The Sad State of the Union

[Burt & Yvonne wish all his readers on a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!]

Recently, a reader wrote to ask me why anyone would spend a million dollars to become a member of Congress, a job that pays less than $200,000 a year. I explained that there were several reasons. One, they seek fame. Celebrity is a major goal for a large number of people, and not just kids who are dying to switch places with rock stars and fashion models

Two, they want to oversee fiefdoms that would have been the envy of English royals. You often see the likes of Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner striding down congressional corridors, dozens of attendants in their wake. They don’t have anywhere in particular to rush off to, they just enjoy leading parades. Too bad they can’t twirl a baton.

Three, the cost doesn’t really concern them because they’re usually spending other people’s money when they run for office. Come to think of it, that’s really all they do once they get elected. Four, thanks to insider trading, grateful lobbyists and big fat pensions, they will leave office — if they ever do — far wealthier than when they arrived.

Finally, five, they just want to do good. Whenever possible, I like to end with a joke.

If I had my way, being a congressman would be a part-time job, and it would be conducted using modern technology, conference calls and the like. The main reason they convene in Washington, D.C., is for the convenience of lobbyists. Think of it as one-stop shopping.

In his recent book, After America, Mark Steyn observed that America has been busy exporting its unskilled jobs while, at the same time, through encouraging invasion by illegal aliens, importing unskilled workers. As a result, America is being bled to death providing schooling, health care, food stamps and prisons, for millions of non-citizens. And those who balk at providing the uninvited with all these goodies are labeled racists. Then, to compound the problem, we have a Republican candidate for president talk about amnesty for those who have been here for 25 years. Or it might be 20 years, or maybe only five years. Or perhaps it will be a week and a half by the time President Gingrich gets around to dictating a piece of legislation.

Between the influx of illiterates and our sub-standard public schools, it seems that the collective IQ of America is declining at an alarming rate, perhaps as much as a point a year. Still, when I first heard that half of high school seniors couldn’t identify George Washington, I was shocked. Then, after a moment or two, I was shocked that I’d been shocked. After all, one merely had to see the teachers in Wisconsin using phony medical excuses in order to play hooky from the classroom and riot over their pensions to understand why I and others hold the teachers unions in such contempt. If you recall, the hypocrites in Madison even had the gall to carry signs suggesting they were doing it for the kids. I suppose if drug dealers belonged to a union, they could carry those same placards.

Speaking of hypocrites, I see that Obama, who’s planning to campaign against a do-nothing Congress, intends to take a 17-day vacation in Hawaii!

Back in 2008, when Obama said he’d never, in 20 years of church attendance, ever heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright say anything offensive, we naturally assumed he was lying. After all, by that time we had seen the obscene videos of Wright’s ranting against America, against the white race and against the Jews in Israel.

But, after Obama’s first three years in the White House, I think we may have leapt to the wrong conclusion. I suspect now that he wasn’t lying. After all, when a person is in complete agreement with a psychotic racist like Rev. Wright, there’s no reason he’d find those demonic sermons the least bit offensive. Wright, I’m afraid, was merely giving voice to what Obama, in his heart, already believed.

It works the same way when liberals listen to left-wing bilge spewed by the likes of Bill Maher, Joy Behar, Rachel Maddow, Alan Colmes and Ed Schultz.

On the other hand, if these lunkheads weren’t gainfully employed in the media, they would probably be dues-paying members of some teachers union, devoting their time to turning your kids into George Soros’ brand of hand puppets.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky.Comments? Write!
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Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
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  • Jeannette

    Burt: Being a Congressman already IS a part-time job. The catch is that Congressmen get paid quadruple (or more) time for it. I say cut salary and — especially — all that retirement pay and whatever amount taxpayers chip in for their health insurance.

    If I sound mean, it’s because I’ve been watching Congress in action too long. Perhaps I should say I’ve been watching Congress’ inaction too long.

  • David R. Zukerman

    Ask your congressperson if he supports the ideas set forth in the first half of Federalist Paper No. 57. Among other things, No. 57 warns that tyranny happens when officials are not close to the people. No. 57 also advises that if the people let Congress give itself special privileges, it means the people are no longer interested in democracy. The December 27 NYTimes article reporting how members of Congress are doing well, this time of hardship for the nation at large would suggest that the people are no longer interested in democracy. (I expect that members of Congress would not much be interested in the populist views stated in Federalit No. 57.) Indeed, in view of the dissolution of the idea that ours is a government of, by and for the people, so that we are back to the aristocratic form — government of, by and for the insiders — apparently the people have lost interest in democracy, after all. Which would explain the withering away of the American middle class and the divide into 1% and 99%. And so, can Louis Quatorze be far behind?

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Abby: Thank you. I am working on two new books, one a book of commentary titled “Barack Obama, You’re Fired” and a collection of interviews, “67 Conservatives You Should Meet Before You Die,” which will include the likes of Bernie Goldberg, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Michael Medved, Pat Robertson, Hugh Hewitt, Newt Gingrich, Lee Greenwood, Andrew Breitbart, Mike Gallagher, Pat Boone and Phyllis Shlafly.

    Happy New Year.


  • abby

    Thank you Burt! I have enjoyed reading your articles, as well as your books this year. I cannot wait until the next one. Happy New Year!

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Ron: I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    Robin: I’m glad you enjoyed a year’s worth of articles.

    Roadmaster: Thanks, but I’ve never yet heard back from any of those people who insist on confusing my articles with Bernie’s. What gets me about folks like Barker is that they’re bright enough to appreciate my articles, but not smart enough to figure out who wrote them.


  • Roadmaster

    As usual, Burt, there’s not much left to say when you’re done, though I wish people would pay closer attention to whose name is on the article. Bernie keeps getting credit for your great writing. Pay attention, people – you make the rest of us look bad…

    • Drew Page

      Roadmaster, I couldn’t agree more. Burt’s article hits the nail on the head. We need term limits for all politicians. No one should be allowed more than two terms in any elected office per lifetime. People will spend millions to get a job that pays less than the posted $174,000 because it’s a darned good investment. Once elected those in Congress can, and do, make millions from insider trading and selling their votes to lobbyists. They can exempt themselves from Social Security and get a pension plan that pays them four to five times the benefits they would have received from S.S. and when they retire, they can go to work for lobbying firms that will use them to work with their former colleagues in Congress.

  • Ron Kean

    I enjoyed reading that. Have a good year.

  • robin in fl

    GREAT article as always Burt.

    and because of theose crazy folks you mentioned,who’s names I will not say anymore, is why ‘some ‘ of us switched off and switched ‘over’.

    and on that note my friend I wish you and your wife a lovely 2012 New Year and thank you for ALL the great reads in 2011 you gave us :)

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Bill: I suppose that’s what passes for specialization these days. You and I can identify George Washington and the kids can name Lady Gaga’s backup singers.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Bruce: Surely a few laughs mixed in with the tears is better than the tears alone.


  • Bill ONeill

    Great article Burt. This is what the BILLIONS being spent by the worthless Dept. of Education are doing providing us with a generation of idiots Not surprising as Burt says that they know not of our first president but ask about the latest rappers or TV sit coms and they’ll all have the answer.

  • Bruce A.

    Another good one Burt. Still after reading your articles I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Alex: Thank you. The name is Burt, not Bert, but it’s the thought that counts.

    Barker: Misspelling Burt is one thing, but complimenting Bernie for my article is beyond the pale. We do agree, though, that Bernie’s segment on O’Reilly’s show is one of the very few reasons to tune in The Factor.

    Here’s wishing everyone but Obama a great 2012.


  • Homer

    The fish stinks from the head

  • Alex Finkelstein

    Great piece, Bert. Keep the pressure on.

  • Ken Hansen

    Burt, Happy New Year!

    I find it interesting that even third-tier, essentially uncontested congressmen like mine (Rush Holt, D, NJ-12) feel the need to raise $1M+ every two years to keep their jobs. Where does the money go? To high-paid consultants & other campaigns, it turns out.

    When confronted by a reasonably-well qualified opponent in last year’s election, my congressman ran around the state complaining about his opponent’s plan to spend a million dollars to win the seat in Congress – his contributors never seemed to notice that their candidate COLLECTED over $1M each year, he just didn’t spend it all.

    The real fun is when you find out what candidates can do with campaign surpluses…

    As for taxing Congressmen, I think the top rate should be Congressional pay minus standard deduction – meaning every dollar a congressman (or tax-paying citizen) earns above the current congressman’s paycheck (around $170K) is taxed at our highest rate – currently the highest rate doesn’t kick in until you report about 2x a congressman’s salary (around $340K).

    When every congressman is subject to the highest tax rate for every dollar earned over base salary, they’ll think twice about vilifying the ‘rich’ that ‘don’t pay their fair share’… It would Los help them see the logic of lowering the top marginal rate to 25-28% from the current 34-39%.

  • Barker

    Right on target, Bernie! I watch O’Reilly every night and aleays look forward to seeing your take on current events and the wacko liberal media people.

    Hope some of the bird brains that voted for Obama gets to see and hear you on TV – they might learn something.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Gena & CCNV: Thanks. It’s always nice to know that I’m hitting a chord with people other than my wife.

    Clarance: That wasn’t exactly as prophetic a statement as you suggest. What Frenchie didn’t take into consideration was that long before welfare and public sector unions came along, our politicians already possessed the key to the public treasury.


    • Clarence De Barrows

      Burt: With all due respect, I beg to differ. The politicians may have “possessed the key”, but “the public” has only recently awakened to the trove.

  • Clarence De Barrows

    So what’s new? de Tocqueville had it figured out way back in 1838. “When the public discovers they can vote themselves money from the public treasury (America) will be over.”

  • Gena Taylor

    Another fantastic article – you seem to say what I’m thinking quite often. It helps to know that other people feel and think as I do about the horrors going on in and with our country. God bless you, keep up the good work.

  • CCNV

    “Then, after a moment or two, I was shocked that I’d been shocked. ”

    Burt, you have NO idea how true this sentence is! You have put into words the exact feeling I get while shaking my head after hearing about something idiotic this administration has done.

    Thanks in advance for helping us through this new year – with humor!