99% effort for 1% return

opinion | editorial

Less than $5 in every $100 tax dollars spent goes on direct pay for our elected representatives.

As a component of gross domestic product, politicians cost the country an even smaller percentage – about 1%. And yet, it often seems like political reformers spend 99% of their time on calling for cost-cutting measures for MPs. Lower salaries. Fewer perks. Smaller allowances. Less seats in Parliament. Will this achieve anything? Let’s say a miracle happened. Let’s imagine some MPs, for the good of the country, sacrifice their seat in Parliament. And surviving MPs agree to now long-standing suggestions to make their positions part-time i.e. cheaper. Will that solve anything? Does a fire burn brighter with less wood? Hardly seems likely.

Performance, not pay, is the real issue. Corruption is the real problem. We can have cheap governance. Or we can have good governance. We can’t have both.