Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) complained in a meeting yesterday that he was "stuck...making $172,000" while his aides are being fast-tracked to $500,000-a-year K Street jobs. I'm here to let Gingrey know that it's alright. While it's hard still being in the middle class, your aides are pandering to the heartless machine and you have a much higher calling. As an ex-obstetrician, not only did you give up the ability to care for ailing infants, but you also took a $54,000 pay cut. And for what? Undoubtedly, to help provide more recent Ivy League grads with congressional aide positions.
All bile aside, though: SERIOUSLY? Gingrey, who has been on the clock for one of the 126 days Congress is actually in session this year, actually complained about the $1,365 he made that day. I know the other 239 workdays are "district work periods." But don't we employ another whole set of people to take care of the home front (namely, state congressmen)? Most jobs are outcome-based. If the product of one's labor is unsatisfactory, at some point the employee would lose his or her job. The current congressional approval rate is 14%. If we want to be nice, and do this on a scale, maybe Gingrey should make $24,080. If he spent the rest of his year being a lowly obstetrician, he would still make $90,000 more than the average American household.
This is so myopic that it almost escapes the realm of reason. A recent study indicates that notes a worker's productivity increases in proportion to his or her pay until all of the worker's basic needs are satisfied. Essentially, until the worker can worry about the work, and not money.
We could think of congressmen as being nobler than "workers." But for that to be the case, congressmen would have to actually live up to the strictures of the position, and, you know, be leaders. How low do we have to make congressional salaries to maximize their work productivity? This number must be low enough so that members of Congress experience the feelings of desperation felt by those who actually need money. So in D.C., $24,080 might be just about right. That's the amount many of the staffers who actually get things done make. As a nation, we've quit keeping track of our purchases.