# Should politicians take a vow of poverty?

## Should politicians take a lifelong vow of poverty?

• ### No, I don't think so.

• Total voters
19
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
BicycleTree said:
Would I do it? If I had the option at around age 50, I think I might indeed do it. The motivation for the people taking vows of poverty as politicians would have to be great faith in their nation, patriotism, and the prime motivation to improve things.
So, you wouldn't embark on a political career at a young age knowing you'd have to live in poverty, right? Afterall, nobody who has to support a family is going to consider this, so I think you've chosen a reasonable age there, that maybe you'll find a rare few people who would consider it after their children are raised and independent. Now, you're requiring this vow from city commissioner on up. How old is that going to make people by the time they work their way up with enough experience to run for the presidency?

And just to clarify, at age 50, you'd be willing to give up everything you worked for your whole life? You'd give up your retirement savings, you'd move out of a nice home and into a rat- and roach-infested apartment with no air-conditioning in the summer, you'd give up any other savings, you'd give up your healthcare just as you enter the stage of your life when you'll most need it, you'd accept no gifts from anyone, not even for your birthday, you could never go out to eat or get take-out because you couldn't afford it, nor could anyone take you out because that would be a gift, if you visit a friend, they can't offer you a beverage because that would be a gift, and you think that's all reasonable? And if you have a spouse, are they held to the same requirements? How do you live in the same home as someone who is not running for office and not vowing poverty and expect them to stick around when you tell them your plans? Do they get to sit in front of you and eat filet mignon while you have rice and beans for the 3rd night in a row? And this all sounds perfectly rational and realistic to you?

arildno
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
You would certainly retain as politicians altruists/idealists who scoff at chasing material goods beyond what they regard as enough for themselves.
But, you cannot really be an altruist of this kind unless you have an extremely low material threshold for when you personally feel relaxed and ready to "do the work".

Not all of us are made in this manner, it doesn't have to be a personality flaw to revel in your own asceticism, but it is certainly not a flaw to want nice things about you that you can call your "own".

Note that the altruist will have no problem with getting a higher wage (he'll give away what he doesn't feel he needs), but other, equally valuable politicians-in-the-making will be put off by such a regulation.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
I think in the end, its one of those "Its a nice idea, but the devil is in the details" situations.

Bob, there is little similarity between this proposal and the public education system. Actually, where I live, teachers are fairly well paid.

It is probable that asceticism would have to be instituted, for reasons of finding enough candidates willing to take the job, at a higher level such as congressman. But arildno, it does not matter how many potentially good people you have to toss out; it only matters that the ones remaining are good. There are veeery few corrupt people willing to accept $15k/yr. I think that the age would be an advantage. Is there any evidence that career politicians are better politicians? It's not possible to even gather evidence of that nature. In my opinion, the only thing important in a politician is the willingness to take a stand on the issues that really matter. Pengwuino Gold Member BicycleTree said: Bob, there is little similarity between this proposal and the public education system. Actually, where I live, teachers are fairly well paid. It is probable that asceticism would have to be instituted, for reasons of finding enough candidates willing to take the job, at a higher level such as congressman. But arildno, it does not matter how many potentially good people you have to toss out; it only matters that the ones remaining are good. There are veeery few corrupt people willing to accept$15k/yr.

I think that the age would be an advantage. Is there any evidence that career politicians are better politicians? It's not possible to even gather evidence of that nature. In my opinion, the only thing important in a politician is the willingness to take a stand on the issues that really matter.
Theres not many people who will take the \$15k/year job PERIOD. Also, i dont feel being able to take a stand on something is even close to the greatest requirement of a politician. A politician now-a-days must be well versed and capable in dealing with foreign leaders, they must know how other countries work and how they REALLY work, they must understand the true rules of Washington. Its like asking whats a good physicist? One who can spit out memorized equations and do computatiosn in his head or is it one capable of thinking in abstract, unknown concepts to further possible discoveries?

Given that the job of politicians is to legislate on important issues, what does a politician's ability to understand Washington have to do with anything except his career advancement?

Granted, some high-ranking politicians must also be diplomats. However, these are a minority.

Understanding of foreign affairs is important, and it would be the politicians' job to do so. If they don't do it well, you vote them out of office, as you do now.

Basically, anyone who argues against me must take the stand that there are less than a thousand good, smart people willing to give their lives for their nation in all the USA. Is that really true?

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Well now you have to differentiate between legislators and other politicians. Anyone other then the people who are locked up passing bills all day need to understand how the system works in order to best make use of their positions. Remember, a politician is anyone who administrates in a governmental capacity. Many politicians are not voted on and simply 'come with the package'. A secretary of commerce might face difficulties if his only goal is to build a better economy and doesnt understand various organizations he works with like transportation and environmental committies and such. Lets say you have a secretary of defense and the head of the EPA at odds over a new military base. If they just tried to take their stands, we'd get nowhere. A good politician would know how to do all that "you scratch my back, i scratch yours, things get done" crap.

Legislators are actually the only people who coudl really be affected by such an idea as it is true they are only suppose to be there to stand up for what they (and by implication, the voters) believe in.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
BicycleTree said:
Basically, anyone who argues against me must take the stand that there are less than a thousand good, smart people willing to give their lives for their nation in all the USA. Is that really true?
The real stand is that you need to find probably a good 10,000 people who exhibit the following qualities.

Honest, willing to do one of the toughest jobs a human can do, willing to spend very little time with their family, willing to take personal abuse, willing to lose almost all sense of privacy, willing to have a microscope inspection of every word you speak, all at minimum wage for a few hundred million people who think politicians are slimeballs simply because they dont get their way all the while having no chance of advancing in the world and living in a nice home and living the 'american dream'

Well, I suppose I was really only considering legislators. It would be much more difficult to tear out the corrupt politicians from offices where you really need to be an insider.

The criteria you describe leave out the important thing that the job the people would be taking would be in the highest ideals and would be very important. I think you could find 10,000 of those, easy, but 1000 is all you would really need to fill congress. When you reach a certain point in your life, you stop worrying about material gain and start thinking about more meaningful things--and because of your age you don't have a lot of other concerns in the way. Such people, I think, would be quite willing to give up material wealth in return for living meaningfully.

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Pengwuino
Gold Member
Well if the people around the US are anything like the people i know, good luck.

I have edited.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
lol my opinion still stands. But i must add that i only know younger people so thats probably a big reason i wouldnt be able to find even 1 fit for the job.

BicycleTree said:
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.
No. The community is not their "group", it's the people to whom they are responsable. When you better education you better it for everyone not just democrats or just republicans. The same goes for fixing roads and the economy and so on and so forth. These are not things that only help certain groups, they help the entire community.

At any rate, as already pointed out by many, you are considerably hindering these people. How are they supposed to have a wife? How are they supposed to have a family? How about friends and just a regular social life. How about hobbies? Just about every employer realizes that their employees need to be happy and need a life outside of work or their productivity will decline. My own employer encourages us to take vacation and gives us plenty of vacation time. A person needs to enjoy their life or they will not be a productive individual. Even if a person enjoys their job every one still needs something beyond that.
Also you may want to consider that most of the people out there that vote like to see candidates you have a family and are married. The set up you have makes this all but impossible and would probably ruin just about any marriage.