I've been watching with some interest the reaction to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's moves to freeze parliamentarians' wages until mid-2009.
Big business has apparently rejected Mr Rudd's call for wage restraint for executive salaries, claiming they have to offer lucrative deals to attract the best and brightest candidates. A fair point, one might say. The same argument could be made for parlimentarians - something along the lines of "pay peanuts, get monkeys".
What I'm looking for, though, is a definition of the term "peanuts". Because in my world, the base MP salary of $127,060 really doesn't qualify as "peanuts". In my world, $127,060 is "honey-roasted macadamias picked covered in gold leaf and served in a Faberge egg".
But Tony Abbott, always a man of the people (providing, of course, those people are BMW-driving, chai latte-sipping, multiple home-owning, stockmarket-investing, first class-travelling, Prada-wearing yuppie tossbags), has jumped into action. From AAP:
Former minister TONY ABBOTT says politicians are struggling to make ends meet on a backbencher's base salary of 127 thousand and 60 dollars.
Mr ABBOTT says they have all the normal expenses that families have .. and the only source of meeting those expenses is their parliamentary salaries.
I'm sorry, but what the fuck?!?!?
Now let's take into account rising inflation rates coupled with gigantic mortgages for multi-million dollar homes, and throw in private education expenses and other childcare costs. Sure, that's going to dent the pocket. But let's also take into account that MPs travel and many other expenses are covered by the taxpayer. Many will have leased Commonwealth cars, with petrol paid for by you and me. Fair enough - we're their boss, so we pay their expenses. But I'm sorry, my heart remains firmly un-bleeding for these people.
If you choose to enter politics, you should choose to do so with more than just financial benefit in mind. You're choosing to try to make a difference in people's lives. You should be well aware with any job of what your salary will be, and whether or not it meets your expectations and funds your lifestyle. If it doesn't - then just fuck off. Don't enter parliament claiming to be my representative then whinge about $127,060 a year.
I work in commercial radio journalism, which I'm sorry to say, is NEVER going to pay well. Other people my age are earning $60k, $80k easy in their public service and white-collar private sector jobs. Tradies earn bucketloads more. A guy who cleans cars at my brother's workplace earns more than me. My two degrees count for virtually nothing pay-wise (well, one is a BA, so I'll take the jokes on that).
So yeah, I get paid pretty shit wages. Sure, I don't have kids to add extra expenses (and I can tell you, there's a really good case of putting them off for much longer if not forever), but I still have increasing mortgage repayments to make and higher costs of petrol and groceries. Yeah, you're right. I probably could go and get another job that pays much better. I choose to stay where I am because I actually really do love the industry, and want to further my experience in it. So I can cope with all this. However, it's not all about me.
What about other individuals, perhaps with kids, perhaps without, who can't? How should they feel when their elected representatives whinge about not getting another $6000 this year? Poor little Hugo's grammar school education might have to go on the credit card. Oh gosh! What about little Brayden or Jayden, who has to wear cheap nasty shoes this term because nice ones that are good for your feet are just too damn expensive. And yes I mock the stupid names people give their children, but I will never mock their financial situation.
Take your $127,060 and be god-damned grateful, parliamentarians. And you, white-collar folk - my mortgage repayments total half my wages each fortnight. Do yours? Are you on $70 000 a year or more? I know rents are high and mortgages difficult. I know you work hard for your money and you deserve it. I know you do, and I'm happy for you to earn mega-bucks. It shows personal determination, of some sort. But it's your choice to live where and how you do. So DON'T fricking complain to me if you're "doing it tough". Perhaps one one less gold-plated backscratcher, or nubile wench serving you truffles.
It's time we brought money out of the shadows and discussed it more. Stuff this attitude of "I earn enough" or "I'm comfortable". We're all still stuck in such a medieval Christian mindset when it comes to cold hard cash. It's supposed to be evil to desire it. But you know what? You fucking NEED it. You NEED it to LIVE. How can you make a freaking difference in the world, or to someone you love, if you can't afford to keep pace with prices? OK, it's evil. But it's a necessary one. Let's get it more out in the open, and confess our sin of coveting, and learn to be open about the flashing dollar signs in our eyes.
Now having said all that - can someone lend me $50?