By Hannah Reich Berman

There are many issues that we should get to vote on. Starting with the most timely issue at hand–I propose that we, the American people, should be able to vote about our illustrious members of Congress. Specifically, we should vote about whether or not to keep them. I would opt for getting rid of every last one of them! And something tells me that a lot of others would vote the same way.

Unfortunately, I was never much of a student. My attention span was, and still is, about the same as that of the average housefly. The only periods that held my interest were lunch and recess. I did well in those. The workings of our government didn’t interest me, so I paid scant attention in class. I have no idea what the course is called today, but in my time it was called civics and it was given in what was then known as junior high school. Today, grades seven through nine are known as middle school. Junior high sounded fine to me so I’m not sure why it had to be changed, but it is my observation that some people think change is important, whether or not it is for the better.

Getting back to those members of Congress, they are some smart cookies. Members have a base salary of close to $175,000 annually and leadership gets considerably more. Their retirement benefits are far superior to those of most working Americans. And they get fantastic tax breaks and bonuses, as well as free travel. The only thing a member of Congress needs to get away for a vacation is to utter the following phrase: fact-finding. And, on these so-called fact-finding trips, there is practically no limit to what they can spend. Based on the trips that some of them have taken, my guess is that their fact-finding could be about which suntan lotion works best!

Admittedly, taking trips can be tiring; but that’s not a problem, since these dudes work less than three days a week. Most citizens would be starving if they didn’t work five full days. And members of Congress also get free travel between their home district and DC as often as they like. I can hear the thinking now: “Hmm, I had to work today and I have to work tomorrow, but I just heard that our next-door neighbor is making a barbecue tonight and nobody grills a steak like that guy does. I think I’ll hop on home for a few hours. I can be back here in DC in time for tomorrow’s session.” And off he (or she) goes!

None of the above even comes close to the best part of their lives, which is that they get to vote for their own pay raises. They don’t have to prove to a boss that they deserve a higher salary; they only need to convince one another that it is a good idea. Then they all vote on it. I can’t think of anything better. In my next life, I hope I get to come back as a congresswoman.

As of this writing, at midnight last night (it was 12:01, to be exact) Congress shut down our government. The reason is that they failed to agree on ObamaCare. It’s been 17 years since the federal government last faced a partial shutdown because Congress and the president couldn’t agree on a spending bill. A lot has changed in that time, which leaves everyone confused about what a shutdown means. Much of what will happen is unknown, but what we do know is that the House and the Senate aren’t doing what their mommies taught them to do: They aren’t playing nice!

At last report, all national monuments, parks, and museums will be closed and thousands of government employees will be out of work. Of course, members of Congress never have to worry about that. Should they ever find themselves out of work and without a salary, they just need to wait until they reconvene and then they can vote themselves another pay raise. What a country!

As my attention span hasn’t improved much over the years, I am already tired of this topic and am finished kvetching about Congress. Anyhow, it’s not like there’s much I can do about the situation. The debacle, however, has put me in a complaining mood so, while the spirit moves me, I will vent on something else that annoys me. (There is no shortage of things that annoy me.)

I have a problem with dress codes. Thank goodness it will soon be winter, which means that everyone will be wearing jackets or coats. While I enjoy warmth and sunshine as much as the next gal, there are drawbacks to that weather. Once the outerwear comes off, we’re treated to the sight of pregnant bellies; thankfully, not the skin, but every bit of the bulge! To be sure, there is beauty in the sight of an expectant woman, but why do we have to see the bellies encased in tightly fitted tops? What was wrong with those loose-fitting tops that expectant moms once wore? Back then, nobody stared because there was nothing to stare at. If folks saw an obvious bump under the fabric of a blouse, they realized the gal was pregnant so they wished her luck, asked her when she was due, and moved on. Today, we can skip the part about asking when she is due. One look at the size of the belly and we can figure it out for ourselves.

There was a time when the only visible navels were the ones on oranges–and frankly, I preferred it that way. Today, nothing is left to the imagination and people don’t stare because they want to, but because it’s hard to ignore a belly that’s right out there on display. Although this fashion trend has been around for several years, I remain astonished by it. The fact is that I still haven’t figured it out.

Then again, I also haven’t figured out the new dress code for shul. Actually, in some shuls, the dress code seems to have disappeared altogether. Upper backs are exposed, skirts are short, necklines are low, and sleeves are practically non-existent. All of which are just more examples of change that is not necessarily improvement! That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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