Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taxing Sleep and Sweat

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has just complained to the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding various Congresscritters who sleep in their offices and use the House Gym to shower. According to CREW, this is a misuse of House resources for personal purposes, and a violation of the tax laws if the value of this perquisite is not reported as personal income.

I truly have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, CREW's personnel seem to fall largely into the left-of-center ranges of the political spectrum. On the other hand, CREW does not seem to discriminate on the basis of political orientation when it shoots barbs at Congresscritters and others.

On one hand, the various and sundry self-appointed government ethics watchdogs will invariably start barking and blowing whistles whenever a Congresscritter goes on a travel junket or on a vacation to an exotic place. This time, the Congresscritters complained of are in fact spending more time in their offices, which, one would think, would be where they ought to be spending time.

As for using the House Gym to shower, there are plenty who would complain even louder if the Congresscritters didn't shower. Imponderable: Just how intense a workout must the Congresscritters do at the gym in order to legitimately use the showers? Is three drops of sweat enough, or do they have to be totally farshvitzed?

And as for sleeping in their offices: How does sleeping in their offices at night conceptually differ from putting their heads down on their desks for a 5 or 10 minute nap during lunch break? And isn't the public better served if its legislators can get immediately to work without a long, tiring commute? Or, for that matter, a leisurely commute in the back of a taxpayer-financed limousine?


[Disclosure: I took a 1-hour nap in my office today before teaching my classes. I do similarly at least once per month, and sometimes more frequently.].


On one hand, a Congresscritter's control of his or her own office expenditures redounds to the benefit of the public. On the other hand, shouldn't those Congresscritters who want to ramp up the taxes on the more affluent of American society themselves be taxed for the privileges of office they themselves receive?

I'm pleased to no end that there is a group holding Congress's collective feet to the fire in a politically-neutral manner. But this complaint to the OCE, I believe, has more than a few wasteful and nitpicking aspects.

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