Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sowell on a Roll

Thomas Sowell has a great column today in Townhall.
In the column "Cheap Politicians", he says that we get what we pay for. What we're getting,especially these days, ain't a whole lot:

I don't make a million dollars a year but I think every member of Congress should be paid at least that much. It's not because those turkeys in Washington deserve it. It's because we deserve a lot better people than we have in Congress.

The cost of paying every member of Congress a million dollars a year is absolutely trivial compared to the vast amounts of the taxpayers' money wasted by cheap politicians doing things to get themselves re-elected. You could pay every member of Congress a million dollars a year for a century for less money than it costs to run the Department of Agriculture for one year.

There is no point complaining about the ineptness, deception or corruption of government while refusing to do anything to change the incentives and constraints which lead to ineptness, deception and corruption.

You are not going to get the most highly skilled or intelligent people in the country, people with real-world experience, while offering them one-tenth or less of what such people can earn in the private sector.

Sowell points out what most of us have known for a long time: The primary goal of any politician is to get re-elected, even if it means draining the federal treasury dry in order to do it:

How many people in the top layer of their respective professions are going to sacrifice the future of their families -- the ability to give their children the best education, the ability to have something to fall back on in case of illness or tragedy, the ability to retire in comfort and with peace of mind -- in order to go into politics?

A few people here and there may be willing to make such sacrifices for the good of the country but, by and large, you get what you pay for. What we are getting as cheap politicians are often a disgrace -- and enormously costly as reckless spenders of the taxpayers' money in order to keep themselves getting re-elected.

Whatever the problems faced by the country, the number one priority of elected officials is to get re-elected. Nothing does that better than handing out money from the public treasury. Cheap politicians are expensive politicians, currently costing the taxpayers more than a trillion dollars a year.

If you have trouble visualizing what a trillion is, just remember that a trillion seconds ago, no one on this planet could read or write. A trillion seconds is thousands of years. That's the kind of money our cheap politicians are spending in order to keep getting re-elected.

Has it always been this way? Not exactly:

George Washington, who took pride in his self-control, lost his temper completely when someone told him that a decision he was going to make could cost him re-election as President. He blew up at the suggestion that he wanted to be President, rather than serving as a duty when he would rather be back home.

What we really need in Washington are folks who don't want the job, have absolutely no desire to be re-elected, and will serve only out of a sense of duty.


Update: Betsy Newmark doesn't find the idea to be nearly as brilliant as I do. She makes the point that additional money won't necessarily lead to a better candidate and may make the candidates more desperate to be re-elected. I agree that if we don't get better candidates, the problems will get worse, not better. The scenario only works if the status quo is changed.

Tags: ,

Technorati talk bubble
Locations of visitors to this page