Government Run Amuck


 

Thomas Jefferson believed that individuals having demonstrated a propensity for virtue, trust, intellect, sound judgment, leadership and expertise in their chosen profession were as cream upon milk and would naturally ascend to be recognized by society as belonging to the “Natural Aristocracy” among men. He believed that the “Natural Aristocracy” was the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trust, and government of society. These characteristics were in direct contrast to an “Artificial  Aristocracy” which dominated the elite ruling class of Europe that obtained their high offices because of personal wealth, their station in life, or some special influence brought to bear in their behalf.

I suggest that a close look at those occupying seats in our House of Representatives and the Senate would call into serious doubt that they are of the “Natural Aristocracy”. Many of them have, however, demonstrated an air of superiority, arrogance and distain for the Electorate whom they purport to serve.

If we were to examine the profiles of members of the 111th Congress to assess whether they fit the definition for the “Natural Aristocracy” as envisioned by Jefferson I think we would be shocked.

Reportedly, 30 % or 123 members of the 111th Congress are millionaires with the top 50 member fortunes ranging from $5.3 to $168 million dollars. Not bad considering the average annual congressional salary is $174,000 dollars. Among the top 50 millionaire lawmakers, 28% of them received their net worth through marriage, 58% from business ownership, real estate investment or securities, and 14% from family trusts or inheritance. I find it difficult after seeing the sources of their wealth to associate them with Jefferson’s view of the “Natural Aristocracy”. The question is whether their service is motivated by principle or profit.

Examining the length of service for members of the House and Senate raises serious additional questions as to their competence and those influences associated with their tenure. Twenty-two percent of the Senate has served between 20 and 50 years. The average age in the Senate is 63.1 years. Likewise, 16 % of the House of Representatives have served between 20 and 54 years with the average age 57.2 years. On the surface it would appear that long tenure, and wisdom gained through life experience, would be a positive factor for having these individuals assume leadership positions on various legislative committees.

On the other hand these individuals are career politicians, many never having experienced work outside of Government, having little or no experience with the free enterprise system and managing sustained economic growth. Often these individuals are closely allied with special interest groups and minority lobbies.

The power held by this small group of legislators has unduly influenced and corrupted the legislative process in favor of minority causes directly in opposition to the majority of the Electorate. This fact is born out in the approval ratings of Congress being the lowest in recent history. They are assuredly part of an “Artificial Aristocracy”.

The Founders warned of the dangers associated with professional politicians. Undue influence from special interests; profiting from possessing information not readily available to the public; moving in elite circles that are not representative of the populous of the Nation. Often they assume an air of superiority and arrogance toward the Citizenry. Each and every danger can be seen within our legislative body and makes a strong case for term limits within the Federal Government.

I fear that what we have today is not the “Natural Aristocracy” envisioned by Jefferson, but something more sinister and divisive than any “Artificial Aristocracy”. Today the party, special interests, money and corruption overshadow the legitimate wants of “We the People”, the Electorate.

I fear for this Nation if those serving in Congress are the best this country has to offer.

Today the leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate are attempting to force legislation to be approved by manipulating parliamentary rules in Congress in order to pass onerous legislation before it can be examined by the public, let alone the law makers expected to vote as our representatives.

These tactics must stop and Congress made to return to protocol that provides honest, informative, understandable, information to the public. Transparency must be a reality and not just a campaign slogan if the Republic is to be preserved

I urge every American citizen to examine the qualifications, motives and commitment to the Constitution of each candidate in the coming 2010 elections.  Nominate, support and vote for those candidates that best fit Jefferson’s vision for belonging to the “Natural Aristocracy”.

September 30, 2009

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