Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A lobbying job seems to be the goal of a high percentage of Congress, too. I have not done the actual count, but I would be surprised if there were not more former members of both houses of Congress employed as lobbyists than there are current members of Congress. The salaries are incredible: Jim Greenwood of the Biotechnology Industry Organization makes $650,000 a year salary, and salaries and income in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 are increasingly common. When serving in Congress is increasingly seen as an important credential on a resume rather than as an opportunity to serve the public, our country is deep trouble. Raising the Congressional salaries might help, but the main question is the motivation of the people elected to Congress. It is certainly a good idea to ask prospective candidates whether they aspire to a job as a lobbyist and whether they will accept a job as a lobbyist if offered one. It is certainly a legitimate topic of public discussion. As for Pennsylvania governors, former Governor Tom Ridge is wieghing lobbying offers reported to be in the vicinity of $2 million a year, and former Governor Mark Schweiker is a $450,000 dollar a year lobbyist in his role as President of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commoerce. Governor Robert P. Casey did lobbying work on children's issues (I do not know if he was paid), and Governors Raymond Shafer and Dick Thornburgh relocated to Washington, D.C. and did a lot of well-paid corporate legal work (I do not know if either registered as a lobbyist). The problem of politicians angling for well-paid positions is a much bigger problem than the alleged problem of career politicians. Career politicians tend to focus on the long-term public interest, while all the incentives for those with corporate ambitions are to focus on the narrow self-proclaimed interests of business.

June 25, 2006


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