Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Cost Of Serrvice

 I've started reading Overhaul by Steven Rattner. It details the Obama administration's efforts to save GM and Chrysler.   So far (page 60) I've found it a very interesting read.  This on his vetting process gave me more than a moments pause.

Bering vetted can be a full-time job.  At Josh's [Steiner, Obama transition adviser] suggestion, I had begun talking to my attorneys in mid-December [2008], in part to ascertain whether public office was feasible for me.  Every senior appointee has to complete two massive documents: the SF-86, an impossibly tedious security-clearance statement that requires listing - just for example - every foreign trip an applicant has taken in the previous seven years, and the SF-278, which involves the disclosure of every financial interest and obligation.  Like most recent administrations this one had added its own questions, derived from past debacles, such as Zoe Baird's failure to become Bill Clinton's attorney general after neglecting to pay the so-called nanny tax.  I can't count the hours I spent complying, but I do know that the honor of working for the federal government cost me more than $400,000 is legal fees.

Rattner is millionaire that made his money in investment banking on Wall Street.  In theory he can afford those legal fees.  Still, even for a millionaire that's a substantial sum of money.   Still, if one has to front your own legal fees how can any one who is not millionaire serve at high levels of government?  If only millionaires can serve how will the highest level government officials ever understand the other 95% of the population they are serving?

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