Pay Politicians Well

by | January 20, 2012

It is no coincidence that many politicians are independently wealthy. Though politics does not necessarily pay poorly, it typically does not pay well, certainly not commensurate with the responsibility. So what motivates a politician to run for office if the pay is not great? One answer is power but another answer is financial self-interest. A wealthy politician might push legislation that furthers his personal financial interests while other politicians may work to garner favor with those who can reward them once their political careers are over. In either case, the interests of the politician are not aligned with those of the electorate.

We want to attract very best and brightest in our society to politics but we can only do that if we pay well. Even the poorest citizen should be able to consider politics if he believes he has something to offer. True, he will have to raise campaign funds. But once elected, he must concentrate on fulfilling his campaign promises and improving the lot of the average citizen. He should not be planning or scheming how to make money once his term is over.

But a word of caution. Paying well does not mean overpaying. We want people to go into politics because it is something they believe in, not because it will make them rich. So, by all means, pay well. But don’t turn politics into a get-rich-quick scheme either.

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