The rewards of the political elite

While the bulk of the material rewards of high political office is not in the form of the officials’ pay, the salaries, allowances and benefits of the typical national legislator are quite generous. The report linked to below provides some data about the benefits of elected officials in the European Union. According to the report, the benefits of members of the national legislatures in the EU are on average about 3 times the average income of the citizens of their respective countries, while EU legislators make about 10 times the average income in EU countries.

Salary Atlas in the 27 EU countries

The following survey results show the huge income disparities between the EU citizens battered by the economic crisis and their EU parliamentarians, concluding with one thesis only: We are dealing in Brussels and some national parliaments of the EU countries with conditions similar to ancient Rome because just like in the former Roman Senate none of these “new class EU senators” are controlled in any way. For example, MEPs of France have a salary of around 740 percent higher than the salary level of the average French (25,469 Euros annually).

Even based on the average of all 27 EU parliaments, there are huge differences between politicians and citizens. A member of the French Parliament (National Assembly) meanwhile earns on average 157,524 Euros annually (monthly: 13,127 Euros). That equals 518 percent more than an ordinary citizen (details in tables 1 and 2 in appendix). The situation in Germany is quite similar: Here, the members of the German parliament in Berlin get around 150,432 Euros per year, representing a monthly fee of 12,536 Euros. This is 44 times as much as the earnings of an average German. In Britain, members of the House of Commons get 94,656 Euros per year (7,888 Euros per month), which is at least 252 percent above the average monthly British citizen’s income (2,242 Euros). There are also striking differences in Italy. While the 946 parliamentarians in Rome can be looking forward to be earning about 114,600 Euros per year (9550 Euros a month), the average salary of ordinary Italians is only 1,992 Euros per month, equaling 379 percent less.

In the U.S., Congresspeople are making $172,000 a year, while the average U.S. income is $40,563 a year and the median income is $26,989 a year. A recent U.S. poll finds that

just 11% of voters in the country think [Congress]members deserve to make over $150,000 a year. 58% think their pay should be under $100,000 a year with a 40% plurality falling into the $50,000 to $100,000 a range. There’s bipartisan agreement about that as well.

The significance of these high salaries is not because of their total cost for the citizens – this cost is minuscule compared to the consequences of the policies enacted by those officials – but rather as a demonstration of the impotence of the voters to control elected officials even on the most superficial and transparently problematic issues on which widespread discontent exists and which admit straightforward policy alternatives.

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9 Responses

  1. Yoram

    Please could your translate your last paragraph into plain English — are you saying that because opinion polls show that most citizens think politicians are overpaid therefore they should be paid less? If so then perhaps we should institute government by opinion poll and not go to the considerable trouble of setting up sortition-based assemblies.

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  2. […] Read more at: Political issues: The rewards of the political elite Equality by lot […]

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  3. What makes this posting even more odd is Yoram’s insistence that allotted members should be well remunerated as the principal incentive to attend. In a fused political system like the UK (the argument is weaker for the US) where the government is drawn from the majority party in parliament, there is a need to ensure that competent political officers are appointed and retained, so there would be a case for paying them even more than the existing modest rates (compared to comparable professions).

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  4. a video about sortition I just found on Youtube! to share! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHc9qgLrv6I

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  5. […] Commenter ee points to a couple of videos in which Brandon Joyce makes a presentation about sortition on Channel 9 WPDN Public Distribution Network in Kensington, Philadelphia, PA. […]

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  6. […] ee notes an article by Boyd Tonkin in The Independent in which Tonkin, after warming up to the issue of […]

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  7. […] activity. The fact that this sentiment doesn’t get reflected in policy – just like public opinion regarding the salaries of elected officials – is a blunt failure of the electoral responsiveness […]

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  8. […] the non-responsiveness on the matters of delegate salaries and lobbying regulation, the non-responsiveness regarding income inequality contradicts the […]

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