You know the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is packed with Republican science denialists, right? We ought to be embarrassed to be a technological society with government oversight provided by a gang of corrupt, miseducated yahoos who promote policy based on lies. The chair of that committee, Lamar Smith, is chummy with the Heartland Institute, that right-wing think-tank rich people use to promote anti-environmental propaganda.
That makes this story particularly interesting: while denying climate change and aiding the fossil fuel industry, Lamar Smith is himself filthy rich from oil extracted from his Texas “ranch”.
From 1986 until 2016, Smith made at least $2.4 million and as much as $11.1 million through business dealings affiliated with the ranch. Members of Congress report their income in ranges and bundle the types of income they receive. That practice makes it difficult to track sources of payment, business arrangements and specific dollar amounts in receipts.
Hey, I have an idea.
Let’s prohibit the rich from holding high political office. Put a cap on it: you can’t run for a political office if your household income is higher than, say, five times the American median household income. That’s around $60K, so if you’re making more than $300K, you don’t get to run. You don’t get to simultaneously hold political power and economic power. That’s a separation of powers for an egalitarian state I could get behind.
It’s not a flawless suggestion. I can guess already that some might put their money in a temporary trust while they’re in office, so while they’re actually rich in reality, they’re not on paper. The Koch brothers wouldn’t be stopped from their practice of buying up proxy goons (<cough>Scott Walker) to do their dirty work for them. But really, don’t you think every decision Lamar Smith made in Congress was tainted by his financial ties?
Also, since our country was founded by a mob of Rich White Guys with a constitution full of compromises to help Rich White Guys, I can imagine that such a proposal would be considered unconstitutional for religious reasons, our worship of the Founding Fathers.