Benjamin Franklin knew that when government positions become very profitable, the worst of our society would seek after them. The first Senators in 1789 were only paid a $6.00 daily per diem and only while in session. Today our lawmakers’ salaries have increased from a simple per diem while in session to $174,000 annually, plus the gold standard of all health plans, in addition to a retirement that vests in less than one Senate term! If anyone actually thinks most of these folks are not in it for the money, you might want to consider that fact that in salary alone, they make more than 3.6 times the average GDP per capita!

When making salaries that a majority of Americans would probably consider themselves very well off making, it is no surprise that our legislators are exactly what Dr. Franklin said lawmakers of such circumstance would become (the added emphasis is mine):

And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will NOT be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government, and be your rulers. And these, too, will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation; for their vanquished competitors, of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be endeavoring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 591-92, as quoted in The 5,000 Year Leap, 1981, W.Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies p. 67)