26 Comments

  1. Craig

    In the early years of our country reimbursement was the only pay our representative’s recieved. They were wealthy and did not view this as a full time job.
    The interest of the country were their only goal.
    Helping the poor was something your local church or charity took care of. Their seems to be a growing segment of the population who want a European style government without the personal protections enjoyed in these countries that the lobbyist don’t want Americans to enjoy. Sorry about the run on sentence.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Run on sentences are always welcomed here, my friend. And you are right. More and more Americans would rather depend on the government for security than depend on themselves. I guess their experience with government is far different from mine. Sigh.

  2. First, I got far far far more value out of How To Fail at Everything than I expected. It was entertaining, which I anticipated, but it also had a surprising amount of really useful career advice.

    I struggle with Congressional pay issues. On the one hand, the reason that Congress is paid is because we want to encourage people of all walks of life to run for Congress. If we only pay minimum wage, only those who don’t need the paycheck will run. If we only have rich people in Congress, then only the rich are represented in Congress and the cycle gets worse.

    On the other hand, pretty much only rich people are running now. I don’t know how to encourage people with different perspectives to run, but I don’t think dropping the pay helps with that.

    I think your specific benchmarks also don’t hit the stated goal of giving the little guy a leg up over the wealthy. All of the goals focus on the big picture economy. While there is an argument that a rising tide lifts all boats, these don’t address the disparity between labor and capital that we’ve talked about. While far more people would have jobs if the U6 benchmark is met, those jobs would presumably be very low wage and those paychecks would get spent in companies where the profits are going to shareholders rather than employees.

    An economic boom like this would help the little guy, but it would help the rich far more and would likely increase inequality. We need growth, but I think we need to find a more bottom-up approach for this moment in time.

    Thanks, as always, for a thought-provoking post!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Matt. Thank you for your very gracious comment. As usual, you make a lot of valid points. Going with big-picture benchmarks will likely increase income inequality. That’s why I included the savings rate benchmark. Presumably, if the country’s savings rate is over 10%, the general cost-of-living is reasonable and median household income is moving higher. Very tough problem.

  3. Holy crap this is a fantastic solution. We have to dismantle the system where these knuckleheads get rich by catering to the rich.
    To Emily’s excellent points, there would need to be some way to eliminate/minimize outside influence on legislation. Perhaps a taser dungeon for congressional offenders? Is that too harsh? (Answer: no!)
    Maybe a citizen’s board that establishes the strategic goals and expectations and oversees the entire process, without the closed-door maneuvering that happens now.
    Details can be determined later, but you have presented a great idea.

  4. You always come up with some interesting ideas, Mr. G. I agree with the problem you’re trying to address, but I’m not sure the solution will work. First, I would say there’s the issue of getting it passed by the same people we’re trying to affect. Second, sometimes when you incentivize people based on specific goals, those are the only goals that get attention. While the economy and financial goals are important, I don’t want those to be the only goals. But I also think Emily is right that official compensation might not be enough of a motivator anyway. Too bad, because I think the taxpayers would be happy to compensate a well-functioning congress.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Your absolutely right, Gary. The time to incentivize Congress and establish general-welfare benchmarks was back in 1789. Impossible to do it now. Sigh.

  5. In my humble opinion, I think systems are really just well thought out goals…the reason for the system is to achieve an end goal. A ‘goal’ that relies on hope is really a dream.

    But anyway, I love your proposed Amendment and Junior IRA, Mr. G!

    • Mr. Groovy

      It’s definitely semantics at play here. I would separate a goal from a system as follows:

      A system is something you win every day (“I’m going to walk for 30 minutes before I leave for work”).

      A goal is something you lose every day at until one day you don’t (“I’m going to save a million dollars”).

      Does that make sense? Again, I’m still trying to figure all this stuff out as well. Thanks for stopping by, Amy. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.

  6. Love the 28th Amendment! Getting the $$ for the big paycheck is probably the easiest part. Making them change their ways and maybe stop putting in expensive earmarks would be tougher :). Maybe the 29th amendment could do away with the lobbying industry as a whole?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, gosh. I forgot all about congressional earmarks. Damn, there’s so many holes to plug. The best way to do away with the lobbying industry is to remove Congress’s ability to sell favors. A constitutional amendment that fixes tax rates would go a long way in that regard. But sadly, we’re all addicted to loopholes. It’s such a freakin’ mess. Meh. Thanks for stopping by, WO.

  7. Now how does one implement this if we probably have to pass this through the same people who are already happily compensated through the “other alternative” methods. What a catch 22!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Nailed it, Lily. Definitely the ultimate catch 22. Perhaps that’s why it will never happen. But, hey, at one time no one thought women would be allowed to vote. So every once in a while mankind can surprise.

  8. I don’t know which line I like more, hiring the unhireable progeny or the frosty barbs on Facebook.

    Neither one is the real meat of the issue but I got my good laugh for the day.

    Onto my real thoughts. As usual, I like your thinking. If the government turns a profit by creating the economic miracle that every political candidate promises, the $5 million paycheck is worth it. After all, the common person’s salary and standard living should also increase because there will be more incentive to work.

    The caveat of not becoming a lobbyist is another nice touch. While I know it takes money to influence Washington, I have a hard time even giving $5 to most organizations because lobbying is so lucrative. Plus, it’s nice to not get phone calls, email, or promotional mail from these said organizations

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I know all about the hiring of unhireable progeny. At the municipal government I worked for, I saw dozens of freaks who couldn’t get a job in the real world. The last one I saw, who was actually a nice fellow BTW, could barely put together a coherent sentence. He was hired as an assistant deputy commissioner making over a $90k. Meh. And I hear you about no longer supporting lobbyists. Perhaps I’ve grown too cynical in old age, but I can no longer stomach PACs and charities. I just don’t trust them anymore.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, it’s worth a try. The status quo only means more debt, dependency, and cultural decline.

  9. Interesting post for sure. It does seem like our system is quite ineffective these days. I wonder if the founding fathers would be blown away by how we have transformed. With access to 24 hour information and the majority of americans working hard and then coming home to watch tv…it is surely not what they envisioned.

    I would be okay paying the legislatures more if they could be forced to work together and improve our country. It would be worth more then paying $30 million to the baseball player (though I am sure they generate even more money for their team).

    • Mr. Groovy

      I’m sure our Founding Fathers would be quite dismayed. The love of freedom has been removed from many of our hearts. Too many of us are now more enamored with handouts and diversity. Sigh.

  10. Sorry, Mr. G, I just don’t think Congressional behavior is influenced by official compensation, not when they know they can go become lobbyists, be appointed to corporate boards, etc. For most of those guys, their salary is chump change. There’s a reason the Senate is called the millionaire’s club.

    Term limits and donation limits would help improve the quality of Congress. But a big problem that still wouldn’t be addressed is who actually writes the legislation…which is mostly lobbyists and think tanks. That’s why donations to organizations that you think do good work is probably the most effective tool the little guy has.

    Just a thought…have you approached any of the big investment companies with your Junior IRA idea? (I can get behind the the 529 to IRA variation) If Vanguard or Fidelity got behind it, Congress might make it happen.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Excellent points as usual, Emily. And I’m afraid you’re right. We’re stuck with the current system until it implodes. Sigh. And no I haven’t approached the big investment companies. I know I’ve said in the past that I would do so. Time I got off my lazy arse and compose some letters. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. I love the incentive based pay for Congress. I’m sure the egos would be up for the challenge, but I doubt we’d ever pay out the $5M, because they’d never reach the benchmarks or be able to agree with one another.

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Brian. That’s why I have the codicil in there about giving them three years to get their acts together. If they can’t work together and put their incredible “critical thinking” skills to work, they’re gone.

  12. “The Rich Have a System, The Little Guys Have a Goal”.

    Wow, what a great way to think about things, you (and Scott Adams) are spot on! I LOVE the 28th Amendment, you’ll have to find some rich lobbyists to support it for you! I’m not worried about paying those “fine folks” $5M, ‘cuz they’ll NEVER meet those objectives! Great concept. You never cease to amaze me with the ideas you present on your awesome blog! (PS, sorry about Groovy Cat. Sad day)

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Fritz. Thank you. Groovy Cat was a nut, and we’re going to miss him. He was probably our last pet. It’s too painful when they pass to have another. And thank you for the love your showing for the 28th Amendment. It’s totally unrealistic. Maybe future constitution writers in other countries will be motivate by the idea behind it.

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