We the people of the United States of America are the employers of members of Congress and landlords of the congressional building. We pay our employees’ salaries. We pay for their health insurance policies and we pay all their expenses. We pay for their in-house gym, health clinic and the free surgeries provided at that clinic. We pay the utilities for our congressional building, pay to keep it clean and polished and we decide who gets to be its tenants.
We know the power of our votes. We forget all the other powers we have.
We have a hunch that if we were to turn off the utilities, lock the gym and clinic, suspend their salaries and their health insurance policies, our Congress would know we are serious about their earning their salaries, health insurance and perks. I would imagine they would suddenly be able to work together to make decisions as they sit in a pool of sweat in the dark and their bills go unpaid.
It likely would not hurt any if we made it clear that absurdity will not be tolerated. Three starting steps would be required to address the truly unfair entitlements.
First, farm subsidies to city-dwelling landowners who get paid millions of our dollars in farm subsidies to not farm their secondary estates must be stopped immediately and applied to our federal deficit. According to the Environmental Working Group, 290 people in New York City received farm subsidies in 2010 and raked in more than $880 million. One of those New York City “farmers” is Mark Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller and heir to a fortune. One of his “farm properties” in Idaho includes the South Fork Lodge where visitors pay $500 a day for fly fishing with nary a crop in sight.
Second, deliver all the stock of Rutherford B. Hayes golden dollar coins to the House and Senate chambers as payment toward our deficit. Rutherford B. Hayes dollars, you say? As a result of the 2005 Presidential $1 Coin Act, our government has been minting money nobody uses. Without a change to the law, the U.S. Mint is required to keep churning out presidential dollar coins through 2016. There are more than a billion unused golden dollars accumulating in underground vaults run by the Federal Reserve Bank.
Third, funnel all subsidies given to filthy rich corporations — starting with the oil companies — to our deficit balance. This is a no-brainer.
All those congressional representatives unwilling to take these steps are presumed to be determined to preserve their bottom line and interests at our expense. As employers with employees unable to use common sense and unwilling to work for us, we will strip away the “entitlements” we provide for them: Social Security, Medicare and retirement benefits, including retirement salaries. As tenants unwilling to take care of our investment, we will bar their entry to our building. (We can evict them with our votes later.)
It is time that we, the people, remember who we are. We are the overseers and stewards of our wonderful country. It is time to remind the governing that they govern with our consent, and let our own “Declaration of Independence” remind us: “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Kathleen E. Allan of Clinton works in special education and is a part-time Unitarian Universalist minister. Severn Towl of Winslow is a retired Unitarian Universalist Minister.