Thomas Sowell

We need laws written by people who have confronted life in the real world, not in the sheltered world of trust fund recipients or the insulated cocoon of academia. Nor do we need people who have nothing to offer in the private sector that would earn them more than what they currently receive in Congress.

Inexperienced power seekers include not only members of Congress but also their staffs, who are often fresh out of academia, with little experience in the real world, many untested notions, and often a touch of vanity as one of the anointed.

The idea of paying the kind of money that would attract the kind of people we need in government runs against many prejudices. Just plain envy is one. Some people feel that those they elect should not make so much more than they do.

But think about it: If your child had some life-threatening condition that required some very demanding surgery, would you worry about whether the surgeon who saves your child's life had an annual income that was several times what you make?

Members of Congress have not only trillions of dollars of our tax money in their hands, they also have in their hands our lives and the lives of our children and our nation. Are you going to worry about their incomes or about what caliber of people we can attract to make the momentous decisions that have to be made?

Yes, it would be nice if all public officials were self-sacrificing individuals who had no other thought than doing their best for their country. It would also be nice if voters watched elected officials 24/7. But the best is the enemy of the good. The road to Utopia has repeatedly turned out to be the road to hell, in countries around the world.

Thomas Sowell

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

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