May 09, 2013

Executives at [his client companies] described Mr. Weiner as a quick and nimble student of their businesses with an innate sense of how to navigate the rhythms and personalities of government.

Does this pay well?

He and his wife…disclosed last week that they had a combined income of $496,000 in 2012, most of it from Mr. Weiner’s work.

Good grief! That sure beats bricklaying. What accounted for my naïveté, though? What had I forgotten?

Probably this: that in a rich, too-big, over-governed nation, Acts of Congress with 867 or 906 pages imposing costs and regulations on businesses need professional legislators to decipher them for those businesses.

Also this: that an ex-congressman married to a senior aide to the US Secretary of State (who is also wife to an ex-president) is removed forever from the humdrum sphere of making a living.

If you are well seasoned in politics”€”Weiner has clocked up 26 years”€”you step off that stage into a gilded world where people stuff money into your pockets as you walk by. Weiner’s boss-in-law, Mrs. Clinton, is worth somewhere between $13-26 million. People pay her $200,000 for a speaking appearance.

And that’s small potatoes. Bill Clinton has somewhere north of $80 million. Al Gore made $100 million just in January, though that was a good month. Tony Blair just got paid $600,000 for two half-hour speeches in the Philippines.

These people, please note, all belong to the Party of the Little Guy in their respective nations: Democrat and Labour. Is the other side coining it, too? You bet: Dick Cheney gets $75,000 a speech, “plus first class travel for an entourage of three.” But the other side is supposed to act like that.

I guess we shouldn’t complain. There’s a market and they’re filling it. No doubt the National Multi Housing Council got their $200,000 worth from Mrs. Clinton when she addressed them on April 24. She’s so wise! Likewise with Tony Blair’s speech (“The leader as nation builder in a time of globalization”) to that telecom firm in Manila. Similarly with Anthony Weiner’s advice to Parabel, a firm that “harvests an algae-like crop used for food and fuel.”

But were we governed any worse back when ex-presidents returned to their law practices (Coolidge) or fell back on their army pensions (Truman), while disgraced congressmen sank into middle-class obscurity?

 


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