Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting a Congress that represents us

By Ed Martin
8 14 2010

As you know, Congress is a godawful mess. The majority Democrats can't get done what the people want done because of the obstruction of the Republicans. The reason the Republicans obstruct the Democrats? It's because they're Democrats.

Obstructing Democrats is the primary interest of pretty close to half of Congress.

True, the Democrats did get half-assed health care and financial reform bills passed -- both look like bullet-riddled mailboxes on a Texas country road.

The one overriding reason that the Congress doesn't get anything done that is effective for us is that they have no stake in it. Whether you and I have health care or protection from the banksters screwing us over is that the members of Congress don't have to worry about any of that. They don't have their heart in it because they don't have to. They're not affected by it, one way or the other.

The reason they're not is that they make $174,000 per year. They're in the upper 15% of income distribution. We're in the other 85%. They also have expense accounts and health care that we don't have. In other words, they have no worries. We do.

How many people do you know who make $174,000 per year? I don't know any, and chances are that you don't, either. The only people we're allowed to vote for are chosen, not by us, but by one of the two political parties, and those unsatisfactory and limited choices are determined by contributions from the largest corporations and financial institutions.

There's no way a person making that kind of money can represent us. So, who can? Well, it would appear obvious that people like us can represent us if they're people like us.

The one thing that most defines us is how much money we make. And, like it or not, that's because the amount of money determines how we live our lives. We have no choice about that, just as we have no choice about who we vote for. The either A or B choice is the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. It doesn't include all the rest of it besides A and B.

I don't have any representation in Congress for two reasons. One is that all the people from my district and state are Republicans. The other is that they make $174,000 a year and I don't make anywhere near that.

The most reasonable way for us to be represented in Congress is by income distribution. Here's an approximation of how that breaks down as percentages of the population...

Super rich -- 1% Above $500,000
Top middle class -- 14% Above $100,000
Lower middle class -- 34% Above $35,000
Working class -- 35% Above $16,000
Lower class -- 16% $0 to $16,000

As you can see, members of Congress are in the top 15%.

Using these percentages to apportion Congress by income distribution works out to the following five groups of representatives, starting at the top...

House of Representatives:




In the House there would be 370 out of 435 representing 85% of the people, d 61 representing the top middle class, and 4 representing the super rich.

In the Senate there would be 85 representing 85% of the people, 14 representing the top middle class and 1 representing the super rich.

Don't worry about the super rich having so little representation, they don't need it, they've got lots of money.

I have been selected at random and required to serve my country at jury duty and in the military. These 535 people can be selected in the same way. If I'm good enough to determine whether you're guilty and to protect you from armed invasion, I'm good enough to determine what's best for you and me.

Those selected would serve in the Congress at whatever income they had in each category when they were selected, and be paid the same income they had before being selected. Those in the lower income categories would still have to depend on whatever public assistance they are entitled to, food stamps, etc. and ride the bus or walk to work at Congress. The homeless in the $0 income category would just have to do the best they can, as they do now. The Capitol Police would be instructed to allow them to sleep on the front steps, weather permitting, to be close to work, and beg for petty change during off work hours.

That's right, Senators and Representatives making their way the best they can, just like the rest of us.

With an arrangement like that, we would have full, proportional representation that takes into account all social, cultural and economic categories of all the people.

No more Democrats or Republicans. No more campaign contributions from anybody. Just straightforward equal representation.

I know, it sounds like an entirely unworkable satire on our political system, and maybe it is, but give it some thought. I would accept such a system without hesitation. The reason for that is that I could have picked anyone at random from my block who would have made a much better president than George Bush, or for that matter, just about any of the people serving in Congress.