Today, the Washington Post did a feature story on the polarization of Congressmens net worth versus that of their constituents. They use 1984 as a measuring reference and show that the wealth disparities of members of Congress and their constituents generally reflect the growing inequality of the country at large. Interesting, the Post showed studies that revealed income inequality parallels the political polarization of the Congress.
The average campaign for a House seat is now costing $ 1,400,000. This means you must have means or have friends with means.
Tennessee is a state that is notable for having wealthy politicians. Most everyone we send up there is wealthy. According to 2009 figures Sen. Bob Corker is worth at least 59 million and Sen Alexander 22.5 million. Both Tennessee senators rank high among the wealthiest of the entire Senate. In the House Rep. Diane Black is worth at least 31 million; Rep. Cooper 7.4 million; Rep. Tanner 6.6 million; Rep. Gordon 3 million; Rep. Roe 2.6 million; and Rep. Cohen 2.5 million. These figures do not represent equity in their personal home.
Politics is truly a rich man’s business in Tennessee. In the last couple of decades or less many candidates supported be the Baker Machine here in Tennessee have been excessively wealthy.
Anyone who has drive and good health should end up with a fair nest egg in the post war era. But, that is not what the Post is talking about ! They are talking about the disproportionate accumulation of wealth by those who represent us in this great democracy.
The key question is how much would these rich politicians be worth without the contacts that government association has provided for them ? Some of these people have been in some aspect of government service most of their lives. What would they be worth, if purely private, and without the money-making insights of dealing with those who deal with governments ? So, is government service the fountainhead for individual wealth ?
Although laws may not necessarily broken by the monetizing of our political process, it is still a momentous threat to our democracy. When you have, in state after state, the whole representation dominated by the wealthy class, we know it is a corrupt system, with or without regulatory laws.