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Requiring Accountability From Pampered Public Servants

By       Message Emily Spence     Permalink
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The taxpayers of Mississippi, whether they condoned the action or not, bought their current or a former governor an eight seat plane for 3.7 million dollars. The state's authorizing fiscal managers, obviously, must have deemed it an essential for his office and ratified its purchase order. In addition, it costs approximately $1,200 to operate for each hour in use for trips by the present governor's family, associates and himself.

Despite its advantages, he, nonetheless, has decided to possibly recommend its being auctioned off to generate some additional revenue for his state even though the resale value won't be all that high in light of the poor surrounding economic circumstances. However, he, apparently, doesn't feel too "put out" by the thought of giving it up since the state government owns two or three other planes for "official" use that he can commandeer any time that he would elect to do so for his various excursions. (The background information concerning this plane, including the possibility of its sale, was briefly discussed on a recent news program aired in Massachusetts.)

Then again, Nancy Pelosi, from a state in which towns and counties are, one after another, publicly declaring bankruptcy, seems possibly much worse than her Mississippi counterparts in her choices pertaining to flagrantly self-indulgent behaviors. Indeed, it is outrageous that many of our government representatives have the arrogant gall to blithely continue in their assumption that they are entitled to extraordinary perks and privileges at taxpayers' expense despite the economic downturn, along with related homelessness, joblessness and other serious hardships being faced by many citizens who voted them into office.

Meanwhile, her excess is particularly evident in that she has spent an exorbitant amount for frequently jetting back and forth between California and Washington, D.C., along with requesting special stipulations relative to her numerous flights. Indeed, according to Jake Tapper, an ABC News correspondent, "On Feb. 1 [2007], unnamed administration and congressional sources leaked to the Washington Times that Pelosi was 'seeking regular military flights not only for herself and her staff but also for relatives and for other members of the California delegation [1].'" At the same time, one can assume that, while many politicians are encouraging fossil fuel curtailment for the public at large, she is aware that her carbon footprint is blatantly high due to an unrestrained desire to flit back and forth across the American terrain whenever the inclination strikes.

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Even so and regardless of the number of extraordinary benefits certain spoiled individuals can successfully requisition above and beyond any reasonable norm, they always want, expect and demand more. At the same time, they've no intention of ever thinking about girding belts to attempt frugality, as is clearly evidenced by this excerpt from Jim Abrams's "Congress Members Get $4,000 Pay Raise," written last year. [2]

"Fortunately for members of Congress, their pay isn't tied to their approval ratings. Lawmakers in 2008 will receive salaries of $169,300, a boost of $4,100 over the pay they have lived with since January 2006.
"That 2.5 percent increase is mirrored by similar raises for associate justices of the Supreme Court, who will see their pay go from $203,000 to $208,100, and Chief Justice John Roberts, whose pay will rise to $217,400 from $212,100.

"The salary figures were published in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register."

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Let's, though, return to Mississippi because it is really there that the disparity between the lavish opportunities afforded decadent governmental employees and the other state's citizens are glaringly pronounced. For example, Mississippi Census Data from 2006 includes the following facts [3]:

Population: 2,918,785

Employment Status (population 16 years and older)
Employed: 111.8%
Unemployed: 11.4%

Income
Median Household Income: $36,338
Per capita Income: $19,365
Male full-time, year round, workers median income
$36,819
Female full-time, year round, workers median income:
$26,838
Families below poverty level: 16.3%
Individuals below poverty level: 20.6%

Considering such data, one wonders that any Mississippi public official could conclude that taxpayers in that state were so affluent that they could afford to buy a total of three or four planes for their elected public servants. Likewise, one is baffled that any politician, especially after the horrific hurricane damage experienced by a huge number of his constituents, could imagine that luxurious frivolities like personal jets are necessary at all, especially when rental planes or, better yet, commercial airlines are readily available for quick transportation to meetings that cannot be adequately addressed through a teleconference or some other inexpensive means.

Meanwhile, the impoverished members of society in Mississippi, as is the case in many other states, get short shrift when it comes to their needs being met, even after a major enduring disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina brought in its wake. So it was no bombshell in the end when $600 million was approved to expand a port after being snatched from the affordable housing program that could have helped unfortunate residents living in formaldehyde ridden FEMA trailers after losing their homes, as well as other down and out citizens.

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All considered, critics of the plan viewed it as a sign that Mississippi's Republican governor, a former lobbyist, preferred to support moneyed interests over extending a helping hand to underprivileged Mississippians suffering in the aftermath of traumatic circumstances. [4] He has his opulent designs, after all, and his priorities are, most certainly, upper crust.

His deliberate oversight in mind, all sorts of dishonorable obscenities need to stop immediately whether they involve government at the local, state or federal level, Wall Street or other venues. We cannot and should not continue to have the sort of divisive society that callously favors elitist agendas at the expense of general human welfare and reasonable reparation for damages rendered to hurricane and Wall Street victims alike.

Similarly, justice must be served. As such, its time that offenders, slick financial hustlers and other types, stop being coddled, face prison terms if stipulated by law and are mandated to make amends to the many individuals who they harmed.

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Emily Spence is a progressive living in MA. She has spent many years involved with assorted types of human rights, environmental and social service efforts.

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