Public Officials

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk






   The recent elections demonstrated once more that our politicians, of both parties and at all levels of government,  have a great deal in common and very little that divides them. On the surface it would appear that the shouting and name calling that accompanies every election indicates some true differences between the candidates. The truth is otherwise.

   First and foremost, politicians are interested in gaining access to huge salaries and other income without working. While the average income of Americans last year was only $39,000 (Western New York average income was $35,000), members of congress, whether in the Senate or the House, collected $165,200 “working” part time. New York State legislators, whose time in Albany is minimal, took home $79,500 while conducting their private law offices or other business.

   Even judges, who surely do little if anything, used the taxpayer to the hilt. Remember that the Supreme Court and other Federal courts are in session only from the first week in October until May, less a huge winter vacation. Here are the salaries of these politicians:

Chief Judge - $203,000; Associate Judge -194,300; Circuit judge-$167,600; District judge - $158,100.

   Remember that all this money comes out of the pockets of the average wage earner’s $39,000, collected by the brutal IRS.

    Evidently, this is not the only income of politicians. There is all the graft that can be gained from “lobbyists” and other “contributors”. Then there are expense accounts, large pensions, free trips to Europe and other places on “fact finding missions”, etc., etc.

   The Romans called elected officials incumbere, meaning “to lie down on”. We say incumbent. The Romans knew. Then as now, the elected politicians lie down on the job, collect huge benefits and interfere in the lives of those who barely make a living, as taxes imposed by the aforementioned loafers ruin them financially and otherwise.

   Politicians also have in common that they want to be given undeserved honor. They even call themselves “the Honorable”. Now it is to be expected that anyone not recently convicted is honorable. This applies to garbage collectors, grocery clerks, shoe shiners, teachers, bus drivers and everyone, even legislators. Yet only they and judges claim this prefix for themselves. Judges even demand that everyone stand up when they enter a room. That is indeed medieval and belongs to the time when the British nobility ruled here. It does not befit a democracy. Why should one American stand up because another American enters a room? Surely it is the duty of the Bar Association to abolish this demeaning custom and let judges know that they are no more than other citizens.

   Here, in Erie County, the legislature has been so confused and inept that we are financially ruined. Incompetence appears to be the primary criterion for “serving” in the Erie County political machine to the detriment of the taxpayer, of course, and without regard to the needs of those who elected them.

   Another characteristic of politicians of all stripes is that they do not want to know the people who pay their salaries and benefits. Politicians don’t know how much a gallon of milk costs, what it means to buy shoes for three children; how much the rent is in their district or what it means to go to work every morning. They fear the taxpayers, who may ask them what they did with all their money. Insulated by the media, politicians believe that the whole world consists only of them and their bickering. They know nothing and don’t want to know anything. They hold other humans in contempt and sneer at the voters as non-persons - unless it is shortly before election day, when they come looking for votes.

   The word “politician” has an ugly connotation in American usage. It implies an underhanded conniver, a selfish double dealer, a liar and an exploiter of those who must do an honest day's work to support themselves. This view is well earned.

   Therefore, young people seeking a career are well advised to stay away from politics, an occupation that is the most despicable in all the world.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The Restoration of Israel (2006).

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