Politicians spend an ever-increasing amount of their time raising campaign funds because the conventional wisdom is that the candidate who raises the most money has the better chance of winning. Skillful fundraisers are usually very smart and clever. Two virtues we admire in a potential leader.
When reading about the current campaign recently, it occurred to me that all this time spent raising money was necessary because very few politicians can fund a campaign with their own money. Every dollar raised is an asset for the campaign, but when I put my accountant’s hat on I realized that every dollar raised is a liability once the successful candidate takes office. All that money raised comes with strings attached. Those who contribute expect something in return, and that “something in return” is frequently not in the best interest of the electorate. Perhaps we should be careful when voting for the candidate who raised the most money, because that candidate has the greatest number of outstanding IOUs.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you are well aware of the problem state and local governments are facing due to the overly generous employee benefits being paid to public-employees. The retirement age can be a low as 50 and the employees can “game the system” by loading years of accrued sick pay and vacation pay into their final year of employment before retirement. That number is then used to compute their annual retirement benefit. It is not unusual to have these public “servants” retiring at a relatively early age with an annual pension in excess of $200,000 plus medical benefits. It is obviously not fair to the taxpayers but you can’t blame the employees, they are just taking money that the politicians have given them. Is it legal? Yes. Is it ethical? No.
President Obama has been out campaigning for a jobs bill in the amount of $600 billion. The main intended beneficiary is to be local governments who are being forced to lay off significant numbers of employees due to a lack of money.
No kidding! Local governments cannot afford to keep paying these ludicrous retirement benefits without reducing the number of employees. But the solution to the problem, according to our President, is to add more debt to the deficit. I would rather have him stand up to the public employee unions (and their political lackeys), who created this mess.
It was really discouraging to watch Vice President Biden warn that we are going to see an increase in rapes and murders if the jobs bill did not pass. Have our political leaders really stooped this low in an attempt to keep their constituents happy? The unions have not given local governments any option but layoffs.
This is just one example of the many liabilities that have to be paid once a politician accepts campaign contributions. It’s not just the unions of course; Wall Street banks, big oil, pharmaceutical companies, etc. etc., they all expect a return on their investment.
But as long as politicians need the money to stay employed, I fear the system is not going to change.