I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Say it ain't so...

So, I'm actually somewhat out of the loop on what's going on in the US right now.

I just found out that there are some members of congress who voted against the so-called ObamaCare and yet signed up for the new tax-payer subsidized congressional and government plans.

I further heard that the reason this is OK (even if slightly hypocritical) is because “Unfortunately, being here in Washington is very expensive." (Rep. Renee Ellmers, N.C. (R)) Apparently way too expensive for her $174,000 annual congressional salary.

But I don't blame her for anything. I don't agree with affirmative action, but I'm a beneficiary of it. And I will continue to be as long as I can. Hypocrite? Sure. But it'd be just plain stupid to do otherwise. So, if I have a choce between being stupid, and being a hypocrite, well I think there is not really a choice to be made. So, I think members of congress are perfecetly right in accepting the healthcare they attempted to eschew from general voting populace. It's a dam good deal and they'd be stupid not to take it.

Clearly the problem lies elsewhere. I don't know where exactly, but it's probably somewhere in the neigborhood of whatever the hell made her think it was a good idea to take a job that doesn't pay enough to live "comfortably" in the city where the job is located.

I'd be willing to bet that the worst student in the worst inner city middle school in the worst inner city in the nation would be able to tell you it's a bad idea to take a job that doesn't pay you enough money to live where you need to live in taking the job. Hell, ask your own kids. "Kids, is it a good idea to take a job that doens't pay you enough money to live in the city where you'll have to live if you take the job?" I'll wait..................

Please tell me I'm missing part of the story...Surely the leaders of our country cannot be so dense as to not know that you don't take jobs that don't pay you enough money to live in the city where you'll have to live if you take the job...And if they are that dense, then I think our nation's elite private schools (that many members of congress attended) have much bigger problems than our underfunded public school kids who are merely getting there asses kicked in math by the Japanese.

So please readers, where have I, or it, gone wrong??

S. Holbrook

Here's an idea...stop paying members of congress so much money to not sit in those supremely comfortable looking tax-payer bought chairs I see on C-SPAN and I'd be willing to bet that the prices of goods and (ahem) "services" would decrease dramatically.

Just a thought...


  1. Are you advocating the following position?
    If a person is opposed to a proposed law, then he should not participate in the consequences of that law.

    Minor points:
    A. Congressional health care is part of an employee benefit package not part of national health insurance.
    B. Given the level of responsibility I think Congresscritters are not overpaid.
    1) People who run much smaller organizations get paid much more.
    2) I don't want to have only independently wealthy people in Congress.

    For more along this line see the post DCCC on November 22, 2010

  2. No, I don't say that one shouldn't participate in the consequences of a law to which one is opposed. I'm opposed to affirmative action, but I think every minority should take advantage of it while they can. Even those who can't afford private healthcare, yet are opposed to national healthcare, should take it if it's provided. It's just the smart thing to do.

    With respect to A, all I meant to say is that it is tax-payer supported (yes, I know congresspersons pay taxes, but certainly not enough to provide their own healthcare). So there seems to be, at the very least, a "tension" in denying your taxpayers the very same benefit that they, in large part, provide to you. Even the local post office clerk has a comprehensive healthcare package for no other reason than she works for the government. Her job isn't any more demanding that being a cashier at the local Office Depot. And probably less demanding (and certainly less dangerous) than the taxi driver who shuttles around congressional big-wigs.

    But, If I were in Congress, I'd take the healthcare. It'd be stupid not to do so. (Of course, I'd also provide it to the citizens of my country as well.) But, the argument that congresspersons are just intrinsically more deserving of healthcare doesn't seem to fly.

  3. With respect to B 1&2, surely these can't be a matter of principle. Perhaps it's the case that those smaller organization runners are overpaid as well (everyone else is doing it just doesn't cut it...I'm reminded of jumping off bridges). Perhaps those smaller runners have more responsibility (probably not in this case, but it is possible and in such cases B1 isn't going carry any weight).

    I agree with B2, but it still remains that if the cost of DC living (and campaigns) were lower, then it still needn't be that case that there would be only independently wealthy people in Congress (they could even throw in a relocation allowance commensurate with distance traveled to relocate to DC...also, I thought congresscritters got a housing allowance as well, but I could be mistaken here.)

    That being said, I meant the P.S. to be more whimsical than anything. I actually think the system of pay is a pretty good one (proposed salary increases don't take effect until next term...there's an annual cost of living increase in salary (yet another reason "too expensive" just seems really weak) etc.). And I do think that given the amount of investment put into becoming a member of Congress justifies the salary (I wouldn't take a job where I make less money than it took to prepare myself for the job). And like you said, amount of responsibility as well. Not to mention, many members of Congress could make a lot more money in the private sector yet choose to remain in public service. I was just thinking from the context of "DC is too expensive" there are other ways to make DC "less expensive."

  4. My real issue was with the proposed justification..."DC is really expensive." That, I don't think, is a very good excuse. I just don't see how a little thing like "cost of living" can sneak up on you like that. A couple hours of research and you can get a pretty good idea of how much it costs to live in any given city. If your salary is not commensurate with your lifestyle in that city, then don't take the job (and certainly not a job that it costs money to get in the first place). I would prefer a bit of candor (not excuses). Just say "It'd be stupid not to take this. Since I'm not stupid, I'm going to take it." Sure, people may feel slighted, but "a good bargain" is something we can all understand. I'd rather have a "slighter" in office than an idiot. But that's probably just personal taste.

    So yeah...when a grieving mother asks why she must choose between financial ruin and life-saving treatment, while you, congresswoman, make more than enough on your own to have provided your child with said treatment even without healthcare (provided in part by the grieving mother) OR financial ruin, the answer "Well, it's because my city is more expensive to live in than yours" seems to fall somewhat flat.

  5. I would agree with you that "DC is really expensive." is kinda weak. Is it still true that they have to maintain a house in their home district as well as in DC?