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Should politicians take a vow of poverty?

  1. Yes, I think it should be given a try.

    4 vote(s)
  2. No, I don't think so.

    15 vote(s)
  1. Jul 10, 2005 #1
    Should politicians take a lifelong, legally-binding vow of poverty? A vow tying them to a state-provided one-person bare subsistence income from the beginning of their elected term until the end of their lives, with strict restrictions on gifts they are allowed to receive from others. This would cut corruption down dramatically; there's no $500k/yr industry job waiting for them after their term. Once you take away material gain, the politicians would have to serve only because they feel they can improve things. Of course, it would only be practical above a certain level; it's probably not practical to give every minor official a lifelong stipend, even a small one. So, it would be applied only from the level of town commissioner on up.

    And, there would be no ban on politicians taking later jobs for their own enjoyment, so long as they don't get to keep any income above their minimum stipend.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2005
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  3. Jul 10, 2005 #2


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    No. I don't see what being poor by choice has to do with corruption. Politicians, for the most part, don't become politicians because of the money, they become politicians because of the power. In fact, many politicians do take a pay cut by being politicians - most of the ones in Washintong included.
  4. Jul 10, 2005 #3
    Too many million-dollar lobbyists, it wouldn't do any good.
  5. Jul 10, 2005 #4
    Some people, the best of the best, wouldn't take the job because of the low pay. We would be losing out.
  6. Jul 10, 2005 #5
    Is the power-hungry kind of person who runs because he enjoys the power of being in office the kind of person who would take a vow of poverty--to, say, $15,000/yr in today's money, just enough to survive?
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2005
  7. Jul 10, 2005 #6


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    No, but can you honestly say you believe anyone else would be willing to do the job either if it meant taking a lifelong vow of poverty? The person who really wants to make a difference, fix the system and make fair decisions while avoiding corruption still needs to be able to put food on their table. Also, if they were the sort who believed in doing something to elevate people out of poverty because they recognize the horrid conditions those in poverty live under, why on earth would they volunteer to live under those conditions themselves?
  8. Jul 10, 2005 #7
    I edited before you replied. $15000 is enough to live on for a single person with no work obligations in the USA.
  9. Jul 10, 2005 #8


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    I dont think this would work, we'd be shutting out a lot of people from office. When your intelligent and very well versed in what you do, you end up being rather successful and make many contacts. These are the kinds of people you want dealing with larger issues. We do encouter some corruption this way but any accountable multi-party system is by nature, anti-corruption. You see some crap happening on 'the other side' and all of a sudden theres $200 million worth of free publicity and a great way to advance your career if you can expose them with some real evidence. Unfortunately now, you can just lie your butt off and still get attention because no one really cares so maybe that idea doesnt work as well either. Of course, the Soviet Union already makes a good case against any kind of "work for the people" eddict. Crap happens... the people are probably more to blame then the politicians for all i know.
  10. Jul 10, 2005 #9
    So the current safeguards against corruption are not so good.

    I think your argument boils down to this: is it more important to have ruling officials who are well-connected and powerful, or is it more important to have ruling officials who are free from corruption?
  11. Jul 10, 2005 #10
    I think all you would be doing is taking the temptation away from the good people. The corrupt ones will still exist and they will still find ways of making the money you are attempting to keep them from making.
    I think there are plenty of politicians and people in government employ that make more money then they ought to for what they do. I would agree that some of these people need to have their pay rate and job description re-evaluated. I think that your idea here is a too extreme though.
  12. Jul 10, 2005 #11
    But at least they would be out of the government. That would take power from them.
    It is about removing corruption, not just ordinary reductions in pay. I don't think it's corrupt to be making $75000 as opposed to $45000. The official in that case is merely overpaid, not necessarily corrupt. It's when you reduce it all the way to $15000 that the corrupt officials will jump ship.
  13. Jul 10, 2005 #12

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    heh... I know you're not talking about California. In the major cities, that barely even covers the rent on a decent apartment.
  14. Jul 10, 2005 #13
    What I meant was they can still be in the government and finding ways of getting the money. If they're crooked they're not going to care if what they are doing is illegal. They may even feel more justified in doing so since they are being made to live in poverty. I know that you would say we will make sure it wont happen but no system of doing so would be perfect and there will always be ways around it. Also after they leave office they can leave the country and find a job some place else that wont enforce a low stipend. Any way in which you could curb the possible ways around the system would only serve to take away this persons liberties and freedom. What a reward for doing a service to your country that premotes liberty and freedom huh?
  15. Jul 10, 2005 #14
    So by all means, curtail their personal freedoms. Prevent them from ever leaving the country legally. Take legal action against them if they acquire money illegally.

    Why would you want to reward politicians for doing a "service"? Half the politicians are working against the other half. Nobody is authorized to say who is the one accomplishing anything and who is the one destroying progress. The whole "public servant" thing is propaganda. The only thing politicians do is promote the interests of their respective groups.
  16. Jul 10, 2005 #15
    I'm begining think this may have been better placed in the politics forum.

    Politicians are supposed to be doing a job. They're supposed to be improving their community/state/country. They should be paid for what they do and on a pay scale equivilent to their job. They should not be made slaves of their country.
    To say that a politician only works against other politicians and promote an agenda is almost to say that all politicians are corrupt, or at the least not doing their jobs. There are politicians out there working to help people and their community, not just to promote an agenda.
    It would be really ironic to represent a country based on freedom and liberty that you would have to give up your freedoms and liberties. It just doesn't make sense.
  17. Jul 10, 2005 #16
    Doesn't that sound a little like the politicians' "respective groups" to you?

    I am not saying that defending one's group is corrupt, but it is not altruistic.

    I do think politicians should be made slaves of the state. The sacrifice of the freedom of the few is sometimes needed to ensure the freedom of the many.
  18. Jul 10, 2005 #17

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    I remember when Mr. Spock said that at the end of the movie. That was so sad. :cry:
    Or he said something like that. I forget now. :confused:
  19. Jul 10, 2005 #18


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    As I think about it more, this would actually make the system more corrupt and more filled with "old money." You can give up all your worldly possessions quite easily if everyone else in your family is filthy rich. Never own a thing, live in a bedroom of their home, rent-free. They buy the food and you happen to eat it. Yep, you can live in the lap of luxury on next to nothing if you have the right connections to mooch off of. The most corrupt will always find a way to beat the system, and the honest will be honest enough to realize they aren't going to risk venturing into politics if it means living a life in poverty. This seems far too extreme, especially when it's life-long, not just during the time they are in office. Who would want to live like that? I lived on that sort of stipend (less, but with inflation adjustment, it's probably about the same) in grad school, and there's no way I'd have done that if I had to live like that the rest of my life. What you'll probably wind up with are a bunch of do-nothings running for office as a way of obtaining that life-long stipend instead of applying for welfare assistance. They're the only ones who would think such an arrangement was a good deal.
  20. Jul 10, 2005 #19
    I did mention "strict restrictions on gifts" in the original post, Moonbear.

    And if the only people we can find who will truly give their lives in service to their nation are those seeking welfare... well, I think that's a very pessimistic attitude.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2005
  21. Jul 10, 2005 #20


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    Is it a gift for your family to take you in when you're destitute? You need to specify what you mean by "strict restrictions on gifts" then.

    Why would that be pessimistic? Be honest here; would you do it? Can you think of one person who would? What motivation would they have?
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