Monday, April 13, 2009

‘Til Death Do Us Part

The other day while spending some time in the “contemplation room”… the place with all the porcelain equipment… I got to wondering how many years the leaders of Congress have served. This is the kind of stuff that bubbles to the surface of my brain when suitable reading material is not near at hand.

We know the current President is a little short in the experience department, but what about the Congressional leaders? And perhaps more importantly, what sort of experience outside of politics do they have?

Once again I tip my soggy cap to the Internet. I set my chubby fingers to work on Google and came up with some interesting statistics. I picked 20 well known leaders in Congress who are committee chairmen or simply well known. They are:

Joe Biden (Of course, he’s now VP and no longer in the Senate but hey, it’s my list.)
Robert Byrd
Ted Kennedy
John Dingell
Henry Waxman
Nancy Pelosi
Harry Reid
David Obey
Pete Stark
Pat Leahy
Chris Dodd
Ed Markey
Carl Levin
Richard Durbin
Steny Hoyer (Unknown but, Majority Leader)
Chuck Schumer
Daniel Inouye

Yeah, I know. These are all Democrats. But, they are in charge now. I’m confident many politicians on the other side of the aisle have similar backgrounds except, of course, all on my list are liberals.

The average amount of time served in federal office for the above list is 36.5 years. This does not include time served in elected office in their state legislatures. Robert Byrd, for example, has served 50 years in the Senate, seven years in the House and before that, 13 years in the West Virginia Senate. Harry Reid, the current Majority Leader only served 27 years in the House and Senate, but logged 15 years before that in the Nevada House. Hoyer only has 28 years in the House but did 15 years in the MD Senate first. John Dingell, the longest serving member of the House, has been re-elected every two years since 1955, two years after he graduated from Georgetown Law School.

These folks have spent virtually their entire working lives in the surreal world of Washington politics having their egos and bank accounts burnished and far removed from the day-to-day struggles of the average taxpayer. Chuck Schumer, who has 28 years in Congress and 6 in NY state government, never worked a single day outside of elected office. Only one (Pete Stark) has any business experience and only a few ever worked at a job in private enterprise at all except as lawyers. Of the 20 on my list all but two are lawyers. If you’ve ever wondered why Congress cannot bring itself to stop the runaway tort problem in the US, there’s your answer. They are all lawyers themselves.

The primary job of Congress is to spend money to run the government and to levy taxes to pay for it. Of course, over the years these professional politicians have come to believe that they can dictate nearly every aspect of our lives. From telling us how to educate our children to what labels must be on cereal boxes, from forbidding us to pray in schools to how fast we can drive, from how far a car must go on a gallon of gas to who can own a firearm, the politicians want to manage everyone’s life. And, with the above group in control, they want even more power. They want to tell corporations how much money they can pay their executives, what kind of toilets and light bulbs we have to use and how much carbon dioxide we can exhale. They want to take over and run major industries like banks and auto companies.

The question in my mind is: are these guys that smart? OK, nearly all graduated from law school so they must be smart. Well, Joe Biden actually graduated from law school so maybe that’s not a good test. Anyway, smart is not enough in my mind. How about a little practical experience?

Let’s face it, their primary objective in life has always been to get re-elected and they’re obviously pretty good at that. About 95% of them get sent back for another kick at the can every election cycle. Over the years they’ve re-giggered the Congressional electoral districts to create “safe” districts through gerrymandering to insure that either a Democrat or Republican automatically gets in. And, let’s not forget their control of the purse strings garners them substantial contributions for their campaigns. Think earmarks.

The current crop of Democrats in control wants to take it a step further. They already have the union, environmental and black vote locked up, but now they want to get as many people as possible on the government payroll and dole. They would also like to give amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants who will likely vote for Democrats too. If they succeed you can pretty much bet the farm that they will be in control for generations to come. If you like the way Germany and France operate you might be happy with that development. On the other hand, you might want consider that the power of the US military backed by its industrial and technological vibrancy has been defending the socialist democracies of Europe against tyranny since WWI. Who’s going to do it when the US can’t?

And don’t kid yourselves; with all their social commitments, increases in government and anti-business policies, the US won’t be able to afford to be the protector of freedom for much longer.


Rightwoman said...

LOL!!! Great post and the photo is worth the read . Your writing is quite good, and I am thinking we are all a bit tired to the professional politicians.
Keep up the good work, and I'll check in from time to time.

Gayle @Rightwoman

Heide said...

I'm an equal opportunity cynic. I don't believe anything any politician says, regardless of party affiliation,etc. Stricter term limits might quell some of this pessimism. The idea that's been floating around for years about having the president serve only 1 6-year term would be a good place to start. The country's lousy with lawyers too. Even daily tasks at my lowly level of employment are dictated by threats of lawsuits. In order to preserve any shred of sanity and still be able to take care of my kids, work, etc. I tend to shut out much of the news, politics, etc. It's not that I don't care, it's just that not being able to change anything is frustrating and overwhelming. Of course I vote, but when, as you mentioned, the same career politicians, and others like them, remain in office nothing ever changes. Cheers to you for being brave enough to explore and make sense of the upper workings of our government. Now off to bury my head in the sand and cook breakfast.