Last Saturday I suggested that members of Congress be punished for their inability to negotiate and compromise by depriving them of compensation. This was when it was unclear whether or not any progress on the debt ceiling was forthcoming, but it probably serves as a good rule of thumb for assessing whether or not our elected representatives are actually doing their jobs. Consider the opening of the following report, which just appeared on the BBC News Web site:
The US could lose up to $1bn (£610m) in airline ticket taxes, officials say, amid an impasse in Congress over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The agency has been forced into partial shutdown after its operating authority expired on 23 July.
The government has already lost more than $200m because airlines are unable to collect taxes on ticket sales. Some 4,000 FAA staff are on unpaid leave.
Lawmakers are not due back from their annual leave until September.
One wonders just what kind of mentality would obstruct a process that would provide something on the order of a billion dollars in revenue (through a source of taxation that is already in place and was never discussed during the debt ceiling debate). Note, also, that these are only the first few paragraphs of the story. Try reading the whole thing and see whether or not your blood is starting to boil.
With all of my fulminating over Max Weber’s “loss of meaning” concept, I seem to have lost track of one of the most important phrases of American life to have the meaning sucked out of it: “elected representative.”