face it, do we really need another stupid person in Congress passing laws that we will have to obey?

I don't know why the police should care and why they have cops waiting in public restrooms trying to arrest gay men. If it's a matter of protecting minors, then, okay. If it's only a matter of different moral beliefs and practises among consenting adults, then that is not a secular, criminal matter. It's a vice, if anything, although millions of gay people would argue differently, and vices should not be crimes.

The problem, however, is that Senator Craig foolishly pleaded guilty to the charge. It's a misdemeanor; no big deal in my book. It's not like he was caught stealing the taxpayers' money, or molesting children. But the whole sexual orientation things is such a big deal to so many people, needlessly, that now the Republicans want to force him out of office. Does being gay, or bi, means that you are unable to do your congressional job as well as a heterosexual legislator? I really don't think so.

But, as of today, that's just so much water under the bridge. It looks like Senator Craig will resign his position immediately; may have already for all I know. But now I will get to the heart of this blog: Senator Craig will be eligible for 80% of his Senate salary, or $132,000 a year. That's right for the rest of his life he will be getting taxpayer money in the amount of one hundred, thirty-two thousand dollars per year!

I have a problem with that. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is a little more than $44,000 per year. I assume that is with both mom and dad working. I assume that because, again according to the Census Bureau, the median per capita income is about $21,500 per year. That means that Senator Craig will be making three times as much as the average working couple and over six times as much as the average working person. And that doesn't include the other perks, such as lifetime medical care at taxpayer expense, which a legislator can get if he or she is only elected one time to Congress!

When did we allow our government to treat lawmakers like a new order of aristocracy? Of course, we have to pay those lawmakers something, and it should be substantial, but reasonably so. One hundred sixty-five thousand dollars a year for a Senator is, in my opinion, quite unreasonable. Yes, they do important work . . . sometimes. But the job is government service. One shouldn't be allowed to live at that level at the taxpayers' expense. Yes, I know that CEO's of major corporations make several times that each year. But those are private organizations, not public ones. No one is forced to buy stock in those companies or forced to purchase their products. Paying taxes, however, is unavoidable, like death. Paying legislators huge salaries is just another way that the government has gotten out of control and is screwing the producing workers that support it.

Personally, I think all legislators in Washington should have to live in special, public housing, adequate for the needs of their families, but definitely not opulent. Any expenses accrued for doing their jobs (specifically related to government work), such as necessary travel expenses should be paid for by the taxpayers. After that, they should only get a modest salary, huge by most people's standard, of say, $75,000 a year, tops. They will be getting free medical for life after all. And after housing, medical, and travel expenses are paid, then $75,000 per year is a damned good wage if you can get it, which most of us can't. So why do we treat our legislators as though they were royalty? They are just people; some intelligent, some not so intelligent; some good, some bad. They are supposed to be doing the job for the good of the nation. If they need a huge yearly salary, then let them do something else, in the private sector, not at the expense of the already hard-hit taxpayers.

The lesson that I am taking away from this Senator Craig flap is not about whther he is gay or not, but that being a politician, at least on the federal level seems like a good way to live well at the expense of everyone else, whether they voted for you or not.

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