Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Know That Your Government is Rotten

Here is a bit from a Washington Post article that points out that while the "representatives" of the people have gotten fabulously wealthy over the last 25 years, the common people are either treading water or slowly sinking:
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.


The growing financial comfort of Congress relative to most Americans is consistent with the general trends in the United States toward inequality of wealth: Members of Congress have long been wealthier than average Americans, and in recent decades the wealth of the wealthiest Americans has outpaced that of the average.

In 1984, the 90th percentile of U.S. families had holdings worth six times the median family’s; by 2009, the 90th percentile was worth 12 times the median family, according to the University of Michigan study, a longitudinal panel survey. These figures include home equity.

This growing inequality, not surprisingly, is seen in Congress. Not only has the median wealth increased, but the proportion of representatives who have little besides a home has shrunk. In 1984, one in five House members had zero or negative net worth excluding home equity, according to the disclosures; by 2009, that number had dropped to one in 12.
When the guardians of the government are stuffing their pockets with money while the people are slowly sinking, things are rotten. There is corruption and incompetence in government.

The Republicans loved to say that "government is the problem, not the solution". That's got it wrong. The problem is that the government politicians are the problem, not the solution. These "elected representatives" have been using their power to feed at the trough of government, taking money from lobbyists, selling their votes, all while they have been telling the ordinary citizens that the problem is "big government", not crooked, greedy politicians.

Rather than pass laws to help their constituents. These pigs have been feasting off tax money while blaming "big government" for everything. They are hypocrites, crooks, and liars. And they and their buddies, the elite 1% are doing this at the expense of the bottom 99%.

Note: From this same article. Here is how the rich view themselves as deserving their wealth. This is what a guy who married into the Phillips petroleum empire says of how "hard work" will make you a billionaire:
In 1973, Kelly married Victoria Phillips, an heir to the oil fortune. Kelly’s financial disclosure forms show that among her holdings is stock in Phillips Resources Inc., which is valued at between $5 million and $25 million and which generated more than $100,000 annually in dividends.

Four years out of college in 1974, Mike and Victoria were able to buy a home for $50,000, roughly twice the median value of homes in Pennsylvania at the time, a large, stately house close to downtown.

In 1997, Kelly bought his dad’s business from him, taking out a $1.6 million mortgage to pay for it.

When discussing his wealth and how it came to him, Kelly, who was called “Millionaire Mike” during the 2010 campaign, grows animated.

“The way my dad taught me was pretty basic: You have to kill more than you eat. You gotta wake up every day before anyone else, you better get to work, and you better stay later than everybody else,” he said. “I’m a rich guy because I’ve worked hard. I gotta work every fricking day. Listen, nobody gives it to you. I compete. I’m not the only guy selling hot dogs at the ballpark, okay?”
I don't doubt he worked hard. But tens of millions of people work hard, real hard. A lot of poor people hold down two jobs at minimum wage working incredibly hard. But they don't "build up" car dealerships. This guy Mike Kelly, a Republican, worked hard. I don't doubt it. But he didn't get fabulously wealthy from working hard. His dad owned a car dealership and he bought out his father (probably at a steeply discounted price) and he married an heiress to a fortune. I bet a lot of janitors would me multi-millionaires if their fathers owned car dealerships and they married heiresses. And I bet they would be millionaires if they only put in an "average day" at work. It wasn't the hard work that made Mike Kelly rich. It was his education, his connections, his charm, probably his "flexible" ethics, and certainly some good old fashioned hard work.

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