Everyone has the right to spend their hard-earned money as they see fit, but when it comes to wealthy politicians, voters need to ask how they can wisely govern when their lifestyle is so different than the people they represent. The classic case was George Bush's visit to a grocery store during his only term in office. He was amazed looking at a product scanner and it was apparent that he had never purchased groceries in his life. Obviously, his household staff was charged with that duty.
The Queen of England never carries money and relies on her assistants to pay for everything. (Her pocketbook has a tissue or two, but no cash or credit cards). This practice was emulated by the Kennedy patriarch who insisted his sons also follow the practice to elevate them from the riffraff.
A group of modern politicians have recently been exposed for their aloof attitudes and lack of grounded real-life practices.
Who has a $250,0000 to $500,000 revolving credit line with Tiffany & Co., well-known jeweler to the well-heeled? Newt Gingrich, that's who. The former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and 2012 candidate for U.S. President claims he's a fiscal conservative and a frugal family man. His current wife wore a $45,000 necklace for his presidential announcement. Who knows what he'd buy if he wasn't so "frugal."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median yearly household income in the U.S. was $46,326, just a tad over the cost of Mrs. Gingrich's necklace. Can someone who spends this kind of cash on bling really relate to the needs of the just folk?
The tabloids went crazy with the story that John Edwards fathered a child with a staffer hired to film his presidential campaign. While most voters were mildly interested in the bedroom story, the real question in May 2011 was where the funds came for the baby coverup prior to the tabloids breaking the story.
The extramarital affair, according to a Justice Department investigation, was funded by donations made to Edward's presidential campaign by two wealthy supporters, Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron. The two contributed more than $1 million to the campaign, but did they know the money went directly to pay Edward's mistress and house her and the love child? Edwards will soon have to answer these charges in a court of law as Edwards has been charged with violating campaign fundraising laws.
The salary for House and Senate members serving in the U.S. Congress is $174,000 for 2011. The group also receives an automatic cost-of-living increase each year. The average family income in 2011 was approximately $46,000, that's the figure for family income. 44 percent of the members in Congress in 2011 were millionaires.
The Congress passed a law forbidding members to return the salary. Senators interviewed for MSNBC claimed it was "illegal" to turn down salaries, impossible to be done. It's impossible due to laws passed by the very members of the US Congress taking the money. The law isn't part of the Constitution. It was recently passed to prevent a cut in salary.
When presidential candidate John McCain was asked in several interviews about his home, he was vague and appeared confused. It wasn't that McCain didn't know where he lived, it was more about who legally owned the houses he called home.
While just folks buy their own home, several of McCain's homes are owned by his wife's corporation. The family lives in the house, just like any normal family, but the payments are made by a corporation. Cindy McCain is chair of Hensley, a distributing company that includes Anheuser-Busch. She is worth somewhere in the range of $35 to $55 million. McCain receives his senatorial pay of $174,000 and also a Navy pension of $54,000. Mrs. McCain earns yearly interest, just interest, on a trust fund of over $1 million.
The question remains, not about personal wealth, but instead how someone can make laws for everyday people when he lives in a world so unlike any other voter. While many Americans have family trusts, just how many own so many homes they can't remember how each trust is held? Not many. This politician is out of touch with reality.
Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. used to have weekend lunches where politicians worked out deals and dinners for members of the same party to discuss policy. That is a thing of the past. Most members now fly home for the weekend, including U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly of Santa Barbara, California who returns home every weekend---coast to coast. Gallegly isn't alone, however, the majority of congressional members return home over the weekend. This policy leads to members looking for ways to compress their workweek---think Fridays or Mondays off---so they can have more time to travel. Even if you can excuse the cost of the flights, can you image the reception from your boss if you suggested that you'd like Monday or Friday off---or both---so you can fly to your home out of state. The obvious question is---If you didn't want to work in Washington, D.C., why did you run for federal office?! Out of touch with the American people. Out of touch with reality!
Coming back to read this again and realize how so true your list is and was back when written too. So much has changed and oh are we in for a wild ride still in the future. I miss your lists.
These are some of the reasons why Ron Paul should be president in 2012. He is in touch with real living and even wants to make the presidential pay equal to the average wage earner in The U. S. Your list is accurate, eye opening and rings the bell of truth.
My mother-in-law used to work in California, but lived in Arizona on the weekends. She did that because she was a couple years away from retirement and her husband moved to Arizona to get a different job. Asking for an extra day off to go home for the weekends would be wrong though.
That being said, I don't think that having money leaves you out of touch with reality, but violating laws or misusing funds because you can does. I've known millionaires and people on welfare that are just about as normal as anybody that you'd know, but they also don't ask for special favors from anybody.
You do bring up some good points though.
The Tiffany purchases seem a bit extreme, especially for Newt's persona as a frugal man. It seems to me that so many politicians are like this- it reflects a whole attitude of greed in the United States. I get pretty worked up talking about it, but read "Shadow in the USA" by Kay Plumb if you're interested in the subject.
Thanks for the list on politicians. H5
select one here...