Are We A Banana Republic?

When I was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, I was told the joke about why politicians are like bananas. When they first run for office they are like a ripe banana, firm and good, but after awhile they become over-ripe, brown, soft, mushy, smelly, and no longer fit to have around.

Many feel this is why we should have term limits – to prevent career politicians. I would argue that we have term limits – just vote the incumbent out of office when they become “over-ripe.”

However, this can be hard to do. How many of you have kept an over-ripe banana? You didn’t want to throw it away because you had “invested” in it. It was the banana you picked at the store. It was your money that paid for it. Now if you throw it away, isn’t it like admitting that you wasted your time and money and picked the wrong banana? We don’t want to admit that we elected the wrong banana so we leave it around until the banana get so bad you finally have to toss it.

What brought this all to my mind today, was reading this article: Wisconsin Assembly Per Diem Figures Released for 2011-2013 (http://tinyurl.com/kn86yg2).

The salary for a Wisconsin State Assembly Representative is almost $50,000 per year in addition to this salary they receive health and dental insurance and participate in a defined benefit retirement plan. They are also able to collect for their mileage for one round trip per week to Madison plus travel in their district. In addition to all this they can collect $88 per day tax free for every day they are in Madison working (per diem). This per diem can add up to over $10,000 a year. You can see at the above link how much per diem your representative collected.

How many of you received per diem from your boss for showing up to work?

But the one entry that jogged my memory was #17 – Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids, 72nd District) $10,560. Why? Because I remember reading his district newspaper quoting him as saying, “I feel I can accomplish a lot of the goals I laid out for our district in the campaign. The overall theme is to reduce taxes and spending wherever possible. My promise remains to not collect any per diem money from the state.”

He promised this when first elected in 2010. Since then he has been re-elected. Does that mean this was a promise similar to “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” where Obama left off “at least until Obamacare kicks in?”

Did Rep. Krug only mean “My promise remains to not collect any per diem money from the state” for just my 1st term in office?

Bananas are so good and have all that potential when you first select them but in a very short period they will end up rotten like all the other bananas before them.

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