CONGRESS AND THE C.O.L.A. FIX
The elected politicrats who roost in the nation’s capitol for a small part of the year have been bickering over how to give themselves a hefty pay raise to offset their cost of living.
The D. C. lawmakers have been accustomed to automatically getting an annual “COLA Fix” (cost-of-living adjustment), but in order to fulfill a 2006 campaign promise made by Democrats, they got in a huddle and decided not to engorge themselves at the taxpayers’ trough until they’d raised the federal minimum wage for Sheeple who qualify for it.
With that as an incentive, the House quickly got right down to business and on January 10th passed the “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.” The Senate passed a modified version a few weeks later and on May 25th, President Bush signed an appropriations bill that included the provision for a minimum federal wage hike.
In their generosity, Congress has seen to it that qualifying peons, who formerly took home $5.15 per hour, will be able to lug home a whopping $5.85 per hour as of July 24th. The future looks even brighter because on July 24, 2008 it will leap to $6.55 per hour and then skyrocket on July 24, 2009 to a grand total of $7.25, which won’t cover the cost of a gallon jug of milk and loaf of bread even then.
Those qualifying for both the state and federal minimum wage are entitled to the higher of the two. Since that’s the case, the magnanimous federal increase doesn’t mean a hill of beans to Michiganders because the Great Take State’s minimum hourly wage, as of July 1, 2007, became $7.15.
It was the second of three increases to take effect under legislation signed by Governor Granholm last October, which at that time bumped the state minimum wage up from $5.15 to $6.95 an hour and will again boost it to $7.40 per hour on July 1, 2008.
Granholm said the wage increase “will put a little more money in the pockets of Michigan citizens who are working hard every day to pay for rent, to fill up their gas tanks, and to put food on the table for their kids.” However, in this writer’s estimation once Uncle Sam and the State take their cut, it’s still a paltry sum that will be made even paltrier when Lansing lawmakers raise the state income tax rate in addition to levying all those other taxes masquerading as “service” fees.
Pay hikes for hourly workers are one of those things that read well in a politician’s press release, but in reality just exacerbate the situation. History has proven that when the minimum wage goes up, it hurts a lot of the very people it’s supposed to help. Some businesses can’t afford the additional overhead and for many it means closing up shop forever, initiating a hiring freeze, or downsizing the amount of people they employ.
However, we can’t downsize the ranks of those elected to represent us in the nation’s capitol, and there’s a passel of them who want us to open our pocketbooks even wider so they won’t feel the financial pinch like so many of their constituents do.
Now, despite the fact that Congress has a citizen’s approval rating hovering just above nil, the D.C. lawmakers are looking to pad their paychecks with what opponents of the COLA Fix estimate will be a 2.7% increase of approximately $4,460 more per person. There are 535 U.S. Congressmen – do the math!
Each of the rank and file members of the U.S. House and Senate who work only a fraction of the year, several of them millionaires many times over, already take home an annual base salary of $165,200. The Speaker of the House gets a base pay of $212,000 and the Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders rake in $183,500.
The pay raise they’ve recently been wrangling over would also apply to the vice president who acts as president of the senate, as well as our Supreme Court justices. This year, Vice President Cheney and Chief Justice John Roberts are making a base salary of $212,000 and the associate justices are each pocketing $203,000. President Bush’s salary of $400,000 won’t be affected.
The COLA Fix came about as part of a 1989 “ethics” bill through which congressmen and women gave up their ability to accept payment for speeches, but it allowed them to take an annual automatic cost-of-living adjustment unless they voted to do otherwise.
If it makes you feel any better, which doubtfully it will, at least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is hoping to earn her keep by giving government buildings and offices in our nation’s capitol a new ego-green color scheme.
Yes, that’s right, folks, Nancy Pelosi wants to “Green the Capitol” and make it a model of sustainability with her “Greening of the Capitol Initiative.” Her ambitious plan, presented on June 21st, consists of a bunch of proposals, 133 at last count, to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions inside and outside of her domain’s office buildings.
The proposals include, but aren’t limited to, switching to hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles, installing an E-85 ethanol fueling station, redesigning and centralizing the federal government’s computer system, mandating that only low-volatile organic compound cleaning supplies, paint, furniture, and carpets be used, and that all incandescent desk lamp bulbs be replaced with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs regardless of whether or not the mercury in them is harmful to anyone’s health.
If you’re wondering what it will cost taxpayers to “Green the Capitol,” among other things you’ll have to factor in $520,000 so the politicrats can switch to renewable resources for electricity (wind and solar power), $2.75 million to revamp the House’s coal-fired power plant and convert it to natural gas, and an annual bill for $95,000 so they can buy carbon offsets from the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).
The Chicago Climate Exchange, which peddles carbon offsets for investment purposes, is a player in the futures market. It’s a spin-off of the InterContinental Exchange (ICE), which was created by international banks led by the global investment and securities banking firm of Goldman Sachs and oil companies led by British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell.
A couple of years ago, ICE was involved in a nasty scandal centering around accusations that it was driving oil and gas speculation without regulatory oversight, adding as much as $20 to $25 to the price of a barrel of oil and causing hardship to industry and households and suffering to underdeveloped countries.
One of ICE’s founding partners is David Sandor who is credited with being the “inventor” of carbon swaps and carbon-offset derivatives trading. He runs both the Chicago Climate Exchange and the London Climate Exchange.
Goldman Sachs is the largest shareholder of the Chicago Climate Exchange and the second largest shareholder of ICE. In fact, Goldman Sachs put Al Gore into the carbon offset hedge fund business in 2003 when David Blood, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs Assets Management, along with two other former Goldman Sachs officers, helped Gore establish his firm, General Investment Management, which focuses on “Sustainable Investing” by peddling carbon offsets.
One of the Chicago Climate Exchange’s board members is Canadian Maurice Strong who has made a career and a fortune out of financial rip-offs. Strong served on the board of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (World Conservation Union) and was an advisor to the UN’s Kofi Annan. Among many other things, he was the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program in the 1970’s and Secretary General of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit.
This thinly veiled mingling of legislators and international moneybag players with their own agenda is a tangled web for sure, made worse now that there seems to be very little in the way of scruples among our Capitol Hill lawmakers whose color-blindness is becoming more and more limited to seeing only green. Not only do they want to green their offices and buildings with our tax dollars, they also want us to put more green in their pockets while they suck our pockets dry of anything green in ours.
Pelosi: As Part of ‘Green the Capitol’ Initiative,
House to Reduce Energy Consumption by 50 Percent in Just 10 Years
© 2007 Carole "C.J." Williams - All Rights Reserved
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C. J. (Carole) Williams lives in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula. She writes a weekly newspaper column, "On Target with C. J. Williams", for Ontonagon's Lake Superior Voice (www.thelakesuperiorvoice.com) and is also a guest writer for the Women Hunters Club (www.womenhunters.com), an online organization dedicated to the encouragement, education, and promotion of women in the hunting traditions.
For the past several years, C. J. has been monitoring the eco-environmental movement and the UN's Agenda 21 in her state, as well as America, which she strongly believes has done more to destroy our nation than to make it as strong and prosperous as it could and should be.
This thinly veiled mingling of legislators and international moneybag players with their own agenda is a tangled web for sure, made worse now that there seems to be very little in the way of scruples among our Capitol Hill lawmakers whose color-blindness is becoming more and more limited to seeing only green.