betting against us

It seems to me that most people in Congress have entered public office more for the perks it gives rather than the actual job of serving the public itself. This presents an interesting problem, because… well, use your imagination. It’s like hiring a sitter for your kids who has no interest in taking care of them for the evening, but instead wants to watch the game on your satellite TV. Only worse.

Here’s a little example of what may make a person want to work on Capitol Hill:

Insider trading is something that is illegal for the average person to do. For Congress—not so.

Though not known by everybody, it’s been  well-documented. In October of 2010, The Wall Street Journal came out with a pretty descriptive article about it and if you Google it, it’s everywhere.

Well, so what? Representative So-and-so knows of a law about to go into effect making it legal to buy and sell (insert any product here), so he buys a ton of stock in the company that’s going to produce it. He makes a lot of money. Who cares? It’s not fair at all, sure, but I don’t want to be working in Congress, so let him have his money. Maybe he deserves it.

Maybe, but check this out:

Many members in Congress bet against the housing market just before it collapsed in 2008.

…Why would they do that? How did they know? Why didn’t they warn us or try to help prevent it? No, they instead put their own money up against the fact that the crash wouldn’t happen. That means they bet money that it would. And then it did.

Well, good for them. They banked. We were the ones that lost and that was just the beginning. We Americans are still continuing the fight to keep shelter over our heads and a decent job to pay the bills with. Instead of doing something to fix the problem, members of our government waited it out, made their money and pretended they were just as shocked as the rest of us.

See, there’s a reason it’s not legal for the rest of us to do it. Insider trading puts a person’s self-interest above those of the company. It makes their actual job less important to them.

Select members of Congress placed bets against the hope that we’d keep our homes. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. You don’t bet against the people who gave you your job because they thought you should represent them. You were elected to fight for those people. So, tell us, why are you really in public office?

Money started out as a way to exchange goods for something everyone wanted, something that everyone could use. But money has always led to people hoarding it, with “more is better” floating around in their heads. I don’t know if it’s money itself that encourages greed, or if greed would eventually show up in society whether we had money or not, but I’m fairly certain that when we create inequality, we create greed. And money creates inequality.

Now, I’m all for the free market. Make as much money as you want, just do your job. Insider trading in Congress gets in the way of them doing what they were elected for. It leads to notions of being above the law, until eventually, they are completely out of touch with what everyday life in America is actually like. In fact, most of our politicians are millionaires. And most millionaires are completely detached from society.

Being so detached, it’s no wonder they let corporations trash our air and water. It’s no wonder they sneak around Capitol Hill, putting last minute changes into bills, diverting millions of dollars elsewhere when it was all supposed to be given to public schools (their kids go to private ones). No wonder we’re at war all the time (their kids aren’t enlisted). No wonder they take advantage of what we know and what we don’t know. They feel entitled. Sure, their positions are fast-paced, stressful and always in the spotlight. They’re scrutinized on a daily basis. Of course they deserve to have perks here and there. Of course they should have comfort when traveling state to state, unable to spend time with their families as they may like. They deserve all of that and a good paycheck, but only if they do their job. When you’re in public office, you are there to serve the public. People cheer for you for a reason.

Hell, in every office, in every restaurant or retail store, we screw around on the job too. It’s human nature to be distracted and get off course during the day (sometimes even years). But, when that pitch needs to be finished, we do it. When that checkbook needs to be balanced before the money leaves the account, we do it. We don’t go out partying till 5am when we have to go to our manufacturing job at 6am. We get our work done. We do what we are paid to do, and usually more.

DO THE SAME. That’s why we vote for you! You woo us with your campaign song and dance about everything you’re going to do (and believe me, we understand that it’s way harder to get what you want done when you’re facing a whole other crowd of people just like you), but you’re supposed to be driven and compassionate. You’re supposed to have the savvy to negotiate with your peers on tough issues. You’re supposed to do what you can for the right reasons. You speak for the people. Go ahead and dine with the stars, order a $10,000 dessert and then take 60 days vacation. JUST DO YOUR JOB.

You know, life is not much different on the inside, whether you make a billion dollars a year or twenty. The rest of us, we live with a lot less income than you do and we get by. At least, we used to.

These days, we’d get by a lot easier if you did your job.

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