Constitutional snafu keeping partisan politicians in paychecks

Some of the amendments in the United States Constitution are vital to keep freedom ringing. Then there are some that you have to wonder how many people drank the Kool-Aid to allow this to happen.

The more obvious one that springs to mind is the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. Instead of ending the trend of drinking demon hooch, however, it simply drove the practice underground and created speakeasies where you could get inebriated to your heart’s content. Eventually, America sobered up, so to speak, and repealed the 18th Amendment via the 21st Amendment.

Now, it seems like a good idea to repeal another amendment that was about as wise as standing naked in a lightning storm with a metal rod in your hands. The 27th Amendment prohibits Congress from altering its pay during its current term. Pay increases can only happen in a new term, which is every two years, instead of allowing elected officials to give themselves raises every time a traffic light turns green.

That seems like a good idea, until you look at what is happening now in the midst of a federal government shutdown. Federal employees everywhere are sitting at home unable to work, but yet the 533 current members of Congress and President Barack Obama will still be getting their paychecks, and there’s not a thing anyone can do about it.

Some folks have suggested for years that if we stop Congress from getting paid or receiving certain perks that they might stop their pig-headed partisanship politics and learn how to come up with compromises that would get America back on track and develop policies with the wisdom of being one of “the people.”

For most of us who live in the real world, it makes sense that if we don’t do our work, we don’t get paid. Building contractors understand this especially well. If they don’t get the job done, there’s no payday until it is. It would make sense to apply this line of logic to our politicians.

The closure of the federal government is due to there being no approved budget, ergo we don’t have the money to function and pay public employees. If we don’t have the money to pay the employees, why should we pay the employers, also known as the narrow-vision navigators who got us into this situation to begin with?

Have you looked into how much our federal representatives are getting paid these days? Members of Congress gets $174,000 per year, except for majority and minority leaders, who receive $193,400, and the House Speaker, who receives $223,500. President Barack Obama gets an annual salary of $400,000.

With the paychecks still rolling in, what motivation is there for our elected leaders to pull us out of this crisis? We’re the ones who are suffering. At Lake Powell, plans to marry on Lone Rock Beach this weekend had to be scrapped because national parks are closed. We cannot contact our elected representatives to complain because, despite Congress getting paid, their staff members are not and thus offices are closed for business. If the shutdown continues for weeks, our veterans will not be getting their disability pay and pensions.

You know we’re in a sick and twisted state of affairs when the people who have fought and sacrificed for freedom don’t get paid, but a bunch of suits and skirts do. It’s definitely a shameful time to be an American.

This fiasco is just another example of how public service has been permanently extracted from politics. There might be plenty of desire from aspirants to make the world a better place, but once elected to office, it’s all about the money. What is happening now drives that home.

Once the nightmare ends, and the federal government reopens, it might be time for we, the people, to get off our buns and get to work as well—on a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If we decide not to repeal the 27th Amendment outright, maybe we should write something into the Constitution that says if we don’t have a budget, members of Congress won’t see a dime until they do.

I know it’s a pie in the sky dream, but then most common sense things are these days. Change is needed, but it’s nowhere close to happening.


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