Public officials: To pay or not to pay?

My last post quoted Benjamin Franklin regarding people filling the roles of public officials, specifically elected ones, along with the topics of salary and warnings of monarchy. In this post I’d like to address those quotes.

I believe our government is currently controlled by factions, no longer the precise government of the people, by the people and for the people that it was once intended to be. I’m not saying the elected and appointed officials in every level of State and Federal government are traitors, tyrants  frauds, criminals, liars or all around ne’r-do-wells, just that factions exist within the system. A faction is a minority group inside of a majority group prone to disagreement and contention with the majority group, or other minority groups, or anyone in general. Factions aren’t favorable. When I say there are factions in the government I refer to the two main parties, democrats and republicans. Not everyone aligned with these parties fits the ugly description I’ve provided, but I think too many do. Call me a wing-nut,  extremist, or conspiracy theorist, but I think it is painfully clear that those in power do not fit the traditional definition of liberty seeking freemen.

It is true that the foundation of this country was not perfect, and I don’t think we ought to excuse immoral behavior because of other acts by the person that were really great. Nor do I think we should vilify or dismiss the Founding Fathers because of their mortal weakness. I think Jesus’ invitation for those free from sin to cast the first stone is something we should all strive to live by. I am hypocritical at times, but hopefully I recognize it or someone cares enough to correct me and I can improve myself. I don’t think it takes a perfect person to be a teacher or creator, if so, a government run by people could never be successful. No, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and the rest were not perfect, but neither are we. They formed a framework for a country unlike any that had been recorded in history to that point. They did it as imperfect men, and made mistakes, and were limited in their success at times because they were flawed; however, because they were flawed they knew the dangers that the type of government they were suggested would likely face and perhaps cause. They knew from their personal experiences that mankind is flawed; capable of great works and benevolent acts, but flawed at the same time. They allowed for this in the structure they created with the Constitution. Allowed isn’t the right word, they prepared for it. From reading Franklin’s words I see that he predicted exactly what has happened to our government.

Politicians are no longer people, they are politicians; this is wrong, they should still be people. I couldn’t be president if I wanted to be. I could never raise enough cash to make it happen. I’m not connected to anyone; I don’t have any relatives in the system already. How many people are in this country? Why did we have a father/son combo as presidents separated by two terms? There was no one else available? Why do people serve in congress for 20 or more years? Isn’t there anyone else who is capable and willing to do the job? Don’t these folks want to go home and live a normal life? No. They don’t want to live a normal life, their ambition and greed drive them to stay in politics. They love the control and the money. Members of congress get paid over $170,000 a year. Franklin thought they should do it out of a sense of duty and be rewarded by the honor that comes from fulfilling duty. I have never earned that much money, and I likely will never come close to it. Most people I know are in the same category. When that much money is involved I don’t think these folks are making decisions based on the same factors “the people” would use. I don’t think they represent me very well.

So what do we do about it? How can we get back to the principles of government that launched the American experiment? Should we want to return to the basics of a government of the people and for the people, or are we happy with our new aristocracy and group monarchy?

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About paulbrodie

I am a writer and a musician. My education is in psychology with emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. My work experience has been primarily with electronic document management. Academically and intellectually I am interested in criminology and sociology. I am married to my favorite person in the world and we have one daughter.
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