I don't get it. Politicians, especially members of Congress legislate for themselves the best of everything, even if everyone else in the society is suffering.
Members of Congress – after just one term in office – are entitled to retirement benefits which equal their full salary while in Congress. They continue to receive health insurance coverage, which is like Medicare with no co-pay costs, even after their service to the public good has long ended.
Similarly, state and locally elected politicians in most jurisdictions get similar golden parachutes to glide their fall from power into a cushy life of patronage and privilege. So why do they then turn around and steal?
In the DMV (District, Maryland and Virginia) the cases are rife, Annapolis, Baltimore, Prince George's County, D.C., touch a place on the map and you're likely to find a scandal, often motivated by nothing more than lust or avarice for what I'll call "mere trinkets." They prove themselves to be "cheap dates," easily compromised.
One of my favorite politicians – whose grandfather actually built the segregated hospital in the Mississippi Delta where I was born – lost his good government job as a Clinton Administration cabinet secretary, over some illicit football game tickets.
The mayor of Detroit was torn down from office, and the aftershocks caused his mother – a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus – to lose her seat over a cheap sex scandal which was exposed by thousands of illicit and sometimes explicit text messages between His Nibs and his "honey."
Let's not forget the former Louisiana congressman – a Harvard Law School grad – who tried to hide his illegitimate loot in his home chest freezer in a package labeled vegetarian "Boca Burgers."
In P.G. County, a disgraced county executive embarrassed himself and even shamed his wife when he told her to flush an incriminating check down the toilet and for her to hide some ill-gotten cash in her underwear, as criminal investigators were entering his residence.
The D.C. Council has seen a handful of greedy politicians – who earn salaries of more than $150,000 per year for what is considered "part-time" work – stealing from the public coffers, stealing from their campaign treasuries, just stealing on top of their generous salaries; and for what? A boat? A luxury SUV?
Now comes the otherwise brilliant Illinois congressman whose name is synonymous with Civil Rights "royalty" and he trips over what? His own desire for flashy items – a gold-plated Rolex watch, furs and collectibles, such as rocker Eddie Van Halen's guitar, that's what investigators said. A Rolex watch? A guitar once owned by a Rock 'n' Roll star? Does this guy even know how to play the guitar?
Creature comforts are what they/we often sell their/our souls for. And we as a society (correctly) condemn the petty thief who lures a young woman to a clandestine, middle of the night meeting arranged on a social media Internet site, in order to steal the woman's smart phone? Who is the savage? And who is it who's entitled to cast the first stone at the sinner we would condemn?
According to church teaching dating back to the dawn of Christianity, "The Seven Deadly Sins," are: 1. Lechery and lust (got to have a chick on the side); 2. Gluttony (the more you eat, the more you get hungry); 3. Greed (Wall Street and the bankers would be nothing without greed); 4, 5, 6, and 7 are sloth, wrath, envy and pride.
But people who lack those "qualities," rarely have what it takes to get out in front of the pack and do what it takes to seize public office. Alas, what's a society to do?
Maybe only the wealthy should be able to serve in public office, those who are ostensibly immune to the temptations of wanting mere "creature comforts." I don't think that's the answer, because how did most of those characters get rich in the first place, if not (at least) by exploiting the labor of the poor unwashed masses?
Or we're left with role models like "Diogenes the Cynic," who lived in a bathtub, or a jar, and who spent his life searching for an honest man. He's still searching I'm sure.
Comedian Redd Foxx accurately described how I view our modern, brazen body of political leaders who seem to inhabit the American councils of power. He tells the story of a drunk who passed out in a cemetery one night. The next morning the drunk woke up next to a tombstone which read: "Here lies a politician and an honest man."
"Well I'll be darned," the drunk said. "They buried two people in the same grave." Creature comforts indeed.