During the past few weeks our governor, Bob McDonnell, has come under a great deal of scrutiny because of allegations that he and the family may have engaged in unethical behavior. I’m not going to weigh in on any of it because, frankly, for now this appears to be another case of political voyeurism. Virginia’s Governor will defend himself if and when he needs to do so, as will Democrats who will be roped into this same pie sooner or later (Note: For non-Virginia readers, remember that Virginia holds off year elections and we are in the midst of the electoral silly season).
If your going to run for office, you do it to serve your community or the state. One does not do it for the money. There are some pundits who think, however, that political leaders are not paid enough and that that taxpayers should give them a pay raise commensurate with the office he or she holds. Using our McDonnell’s recent problems as an example, a fellow called Josh Barro recently penned an item that captures the essence of this idea:
The Governor of Virginia makes $175,000 a year, and that is, in some sense, a lot of money. It’s about three times the median household income in the state. It’s plenty of money to live a nice lifestyle on. But it’s not nearly enough money to match the lifestyle of the sort of people you become surrounded by when you are a powerful political leader.
Mr. Barro is not the first, and will not be the last person to suggest that politicians should be paid a lot more money. Good luck with that one. Mr. Barro does not like to be criticized either. According to an article in the Daily Pundit, there is tweet by Mr. Barro stating that people who disagree with his article that politicians are not paid enough are “inane“.
One wonders what Mr. Barro means by this: “the sort of people you become surrounded by when you are a powerful political leader.” I do not know Mr. Barro, but I can tell he is not from Virginia nor does he understand Virginia politics or the nature of public service. Republican? Doubtful. When your governor of any state you should surround yourself with a wide range of folks from all economic and social backgrounds.
Politicians are paid more than enough to compensate him or her for their time in office. It should be a high honor and a privilege to serve the people of your state and you are well taken care of during that time. In addition to a generous salary, Virginia’s Governor live in a nice house where everything is taken care of so that you can focus on governing and doing the people’s will. All of these perks add up and cost Virginia taxpayers a pretty penny.
Mr. Barro, and those who advance this elitist notion that politicians should be paid more money for public service, see our political system an ATM and not as a tool for the public good. We live in a democratic republic, not a monarchy or other privileged system that abuses the public trust (and tax dollars).
A governor can be very effective at attracting investors and helping grow a prosperous state without violating the public trust no matter what they are paid. If they can’t do so, then he or she is not the right person for that office.