The Congressional Karma Amendment

Congress has repeatedly demonstrated that it has enormous ability to affect the economy, but our Representatives are pretty well insulated from the economic effects of their decisions. I think we can all agree that Congress needs to feel the effects of their decisions – even more than we do.

Let’s also consider that if the economy is going really well, then the Congress should benefit too. If you believe that Congress can improve the economy, then they would have earned it. If you believe that Congress can only harm the economy and deserves no credit for a good economy, it would be a small price to pay to reward them for not messing it up.

As an additional incentive, removing the upper limit on what our Representatives could earn under our new karma system would magnify how much the economy affects them personally, and that can only be a good thing. Also, the potential to earn more would attract better quality Representatives and make them more immune to bribes. Again, even if you believe that Congress should do nothing to impact the economy, then higher quality Representative will be more likely to know that. It would be a small price to pay for a good economy.

Representatives will feel the effects of their decisions much better if we also give them unlimited retirement benefits that could disappear entirely depending on the economy. This is a particularly effective measure because the effects of most Congressional decisions continue to affect us decades later, and sometimes the impact actually grows over time.

Of course, they should be immune for the first year of their first term.

I therefore propose the following Constitutional amendment:

Beginning in the second year of the first term, and continuing for the lifetime of the each Representative (to include the House, the Senate, and the President), all compensation from all government sources shall be calculated on a scale that begins at zero and has no upper limit. The first year of the first term shall not be affected  by this amendment.

When the annual growth in the entire material product of all American citizens is zero, then the compensation of our representatives shall be zero. When greater than zero, each Representative shall receive 0.0001% of that growth, and the President shall receive 0.0002%.

Suppose an increase in growth worth 500 billion dollars. Each Representative would receive 500,000 dollars that year.


  • Good idea, but you forgot to tie second part of their compensation to the changes in government debt (less debt – more compensation).

  • Jim says:

    If debt hurts the economy, then the poor economy would reduce their compensation without tying it directly to debt.

    However, measuring the economy is highly vulnerable to cheating, which could make this amendment less effective. so I am still looking for a way to prevent cheating when measuring the economy. That is why I used the phrase: "the entire material production of all American citizens," but that is still not good enough I think.

    Measuring the debt level is less vulnerable to cheating, so that might be a good reason to tie compensation to debt also.

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