The problem is that despite our voting system, we are not acting like a nation of self-governed people. We have allowed our elected officials and bureaucrats to become a ruling class that lives by its own rules and enriches itself at our expense. This “ruling class” is entrenching its power through endless legislation and government expansion. They tell us what to do with bazillions of laws and regulations, while they do what they want with our money.
Earlier this year, we discovered that Nancy Pelosi was globetrotting her family on the taxpayer dime in military planes while everyone on board drank like sailors.
Last year, we learned of a congressional car lease program in which members of Congress could lease a car at any price. Taxes, license, insurance and fuel all paid for by us. Not surprisingly, many of them chose luxury cars that leased for more than $1,000 a month.
The problem isn’t limited to Congress, it runs from elected officials down to the bureaucrats and quasi-public organizations they hire and contract with — often with dubious and questionable connections.
Last week brought news of the $800,000 annual salary for a city manager in California. The town has only 38,000 people.
Recent studies have shown that the average government worker is paid 30 percent more than the average private sector worker doing the same job. And government has grown its ranks at an explosive rate, adding 240,000 new workers since the start of the recession while the private sector has shed 8 million jobs.
We haven’t escaped shenanigans here in Kentucky, either. I’m reminded of last year’s scandals involving the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties where exorbitant salaries, ridiculous perks and questionable expenditures were exposed.
It’s interesting how politicians and bureaucrats often preach against corporate greed, yet their own lifestyles tend to emulate those they are attempting to vilify.
Our apathy toward elections and government transparency has allowed our leaders to enrich themselves and their friends at taxpayer expense, and changing the political party in power won’t necessarily change this open-ended scam.
If you want to change the character of government, you have to change the character of those who serve in it.
Our Founding Fathers bore public service as a burden, leaving their farms, medical practices and law offices to go to Washington to do the people’s business, often at great personal expense. This tended to keep government smaller and less intrusive in our lives. More importantly, it required a special kind of character to participate.
When public service is borne as a burden of honor rather than a badge of power, America will return to its roots — a truly self-governed nation, based on individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Leland Conway is the executive editor and co-founder of http://www.conservativeedge.com and the host of the Pulse of Lexington on News Radio 630 WLAP.