Though quite different than in parts of China where, in this New York Times story yesterday, it was learned that the benefits of holding office can be so attractive that one candidate for Laojiaotou village committee chairman spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a position that pays less than $50 a month, elected officials in the U.S are doing quite well these days, entering office wealthier than ever before, as detailed in this report at the Washington Post today, and adding to that wealth over time.
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.
Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
The growing disparity between representatives and the represented means there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
The report chronicles the differences between former Pennsylvania Representative Gary Myers, who was elected to office in 1974 and served only two terms, and another Republican from the same district, Mike Kelly, who won office for the first time last year.
Of course, this is part of the growing income inequality problem that has been festering in the U.S. over the years and that has come to a head after the housing bubble burst (i.e., after most people realized they were only “temporarily” wealthy).
Also see Peter Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out – How Politicians and their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism that Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison.