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Democracy and Power 103: Government money
The money taxed and spent by the politicians comes from the labor and ingenuity of millions of working persons. Politicians spend other peoples’ money.
The politician transfers money from productive people, to special interest groups.
Big Payday for Some Hill Staffers
The Wall Street Journal reports on the exorbitant bonuses given by the 96 non-returning Members of Congress to their staff, many of the staffers had also “volunteered” on the Members campaigns.
The 96 lawmakers paid their employees $6.7 million, or 31%, more in the fourth quarter of 2010 than they did, on average, in the first three quarters of the year.
That's about twice as much as the 16% increase awarded by lawmakers who returned to the 112th Congress, according to LegiStorm, an organization that tracks congressional salaries.
The disparity suggests retiring or defeated members used remaining funds in their official expenses budgets to boost salaries for staffers before they left Washington, cash that might otherwise have been returned to the U.S. Treasury.
Remember the words of Milton Friedman: …. If I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.
Now read the reasoning of a few of the biggest offenders. Mr. Marshall (D) of Georgia increased salaries by $237,479 in his final month in office:
"I'm glad I was able to help a little bit with these folks who were out of a job through no fault of their own," said Mr. Marshall, who is now teaching at Princeton University. "I think in those circumstances, most voters would have done the exact same thing."
Marion Berry (D) of Arkansas increased spending by $254,634 and stated, he "thought was the right thing to do."
In fairness, defeated Republicans in 2006 were similarly dishonorable.
Of course, as Friedman also observed, if it was the politician’s own money they would be much more careful about spending and would pay greater attention to the quality of the product purchased.
In all government actions, millions of hardworking Americans deserve enhanced trustworthy protection of their money – the product of every American’s labor and ingenuity.