Pay politicians what they are worth?

A friend made the suggestion the other day that we should pay politicians according to the contribution they make. While there was an immediate acceptance of the suggestion, we realized that there would have to be a minimum base to allow the individual something to live on. It is just that we have known too many politicians who would starve to death if they were paid based on their productivity.

And where does this concept have to start? If we began it with school board trustees, we would have to make them pay for the appointment. That is all it is. The role of a school trustee is that of an ego on a crusade. You should have to pay for it. Get on the board. Get your hobby horse looked after. Get off the board. Your bill from the community should be reasonable and please pay promptly.

City or town councillors are often the same. They get the bug to run because they are tired of complaining about a sidewalk or an inappropriately located stop sign. Once their wagon is running smoothly on their newly paved road, they get the urge to fix other’s little red wagon. What we should have is an alms box outside the councillor’s office door. It would never do to give the councillor an envelope with money in it but hopefully there would be enough in the alms box each week to feed and cloth the councillor’s family.

Mayors and reeves would be looked after by the business community. Their alms boxes would be larger and suitable for envelopes full of money. These boys and girls are not in the loonie or toonie class.

This approach would at least give pause to the city politician who sees an opening into federal or provincial politics. You can build up a nice return in your alms box but the higher levels of government present challenges.

First of all party politics can challenge the alms approach. You have to become adept at promising help but not delivering if it goes against party policy. The party bagmen and bagwomen get first dibs on targeted donors and the individual member has to live on the leavings.

And then there are often differences between the provincial and federal fundraising rules. In Ontario, for example, the Premier can sell direct contact to CEOs for $5000 a plate dinner while federal members have to live with more stringent rules.

But then federal contracts and business opportunities can far exceed provincial opportunities and there must be enough money in the business community to satisfy everyone. Mind you even the laziest parliamentarian should have enough left from expenses to be able to serve a decent brand of whisky.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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