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Haas: America's government officials aren't royalty

Note: The following was written by Jerry Haas and published on OnlineAthens.com. While Mr. Haas doesn't mention a Convention of States specifically, we think the problem he describes could effectively be solved by an Article V Amendments Convention.

Just like in the Eagles’ song, I was riding down the road the other day with a world of trouble on my mind. The road is, of course, a good place to get a lot of thinking done.

A number of years ago, I came to realize there is no such thing as a “paid vacation.” Your employer pays you the same wages — generally speaking — as when you are at work. So if you’re self-employed, or with a company that does not provide a vacation benefit, the time you take away from work not only costs you extra, but also decreases your income, if you only earn money while working.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve thought about the vacations our politicians take and what it costs us for them to take that time off. Each has a “paid vacation,” in the traditional sense, as their normal salaries are paid when on vacation. However, some of our politicians actually have vacation expenses paid for by we, the people.

I hear various folks opining about how much pressure some of these jobs create and arguing that the incumbents must take vacations in order to be fresh for the next leadership opportunity (or debacle) they face. It is as if their jobs have been classified as so stressful that they deserve to have their vacations taken at taxpayer expense.

Each person who runs for office is someone who is supposed to represent the people in his or her local, state or federal electoral district. Some of these jobs may be stressful — but many jobs are stressful. First-responder jobs are stressful. Military jobs, especially during the times of war, are stressful. Those families with a mom or dad serving in the military, and who are deployed, must deal with stressful issues; they do not have any staff to help them through it.

I believe we need to review the benefits being paid for any elected or appointed official who takes a vacation and requires any taxpayer money to accommodate their needs, including protection. If the secretary of state, say, wants to take a vacation, that person should pay all of the expenses for whatever security they want to have with them, including salaries, transportation, housing and meals for their staff and security. If they are not willing to do so, they should stay home. After all, they are the ones who accepted the position. No one forced it on them.

Why is this an issue with me? For some reason, we’ve forgotten that our government was created to serve us, not to be served by us. For some reason, we place public officials upon a pedestal as if they are royalty. For some reason, we have been lulled into believing the lie that the government knows what is best for us.

The government comprises people like us who are elected by us to serve us and to make certain that our God-given rights of life, liberty and property are protected. They are elected by us to fulfill the constitutional duties of office. They are elected by us to provide relief from government overreach and intrusion.

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