Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sowell usually makes sense

Betsy's Page blogged:
Thomas Sowell is back arguing that we should pay legislators in Congress millions of dollars so that they wouldn't be tempted to take bribes.
If we paid every member of Congress $10 million a year, that would not increase the federal budget by one percent. Chances are that it would reduce the federal budget considerably, when members of the Senate or the House of Representatives no longer needed campaign contributions or the personal favors of special interest groups and their lobbyists.
What makes you think that $10 million is enough. People always want more money, in fact the more they have, the more they will want.
One term in the Senate would bring in $60 million, which most people could live on for life, without being beholden to anybody and without having to seek a job afterwards for special interests, much less having to sell their soul to continue a political career.
The could live on it, but will they? You would have to couple this with an absolute requirement that they not get a job having anything to do with politics, lobbying, or anything else. And you would have to impose absolute term limits. And even then, the demand for such a highly paid job is going to be so great that people will get beholden to special interests just to get the job.
Money is not the only thing that corrupts. Power also corrupts and some people go into politics for power. Nothing can be done about such people -- except force them to compete with other people, drawn from a far larger pool, including top people in highly paid professions who today can seldom afford to serve in Congress at the expense of their family's standard of living and financial security.
Gosh, unless such an idea was paired with a term limits amendment, think of how cutthroat the fights would be to maintain a seat would be. If our legislators were getting paid that kind of money they'd do anything to get the job and stay in. It wouldn't be pretty.

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