One always get a little suspicious when a politician tells one you should do something (pay more taxes, use less gas, etc.) for yourself, your country, or the nebulous “common good.” One reason for that suspicion is that many, many times the actions of those same politicians are inconsistent with their own actions.
This point was driven home recently in a news report from the Mexican newspaper, La Razon. The newspaper alleged that Hugo Chavez, the very, very socialistic semi-dictator of Venezuela had placed $137 million of his family’s wealth in five bank accounts in the United States. His office, of course, denied the reports, claiming that Mr. Chavez is not a rich man with only one house to his name and no car after he gave his car to his son. I do not know if the news report is true or not but I doubt that Mr. Chavez is quite as poor as he claims. How ironic it would be that as his country’s economy suffers and his people suffer, this socialistic ruler was reaping the rewards, allegedly.
That brought to mind the various examples of hypocrisy that our own politicians have tried to hoist upon us without hoisting their opinions and dictates upon themselves:
- Late last summer, Bill and Hillary Clinton threw a huge wedding party and reception for their only child, Chelsea Clinton. Most news reports estimated that the gala cost between $3 and $5 million. I would never tell anybody how to spend their money, especially as it relates to their kids. however, I do find million dollar weddings way over the top, especially when shortly before the extravaganza Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton opined in the press that some Americans make too much money.
If this is indeed the case, one could opine that anyone that can spend upwards of $5 million for a wedding makes too much money. The Clintons have made well over $100 million since he left office but still have the audacity to say some Americans make too much money. Obviously at $5 million for a wedding and over $100 million for their earnings, she hypocritically does not include herself in that category.
- On one of the television networks today there was a story on the office shuffle that is going on in Washington as new people come to serve in Congress and others leave. One aspect of the story was that Senator Minority leader Mitch O’Connell was going to move into the office space that had been used by the late Ted Kennedy. No big story here except for the fact that the office space for this one Senator was a whopping 3200 square feet in size. Most Americans have never lived in a home, never mind had an office, that was 3200 square feet. Most have never worked for an executive that had an office that was 3200 square feet.
As politicians talk about downsizing government and the need for the country to tighten its belt in these tough economic times, how about showing that same attitude and downsizing their own budgets and extravagances? No one in government needs an office that big. Break it up into smaller offices, bring in some cubicles like the rest of America and pocket the savings. Don’t tell me to downsize when you have 3200 square feet to bounce around, whether the occupant is a Democrat or a Republican.
- A favorite piece of hypocrisy from the past year comes from the good Senator from Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry. Recall that Mr. Kerry has married into the Heinz family fortune, which puts his family wealth well north of $100 million. Also, Mr. Kerry lives in Massachusetts, summers in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts and has represented the state of Massachusetts in the Senate for years. Seems like he is Massachusetts citizen through and through.
However, according to a July 23, 2010 Boston Herald news article by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa, that may not be the case. Apparently, the Senator recently purchased a luxury 76 foot, New Zealand built boat with “glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage.” Obviously, this is not a row boat. However, rather than berth in the boat in Massachusetts where he lives, where he summers, and who he represents in Congress, Senator Kerry decided to berth the luxury sloop in Newport, Rhode Island. This action allowed him to avoid paying almost $440,000 in Massachusetts sales tax and an annual Massachusetts excise of about $70,000. Rhode Island does not levy those types of taxes on boats.
So here we are, just a month or so removed from the Democrats howling that those making $250,000 or more in America do not pay enough taxes and he obviously is dodging paying legitimate, existing taxes to his financially strapped home state with this little out-of-state berthing maneuver. How hypocritical can you get? He is trying to avoid in state taxes what only a small handful of Americans make in a single year. And it is not like he needs the money, given the Heinz fortune he has access to. Do as I say, pay more taxes, while I look to avoid the same fate.
- Back to the Clintons, we mentioned above that they have made over $100 million over the past decade or so. Regardless of how much money they make, they continue to get full Secret Service protection at the taxpayers’ expense. However, for many of those retired taxpayers collecting Social Security, earn a penny more than what the political class dictates in a year as a threshold of earnings and start paying back a dollar to the government for every two dollars over that maximum earning level. Thus, the common American can be penalized for earning too much money but our rich politicians are never required to step up and pay for their protection regardless of how rich the became as a result of their time in office.
- Staying with the Clintons, recent news reports and Congressional testimony by and about Hillary show a brazen disregard for taxpayer dollars and the taxpayers that pay them by the State Department. In Congressional testimony in February, 2010, it was revealed that the United States government was about to embark on building a $1 billion embassy in London. $1 billion for a single building. That was not to be confused with the $500 million embassy that the United States government was building in Afghanistan’s capital.
Is the State Department and Congressional committees that allow this type of reckless spending to exist not aware of the hard times Americans are suffering and the skyrocketing national debt the political class is running up? $1 billion for one building is ridiculous as is 3200 square feet of space for a single politician. I guess these people are just special.
- How could we forget the early days of the Obama administration where it seemed that every day we found that nominees for high ranking administration positions never got around to paying their fair share of taxes? Ordinary Americans go to jail for not paying their taxes but somehow these political appointees got away without jail time. Tom Daschle, a long term ex-U.S. Senator never got appointed because of the large amount of taxes he owed but one nominee, Tim Geithner, actually became Secretary of Treasury.
- One last action, although minor, reflects on how out of touch the politicians in this country are with the needs and issues of the ordinary citizens. Given the turbulent November midterm election results and the low approval ratings of politicians in general, you would have thought they would have gotten he message: start working on the major issues and stop working on wasteful government spending and actions that benefit no one except the political class. Democrats in Washington took a “shellacking” (Obama’s words).
But one New Mexico politician did not think he needed to heed these results. Governor Bill Richardson has spent his time and government resources of his state to work towards a government pardon of Billy The Kid over the past few months. Billy The Kid was an outlaw, there is no doubt about that, and he died almost 130 years ago, no doubt about that. But with public schools failing, unemployment stubbornly high, state governments running out of money, etc., Governor Richardson would rather work on pardoning a long dead outlaw. Get the message governor, you are not exempt from a low approval rating, work on the real issues.
One could go on and on, the hypocrisy of the political class knows no end. Unfortunately, their elitist attitudes and out-of-touch insular lives makes it very difficult for them to understand how real Americans are suffering and that maybe they should not tell us what to do while they lounge around in billion dollar embassies and 3200 square foot offices.
Several steps from might help to set them straight:
Step 1 – reduce the budget and size of the Federal government by 10% a year for five years. Maybe if the political class had less of our money to work with, embassies would be smaller, offices would be smaller, and the political class would have to learn, for the first time, to live on a budget like the rest of us do.
Step 2 – hold Congressional committee members accountable for government screw ups, removing those committee members from their posts for those screw ups. This would force them to finally do some work and truly understand the consequences of their actions: penalties or dismissal for non-performance, just like the rest of working America.
Step 3 – base Congressional pay raises on performance, as measured by the voters, so that the voters could punish hypocritical and excessive, elitist behavior by the political class in addition to rewarding straight forward ands effective governance by the political class.
Step 4- impose term limits on all politicians so that they reason for gaining a political seat is not to see how big your office could eventually become by staying in office an unlimited amount of time but to see how much you can contribute to the good of the country, while in office a limited amount of time.
Step 5 – require ex-Presidents to start paying back one dollar of every two dollars earned, above a minimum threshold, for their Secret Service protection, just like the rest of us have to do with our Social Security payments.
Hopefully, with these steps and a better class of politicians we can return to the original tenets of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, where every American is treated the same way and given the same opportunities, whether or not they are an elected politician of not.
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