One Day's Work for One Day's Pay

Way back in 1974, when I was just twenty-two years old, my wife and I became Assistant Managers for a fairly large apartment complex (200+ apartments) in Austin, Texas. My wife’s job was to show apartments while my job was to clean and maintain the pool, maintain the lawn and landscaping and do other maintenance as required. For this we received a two-bedroom apartment rent free.

Now let me clarify that while doing this, I was also a full-time student at the University of Texas, pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and had a full-time job at a small consultant firm where I had dual responsibilities as the General Business Manager and an engineering technician. Oh, and we had just had our first child two months earlier.

Needless to say, my wife and I were busy, but we did it. It was our job. It was what we were being paid to do.

But that is not what this blog is about. What I wanted to talk about was the employment contract I signed when we took that job as Assistant managers. The contract was very simple, and basically said that we would perform “one day’s work for one day’s pay.”

The basic premise was obviously that we were expected to perform our duties every day, not just when we wanted to, and that our other activities and obligations did not take precedence over our obligations to the job we were being paid to do. What a novel concept.

When I think back about that contract, it makes me think about the employment contract that our elected representatives have with the people that elected them. I’m quite sure that most people are like me and have certain expectations about the job that their Congressmen/women and Senators were sent to Washington DC to do and, also like me, question whether they are getting value for their money.

Members of Congress and the Senate are currently paid an annual salary of $174,000, and while that sounds like a lot, it is below the average salary levels of most mid-level managers and executives in the private sector. However, if their same salary was based upon the number of hours or days that they actually worked, or worse, if it was based on performance, it would probably be far above private sector pay scales, and in some instances approach infinity.

I ask for and expect no more from my Congressmen/Congresswomen and Senators (and ALL of my other elected representatives, for that matter) than I ask for and expect from myself or from anyone that I might employ. I also expect no less. Unfortunately, I am not getting what I pay for.

Our elected representatives work less, accomplish less, screw up more and demand more than any other group of employees in the United States. And I’m tired of paying for such poor performance.

Perhaps it’s time to have them sign a contract like the one I signed so many years ago - One Day’s Work for One Day’s Pay – and hold them to it.

We the People should accept no less.

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