I was talking to a friend about this last week because we'd both seen a facebook thing comparing political pay to military pay. The implication of the piece was that political pay is too high.
I think it's too low. I want our senators and representatives to make a bundle, and to know that their pay will continue when they leave office. My reason is that I don't like politicians much, at least not the sort we've got now. We've got the best congress corporations can buy, and it stinks.
I want real people to be able to afford to run for congress. I want teachers and doctors and practicing attorneys and mechanics and social workers to be able to run for congress after they've been in the work force for a long time and have developed ideas about how things might be made better. I want professionals to be able to leave their jobs, knowing that they can still feed their families and pay their mortgages and know that their futures will be secure. Why else would someone who's otherwise entrenched in the workaday world be able to make the switch? After they've been working for twenty or more years, they have children to feed, bills to pay, college tuitions to plan for.
Winning a seat in congress could cost them their careers, their seniority, their health insurance and retirement plan. How can we ask decent, intelligent, hardworking people to represent us at the cost of their own and their families' welfare?
So I say, pay Congress a bundle. Not just middle class, but seriously upper middle class. Enough to buy more house than they thought they could afford, enough to pay college tuition for their children, enough to give them a comfortable living while they're working for us. And I want that pay to continue, this to reduce the incentive to sell their souls (and us down the river) after they leave office. How can we ask people to work for us back in their districts when the lobbyists sucking up to them right outside their office doors make many times what we're paying them? That many saints, we don't have. I know I wouldn't be able to resist jumping ship and taking the money; I've got daughters to provide for.
Along with seriously increased pay, I'd take away their ability to profit off insider knowledge (see last week's 60 Minutes) by making them have blind trusts just like the president. And goodness only knows how, but I'd get rid of lobbyists.
First, though, the pay. We deserve a better congress, one that WE'VE paid for, not the corporations.