Wanted -- A Congress With REAL World Experience

By Jon KrausharCommunications Consultant

With Congress back in session after a two week recess and with battles brewing over the proposed restructuring of health care and the regulation of carbon emissions, we need real worldmembers of Congress more than ever. We need Democrats and Republicans who understand that the stratospheric spending, loony laws, pork projects, stifling regulations and maddening tax code produced by government are pummeling taxpayers and our economy even as they enrich or empower elected officials.

And for those politicians who once lived in the real world but have come to believe that Big Government is a hot tub to luxuriate in rather than a swamp to drain, we need to vote them off the "island"--and send them back to the real world welive in.

In Congress, there is a surplus of self-proclaimed experts and a shortage of real world experts.

A Congressional Quarterly studyreveals why the occupational backgrounds of many members of Congress make them often inclined not to live in the real world.

The study finds the following about the 538 current members of Congress (including non-voting members) and their occupations before they went to Washington:


Public Service/Politics=214 members (182 representatives, 33 senators)

Law=204 members (152 representatives, 51 senators)

Business= 201 members (175 representatives, 27 senators)

Education= 94 (78 representatives and 16 senators)

Clearly there is overlap, with some members putting themselves in more than one category. But what many in Congress in these occupations share is an inclination to feed the size and scope of government rather than containit. Coincidentally, Barack Obama drew the largest group of contributorsto his presidential campaign from those same categories listed above: lawyers, business executives, educators and government employees.

Folks coming from these backgrounds skew the views of many members of Congress. The hot "growth industry" in this recession is government, which has added 147,000 jobs while the private sector has lost 5 million jobs. Before going into politics, President Obama took pride in his previous job as a community organizer. Well, the community he is organizing plainly revolves around Big Government.

Obama's budget would expand the federal government by nearly three percent of gross domestic product over already bloated pre-recession levels and would increase government spending by $1 trillion over the next decade. Is that what we want--and need?

In Congress, there is a surplus of self-proclaimed experts and a shortage of real world experts. Health care is one of those issues threatening to bankrupt us, yet according to Congressional Quarterly Congress only has "16 medical doctors (including a psychiatrist), two dentists, three nurses, two veterinarians, a psychologist, an optometrist, a clinical dietician, and a pharmacist."

A cap-and-trade energy plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions could result in "the biggest tax increase in American history," according to Americans for Prosperity. Yet Congress contains only a few members with any scientific training to put this proposed global warming legislation into perspective. Congress has three physicists, one chemist, a biomedical engineer, and one microbiologist.

There are only five accountants in Congress. As Congress' mishandling of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the bailout fiascoes has taught us, we need more elected officials accounting for how they spend our money and less of them focused on their campaign contributions.

Where are the members who might have some notion of what it's like to live in the real world, where bad decisions have personal consequences, spending isn't limitless, people ride in car pools instead of limousines and eat fast food instead of catered food? The research tells us that Congress does include a handful of members with this occupational profile:

* a driving instructor, a cosmetic sales woman, a mountain guide, and a ski instructor;

* a casino dealer, a night watchman, and a prison guard; and

* three carpenters, two bank tellers, a furniture salesman, an ironworker, an auto worker, a clothing factory worker, a textile worker, an oil field worker, a mortician, a coroner, a waitress, a teamster member/dairy worker, a paper mill worker, a cement plant worker, a meat cutter, a shellfish specialist, a river boat captain, a taxicab driver, an auctioneer, a toll booth collector, and a hotel clerk.

What turns even some of these elected officials into people who salivate rather than get nauseous when adding new taxes, laws and regulations? What detaches them from the real world?

The answer lies with us. -- Wedo this when we elect and re-elect them without scrutinizing what they're really doing with our money: how they're spending (and misspending) it, who they're giving it to, and who they're taking it away from.

We shouldn't be ashamed of them. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

You get more of the behavior you reward. If it isn't apparent now it will become crushingly clear in the near future that many of the politicians and policies we're accepting as "change" will change our real world for the worse.

Financially and even morally we can't just "wait and see" how drastically expanded government spending and control, and Congressional reform of the economy, health care, education, the environment, energy, and fighting terrorism will "work out." If we wait too long the outcomes may be unbearable.

Speak up now. Pressure your members of Congress to do the right things now.

If we don't ground them (and ourselves) in the real world soon we will end up in unreal trouble later.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net. He is a consultant to corporate and political leaders including Steve Forbes.