The Legislature wants to give themselves a pay raise.
Since I did get some publicity in this week's Sunday Gazette Mail in their little "Outlook - Personal Technology" extra section in an article about blogging, I figured the least I could do would be give the few hardy souls who managed to find this blog a new entry. Even though the article got the address wrong, if you are reading this, you managed to find it in spite of that, so give yourself a pat on the back.
In last year's hysterically funny HBO Special, "Red White and Screwed," Lewis Black is riffing on the politicians. This is about 2 or so months after Cheney shoots his friend while quail hunting. At one point during his act, Black simply says, "Dick Cheney," and the crowd erupts in laughter, knowing immediately the absurdity of the Dick Cheney quail hunting episode. Black shrugs his shoulders, and says, "And that's all I gotta say." The crowd laughs even harder [check out the clip on Youtube, here].
Black illustrates the pure absurdity of simply mentioning Cheney's name, and the audience is immediately in on the joke. The joke doesn't even have to be said. The mere mention of Cheney's name is both the lead up and the punchline of the joke, all in one.
That is the identical situation with the WV Legislature even considering giving themselves a pay raise. You don't even have to explain the reasons why it is beyond ridiculous. You just have to simply say, "The WV Legislature is thinking about giving themselves a raise," and hilarity ensues. Every person who isn't related to some clown in the legislature, knows immediately the outrageousness of even considering the thought of a legislative pay raise.
But, just like Black, I can't leave well enough alone. He then goes on to do a bit about the actual hunting trip, and it just gets more hilarious. So, I guess I'll have to indulge the Delegate John Doyle's of this world, and reply to their idiocy of giving themselves a raise. Doyle (and many others in the Dome, including Papa Joe Cheerleader himself) will pollute the airwaves with several arguments in favor of the raise. For instance, you'll hear "You have to pay legislators better, because you need to get and keep qualified people in the legislature." So, since the pay sucks now, does that mean the current crop of legislators, aren't qualified or good candidates? I mean, with pay this low (if you buy their nonsense), obviously we aren't going to attract good, qualified candidates. So, what does that say about the quality of the jokers already in there? I'd say it means their quality is already suspect, if you believe their argument for giving themselves a raise. And if their reply to that is, "Well, no, the quality of the legislators now is pretty good." Then the obvious reply to that would be, "Well then, pay must not be much of an issue, if these good qualified candidates signed on for their terms with the pay as low as it is. I see no reason to raise it."
And, let's assume the pay IS too low. I don't see a huge exodus of these "good and qualified" legislators from the Legislature, on their own volition. No, the only time they leave, is a) they get a better gig (i.e., J.D. Beane, and countless others), b) they get beat in an election (which rarely happens), or c) they "voluntarily" step down (so they can run in some other election, i.e., Chris Wakim). Hell, even people like Bob Kiss don't "voluntarily" step down, even though that's how it's portrayed in the media (and nobody in the media has the guts to call him on it to his face - but not here at the Sweatbox). He was essentially forced out, because of the potential flap about his residency issues. Nobody leaves the legislature because of low pay, and for anyone to imply they do, is an insult to yours, mine, and every West Virginian's intelligence.
So, without some evidence of a huge exodus of these great and wonderfully qualified legislators, I can't see how pay would be a problem. It's obviously not bad enough for them to be leaving in droves of their own volition, so again, we are back to "Well, it must not be too bad." Hell, they act like having some turnover in the legislature would be a BAD thing. Hell, we should be thinking of ways to INCREASE the turnover, if their past performance in running this state, is any indication of what's to come. Hell, take away their pay entirely. Maybe more of them would leave.
They'll also trot out the "Well, this IS a full time job, blah blah blah," and "We do so much work during the session, and then we have interims and we are always taking constituent calls 24/7." Uh, last time I checked, nobody held a gun to their heads, and FORCED them to run for office. If they expected this "job" (and I use that term, with the utmost sarcasm I can muster) to be some sort of "60 days, go home, see ya' next year" type thing, then they are morons for not adequately determining the job's demands before they took it. Plus, they TOOK that job, KNOWING what it paid. If they didn't, well, then they are they are bigger morons than even I give them credit for, and they deserve nothing less than a nice little public tarring and feathering for their ignorance.
And lastly, if their pay (like everyone else's on the planet) is somehow tied to performance of their job duties, one only has to look at the current economic state of West Virginia under their leadership and immediately conclude that we might actually be better off just buying some monkeys and letting them run around the Capitol and throw their poo at each other. Hell, it couldn't be any worse than it is now. And it would be infinitely more entertaining.
I mean, there is just NO way to adequately defend their position. That's why the entire joke, start to finish, is simply "The Legislature wants to give themselves a pay raise."