…and should be encouraged to the maximum extent possible.
The total cost of the 106 people traveling under the aegis of Congress came to over $400,000 for two days in Denmark, thanks to a $2200 per-person, per-day rate at the Marriott.
Four hundred thousand dollars. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But think: there are 535 congresscritters, Senate and House combined. Last year, after debating for roughly two weeks, they passed a single bill, the so-called “stimulus”, that cost almost nine hundred billion dollars. In rough, approximate numbers, that’s $35 billion a day total, or $65 million per day per Congresscritter — and they didn’t even get laid (although, arguably, most of the rest of us got f*ed).
The conclusion is clear: Congresscritters on junket cost almost a hundred thousand times less than Congresscritters “on the job”. What we need, badly, is more junkets, not fewer. Reducing the cost of Government by even half that — a factor of fifty thousand — would be a tremendous advance.
It’d even be a good use of “stimulus” funds, which have already been appropriated and incorporated into the debt. Let us get Boeing and Lockheed to build a hundred more-or-less-equivalents of Air Force One, just as luxurious but set up for groups of five to ten VIPs and their staffs, spouses, families, and flunkies, along with reasonable accommodation for papparrazzi. I seem to recall that the current AF1 and AF2 cost something like a hundred million each, so a hundred of them comes to $10 billion before the quantity discount. Add, say, a billion to build a ramp and terminal at Andrews to park them. Pocket change by today’s standards, and think of the jobs saved or created!
Call the operating cost $200,000 per day, round numbers (the story says the military VIP planes came in at $168,000 per diem, but they’re smaller and less well appointed). If we put all of them on planes at once in groups of five to ten doing “fact finding” in Tahiti or Monaco — well, a bit of arithmetic:
$200,000 divided by 5.35 (average number of Congresscritters per plane) = $37,383 per day per Congresscritter
Hotel rooms and meals at $4,000 per day (no need to stint) times, say, ten sycophants per Congresscritter roughly doubles that. Divided into sixty-five million, it comes out about seven hundred times cheaper than having them on the floor voting the next money grab. An excellent use of resources, in my opinion.
You might object to the loss of US prestige consequent upon flooding the world with self-important a*holes with unlimited credit cards, and that’s a consideration. It’s a minor one, though — there are at least that many sheiks and investment bankers going up and down in the Earth, seeking whom they might devour, and the world’s hospitality industry copes with them quite easily. The only real downside is that it leaves the President to run things by Executive Order, but that’s how it works anyway, and without Congress to fund the extremes the damage the Occupant of the White House can do is really quite limited. Let’s git ‘er done, people!