Opinion: Corruption Never Changes

Politicians from both parties have resisted term limits that the majority of their constituents favor. Why would the people we elect to represent us, not want to push for an issue that is so popular with the public? It could be that it would take a Constitutional Amendment to put term limits into place for US Representatives and Senators. Some may think that it would violate the intention of the Founding Fathers. A more likely reason is that it would kill the cash cow that these seats represent for those who sit in them.

It would also be a loss of influence by those who lobby for the special interests that donate money for the reelection of our elected officials. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Decades ago, I bought a set of books by Time/Life on the Civil War. It has only been in the past year that I have started to read them. In the volume entitled Twenty Million Yankees – The Northern Front, I came across this quote:

In 1864 stock sales in New York alone rose from $25 million a day to more than $100 million a day. Those who profited the most were the insiders – politicians and bankers in Washington and New York – who had advance information about military moves and political developments.”

The value of money fluctuates, especially in unstable times such as war. Precious metals usually retain their intrinsic value even when an economy collapses. During the Civil War, when things were going poorly for the Union, the value of gold went up. When the North started winning battles, the value of gold went down. Politicians were the first to get word from the war front and they would make their investments accordingly, and many profited greatly from the war. Of course, the average American saw his purchasing power greatly diminished by inflation. Everything cost more, but wages remained stagnant.

Now let’s look at our politicians today. According to an article by Karl Evers-Hillstrom published on April 23, 2020, the majority of those sitting in the US Congress, both the House and the Senate, are millionaires. Not only that, but the article states “The median net worth of members of Congress who filed disclosures last year is just over $1 million.”

Not surprisingly, those that have been in Congress the longest are the richest. Evers-Hillstrom reports, “Much of the wealth in Congress is concentrated at the top. The top 10 percent of wealthiest lawmakers have three times more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. While some lawmakers are still paying off student loans, others are paying off their third or fourth mortgage. The group of wealthiest members includes career politicians who boosted their portfolios over decades in Congress and recently elected lawmakers.”

It should be obvious to those but the most obtuse, that this type of corruption, the type that enables our elected leaders to become filthy rich, has been going on for at least a century and a half. The rich Senators and Representatives are from both parties. Perhaps attacking this corruption could be the one issue that could really unify our deeply divided country.

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