If we are to achieve President Obama’s fantasy of more income equality,
let’s start with our CongressCritters.
Movement toward income equality — for those who work productively and for those who don’t — is generally a bad idea. The result would likely be to reduce the benefits the economy derives from those who work productively and thereby earn more than their lazy, incompetent and/or disabled fellow humans, as well as more than some who work for the joy of working rather than to earn money. However, if we are to have more equality why not start at top: with the Congress?
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. . . .
Under Article II, section 1,
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them. [Emphasis added.]
Although the compensation paid to our CongressCritters can be increased or decreased as the law shall from time to time provide, that paid to the President during the term for which most recently elected cannot be. However, He cannot constitutionally receive any emoluments other than compensation (salary) from the United States. Emoluments generally include “perks” and other benefits the monetary values of which can be determined; possibly those associated with free air travel for vacations for the entire Obama Family and even when President Obama does not join the rest of the family. How about use of military aircraft at Government expense to deliver First Dog Bo to a vacation spot? Those are topics for further exploration. However, since income equality has become one of President Obama’s pet projects, surely He will voluntarily reject any possibly extraconstitutional emoluments out of the goodness of His heart. Right?
Change in which we can believe has to begin somewhere. Should the Congress move toward income equality for others, let’s ask our CongressCritters to entertain a proposal along the following lines:
The average annual individual wage of citizens and others resident lawfully or otherwise in the United States, but exclusive of Government employees, shall be calculated on an annual basis. The average such individual wage so calculated shall be the compensation paid to members of both houses of the Congress during the following year.
Minor changes might well be necessary, such as by whom and how the calculations are to be made and perhaps that the top one (ten?) percent of individual annual wages be excluded. Note the reference to individual annual wages ($26,695 in 2011) rather than to household annul income ($50,500 in 2011). Members of the Congress received salaries of $174,000 during 2012. There were a few exceptions: majority and minority leaders of both the House and Senate received salaries of $193,400, while the Speaker of the House received $223,500.
My modest proposal is designed to achieve fair, equitable and common sense modifications to the compensation paid to CongressCritters to make it comparable to that of average Amerians. “Fair, equitable and common sense” proposals are always in the best interest of everyone; they are never unfair, inequitabe or nonsensical. Another consequence — doubtless an unintended one — might be to encourage movement of deadbeat career CongressCritters out of the Congress and into the much disparaged private sector. That would be good for governance of the Nation and, consistently with Federal policy, bad for the private sector (except that the supply of lobbyists would increase and hence the pay commanded by each might decrease).
Would such a proposal ever be considered seriously by the Congress?
Obviously not, unless it were to be hidden in massive, unread and comprehensively incomprehensible legislation. However, it might put just a little pressure on our honorable members to tread more cautiously than usual in any efforts to strangle the economy further with income equality legislation for everyone except themselves.