If you’re a member of Congress, the past 25 years or so have been pretty good for you. If you’re not a member of Congress – which is obviously most of the people in America – then you know all too well that the past two-and-a-half decades have been pretty rough for a lot of people. In a recent article in The Washington Post it was revealed that while the median net worth (excluding home equity) of all U.S. families actually declined from 1984 to 2009, the same figure for members of the U.S. House of Representatives increased by $445,056. When expressed relative to the net-worth of the median American family, the members of the House increased increased their wealth significantly from 13.6x in 1984 to 35.4x in 2009.
Oh and did I mention the six figure salaries, paid travel, generous expense allowances, and cushy health and retirement benefits that all 535 member of Congress receive?
To be completely honest, I think the jobs these individuals have to do warrants the same kind of attractive compensation packages that large corporations would offer to executives. To attract the best talent you do need to offer a compelling financial opportunity. That said, in a time when approval ratings for Congress are at all-time lows I’m not sure that the average U.S. family feels like the elected officials in Washington can relate to their struggles. Perhaps this is why.