The Congressional Millionaires Club
By Charles Sullivan
11/21/05 "ICH" -- -- There is little reason for anyone to be
confused by the events leading up to the unraveling of America. All
one has to do is ignore the rhetoric and simply follow the money to
reveal the hidden mechanisms that are operating the American
In what can realistically only be described as a form of legalized
bribery, it is well known that wealth buys access to power. In a
nutshell: those with money have access to power that those without
money do not. In a society divided by socioeconomic class, the
result is that the average American working family has little
representation in government. According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics (November 2004), the mean annual income across all
occupations in the United States is $37,440. Contrast this figure
with the income of the people elected to serve in Congress. There
are four hundred and thirty five members in the House of
Representatives. Of that number one hundred and twenty three had at
least one million dollar incomes. As bad as this is, the disparity
in the Senate is far greater.
Here’s an example. Republican Senate Majority leader Bill Frist
recently reported an income of forty-five million dollars.
Ironically, Frist’s counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader Tom
Daschle of South Dakota, was among the least wealthy elected
Congressional wealth, however, is bipartisan. In 2002 forty three
percent of incoming freshmen had annual incomes of at least one
million dollars. By contrast, only one percent of the public have
incomes of one million dollars or more. On the Democratic side of
the isle are names including Kennedy and Rockefeller, whose ill
gotten fortunes boggle the mind of ordinary working people.
The income chasm between members of Congress and that of ordinary
Americans is a primary reason why so many working class people have
dropped out of the political process. They know that the
‘appearance’ of choice in political races is little more than an
illusion of choice. So vast are the sums of money needed to run a
major political campaign today that only the wealthiest people can
afford to run. This leaves ninety-nine percent of the population out
in the cold. The situation underscores why we need to get the
special interest money out of politics. The playing field can be
leveled and integrity restored to the process through publicly
financed campaigns. By publicly funding political campaigns all of
the candidates would have equal funding. The wealthy would have no
special advantage. Working class Americans could reenter the
political process and have a real chance of winning elections and
thus gaining representation.
The result of having too many wealthy people in office is having
calamitous impacts on America’s working class families—the backbone
of our society. It has resulted in the breakdown of the family unit.
Wealthy people are likely to look out for their own financial
interests rather than the welfare of society, especially the poor.
This form of government excludes the vast majority of the citizenry
from the process and leaves them utterly without representation. It
leaves them alone and vulnerable to predation by the rich.
Owing to the huge sums of money needed to run viable political
campaigns, the wealthy are heavily recruited to run for office. The
wealthy can afford to self finance their campaigns—the poor cannot.
Thus they enjoy enormous advantages over those without money.
The influence of corporate money in politics has made a mockery of
the whole political process. The result is that we have big business
regulating itself—to the detriment of public health. To call this
form of corporatism democracy is beyond absurd. It is a slap in the
face of working class people and an assault upon their dignity.
Industry has placed its own in the highest offices of every
governmental regulatory agency. Thus it writes the legislation that
it is supposed to follow—and to hell with concerns about fairness
and public safety. It is the bottom line that owns the day; and it
is working class people and the poor who incur the cost. Foxes left
to guard the hen house are bad news for the hens.
Funded by huge contributions from the banking industry, Congress
recently passed legislation that makes it extremely difficult for
private citizens to declare bankruptcy—to make a new beginning. This
is happening even while the world’s largest and wealthiest
corporations continue to receive massive public subsides, while
reaping obscene profits. Corporations like Wal-Mart are being
subsidized by the public dollar, while Wal-Mart employees cannot
earn a living wage and have few or unaffordable health benefits.
Multinational corporations are receiving massive corporate welfare
to subsidize their enormous profits, while working families are
being forced onto public assistance—public assistance whose funds
are being drained by massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate
welfare. This is a gross injustice exacted upon working class
families who are being preyed upon by corporate America, and the
millionaires club serving the corporate interest in Congress.
Political corruption and unadulterated greed is tearing the social
fabric of American society asunder and making a mockery of
Of the national treasury collected through taxes, only ten percent
come from corporations. Some of the wealthiest corporations pay no
tax at all. View this against the backdrop of record breaking
profits being raked in by the oil companies. Exxon-Mobil, the
largest oil company in the world, had after tax profits last year
that increased fifty-two percent over its profits from the previous
year. Chevron-Texaco realized an increase in profits of eighty-five
percent in 2004. Shell Oil’s profits increased forty-eight percent.
Under this fraudulent system of non-representative government, the
fat cats are making out just fine, while working families are barely
able to scrape by.
A particularly blatant example of how the millionaires in Congress
are bleeding the American people is revealed by the severe predatory
behavior of the banking and credit card industry. A high proportion
of working class families are carrying crippling debt loads. While
Congress enacted new bankruptcy laws forcing millions of working
class families into debt slavery, the credit card industry has
recently doubled the minimum payment requirements to card holders.
It little matters to the millionaires serving the banking industry
in Congress that these families are already stretched to the limit.
What are these people supposed to do? What recourse do they have?
The banking industry is draining their life blood and Congress is
By now it should be painfully obvious who the majority of the
members of Congress serve. Representative government in America, as
envisioned by the founding fathers, is dead. Democracy is dead.
Welcome to the New World Order!
But as bleak as things are: we are not without hope. Eighty years
ago one of organized labor’s shining luminaries, Joe Hill, was
executed by a firing squad in Utah. Joe Hill was a member of the
Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW. Hill was a Wobbly. As a
member of the working class, I continue to believe that the Wobblies
hold the key to justice for working class people. The idea is to
form One Big Union—a global union—of working class people from all
walks of life. Unless we organize as a class on a global scale, the
wealthy will bleed us to death. We are already dangerously anemic.
We need to grow a revolution and we must do it quickly. Working
class people must organize. A good place to begin would be to throw
all of the millionaires out of Congress and replace them with people
Charles Sullivan is a furniture maker, photographer, and free lance
writer residing in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. He
welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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