Tonawanda News

Columns

October 6, 2013

DUVALL: Rough week all around for news, sports

Tonawanda News — A week of fits and starts, so you get the good, the bad and the ugly:

We’ll start in Washington where the political madness inside the Capitol has been matched only by the literal madness outside of it.

This shutdown has gone several days now without much of an end in sight. And all the while our congressmen are collecting paychecks while keeping 800,000 employees from collecting paychecks — or, you know, actually running the government.

A couple contrarian points you probably won’t want to hear but that are worth considering.

The reason legislators are still being paid despite the rather obvious lack of legislation is a law that was intended to have good-government effects and keep lawmakers more honest about what they’re paid.

Like most elected government positions, lawmakers aren’t permitted to alter their pay during their present term. The reason is obvious: If they’re going to give themselves a raise, voters should have their say on whether they deserve it. If voters give a lawmaker who supported a raise the boot, it goes to the next person.

The law, unfortunately, makes it illegal for representatives to alter their pay in any respect, meaning they can’t raise it or cut it.

Though I find it just as odious as everyone that they’re being paid to ruin everything, I would humbly submit I’d rather keep the law the way it is. Could you imagine them giving themselves a raise later this year and actually getting to keep the money for themselves without your getting to vote on their job performance? That might be the only thing worse than being paid while the government is shut down.

And, while we’re at it, voters share some culpability for this morass, too.

Everyone dislikes Congress — literally everyone, I saw an opinion poll with congressional approval at 3 percent, which was within the 4 percent margin of error making it statistically plausible no one approves of Congress. But most Americans still like their individual congressman.

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