Thursday, February 05, 2009

Here's Some "Shared Sacrifice" We Can All Believe In

"This is America, we don't disparage wealth. ... What gets people upset, and rightfully so, is executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers."
--President Barack Obama, yesterday
There has been a lot of talk lately about "shared sacrifice" that will be required to help our country out of its current economic downturn. And this week, President Obama called for a salary cap for executives of firms that have received government bailout money.

There are some who would say that such a practice is excessive government interference in private business. But you know what? I agree with the president, so long as he takes that idea one step further: It's time to apply it to government as well.

Can anyone really say with a straight face that the government has been successful of late? (In any area besides wasting our money, that is.) We have a confirmed and seemingly unrepentant tax cheat as the head of the Treasury, and several more would-be Cabinet hires who got thrown under the bus for "forgetting" to pay their taxes; we also have two other Senators with significant unresolved tax problems that make one wonder how these people are supposed to solve the nation's economic problems when they can't even keep their own houses in order.

So the president doesn't want to reward someone for failure if said failure is subsidized by We the People. Well, I don't think there should be a reward for the government's failure, either, yet our "leaders" continue to amass undeserved perks. So I'm calling on everyone in high levels of government to join in this sacrifice, as follows:
  • Congress just voted itself a raise at the beginning of the year, despite the country's woes. I say give it back; it's a shared sacrifice!

  • The president has asked automakers to up the fuel standards of new cars during a time when they're barely avoiding bankruptcy themselves, and there's no proof that people will actually buy these cars.

    All this is being done to supposedly reduce the nation's "carbon footprint." But a much bigger footprint comes from certain people flying everywhere in private jets, so I'm calling for members of Congress to abandon this practice in favor of flying commercial. (I won't begrudge the president his Air Force One for obvious security reasons, but there's no reason that Congress needs the same treatment.) It would not only help the airline industry, but it would allow the members to experience what everyone else does--delays, crowded airports, and so on. Too many in Congress have lived in a bubble for too long, and if they're not going to be subject to term limits (which I still think is a great idea), it wouldn't hurt them to see life as their constituents do from time to time. It's a shared sacrifice!

  • And speaking of carbon footprints, I was quite dismayed to read last week that the president had cranked the White House thermostat to the point that, according to his senior advisor, "you could grow orchids in there." Ann Althouse, who gets the hat tip for this story, rightfully takes the president to task for this behavior, and I wholeheartedly concur. You need to join the rest of us at 68 degrees, Mr. President; it's a shared sacrifice!

  • There's been a lot of speculation that some sort of universal health care legislation will come up during this term. If it passes, it needs to apply to all, and that includes everyone in all three branches of government. If they're going to pass it, they need to live under it, which would guarantee a much better thought out piece of legislation. No more double standards; it's a shared sacrifice!
I've noted before that we can't have two Americas--one set of rules for our "leaders" and one for everyone else. And someone needs to look these people and remind them of the following: You are here to serve. And by that, I mean serve the people of this nation, not just their own friends, families, wallets or egos.

It would take a lot of (atypical) courage for someone in Congress to propose these ideas, but it would be amazing to see it happen. Once the votes were recorded, we would know for all time who is really in government to serve this nation, and who is in it to serve their own interests. This is a small voice crying out in the wilderness, but if enough people heard it and repeated it, someone might take notice.

As I've said in earlier posts, we can't afford the government we have now, much less the kind that some people in Washington want to foist upon us. Who will answer the true call to shared sacrifice?

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