“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
I have been wondering recently whether Mr. Trump’s problems are a partly result of never having been in an environment that requires him to listen to others or try to get others to cooperate by conceding things to the opposition. It seems to this outsider that Mr. Trump is the product of a life of having all his whims catered to while being responsible to no one for his actions. When he wants to do or say something that makes perfect sense to him, he just does it and has no concern for the consequences. If in business he borrows a large amount of money to fund one of his enterprises, he does so. Should that enterprise end up being a failure, well the lenders just have to eat their investment and Mr. Trump can go on to his next venture with little or no personal consequence. Surely he must think that governing the Unites States should work the same way.
Maybe by being in such an environment all his adult life, Mr. Trump does not, or cannot, grasp the concept that the rules have changed in this new environment. As a result, we have members of congress from both houses and both sides of the aisle in quite a furor over his behavior as they figuratively ask “Who does he think he is? He needs to follow the rules and behave like everyone else. Surely he cannot be above the law and the norms we have established?”.
As one can see from my previous correspondence on The Silver Life, I am no Trump apologist, but the atmosphere in Washington does cause me to view the behavior of the congress people with my usual intolerance of hypocrisy. While Mr. Trump was born into privilege and lived his life with little consequence to his foibles, Congress members have achieved their own privileges and added to them over the years. Not only is Mr. Trump seemingly above the masses, congress is egregiously immune to the consequences that you and I have to suffer as a result of their legislative actions.
There are certain perks reserved for members of congress in the constitution, but not content with those, congress has created for themselves a rather generous set of working conditions and perks that are unavailable to their constituents. Among them are the following:
- A wonderfully equipped on-site gym is available for $20 a month for house members and includes flat-screen TVs, a swimming pool, a sauna and stream room, and paddleball and basketball courts. This gym stays open even during government shut downs. And if a member’s hair gets mussed up during their workout, there is always the free haircut and salon privileges. What does your gym membership cost?
- Insider trading privileges. You and I have to disclose our trading and where some of the information we have comes from, not so our congress members. By a law they passed in 2012 they don’t have to publicly disclose their trades and potential insider knowledge. I know I can trust them never to trade on what they learn in hearings or in drafting legislation.
- Members of congress only have to work at Washington about a half year or less. They can and do work at their home districts, primarily I would guess, working to stay in their elected seats so they don’t have to work an entire year like we do.
- A real luxurious health care package that is subsidized by you and me. The ACA, Obama Care in the vernacular, carried a provision that although subsidies for the single nonmembers of congress stop getting subsidies at $46,000 a year earnings, congress gets to have its subsidies continue.
- Free parking at the Washington DC airports, for which nonmembers pay at least $22 a day.
- A retired member of Congress who’s served 20 years will average $59,000 annually in pension benefits. What does your social security payment average annually? Probably around $15,000 or so. Of course this retirement package is over and above any canny investments made by congress members that are, perhaps, a product of insider information that does not have to be disclosed.
There are many more perks we fund for our representatives, like free office space, free staff, travel perks on airlines, overseas junkets, and on and on. But I think one of the most glaringly unfair is the fact that, at their whim, they can be made exempt from the laws they pass should it be in their own best interests to do so.
If both Mr. Trump and members of congress want to see their approval ratings rise above that of used car sales people and the IRS, they need to consider being subject to the same restraints and benefits the average citizen has. But for now, each seems to revere the words of Napoleon Pig in Orwell’s, Animal Farm “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”