PUBLIC PAY RAISES
January 1, 2018 | View PDF
There is no doubt that nearly everybody is frustrated with the increasing dishonesty and declining value of most of our public servants—from Senators and Congressmen down to city councilmen and county commissioners. Over the years, they have acted less like servants and more like rulers. We also know that they are seriously overpaid for their mostly part time jobs.
For many years, members of both parties of our Congress and Senate routinely and conveniently voted for pay and expense raises with little worry from the wrath of the working people, who could only earn theirs by performing superior work. They usually grabbed these benefits in election years shortly after their re-elections when most of the voters would tend to forget them by the time of the next election. But over time, more people were not forgetting and were beginning to oust the ones who continued this political theft.
Somewhere around thirty years ago, the backlash from the people was becoming serious enough to cause them worry. They drew up legislation to make the raises automatic. Instead of recurring actions that were open to public scrutiny, they voted one time to effectively conceal their future raises from the public and the news media. Today, they are almost never even mentioned.
Of course, state and local officials also routinely vote themselves raises and other benefits, and few people today ever notice them also.
Why do we keep letting our public servants draw salaries and benefits far beyond what is reasonable for equal work in the private sector? Isn’t there a way we could regulate what we pay them? Yes, there is, and it is very simple. We can do it in a
democratic fashion with a referendum.
Whenever a public body feels it needs an increase in a salary, expense allowance, or whatever, it must submit its request (for X% or $X) and have it put onto the next regular general election ballot. If the people feel that the increase is worthy, they can vote for it. If not, they can vote against it.
However, if we only have simple yes/no options, politicians would be tempted to repeatedly demand raises ad nauseam—similar to some property tax referendums that keep repeating until the local people finally surrender to an approval.
There is a solution to this also. The ballot would have not two choices, but three. The third would be a vote to reduce their salaries or whatever by the same percentages or amounts the politicians are requesting for their increases.
The votes would work in this manner: If a majority (over 50%) of the votes are cast for the increase, it would be granted. If less than 50% support it, then nothing changes. But if 50% or more of the voters vote for the reduction, then the reduction would be implemented instead of the increase. Our public servants would get the same treatment that we would expect if we kept annoying our superiors over and over for raises and benefits. If officials keep hounding people for more money, the people could strike back with reductions instead of increases.
Remember, these people are our servants, not our masters or rulers. It is about time we stood up and treated them like servants. It is about time we paid them no more than what they are worth.