The current salary for a member of Congress is $174,000 per year. The President of the United States earns (and I use that term loosely) $400,000 per year, plus a $50,000 annual expense account. In contrast a member of the United States military earns between $17,604 and $60,348. (Well, enlisted, that is. A four-star general's pay is equivalent to that of a member of Congress.)
A family of four making $22,350 is on the federal poverty line.
Tomorrow the federal government is scheduled for a shut down. That doesn't mean the military gets to go home. On the contrary. They'll stay where they are. Go to work, fight terrorism, keep our country safe. Firefighters will continue to risk their lives. Police officers will continue to fight crime. They will do it all without a paycheck until Congress can pull their collective heads out of their collective... Well, you get the idea.
The most offensive part of this is who will continue to get paid. Congress. The President. They will continue to receive their paychecks. The people who put their lives on the line. No.
Just thinking about this makes me angry. Beyond angry. I know what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck. My family has a long line of civil service, of putting lives on the line for the greater good of society.
Perhaps we need to re-think the pay Congress receives. In 1789, members of Congress received $6 per day per diem. Adjusting for inflation, that comes to about $151 a day. Last year (2010), the Senate was in session for 158 days. That comes to $23,858 per year. Even if we paid members of Congress for EVERY day of the year, it would be just over $55,000.
Think of the savings! How many members of Congress would be willing to take a pay cut of more than $100,000 per year? My guess is none... Instead, they will continue to look for ways to "balance the budget" without touching whatever effects them. Or the lobbyists who provide the "extras" they receive.
For whatever reason, Congress can't see the importance of those essential personnel who keep chaos at bay. I wonder how many people will be injured—or worse—because the lawmakers are so far removed from reality...