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Why Pay Them At All?

An attempt at paying politicians what they deserve.

There have been systems in the past that have not paid their politicians, and the philosophy behind this is usually split between two schools of thought, but the two ideas are sometimes combined. The main philosophy that supports not paying politicians at all is feudalism. In this model the political entities are made so powerful that they can through political means- raise more than enough money for themselves and the taxes they must pay to the kingdom. This is known in the modern world as rampant corruption. The other philosophy that supports not paying politicians is that paid positions attract those who seek wealth, but volunteer positions attract those who are more generous and moral. This second philosophy has largely been seen for the sham that it is, for political positions can be sought for power or title even without pay, two deeply egotistical reasons. Futhermore, and most importantly, if politicians are not paid then only the already wealthy can afford to run for office, and only those wealthy and established enough to retire could remain in office long enough to effect real change. The exception of course is in the case of corruption, where there would be no official pay, but the political power of the office affords the politician what the need to survive. A balance needs to be struck between paying politicians in order to allow anyone to run for office, but not paying them so much that a wealthy business man would put his career on hold for the more lucrative aim of running the country. As most politicians are very wealthy and deal in millions and billions of dollars it is very difficult for them to have a solid understanding of what a good wage is. Luckily, there is a more objective way to measure this than popular opinion or seeing how long it takes the average bureaucrat to chew through $100 000. The median income of a region refers to how much money the people exactly in the halfway point of the income distribution get paid. It differs from average income in a very important way, in that the average represents how much money everyone would make if the total income of the region were split exactly equally. For example, in a region where 10 people make $12 000 each year and one person makes $400 000, the median would be only $12 000, whereas the average would be $47 272. Someone making the average wage in that region would be doing just fine, but someone making the median (like 91% of people) would be on the poverty line.

Using the median wage rather than the average gives politicians a better, more objective idea of how good of a job they are doing, if their job is in fact to alleviate poverty, aid the citizenry and improve the quality of life while upholding the law. If their job is to be making as much money as possible then the average is a good enough measure, and theyre all doing an astoundingly good job. I propose tying the pay rate of politicians to their regional median incomes for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, as I have stated, it is a reasonable measure of their success. Furthermore, if the median income is so deplorable in comparison to the income of the elite that they would not consider a political career, all the better! With a median income that dramatically low the region has almost definitely dealt with far too many rich politicians anyway. The pay would be higher than the income of a full half of the regions inhabitants though, ensuring that there is always a large and strong base citizenry from which to pull the political class. Furthermore, if the median income is so incredibly low that it would approach the poverty line one must always remember; that means a full half of the population is living below that, willing to upgrade to that, and in desperate need of someone with the motivation and skills to raise it. In various conversations I have had I have come across a few counter arguments to this pay system. Mostly they include people who think politicians work harder than the average person, and so should be paid more. My first rebuttal to that is that if the average person works harder they are rarely (if ever) paid more for it. My second argument is that politicians should be intrinsically motivated to work hard, and in fact it has been proven repeatedly that after a base income is established money is a poor incentive and negligent motivator. What we really want are politicians willing to work to raise their own income by raising the median, or who are fuelled by ideologies and hope to change the world, what we get by paying them so much more is a room full of squabbling bureaucrats trying to one-up each other. One counter that I have considered for some time is that political office, to be effective, must be powerful, and where there is power there is corruption. In a system with such corruption one cannot use the pay scale to incentivize morality because clever people will simply find a better way around it. This is true, and unfortunately nothing reasonable can be done to bar knifing people from politics, but if the politicians income is restricted to the median income of the region, that is to say that he is barred from using or accepting any other monies while in office (and possibly afterwards as well), then it will be made

more difficult for him to abuse the system. Other precautions could be put in place to close loop-holes and gradually elect more moral people, willing to close more loop-holes, until finally politics is simply less lucrative and more time and energy consuming than regular business. There are regions where this model would work if simply applied to the current structure, and there are, of course, adjustments and tweaks that would have to be made for regional and demographic issues, but overall the system could be applied to any size region, from municipality to multi-national governing bodies. In some places the corruption runs too deep and the system would have to be overthrown for this one to be implemented. If that is the case remember that those who do not want to make the median income are forcibly the elite minority, and with a little time and elbow grease democracy can find its way through the ballot box, parade, or the hand grenade.