For many years, more than most of you have been alive; I have been a die-hard conservative. The Tea Party is nouveau riche – my credentials are Orange County, California in the 60’s – Beach Blanket Bingo, Surfing, The Beach Boys, and, omygod, Gidget. At sundown, it was $1.49 gallons of Rose’ (Mateus on payday) and the conversation turned to Ayn Rand, The John Birch Society and early Ronald Reagan.
Sand between our toes, soft guitars and tambourines in the background formed the perfect setting for us to advocate entrepreneurship, balanced budgets, reduced taxes, fiscal conservatism and the nirvana of small government. Hours later, as the sun began its ascent in the east, a couple of final choruses of Kumbaya convinced us that all was well.
Now, Elephants and Asses, oops, Donkeys, are getting on the fiscal responsibility band wagon again. Our elected leaders are going to rein in runaway spending, curtail outrageous benefits, and totally re-vamp healthcare. The sound bites are aggressive, forward thinking and courageous, spoken by a couple of dozen Marcus Welby look-alikes oozing sincerity and confidence.
After waking at 2:07am for my nightly pit stop, I was trying to doze off again, feeling content that my future was in such capable hands. Then, a scary revelation caused me to sit bolt upright.
These guys are screwing with my retirement income, healthcare options, and general well-being – and, they have absolutely no skin in the game! They don’t have a clue about the real world most of us, their constituents, are living in. Our elected officials wallow in their personal la-la land, worried sick about how to get elected again.
Our elected senators and congressmen, public servants is the euphemism I’m searching for, earn a minimum of $174,000 per year, have a Rolls Royce healthcare plan and can retire at age 50 at 80% of their salary – an old-fashioned (obsolete in the real world) guaranteed retirement that few of us can aspire to these days.
OK guys, I’m willing to put my future in your hands, sacrifice a bit of my Social Security check, pay more for Medicare every month and ride my bicycle to the grocery store because you have screwed up our energy policy so badly that I can’t afford to drive.
That is, I’m willing to play the game provided our elected representatives are on the same team I am. Their salaries must take the same hit that small business men and women all over the country have; their retirement income must be tied to a decimated 401k, and their future healthcare must be the same Medicare I’m counting on to stay alive.
Only then will my elected representatives have the credibility to tighten my belt. Lead by example guys.