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Jacob Richter
The importance of paying politicians a fair wage

Quote:
Dispensing with salary reinforces the notion that everyone else is just in it for the money. It turns an issue of access to public life for all people into a negative. Like many populist gestures, it inverts a democratic principle, making the powerful appear without motive and the people appear craven.

The reality is that paying politicians – and paying them appropriately – serves to improve our government and our society.

More: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/the-importan...

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I agree with Andrew Steele that we need to pay politicians a liveable wage so that everyone can afford to serve in political office, and that wealthy politicians who decline to take the pay afforded their position undermine the idea of a living wage for politicians.

However, I disagree that the current high salaries we pay for some of our political offices are necessary in order to attract "highly qualified" candidates. Nothing is going to convince me that $200,000 is a necessary wage for the Prime Minister of Canada; and the kinds of "highly qualified" candidates who would decline to run for Prime Minister if the job paid $100,000 instead of $200,000 are not the kind of people I'd want running this country anyways.

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

I would argue how qualified some people are to hold office, regardless of background. I hate this "attract qualified candidate" nonsense. And that is exactly what it is, nonsense.

NDPP

I think they should be paid minimum wage. If this proved inadequate to their needs, they could then vote to raise the minimum wage.

Jacob Richter

Left Turn wrote:
I agree with Andrew Steele that we need to pay politicians a liveable wage so that everyone can afford to serve in political office, and that wealthy politicians who decline to take the pay afforded their position undermine the idea of a living wage for politicians.

However, I disagree that the current high salaries we pay for some of our political offices are necessary in order to attract "highly qualified" candidates. Nothing is going to convince me that $200,000 is a necessary wage for the Prime Minister of Canada; and the kinds of "highly qualified" candidates who would decline to run for Prime Minister if the job paid $100,000 instead of $200,000 are not the kind of people I'd want running this country anyways.

Does "the public service had to be done at?workman’s wage" (Marx) ring a bell?

These days, it's not as simple as an average skilled worker's wage, but nobody holding political office of any sort should enjoy standards of living higher than that of a typical professional worker (what average between mean and median is up for debate).

felixr

Why are we talking about quarter million dollar a year politicians when there are people going hungry in this country?

Slumberjack

I think instead of politicians,?we have a pack of narcissists,?and I strenuously object to enabling a type of behaviour that we casually mistake for politics, through?involuntary deductions from my labour, under threat of imprisonment for acts of non-compliance in that regard.

6079_Smith_W

I think a more effective and equalizing measure would be to restrict the growing costs of getting a politician into office in the first place.

There are municipal councillors who don't get a wage at all (City of Regina is one example). Maybe we should deal with that first. If this was coming from an honest place I might feel better about it. As it is though, it seems like the same cash grab that has completely unbalanced the corporate world.

janfromthebruce

I believe that elected MPs should be paid beyond minimum wage. Providing very poor compensation means that only the rich can afford to run for office, and thus win. Do we really want only those who can dispense with compensation be able to put their name forward?

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Bacchus

Or that corruption naturally follows from the poor pay but relatively high power

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6079_Smith_W

As well, I think giving politicians the freedom to do their jobs, and not be forced to be trained voting monkeys might be a more effective way of making them want to keep their job. Frankly, I don't want someone who is in it just for a big paycheque either, or something impressive to put on a resume. Like it or not, it is one of those jobs which does not end with a time clock.

Thing is, we aren't talking about unpaid MPs. They are paid. As to the question of whether it is enough, I think we need to look at the broader picture, including pressing the question of why this issue is being raised.

Also, the original editorial leaves out an important point. The issue in the 19th century was not primarily pay, but property requirements. If you did not own property, you could not vote. That started to change slightly with the 1832 reform bill, but it was far from equitable and universal suffrage.

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Unionist

dp

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

If Mike Duffy has taught us anything, it's that Canadian politicians are criminally underpaid.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Btw, the socialist party in the Netherlands requires its elected MPs to donate betwen 50-75% of their salaries to the party, and they advocate for lower MP salaries in general. This is partly because, as some have mentioned here, a liveable wage is all that is required (I especially like NDPP's suggestion!) The idea that high salaries attract high quality MPs is as laughable as when the same rationale is used to defend big bonuses for bankers. It's wealth transfer from the poor to rich, full stop. Politicians should identify with the people, not with the wealthy.

Bacchus

I can agree with that. Whats a living wage? And do we include expenses? ?

janfromthebruce

It should include expenses. If one is travelling for political purposes one should be reimbursed for the costs - and not at luxury rates but fair compensation.

As for donating 50% to the party. As a school trustee I figure that it costs me money. It shouldn't. And I'm forever giving money for fundraising related events and no, it's not tax deductable - 20 bucks here, 10 there, 50 here. On what we make, essentially there is no compensation.

Bacchus

Hmmm the salary of an MP is 157k with extra if you have another position (cabinet minister, speaker, PM, etc)? and a few of the roles get car allowances(PM, Leader of the opposition, Speaker and cabinet ministers)

?

Personally I dont find those salaries horrible though I find the practice of allowing them to declare a third or more of their salary tax free. That has to stop.

?

Hmm Ontario MPPs are paid 116k in ontario

Quebec MNAs are about 100k

Unionist

And the winner is:

NDPP wrote:

I think they should be paid minimum wage. If this proved inadequate to their needs, they could then vote to raise the minimum wage.

Yes!

NDPP

And if they run short they can always borrow more...

Toronto MP Adler Settles Dispute with Convicted Money-Launderer

http://o.canada.com/2013/02/12/toronto-mp-adler-settles-dispute-with-con...

KeyStone

"I think they should be paid minimum wage. If this proved inadequate to their needs, they could then vote to raise the minimum wage."

A fantastic plan to ensure the Rob Fords of the world have great success in the world of politics.

Sven Sven's picture

Canada pays the PM $200,000, huh?? Hmmm...? Well, few get rich on that salary.

A US Senator gets a salary of $173,000.? But, they have to maintain two homes, one of which is in the stupendously expensive WDC area (the other home is in their home state).? No one is getting rich off of that salary and I don't begrudge them that for a second.? In fact, that salary should probably be a lot higher.? If national politicians were only paid a "living wage," then most of the people holding the jobs would be people of wealth.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sven wrote:
If national politicians were only paid a "living wage," then most of the people holding the jobs would be people of wealth.

As opposed to the salt of the earth who hold them now...

Although I thank Sven for sticking up for impoverished American senators, who apparently have agreed to give the house in DC they "maintain" away for free once they leave office.

FYI: NDPP's excellent proposal at post #3 is now trending on twitter and rabble's facebook page.

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

As opposed to the salt of the earth who hold them now...

Hahaha, in the parliamentary page you linked to, the word "occurrences" has two typos in it! No meen feet that...

And in the French version of that page - same two typos!

KeyStone wrote:

"I think they should be paid minimum wage. If this proved inadequate to their needs, they could then vote to raise the minimum wage."

A fantastic plan to ensure the Rob Fords of the world have great success in the world of politics.

That's an enigmatic statement, but please, I beg you, do not explain it.

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Sven Sven's picture

Catchfire wrote:

Although I thank Sven for sticking up for impoverished American senators...

I didn't suggest that Senators are impoverished.? All I'm saying is that they aren't getting rich off of a $170K salary, unless, of course, one defines "rich" as someone making more than a English lit professor...

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yes, that is how I would define it. With exactly that cutoff point.

ETA: where do I apply for the 165K English prof jobs? This guy probably has me pipped, though.

KeyStone

I think Rabble is the only place in the world that will defend a TTC token seller's $100,000 a year salary, plus full benefits including pension, but suggests that an MPP or Prime Minister should only get slightly above the minimum wage.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So tell us Keystone what should the underclass get paid. What is the ceiling you would put on working peoples wages and would you extend that to managers and CEO's?? What about hospital workers?? How little should we expect them to live on, after all some of them merely clean toilet bowls right?

Most people at babble accept the idea that if you work tons of overtime then you should be paid for it and that overtime should not be paid at straight time. What about that system do you think is unfair?

Personally I think everyone should make a living wage if they work and that as soon as we start restricting the pay of board rooms to that amount I will agree that politicians should also live frugally.? In the meantime I have no problem with paying elected officials as if they were doing the job they got elected to do.? That job to me is worth as much as a well paid tradesman or medium paid professional.

KeyStone

How about you tell me Kropotkin, why does a TTC worker who makes change in the booth deserve to get three times the compensation package that the average Canadian earns? Why should the guys making $20,000 a year have to pay taxes towards these TTC collectors.

As for the politicians, you don't think they work overtime? You think they work nine to five, and then just turn all their phones off? Don't answer e-mails until 9:00 AM the next day?

I know this seems like an incredible concept, but sometimes people with years of experience, degrees, and qualifications do a better job of running things, than your average guy off the street. So, yes, I think top politicians should make more than the guy making change at the subway. Sorry, if that makes me elitist.

As for your living wage question, I think that anyone working a full-time job should make enough to have all their basic needs met, (food, shelter, communication), as well as be able to save money, and spend money enjoying themselves. And yes, I think that can be achileved on less than $100,000+pension. I'd probably peg it at $30-$35,000 per year, adjusted based on what city a person lives in and whether or not they receive a pension/dental etc.

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Sven Sven's picture

KeyStone wrote:

...a TTC token seller's $100,000 a year salary, plus full benefits including pension...

I'm assuming you are being facetious.

Sven Sven's picture

Well, I'm assuming it's a joke...

ennir

Politicians seems to have no problems voting themselves pay increases, perhaps that is not what we need to be concerned about, rather IMV we should be concerned about the intimate relationships that exist between government and corporations and how many politicians reap the benefits of office once they are out of it.

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Unionist

Oh lovely, here comes the counterpoint. "Facetious? Why no! It was published in the newspaper!" "OMG! Really?" "Really. That's the real scandal. But you'll never catch these guys talking against that!" "Word."

Unionist

Exactly, ennir. Except that if you follow the Charbonneau Commission hearings, you'll find that they don't even necessarily have to wait till they're out of office to reap the direct benefits of corruption and abject service to the wealthy.

Salaries and pensions of politicians are a sideshow, providing talking points usually to the right, compared to the real scandal, which is governments elected by universal ballot and serving the interests of the proverbial 1%.

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Sven wrote:

Canada pays the PM $200,000, huh?? Hmmm...? Well, few get rich on that salary.

A US Senator gets a salary of $173,000.? But, they have to maintain two homes, one of which is in the stupendously expensive WDC area (the other home is in their home state).? No one is getting rich off of that salary and I don't begrudge them that for a second.? In fact, that salary should probably be a lot higher.? If national politicians were only paid a "living wage," then most of the people holding the jobs would be people of wealth.

Add to their salary, what they get from lobbyists - right?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Obama in his State of The Union this week said "no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty".

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

US Senators get to keep some of what they fund raise don't they.? Haven't Newt and others been using their PACS as personal bank accounts for years?

Bacchus

Boom Boom wrote:

Sven wrote:

Canada pays the PM $200,000, huh?? Hmmm...? Well, few get rich on that salary.

A US Senator gets a salary of $173,000.? But, they have to maintain two homes, one of which is in the stupendously expensive WDC area (the other home is in their home state).? No one is getting rich off of that salary and I don't begrudge them that for a second.? In fact, that salary should probably be a lot higher.? If national politicians were only paid a "living wage," then most of the people holding the jobs would be people of wealth.

?

If lobbyists pay them directly while they are in office, isn't that bribery and an indictable offence?

Add to their salary, what they get from lobbyists - right?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Its a great little scam where you can raise money and use it for personal expenses.? Of course you are not taking bribes directly you are merely soliciting businesses to donate to your PAC and if that PAC pays for your family's clothes and household expenses and travel and vacations well that is apparently allowed.? Quite the democracy. Its really difficult to tell it apart from a plutocracy.

I worry about who besides the taxpayers are paying politicians.?

Quote:

According to a 2006 report in the Washington Post, one of the reasons Leadership PACs are controversial is because they are so unregulated: for example, the "personal use" prohibition that applies to campaign committees is absent. Does that explain all the travel expenses in McCain's and Obama's PAC statements?

Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, a Leadership PAC is known as a "nonconnected PAC" -- after all, it's not "connected" with an organization, it's associated with an elected official. The only restriction on spending is that the Senator or Representative cannot use the funds to directly support his or her personal campaign. Indirect support through polling or consulting? Sure.

But as we can see from looking at the campaign contribution to expenditure ratios for the three presidential candidates, not a lot of money is going to other campaign funds. It's going into travel (charters and limos), polling, direct mail, other political consultants.

http://uspolitics.about.com/b/2008/04/03/should-senators-operate-pacs.htm

ennir

Unionist wrote:

Exactly, ennir. Except that if you follow the Charbonneau Commission hearings, you'll find that they don't even necessarily have to wait till they're out of office to reap the direct benefits of corruption and abject service to the wealthy.

Salaries and pensions of politicians are a sideshow, providing talking points usually to the right, compared to the real scandal, which is governments elected by universal ballot and serving the interests of the proverbial 1%.

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True.

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This article spells out how progress has been made since 1840 in the development of democracy, pity the author didn't give us a balanced view by also examining the corruption that has gone hand in hand with this so called democracy.???

Bacchus

Every political system has correuption. Which one has less? (not using the US as an example, they always seem to have to surpass everyone in things, including the negative)

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

On CTV's QP today: "After Prime Minister Harper, Mike Duffy as a Senator has probably been the best fund raiser for the Conservative party".

Does Duffy do anything more than raise cash for Harper?

On QP he said his name - "Duff" - has a lot of value in the vault of the public.

?Can anyone else see the fucking immorality of using taxpayer's money to pay a Conservative senator to raise money for the Conservative Party of Canada???

We should all be fucking outraged!!!

ETA: he's not alone - other senators are doing the same thing.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

This story is a week old, haven't seen it mentioned on babble yet:

Conservative Sen. Dennis Patterson has been representing Nunavut in the upper chamber since 2009, but questions are now being raised over whether he actually lives in the territory.

excerpt:

“It now appears he’s always remained a resident of British Columbia and we are going to have to look at his case as well,” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said