I bet you didn’t know that, in addition to owning banks, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers, you also have a piece of a big travel agency. Unfortunately, you can’t use it to go anywhere yourself, unless you’ve been elected to public office.
A few years ago, Congress passed a law prohibiting lawmakers from taking trips paid for by private industry. The idea was to cut down a little bit on the corrupt practice of companies paying off politicians they liked by flying them to various destinations, ostensibly on “the people’s business,” but really for a first-class vacation.
After the law passed, such privately-funded travel dropped 70%. But the Wall Street Journal reports that legislators haven’t taken fewer trips, they’ve just changed who paid for them. So, if the corporate world isn’t picking up the tab, guess who is? Keep telling yourself this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, because it’s We The People who are underwriting these trips now. The cost to taxpayers has — what a coincidence! — jumped 70% as politicians continue to travel.
The Journal story reports on the expensive hotels they’ve stayed in, the extra rooms they booked and stocked with booze and snacks, the military liaisons who carry their luggage, and the sightseeing trips they take in chauffered vehicles. It details how the politicians who were supposed to be attending conferences — the reason for the trip in the first place — have bailed out early to hit the spa, or just left altogether after a couple of days of relaxation.
Imagine trying that in the private sector. Your boss asks you how things went at the conference he paid for you to attend, and you tell him that you didn’t stick around because you had to get a back rub and some aromatherapy. Then tell him you brought your spouse along — at company expense — so she could see the world and do some shopping. How would that play at the office?
Now remember that these lawmakers are your employees. What’s the last time someone else paid for you, the boss, to take a trip like that?