Monday, 2 May 2011

Fallacy about high ministerial salaries

In the UK, especially after the "expenses scandal" of 2009, few voters have faith in their elected representatives in the House of Commons.

Many of us feel that they are overpaid and get too many perks, all at the expense of us hardworking taxpayers.

We feel this way not only of the UK MPs, but also of the EU MEPs (Members of the European Parliament). We use the term "gravy train".

Once one gets "onboard" (elected into one of these parliaments), their future is made.

First, not only do they earn a salary quite disproportionate to their skills and amount of time spent on this job (MPs at Westminster have very long holidays). They get huge travel perks (first and business class travel), a monstrous living allowance (root of "second home" scandal), and also a fat pension (while most of the rest of the country sees their pension pot shrinking)

When they finish, many move on to lucrative jobs in lobbying companies, or get non-executive director posts all because they know the people who are still involved in making decisions. In other words, they have a fat address book.

This is not corruption, of course. It is all above-board.

Us taxpayers, despairing at the policies dreamt up, describe these elected representatives as  "couldn't even run a whelk stall". (A whelk stall represents the smallest possible business.)

That is, they have no real work experience in the cut-and-thrust world of commercial enterprise. They have never been charged with responsibilities that require making a healthy profit.

Many of our MPs "rose" through the ranks of the Westminster system as researchers, administrators, being "spotted" by sitting MPs etc to then being transported to the various wards to be voted in at general elections.

While they have a bottomless pot to spend, it seems, these candidates have never had to take a risk, make a profit and/or understand the impact of bad decisions on ordinary people around them.

They are, in short, only used to spending OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

Guess what, even my young son knows how to spend other people's money!

The PAP, in giving all their reasons for giving ministers and MPs such high salaries, now run the risk of attracting all the wrong kind of "talent".

From within parliament when you have a (relatively) good team, we can understand why one is persuaded to think, "Ah! These people are doing a good job and should be rightly rewarded."

From the outside, one or two elections down the line, and looking at Westminster (let's say), we see the very real danger of attracting precisely the type of people we do not trust in running a whelk stall.

Be warned.

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