Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

Here’s a quick snapshot of American democracy in action. This is from Democracy Now!:

A new study shows members of Congress saw a boost in personal wealth as the U.S. economy suffered the worst of the economic recession. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, lawmakers’ personal wealth increased an average 16 percent between 2008 and 2009. The number of millionaires rose to 261, nearly half the total members of Congress. The median wealth of a House member topped $765,000, while the average for a senator was more than $2.3 million.

Being a congressman is good work if you can get it. It’s also recession proof, like being a Wall Street investment banker or corporate CEO. And it’s not like our legislators don’t deserve to be handsomely compensated. After all, they do such fine work. In fact, you could say that whenever Congress puts its hand to the plow a downright miracle ensues. For example, take a look at what the People’s House accomplished just yesterday:

Jobless benefits will run out for 2 million people during the holiday season unless they are renewed by a Congress that’s focusing more attention on a quarrel over preserving tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year.

It’s looking iffy at best whether Congress will renew jobless benefits averaging $310 per week nationwide that are presently claimed by almost 5 million people who have been out of work for more than six months.

An extension of jobless benefits enacted this summer expires Dec. 1, and on Thursday, a bill to extend them for three months failed in the House. Democrats brought the bill to the floor under fast-track rules that required a two-thirds vote to pass. Republicans opposed the legislation because they were denied a chance to attach spending cuts, so the measure fell despite winning a 258-154 majority.

You have to pay for the best to get the best, and we’re obviously getting our money’s worth. Will Rogers was correct when he pointed out that America’s got the best politicians money can buy.

So a chamber full of millionaires and near millionaires couldn’t manage to extend unemployment benefits through the holidays, Lordy be! Will wonders never cease?

Meanwhile, Republicans scream bloody murder at the prospect of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and the spineless hypocrites in the Democratic party will meekly go along with them. I can hear Harry Reid right now, stammering away like Elmer Fudd in defense of the Democratic party’s next big cave-in: “Ow-ow-ow, we can’t waize taxes during a wecovewy, that would sth-sth-sth-sthlow job cweathion!

So people like Lloyd Blankfein will get to keep their tax cuts, but somebody who’s been laid-off as a result of Mr. Blankfein’s chicanery won’t get a measly three-hundred dollar a week unemployment check during Christmas time.

There’s a word for that kind of fucked-up, inverted system and that word ain’t democracy.

plu·toc·ra·cy   /pluˈtɒkrəsi/

1. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.
2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.

There’s another word that also springs to mind, pathetic.

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