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Tom Gerdy Headshot

Elected Officials -- May I Have Your Attention, Please!

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This is an important message to all our elected officials from your sponsor, Tom the Carpenter.

I am a carpenter, a small-business owner, and a taxpayer. That being the case, I am your boss, and I want more input into what you are doing. Unfortunately, over the years, you have created a system so unmanageable that having input, making changes, or both, is almost impossible. The system has left you out of touch. I have had about all I can take of it, and I need you to make some changes. I am not coming to you simply to complain. I am offering suggestions for corrections.

As your boss, I need more and sensible production out of you. I expect more for the money you are receiving. According to the most recent figures I could find, the rank-and-file members of Congress receive $174,000 per year, the minority and majority leaders get $193,400, and the Speaker of the House is paid $223,500. (I intentionally did not use the term earn as I noted these dollar figures. I am of the opinion that many of you have not earned those paychecks and should be embarrassed to cash them.) It is no wonder that you work so hard and spend so much of other people's money to try to retain these positions, as the benefits and perks attached to these positions are healthy as well. Perhaps limits on terms and campaign spending would relieve some of the pressure of trying to get re-elected.

As your boss, I am requiring you to do more for your money. This demand has been brought about because many of you do not seem to remember, or perhaps never have known, what it means to fight and scratch out a living in today's world. The exact figure is always debatable, but a good percentage of you are millionaires. You often seem very far removed from the hardworking taxpayers who keep your paychecks coming. The only time many of you seem to break a sweat is during close re-election battles.

As your boss, I am adding two tasks to your job description. These tasks each involve one week of your time. You will spend one week of your time volunteering at a qualified nonprofit organization, so you can be up close and personal with some of the less fortunate in our country. Life is good, but life can be tough, and some people need our help. You need to remember that, as you crisscross the country in private jets and limousines.

As your boss, I am requiring you to spend another week of each year of elected service working in a job that pays less than $30,000 a year. It might also be helpful if that job would make you break a sweat and give you blisters. Since you are riding on the backs of the people in the proverbial trenches, you should know what that's like. Approved positions could include a week in a classroom helping a teacher or a week helping in an emergency room in a busy hospital. You could work as a firefighter, police officer, farmer, carpenter, bank teller, secretary, homemaker, janitor, or painter, just to mention a few. I believe we could give you double credit if you spent your week in a combat zone with some of our armed services people.

As your boss, I also demand one more change. You will cast all votes with the taxpayer in mind and reflecting the needs of those you helped during your week of volunteering. When you cast your vote, you will think of that sweat and those blisters. You will cast your vote for the people. Every time you cast a vote, you will cast it for our country, and not your job security or your political party.

In the movie The American President, Michael Douglas played the president. At the end of the movie, he addressed the press corps and made a powerful and far-reaching statement about American politicians. Referring to how he had played politics with some of his decisions as president, he said, "I was so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job." As your boss, I am ordering you to stop working so hard to keep your job, and start working harder to do your job.

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