By Chelsea Albers, JMI Intern and Florida State University Junior in International Affairs & Languages
The average American works between 230 and 250 days per year and according to the CATO institute, earns an annual salary of about $50,000 (average salary of an American worker in the private sector not including benefits).But don’t worry, we are not the only ones working hard during these tough economic times–your Congressmen have been pulling more hours, too. Every year the figures vary, but the normal number of days in session for the Senate is approximately 150 days per year and for Congress, approximately 130 days per year. However, you may be thrilled to know that in 2009, our Government worked really hard: the Senate was in session 191 days and Congress 159 days. This is the most hours they have worked since 1995–I suppose they deserve an A for effort! For a humorous presentation on how hard your Congressmen are working, watch this video segment by Uncle Jay.While the last thing I would advocate is for Congress to meet more often and pass more bills, the size of our elected “public servants” salary irks me, especially considering how much recess time they take. Each Representative and Senator will receive a whopping $174,000 in 2011 (the amount continues to rise each year) plus all the extra benefits which come along with the job.Which leads me to ask why our Congressmen are still receiving automatic pay raises every year while workers in the private sector are being forced to take pay cuts. Even during prosperous economic times, our Congressmen make way too much to be considered public servants–especially when compared to the salaries of private sector employees or the basic annual pay rate for a private in the U.S. Army ($17,366).The motivation to run for public office should not stem from the opportunity for career development and/or financial enrichment, but rather from a genuine desire to serve our country and find ways to improve the lives of fellow Americans.