Lining Their Pockets

The pay raise PA legislators gave themselves was bad enough as it was. I disagreed with their excuses about cost of living increases, but at least it was an attempt at a defensible reason for being so generous to themselves. Then I read this.

"Starting in December 2006, an automatic cost-of-living adjustment will be tacked on to legislators' pay raises, state officials said yesterday. It means that for lawmakers who are elected in November 2006, the salary increase will be even larger than the previously reported 16 percent to 34 percent."


"But in addition to the base salaries, the pay raise law contains an automatic cost-of-living boost that is set to take effect Dec. 1, 2006, House Parliamentarian Clancy Myer confirmed yesterday. A new COLA increase also will occur each successive Dec. 1, he added."

"The pay raise law states that legislators' base salaries "shall be increased by the greater of" two alternative methods."

Operation Cleansweep is looking better and better…

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

9 thoughts on “Lining Their Pockets

  1. EmilyE

    At least *your* governor hasn’t been criminally charged with anything. Bob Taft yesterday became the first sitting governor of Ohio to be charged with a crime (for failing to report gifts).

    Sigh… Welcome to the state of corruption.

  2. Jerry

    Feh, I’ll need more than that. Heck, Kerry conceded it as fair and square at first, only later to start saying “we were robbed” with the rest of the chorus. That the Dems are also trying to study up on Rove’s mastery of exurban demographics makes me very skeptical…

  3. EmilyE

    Interestingly, most of the allegations of cheating in Ohio — false registrations, double voting, etc. — have been against Democrats.

    For whatever else he may be, Karl Rove is an electoral genius. The Republicans gained votes in Ohio in their strongholds in the suburbs and rural area. In essence, Rove and his buddies made the “red” parts of the state even redder. It’s not like suddenly Cleveland voted Republican. That, I agree, would have been suspicious and an indicator of fraud. But as it was, the election in Ohio ran as smoothly as it could have — and, like it or not, Bush won Ohio. I saw an article a couple months back about how the Ohio Democratic Party is studying up on demographics and Karl Rove’s theories. They’re beginning to realize that maybe they should find a new approach, that maybe their whiny and antagonistic ads didn’t work so well in Ohio this election. (And we were bombarded: The NE Ohio television market had the most political ads of any market in the country before November’s election.)

    No, Bush won Ohio fair and square. It’s just state politics in Ohio that’s a mess right now.

  4. Adam Graham

    Wow, this has gotten quite off-topic. I don’t like legislators giving themselves such huge pay raiss, but I’ve begun to wonder if maybe, just maybe people who are upset about that are being somewhat counterproductive.

    Why do we get so many clowns in office? Maybe, its because we get what we pay for. How much can a doctor or lawyer, or realtor make while the legislature’s meeting? A lot more than we pay legislators.

    If you’re mortgage, car, and school payments depend on a certain income level, you can’t run down to the legislature and leave your job behind for all those months.

    So, who do we end up electing? 1) People who want to earn big bucks working for special interests after their politicking’s done, 2) power hungry people willing to sacrifice everything to be in political office, 3) the independently wealthy who can live without living a day in their life, 4) emotionally unstable people who use office to fulfill their needs.

    Might it make more sense to pay lawmakers more so that we get a better candidate pool.

  5. Funky Dung

    You make an interesting argument that might have some merit. However, it’s not just about the fact that they got a raise or how much it’s for. How they went about getting it was really sneaky.

    As to whether we pay them enough, think about this. Pennsylvania’s legislators are now the second-highest paid in the country. The highest are in California, IIRC. I think we also have one of the largest legislatures. How big is CA and how big is PA? How many people live in CA and how many live in PA? How many legislators do we have per capita?

    There are other questions worth asking, too. These are just starters. The point is that the people of PA ought to have had a chance to weigh in on this.

  6. Wojo

    I was absolutely incensed about this… as I’m sure was a majority of Pennsylvania citizens. However, two things will in all probability come to pass:

    1. Voters have notorously short-term memories, even when they are reminded by ads in their face all the time.

    2. This will somehow be turned into a partisan issue by one side or the other (the other side had more people supporting the pay raise!) or some other bit of insanity.

    Either way, the real issue will be lost. I hope Cleansweep comes to pass… I really have a distaste for incumbents anyway. 🙂

  7. howard

    The “lets pay them more so we get a better class of legislators” argument was floated in a letter from my state representative when I inquired about the pending legislation. It’s a red herring.

    There are currently several states whose legislatures operate more efficiently than PA’s. The per capita numbers comparison between PA and CA, btw, are staggering. We don’t get what we pay for, and that’s exactly the problem.

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