THE BLOG
03/07/2013 10:30 am ET Updated May 07, 2013

A Modest Proposal: Furloughing the Furloughers

Members of Congress do not get paid by manna from heaven. They draw their compensation from the same federal trough as government bureaucrats, and they freely give themselves raises at a rate greater than that of their bureaucratic counterparts. Would it not be reasonable to ask, by leading from example, that our legislators offer themselves up for furloughing as they have decreed it to apply, for the remainder of this fiscal year, to thousands of civilian government employees? This action taken by the by the House of Representatives last Friday effectively means the end of overtime as well as a 20 percent reduction in base pay, representing the one day a week in five when these employees will be "furloughed." It is definitely a hit. It is not a minor event.

Those who have legislated pain on so many people would by this proposed action demonstrate that they are willing to absorb some of the pain themselves. In addition, it would be another contribution toward lowering the national debt, which all sides can agree on. The fact that the legislators were elected, as they are so proud of declaiming, is beside the point. They draw from the same federal cash box as the civilian employees of the government.

I have entitled this blog "A Modest Proposal" after its 18th Century avatar, for the very fact that it is similarly preposterous. In his satirical essay of the same title, the Irishman Jonathan Swift, concerned about the poverty in his country, suggested that the poor of Ireland might offer up their babies as food for rich ladies and gentlemen and get paid for it.

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