The New Political Class
8:35 AM, Jun 25, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
On to the question of interns, those young men and women who seek the work experience that adds to their qualifications for full-time jobs. Many interns earned no salary, but paid for their on-the-job education by doing chores for their employer-teacher. That path upward is no more for youngsters seeking internships at profit-making firms. The Department of Labor has ruled that profit-making firms (non-profit organizations are exempt) may not offer unpaid internships, at least that’s the net effect of a complicated set of rules. But the rules do not apply to Congress or, for that matter, to the Department of Labor, since they are sheltered by the non-profit exemption. To deprive Congress of its interns would be to deprive it of free labor – it is difficult to imagine a congressmen taking time off to add a serious educational component to an internship – and the opportunity to do a favor for a constituent with a teenager best kept out of the malls during the summer.
There’s more. Congressmen have a designated lot at which they park, free of charge, at Reagan airport, at a cost to the taxpayer of $100,000 for security guards and to other flyers who have to make up the $740,000 in lost revenues. Same deal at Dulles. When asked about this little perk, Senator Saxby Chambliss moaned, “It’s about the only thing we got left.” In addition to dedicated phones direct to airlines to make booking easier – no “Please wait while we serve other customers.” Don’t blame the airlines for catering to the legislators who control their fates. None dare call it a bribe.
Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, puts it best, “Washington’s Permanent Political Class does not live and play by the same rules you and I do.” Think about that next time you want to smoke in your office, or are frantically trying to find receipts to meet the demands of an IRS auditor, or see a veteran ill-served by a generously bonused VA executive. We have met the enemy and they are them.
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