Not surpisingly, becoming a member of the U.S. Congress is very lucrative to your net wealth.
What is clear is that members of Congress are getting richer compared not only with the average American worker, but also with other very rich Americans.
While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent during that period, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody’s Analytics.
Going back further, the median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times between 1984 and 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, while the wealth of the average American family has actually declined slightly in that same time period, according to data cited by The Washington Post in an article published Monday on its Web site.
Some argue that there's too much money in politics, I would argue that it's just the opposite - there's too much politics in money. In other words, the more we collectivize the income and wealth of the country, the greater the returns to lobbyists of getting a bigger piece of that pie. If a company can invest $10 million to build a plant that provides them a net present value of, say, $20 million, or spend that same money lobbying for wealth transfers or special privileges that provide them a net present value of $50 million, it's a no-brainer to determine which road they take. And the consequence:
One likely cause of the rising wealth, political analysts say, is the growing cost of a political campaign. A successful Senate run cost on average nearly $10 million last year, and a successful House race was $1.4 million, significantly above past elections.
The prohibitive cost has inevitably drawn richer candidates who can help bankroll their own campaigns and attract donations from rich friends — while deterring less well-off candidates, political analysts say.
The data analyzed by The Times corroborated the idea that incoming members are in fact richer than those in the past. The freshman class of 106 members elected last year, including many Tea Party-backed Republicans, had a median net worth of $864,000 — an inflation-adjusted increase of 26 percent from the 2004 freshmen.
The returns are so great because the stakes are so high. What collectivizing more and more of the income and net wealth of this country does is weaken democracy and increase income and wealth inequalities, not strengthen democracy or make it or make it less unequal.