"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

By request, Tom Delay

>> Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Like a cover band, I'm now doing requests. Bubbi asked for my take on the Tom Delay "scandal", so here it goes.

I want to start with the reality of how business is conducted around the world. When I was a manager at Columbia/HCA, I hired employees & consultants and bought hardware. I was given food baskets, tickets to the Mavericks and Stars and invites to cocktail hours around Dallas from a lot of different sources. It was both a "thank you" and incentive for me to continue using them as a vendor. I'm sure if you ask anyone with any amount of purchasing authority, they will tell you how they got something "free" from a vendor, even if it's just a t-shirt or coffee mug. Now, take that up a step and examine the board of directors and the executive staff. Would you consider it unusual for business to be conducted on the golf course, totally paid for by one party? Or on a yacht cruise? How about if Company A decides that the best way to get business from Company B is to fly the board of directors to a corporate retreat where discussions can occur in a private and leisurely fashion? No, it's not unusual. It's how business gets done around the world.

However it is bad for people who get their paychecks from the government, especially if they make policy for the rest of us. The problem is that there are very few members of Congress or the Senate that aren't guilty of getting a paid trip to XXX from some company trying to do business with the government or looking to pass/stop a piece of legislation. It's also common for the spouses of said members to be in lobbyist/legal/sales positions. Why? Because you can make a LOT of money being Mrs. Tom Harkin. The target is on Delay's back right now because he was instrumental in getting Texas redistricted, and that put 5 more Republicans in Congress. Another reason is that he is a conservative Republican, which automatically gives the MSM open season on this strange creature they don't understand. Moreover, he's wanted because he is the Majority Leader. Say it with me slow; he is the Republican Majority Leader. Ahhhh, much better. Anyone here remember a fellow from South Dakota named Daschle? I'm sure he used to be big in Democratic leadership, but I'm having trouble remembering what….Oh well, I'm sure the Democrats haven't forgotten.

My beef with the way Congress has been run for the past 70 years or so is that they are in session for so much of the year. Why? Do 5,000 new laws need to be voted on EVERY year? If so, why? Isn't it a sign that you're not doing something right if you have to keep doing it over and over and over?

Other points to consider: Members of Congress (See section " Current Staffing and Administrative Environment") are allocated a 'clerk-hire' allowance of $557,400 annually. Multiply that by 440 (includes non-voting members from the territories) and you come up with $245,256,000 for staff expenses alone.

For the Senate I find that "Since Fiscal Year 1992, the amount appropriated by the Senate for the personnel and office expenses account has remained at $185.8 million, providing an 'average' Senator with salary and expense funds of approximately $1.85 million annually."

This gives us a grand total of $431,056,000 in office expenses for the two houses. Half a billion dollars is a lot of change.

  • I suggest giving each Member $100,000 for the purpose of hiring a staff member or two in their home district for the purpose of answering mail/phones/faxes from constituents.

  • I suggest lowering both the amount of time Congress is in session and the amount each Member is paid.

  • I propose that laws should be written in everyday English. Because it doesn't resort to legalese, the Constitution can be understood in a single reading, even with the changes in language during the past 218 years.

  • The tax code should be a single page document.

  • If it doesn't effect/affect everyone in the nation, it shouldn't be Congress' business.

  • Riders on bills should be the exception rather than the rule. If something can't get passed on its own merits, why pass it at all?

Now I read somewhere that only 60% of all money spent on education is actually used to educate students. The rest is spent on the monstrous Federal and States' bureaucracies. There's an opportunity to save money and actually provide better education at the same time. Maybe even raise teacher salaries too. Too bad the NEA wouldn't like that...

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