By J. D. Longstreet
If you are a US Congressperson or a US Senator, I expect you are deep into a fit of apoplexy right about now and you are unable to read the remainder of this article. However, if you are a “normal” American you are still vertical and wondering how such a thing is done.
Well, the simplicity of it is underwhelming, to say the least.
I’ve been thinking about this since my high school days when a Congressperson was introduced to the students of my school as a “Public Servant”. In the naivete of my youth I thought servant meant “one who serves.” Further, I thought a public servant was “one who served the public.” Do you see how misled I was in those oh, so innocent days?
Even then I thought it approaching corruption to actually pay someone to serve the public in such a manner as a Congressperson, a Senator, a President, and such like.There is a way around this and it is an honorable solution to the problem. Not to mention that after the original outlay of funds, the cost to the taxpayers of financing a national legislature would be practically nothing when compared to the costs today.
First, we need to construct a Congressional Compound. A building, or complex of buildings, with four room apartments in them. Each apartment would consist of a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, and an office. Each Congressperson and Senator would be assigned an apartment in which he, or she, would reside while in Washington on national business. When in Washington on private business. he, or she, would have to finance their own living accommodations. (Motel or hotel) The "dormitory" would only be available when the law maker was in town on business for his/her state or the nation. There would be no cost to the legislator for residing in the dorm.
The CC would have a cafeteria for meals and would even provide room service to the congressperson's apartment (or "suite", if you prefer) The legislator would be provided with vouchers for meals which he, or she could receive in either of the capital cafeterias. These voucher's would be used only when the legislator was in town on national business.
There would be a parking complex at the CC for those who prefer to have their personal transportation with them while in town serving the nation. A fleet of shuttle buses would be available, 24 hours a day, to transport the legislators back and forth from their dorm to the capital for business sessions of the House or the Senate or for committee meetings, hearings, and such.
Now, I understand that we cannot expect them to serve with absolutely no pay. well, we CAN expect them to, but that is not realistic. So, since the people of the several states have chosen these people to represent THEM and THEIR interests while in DC, I submit the states should be responsible for any remuneration for the duties performed for the states. In other words, leave it to the states to decide how much to pay THEIR Congresspersons and Senators... NOT the people of the United States.
The states could use any number of formulas for arriving at a figure. One is to take the highest salary in the state and the lowest salary in the state... toss them out , them average the remainder... and the average figure would be the salary of the legislator. Of course, the formula , and the salary figure would have to be approved by the voters. There would be no cost of living increases until the state legislature proposed them and the voters approved them.
Transportation to DC from the states would be provided my the state's National Guard aboard that state's National Guard aircraft. Of course, the legislator would be free to choose his, or her, own mode of transportation to and from DC at his, or her, own expense. Any traveling on official business connected directly to his, or her, duties as a Congressperson, or Senator, would be on military aircraft. (Currently we the people of the US are paying the Congress somewhere in the area of 93 million dollars a year in salaries... not including all the perks.)
Now, I've just scratched the surface here, and believe me, I know this is simplistic as all get-out! But, it seems to me that we have to do something to get back to the idea that Public Service is just that: SERVICE. Career politicians are killing this country. As things stand, currently, our national legislators are riding the gravy train and they know it.
One other thing: I think the states should be allowed to decide how many terms their national legislators should be allowed to serve. That would require a constitutional amendment, I know, as would a goodly portion of what I have proposed above.
The point in all this , for me is, we the people, need to regain control of our government. The optimal starting point, as I see it, is to hit them in their wallets, just as they have been doing to us for lo, these many years.
It's time to remind Congress who the boss is.
J. D. Longstreet