I keep seeing suggestions that we pay our senators and representatives minimum wage, and it’s kind of funny, picturing them living four to a two-bedroom rat-hole in a student/immigrant ghetto somewhere, pooling recycling deposits for a bottle of cheap liquor to split and/or reimburse the chump who picked up the dry-cleaning. The funniest part, though, is that they wouldn’t notice if we stopped paying them altogether.
Here’s a tiny, tiny piece of the reality of how our lawmakers actually get paid.
The House Agriculture Committee is in charge of regulations on complex financial derivatives. Once upon a time this made sense, because these derivatives originally existed as hedges against commodity failures. Blight, drought, livestock culls, etc. And you used to only be able to speculate in commodities (food futures and such) if you actually traded — i.e, bought or sold — commodities, because otherwise you could be in a position to deliberately tank a commodity the nation depended on so you could sell short or collect insurance and make a crap-ton of money while causing a good deal of actual misery to the populace in general.
Sounds complex, does it? Well thank God Wall Street doesn’t have to worry their simple little heads about how to get around tough regulations like that anymore. Protections like that are a thing of the past, baby.
Speaking of regulations, we nailed some back together, kind of haphazardly, after Wall Street tanked the Real Estate market and sold it short/collected insurance/got bailed out when the insurance firms collapsed (looking at you, AIG). Dodd-Frank, we called it. Anyway, some of those regulations are kind of, well, restricting to the Big 4 “Too Big to Fail/Too Big to Jail” banking monstrosities, so they flip a few grand (only counting the 2010/2012 election years) to their buddies on the Agriculture committee.
|AgCommittee Contributions||Bank of America||Citigroup||Goldman Sachs||JP Morgan Chase||Grand Total|
|Rep. Randy Neugebauer [R, TX-19]||$20,000||$9,000||$14,000||$9,000||$52,000|
|Rep. David Scott [D, GA-13]||$16,000||$7,000||$11,000||$7,500||$41,500|
|Rep. Frank D. Lucas [R, OK-3]||$12,000||$2,500||$15,000||$10,000||$39,500|
|Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher [R, TN-8]||$10,000||$2,000||$10,500||$7,000||$29,500|
|Rep. K. Michael Conaway [R, TX-11]||$5,000||$16,000||$1,000||$22,000|
|Rep. Christopher P. Gibson [R, NY-19]||$5,000||$15,000||$20,000|
|Rep. Mike Rogers [R, MI-8]||$2,500||$11,000||$3,500||$17,000|
|Rep. Juan Vargas [D, CA-51]||$3,500||$5,000||$6,000||$14,500|
|Rep. Marcia L. Fudge [D, OH-11]||$6,500||$4,500||$11,000|
|Rep. Mike McIntyre [D, NC-7]||$1,000||$1,000||$8,500||$10,500|
|Rep. Jeff Denham [R, CA-10]||$4,500||$3,000||$500||$1,000||$9,000|
|Rep. Kristi L. Noem [R, SD-0]||$2,000||$5,500||$7,500|
|Rep. Collin C. Peterson [D, MN-7]||$5,500||$5,500|
|Rep. Vicky Hartzler [R, MO-4]||$2,000||$2,000||$1,000||$5,000|
|Rep. Dan Benishek [R, MI-1]||$5,000||$5,000|
|Rep. Kurt Schrader [D, OR-5]||$2,500||$2,000||$4,500|
|Rep. Jim Costa [D, CA-16]||$1,000||$3,500||$4,500|
|Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R, VA-6]||$1,000||$2,000||$1,000||$4,000|
|Rep. Austin Scott [R, GA-8]||$3,000||$3,000|
|Rep. Doug LaMalfa [R, CA-1]||$2,000||$2,000|
|Rep. Timothy J. Walz [D, MN-1]||$2,000||$2,000|
|Rep. Pete P. Gallego [D, TX-23]||$1,000||$1,000|
|Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D, NY-18]||$1,000||$1,000|
|Rep. Chris Collins [R, NY-27]||$1,000||$1,000|
|Rep. Scott DesJarlais [R, TN-4]||$500||$500|
That’s not a lot. Not a living wage, anyway. But the Big 4 Banks have to pay the rest of the legislative branch another $4.5 million for other good and valuable considerations and can’t be bothered to be the sole patrons keeping these poor chumps alive. Fortunately these guys in the Agriculture Committee alone racked up another whopping $50 MILLION DOLLARS since the start of 2010 from other generous donors in other industries. That’s all 47 of them, not just the 25 listed above, so that’s only a million a head, and split over four years. On average, of course. Only one person gets to be the chairman after all. So some members of congress have to be on BUNCHES of committees so they can grab enough from a number of different troughs to get by.
Please, don’t take my word for it. I’m hosting a copy of this free-to-download set of spreadsheets over here on Google Docs just in case you don’t want to pay Microsoft money to view the misery. (For some reason LibreOffice choked trying to open this, but I fear that was simply disgust. Or the pivot tables.)
My personal view is that this crap shouldn’t be remotely legal. There’s a reason we have words for “bribes” and “graft” and “corruption”. But the truth is that our legislators would have to be the ones to make the laws to make buying the favors of our officials illegal. Or to restore any that they’ve previously repealed. Could be an issue. Because obviously publishing a list of their names and the size of the bribes and who they came from doesn’t #^@&ing work.
(Xposted for your convenience from SRF Heavy Industries.)