In 1990, the job approval rating for Congress was 30% and in 2017, it has dropped to 19%. That is a serious decline in public confidence for our top legislative branch of government.
Members of the U.S. Senate oversee budgets in their home districts and in Washington totaling approximately $3.5 million per member per year. Members of the House of Representatives receive approximately $1.4 million per member per year. (https://lasvegassun.com/news/2013/mar/13/how-much-does-it-cost-run-congressional-office/) With 100 members in the Senate and 435 members in the House, a billion dollars flow from tax dollars in exchange for what we are receiving from these distinguished leaders.
We are long overdue for audits of these congressional offices but we see no sign of audits on the way. Some may see the lack of audits as an invitation to dishonesty, but history says that could be an invitation to failure and prison.
“The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) of the U.S. House of Representatives is an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against Members, officers, and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives and, when appropriate, referring matters to the House Committee on Ethics.” So, ethics relates to misconduct.
Other Working Definitions
Integrity is “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility.” The issue of integrity in public service, therefore, relates to moral values and incorruptibility. A person with integrity loves the truth and dislikes deception, cover-ups, and misleading.
Ethics and integrity are required for public servants and many publications ensure members know the specifics. However, there are simple basic rules good for all humanity regardless of the social rank or class, education, profession, or aspirations.
Find five such rules below that may be reviewed in greater detail. Though the rules may be simple for all to understand, those with higher authority and education should know that more is expected of them. They should be careful not to disappoint those expectations. Those with ambitious aspirations must give much thought to these rules to operate in different social lanes as they seek to move ahead.
1. Respect everyone’s time.
2. Follow the dress code.
3. Pay attention to your behavior.
4. Be fair.
5. Be a true professional.
Ethics: Easy To Understand, Yet Underutilized
With some thought, one can expand on each to a point of perfection. She can thus achieve the success in life that the less creative thinker could never reach. And as simple as these points are, it is obvious that their consideration can benefit many. High school students with dreams can benefit as will upward-bound business executives. Community leaders can embrace them, and those who have already advanced to the top of impressive careers.
Some leaders with international influence have not learned to respect everyone’s time or even to respect everyone. Some are not aware of their offensive behavior which may have seriously limited their influence. They do not realize that their achievements could have been much more impressive if they had given more thought to some of these principles.
When one stops learning and growing, those behind can see what he will never see, that his brake lights are on. He may have stumbled to the top and may be moving just enough to experience a professional train wreck. High achievers should, like others, work to avoid the weaknesses they see in others. A mayor may get too much praise to see his defects. And senators, corporate executives, and presidents get even more praise than inflated mayors.
Humility At Its Heart
This is not a complete document even for the organization that adopted it, but more of a summary. It is a good starting point for individuals or some groups which can be expanded to meet their specific needs. However, for a large group with considerable legal concerns and resources, a document such as the congressional rules, Rules, Committee on Ethics, 114th Congress, which consist of 52 pages may be a better starting point.
Ethics and integrity, therefore, require enough humility to keep everyone at every level from perceiving themselves as being above the rules. Hold on to the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Just as this land was made for you and me, rules were made for you and me. Let us observe them and enjoy the peace and happiness which they produce.