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article imageOp-Ed: US Congress is the 1% also

By Gar Swaffar     Dec 27, 2011 in Politics
When Occupy Wall Street began, several US Congressional denizens jumped on the bandwagon to denounce the 1%. It may not have been a completely honest position to take.
The gap between Main Street and Wall Street was well documented before, during and since the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrations became part of the recurring news cycle. The gap between Main Street and Constitution Ave. though, has largely been ignored.
At MSNBC, Rep. Ed Pastor (D) Arizona is being used as an example of how the sluggish economy, unemployment, declining housing values and a rising cost of living simply don't matter.
When the median net worth of an American family is US$100,000 and the Congressional pay scale begins at US$174,000 there is bound to be a bit of a discrepancy which will eventually show up in the retirement accounts of those who run for and gain a seat in Congress.
Rep. Pastor was a middle class family man before he went to Congress, one who has now become one of the 261 millionaires who saunter through the halls of Congress. Ostensibly doing the "peoples Business" there appears to also be some 'spare time" devoted to the accumulation of wealth.
As mentioned, the typical American family has a net worth today of under $100,000 when savings accounts, retirement accounts and real holdings are considered, minus any outstanding debts such as an underwater mortgage on the family home.
The typical Congressional net worth on the other hand has risen to a staggering $912,000, which doesn't even include the various perks which go with the office. Office staff, cell phones, travel allowances, and perhaps even more importantly, the ubiquitous "connections" to those who need a favor (aka: favorable legislation.)
Admittedly some members of Congress came by their wealth the old fashioned way, such as Sen. John Kerry, who married into the Heinz fortune, the Rockefeller' and Kennedy's and so on. Rep. Darrell Issa is one of a small group who entered Congress with a sizable fortune already in place from his private business ventures.
For many of the others though, the path to financial security appears to have led straight through the Halls of Congress.
At the Center for Responsive Politics website is a list of the ten richest members of Congress, oddly it seems the party of Wealth and Greed (Republicans) have only three of the top ten spots, while the party of the Common People hold the other seven slots on the exclusive list. Perhaps it would be no surprise to note that of the top twenty-five members of Congress with wealth accumulation from outside Congressional avenues, twenty of the twenty five are Republicans and only five are Democrats.
And lest I be accused of favoring the Party of Abraham Lincoln, rest assured: “Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”
― Mark Twain
The worthiness of noting the gains in Congressional wealth is in direct relation to the wealth lost by most American families and indeed, by most people on the planet who have even the most tenuous connection to a wealth accumulation plan and strategy in place.
One very recent issue which has come up is "Insider Trading" by politicians, (NBC) which is legal for them but which for Martha Stewart resulted in a five month prison sentence and a $30,000 fine.
Political insider trading might be legal for now, but it is still an abuse of power by those who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. I should in all fairness mention that the framers of the Constitution didn't write down any prohibition by members of the government elite to create personal wealth by means of inside knowledge of laws and rulings by governmental agencies.
However, neither did the framers of the Constitution foresee the plethora of bureaucrats which have descended like a plague on this nation. Agencies which Congress oversees with budget constraints, and agencies which issue "rulings" the way former monarchs and present dictators issue decrees of life and death apparently based on personal whim.
The lack of outrage against the members of Congress by OWS (National Review Online) is troubling, in that it suggests there may be an agenda of simply fomenting unrest rather than attempting to fix any of the perceived wrongs in the governmental and economic mess we're stuck in.
If only at the heart of matter there were a solution to the Crony Capitalism which both the OWS agenda shares with the Tea party agenda were able to be corrected, it seems this nation might be able to at least limp along for another decade or two without falling into a Third World status. Congress however, seems to be wearing blinders and only willing to point out the speck in someone else's eye, rather than concentrating on the plank in their own eye.
When Congress joins the rest of the nation and is able to accept an equal share of the misery, perhaps a solution will be forthcoming. Until that time, gold, heirloom seeds and water purification tablets are a good buy and good insurance.
And Nancy Pelosi is perhaps one of the most offensive at the game of pimping the OWS movement and then choosing a $10,000 a night resort in Hawai'i.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Congress, Us congress, congressional wealth, House of Representatives, Millionaires
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