Thomas Sowell
The over-riding quest for re-election is at the heart of the corruption of public officials who betray the public trust in order to get the money needed to pay for their political campaigns. It is hard to see how that corruption can be ended, except by ending re-elections with a limit of one term and a ban on running for another office for several years.

That way, the one term can be spent taking care of the duties of the office instead of taking care of promoting a political career in that office or other offices.

There are, of course, other sources of corruption. Members of Congress whose work puts them in the rarefied company of movers and shakers in the private sector, who make ten or a hundred times what Congressmen are paid, may find it tempting to accept perks like free flights on corporate jets or weekends at expensive watering holes. Some may hope for lucrative jobs after leaving politics.

Maybe that won't influence Congressional votes. But maybe it will.

The stakes are too high for us to be penny-wise and pound-foolish by putting trillions of dollars of the taxpayers' money in the hands of elected officials who are paid less than the beginning salary of a top student from a top law school.

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.

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.

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.

Do we want laws made by people who would sacrifice their families in order to get their hands on the levers of power? Or people who can serve in Congress because they inherited wealth -- and therefore have never had to personally experience what ordinary people experience and learn from, including government red tape?


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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