Salaries of Our Leaders

Posted: February 11, 2012 in GWOT, Law Enforcement, Political
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Someone suggested this topic to me at work this week.  It has been a fairly popular topic of Facebook type “motivational” posters and talking heads on some of the 24 hour cycle news services.  In an attempt to do some honest due diligence on the topic, I have taken my time and done a little research for information from reliable sources so as to be accurate as possible.  Prior to getting right down to financial compensation we will have a little bit of a description on the positions I will write about.

Our government runs on a bicameral system.  We have two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Often, mistakenly, in conversation the House is referred to as Congress.  Congress is both houses together.  The House of Representatives is much larger than the Senate.  Fixed by law at 435, the number of representatives is apportioned based on population of the individual states per each census.  It is possible that a state may lose or even receive an additional number of representatives based on the rise or fall of the population base.  435 is also the number of total votes available in the Electoral College during Presidential elections.

The Senate is a number fixed by law at two (2) per state, for a current number of 100.  Originally, Senators were chosen for their terms by a vote of the legislature for the state which they represented.  Senators served their six (6) year terms not by popular vote, but as a term of service chosen by their state.  One of the fundamental differences between the two houses is that Senators are elected to represent the state, while Representatives are elected to represent their constituents of their assigned districts.  The election of Senators was changed by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

Each Senator serves a six year term on a staggered basis, so there is always a senior Senator per state.  Representatives serve a two year term with roughly half up for re-election each year.  The Senate is considered the Upper House and were considered the more educated of Congressional Members and representative of the sovereignty of the state.  Representatives due to their short terms  were intended to represent the people directly thereby being a more civil service oriented term.  Neither of the houses were ever intended to be career positions and in fact it was almost considered a hardship to perform the duties and responsibilities.  Salaries in the original years were of a compensatory nature because it was not easy to travel from home district; transportation was primitive and it could not be expected to have members traveling back and forth.  That is also another reason why Congressional sessions were established so that business could be taken care of en masse over a specified period of time, not creating a financial hardship and allowing members to maintain their own business ventures during periods they were not in session.  It was a civic duty, not a career choice.

Ok, now to demonstrate how salaries of congressional members has changed from compensating them for their time to salaried career take a look at the following chart.  Note the per diem/per annum changes.

For a complete explanation of salaries of Congress persons and the President of the United States and the associated benefits take a look at the following Congressional Research Service report:

Congressional Salaries and Allowances

Now that we have established what our career political representatives milk from us each and every year while finding some not so creative or subtle ways of misusing our taxes, lets take a comparative look at what the rank and file may make in comparison in order to keep our country safe.  As a happy medium I will try to find salaries based on the 15 year of a career mark:

Police Sergeant – $63,648

Fireman – $47,470

Active Duty Military

Now, I will not so much complain about my salary in the military (E8 with 18 years).  This is my base pay and I get some other compensations as well.  Compared to when I came into the Army way back in the early 1990’s I do not do too bad.  The thing to consider is my compadres and I are actually fulfilling our volunteer obligations, close to 6000 of which have paid the ultimate sacrifice at some point in the last 10 years.  I am not sure to date what the overall police and firefighter statistics are, but our Global War on Terror started in part with the death of a few hundred NYC Police, Fire and EMS personnel, not to mention the several thousand civilians who were casualties of the events of 9/11.

Since 2001 Congress has approved for themselves $29,000 plus in raises while soldiers who have deployed and fought in far off hellholes have only realized an overall 10% increase in pay.  We have received on average a 2.5% increase per year and during 2011 with budget considerations nearing critical faced the potentiality of not getting paid for a few months, all while being required to continuing our service since we volunteered for it.  Congress nor the President was in danger of not getting paid during those particular months of crisis by the way.  I could not find the increase figures for police or fire departments for the same time period, but I really cannot believe with the budgetary constraints of most states and municipalities that they would receive more than a 3% per annum raise  other than in certain areas of the country.

Congress limited the number of terms a President can serve because they did not want another Roosevelt; someone who was able to establish himself in power of a period of years and influence how the country was run due to his longevity.  They never felt the need to limit their own power and term of office.  Both houses have placed their career mindedness over the needs of the country.  If they are going to collect a per annum salary rather than compensation for specified periods of work, then they should be available to work for the good of the country full time, with no session breaks.  They should also consider limiting the terms of office.  Term limits are amongst one of the many things that could help limit the influence of political lobby.  Political office should be a SERVICE to the country, not a CAREER for the politician.

  1. adam says:

    Yeah dude, really wish the combined houses of congress were paid by the states they represent, instead of by the country…. that mixed with some term limits would really shape up the system


  2. Nate says:

    Completly agree that the people that make the senseless policies need some kind of check, they are elected to represent the people but the only thing they seem ti represent is how much money they care to make. What “sacrifices” do you think these people make for the United States of America. My vote is none at all.


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