Thursday, April 1, 2010


TOO SMALL TO FLAIL: The things that piss off the electorate really baffles us sometimes. Perhaps it’s the ease with which we fall for the misdirection ploy. Maybe it’s that when a scam is of the MEGO (my eyes glaze over) variety people go back to something they can understand rather than spend the extra time to figure it out.

But whatever it is it seems that the masses prefer to worry about getting a Woolworth’s Funereal (being nickeled and dimed to death) than receiving a full walletectomy.

That may explain why we generally get up in arms over the pennies our elected officials receive for their services instead of the legal- and not so legal- bribery system that is democracy American style which cost us untold riches on the back end.

A perfect example is Honolulu Advertiser columnist/blogger Dave Shapiro’s seemingly never ending crusade to mention the pay raise the legislature received a couple of years back at every opportunity as if it alone were at the root of all economic miseries.

But what Dave fails to mention other than occasionally and in passing is that the low pay for “part time” legislators has led to a system where the nature of the outside employment of most legislators is a direct result of the power of their positions.

It takes a special “boss” to let their employee spend three months away from their job as well as a slew of time between sessions. Just go down the list of legislators’ outside jobs and you will more often than not see “consultant”- usually with firms whose profits rise and fall with the actions of the legislature.

Combined with those direct bribes known as “campaign contributions” we’re stuck with a system that cost us billions in tax credits and special interest legislation often actually written by corporate crooks and cronies doling out the moolah..

But while we’re worried about the actual salaries that the reps and sens are being paid, keeping them low is what actually causes this fraudulent system to thrive.

In order to be a state legislator either you play the “consultant” game and ply the rubber chicken circuit or you’re independently wealthy. There’s no in-between and no opportunity for the citizen-legislator we all cite as ideal.

We’ve spoken to literally dozens of people over the years, ones who everyone wishes would run for office but don’t because they simply can’t afford it. Yet Shapiro and his mindless adherents want to keep the salaries at a low enough level to keep the current system in place.

And it’s the same nationally. This week we’ve noted four copies of a “chain letter” email we first started receiving about six months ago but has gone viral on the local progressive “lists”, entitled “An idea whose time has come”.

It reads:

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws... The self-serving must stop....

This is the same congress that has not just allowed but perpetuated the fiscal system, bailing out Wall St. and the banks while people are being thrown out of their houses after being scammed by the self same crew- a crew that refills congressional campaign coffers like it’s a 7-11 refilling your 87 ounce Dr. Pepper.

Yet there’s no real regulation even proposed at this point for the banks or campaign finance. Instead the email proposes a:

28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ".

Are you freakin’ kidding? This is what gets your panties in a bunch? Not constitutional amendments denying the demented recent Supreme Court ruling confirming “corporate personhood” or the 30 year old “money is speech” ruling than makes public financing of elections a Herculean task if not an absolute joke?

Parenthetically that’s another tangential idiocy- people who say “I don’t want my tax dollars financing these politicians campaigns”. For every dollar we’d spend taking money out of political campaigns we’d be saving literally millions doled out to those that pay the legal bribes under the current system.

For instance we are now faced with a give-away to insurance companies instead of a single payer Medicare-for-all that would save us trillions because congress actually admits they are too controlled by campaign contributions to get it passed. It’s just one example of the cost of privately financed campaigns.

It’s the same stupid mentality that has people claiming the “moral hazard” of helping their neighbor payoff the impossible mortgage the bank scammed them into while thinking the trillions given out to “too big to fail” institutions was done in order to “save the financial system”.

It’s the same idiotic cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face “pay cuts for the legislature” mantra that actually makes sure that they have to live a shady existence to survive and serve at the same time.

Get off it folks. While we argue with the teller over the quality of the free toaster they’re giving out in the front of the bank the CEOs are shoveling cash out the back door.

We’re just too distracted by our own petty jealousies and craven covetousness to notice the fixed nature of the game of three-card-Monte being played out on the corner.

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