As American workers, those fortunate enough to be employed anyway, rush to complete year-end projects, let us take a moment to marvel at the outgoing 113th Congress. As our own Sarah Jones reported last week, this group is the least productive on record. As of this writing, the sorry bunch of elected officials has passed just 55 laws this calendar year, seven fewer than the 112th Congress of 2012. The 62 pieces of legislation that last year’s bodies managed to get off the floor was, at the time, the lowest bar ever set.
Let’s set this overpaid, under-performing inertia against the productivity levels of the typical American worker, the one that hasn’t been desperately seeking employment or experiencing imminent fear of losing it. In the great Mother Jones piece, All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup, from the magazine’s July/August 2011 issue, writers Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery observe, “We’d hear from creative professionals in what seemed to be dream jobs who were crumbling under ever-expanding to-do lists; from bus drivers, hospital technicians, construction workers, doctors, and lawyers who shame-facedly whispered that no matter how hard they tried to keep up with the extra hours and extra tasks, they just couldn’t hold it together. (And don’t even ask about family time.)”
Such is not the affliction of Congressional derelicts, particularly in the Republican-led House, where officials will put in a mere four full days at the office in the month of December.
In the quest for solutions to bridge the ever-diverging fortunes, work ethics and priority lists between John Q. Americana and the “public servants” we elect, it must be noted that Washington’s isolation from reality is enabled by a lack of urgency. Simply put: they just aren’t subject to the mundane and therefore, have no need to get down and dirty, much less try to understand the challenges and balancing acts required of regular plebians.
So I have a pipe dream for 2014, one that would save the country some of the precious deficit dollars that our G.O.P. leaders love to screech about, while ratcheting up the production championed so often by captains of industry. Do we really need 435 bodies in the House, taking up air and all the best restaurant reservations in Washington D.C? Hell no! They don’t do anything anyway. Let’s cut that number to a brisk 100 – two representatives for every state. You want redistricting? How about NO districting and the remaining elected “workers” have to represent every interest across the spectrum? Don’t want to speak on behalf of those who favor gun control in urban areas from your farm in the sticks? Don’t care about the unemployed when the family millions are safely guarded tax-free by your investment banker? Too bad! American workers have to shill for things they’d rather not each and every working day. Join the pride swallowing fun!
If you’ll indulge me a moment longer, let’s move onto the Senate. Let’s let Jeff Flake and John McCain get in the ring and decide who gets to be the sole hardest working man from Arizona State. Frankly speaking I had to Google “other Arizona Senator” to even learn who Flake is. Sorry United States. These are hard times and you only get one Senator apiece. Take your pick! We must reduce headcount!
Let the 114th Congress get a real, measurable sense of metrics, the common man’s workload and multi-tasking. Best part is: the incidence of finger pointing must needs to go down. There won’t be anyone else to blame! The remaining strained parties will have to work together, sometimes even around the clock doing actual, functional compromising. It’s so old school! Oh the fun we’ll have watching C-SPAN. The money we’ll save, and less lawmakers to go around might even lead to less pundits. This “more with less” revitalization strategy could be the gift that keeps on giving.