Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Rule: Congressional Pay

Congress should be paid by the hour for how much actual work they do, and only at minimum wage.


  1. Yes, and that wouldn't give Congress members an incentive to accept more bribes at all. Because everyone is as simple as a character in a Saturday morning cartoon targeted at kindergardeners, and simplistic reforms never have any unforeseen side effects.

    (Oh, and please don't bore us all by saying "we'd watch them for bribes". Modern bribery is not done by such crude methods that you'd find suitcases full of cash, or transfers between Swiss bank accounts. Bribes these days take the form of giving high-paying jobs to spouses and other family members, or the sales of "used" products at incredibly low prices which are actually new, or simply high-paying jobs after leaving office. Practically every level of legislative government goes in for this -- including the local; there's a chance amounting nearly to a certainty that your town's government gets kickbacks from a developer.

    You and Warren Buffett are too naive about the rich and powerful. You think that if you try to pass a law ending their privilege, they will only fight it at the level of fighting the law, instead of simply finding ways to escape the terms you set.

    1. Your argument appears to be that politicians are corrupt, so we should keep paying them a lot of money. That may be the dumbest thing I ever heard.

    2. My argument is that paying them nothing at all will merely exacerbate the corruption. Your counterargument seems to be "politicians are corrupt, but we shouldn't bother trying to fix that, we should just let them get away with it".

      Really what we need is some hard and fast (and relatively low) upper limits on things like personal wealth. A maximum wage, both on an hourly basis and a yearly one, would be a good start. (The limits would need to be adjusted over time -- but to keep things fair, the limits would be adjusted at the same rate that Social Security and Welfare payments are.)

      Just saying "let's fix the tax code and everything will stabilize" is ignoring the fact that the tax code was "fixed" for many years and we still got into this mess because we let the very rich stay very rich.

    3. Working in the government should be about serving the country, so I don't see why they should earn more than a server.

  2. the vicar- I think you have a great idea re: a salary cap, but you need to make one small adjustment- instead of just having a straight cap, you need something like a 90% tax rate on something like "earnings over 1 million dollars (or some other figure) that are not immediately directly invested in business venture" or something. So that people still have the incentive to make a lot of money, but they can personally only keep a small part of it, motivating them to earn more, but also directly benefiting society since 90% of earnings over that cap goes into the tax pool.

    On the other hand though, people might use that to move their company "Off shore" and live outside of the country while still profiting off people/running a company inside the country. In which case what I think we need is some sort of trade rules in which countries that don't also follow our rules re: minimum wage and safety standards and profits going to other people have a huge import tax on their goods.

    most of these ideas were Bret's ideas like a year ago ;) I'm sure they have their own flaws. But I think putting a straight cap on wages might be a bad idea from a business- generating perspective.


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