Continuing my overview of Ralph Nader's book, The Seventeen Solutions. Click here to get the rest of the series.
15. Get Congress to Have Skin in the Game
I started this series at the end of last August and it has been two months since I added a chapter. Life has been so interesting, prompting me to write about lots of other things – when I have time to write at all.
General citizens are annoyed with the gap between Congress and We the People – “the gap in wealth, power, privilege, and accountability.”
We can start closing that gap with these ideas that get rousing applause in Nader’s speeches:
* When military personnel are sent to another country, “all their able-bodied and qualified children and grandchildren will be drafted into the armed services. That should make them think twice about making war.”
* “The members of Congress can have no benefits unless the American people all share in those benefits universally. There would be no health insurance, no life insurance, no lush pensions, and no accessible gym facilities for the 535 members of Congress unless they saw fit to provide such benefits to all.”
Americans highly value fair play. Yet Congress has done a lot to exempt its members from the hardships the rest of us face. Two examples:
* Congressional pay is tied to the cost of living increases. Minimum wage is not.
* The recent healthcare bills in Congress show that not only are members exempt from the hardships the rest of us face, they are actively working to increase our hardships. The current bill is too new to be in Nader’s book, though Congress has long enjoyed a gold-plated health plan the rest of us can’t get.
Since Congress makes the rules about what Congress can and cannot do, how do we get them to enact these ideas that go against what they think of as their privileged status? How do we push, “If it’s good for you, it’s good for us?”
Nader says this solution is based on the previous one, the Congressional Watchdog Groups. The argument these groups use should be similar to this: Your pay should be the average of the workers in your district. If my child goes to war, yours does too.