Leaders cannot be bought
By Herta Ruthard
CBC Radio put up for debate the suggestion that higher salaries for Members of Parliament would attract more highly qualified people for these positions. I would say that, in contrast to private enterprise, higher salaries are more likely to attract less suitable people -- people who hope for the taxpayer-funded Good Life. This would include the lavish pensions and generous health care benefits, not to mention the long holidays that are so difficult to check up on -- without working harder for these "perks".

It is amazing how quickly and efficiently our representatives are able to work when they plan to give themselves a pay raise -- especially one so large that ordinary mortals could only dream of. They managed to complete in three days a task they might normally spend months, even years, on.

Today people consider themselves fortunate to live in a democracy, but what is a democracy? This one is based on corruption. The politicians make promises and the voters let themselves be bought, and that is corruption. An overly high salary for public representation is also a case of corruption.

Have our already well-paid MPs created a better Canada? Where are they when oil, timber, electricity, other natural resources and assets, and soon water as well, are bartered off abroad and thus lost to future generations of Canadians? These things belong to each and every Canadian, and the profits generated by their sale are not being paid to these same Canadians. Isn't this also corruption?

The word "democracy" comes from the Greek: "demos" means people, and "kratein" means govern; democracy means government by the people. The people are duped into believing that they have the say; but, in truth, the politicians set the course. Just think what transpired in Seattle last year and in Quebec City last May.

No, higher salaries for MPs will not guarantee that we get better Members; they will only make the Members more arrogant than they already are. Before the election they go through the ritual of shaking hands and making promises. They give away what is not theirs to give; and the voters let themselves be bought with their own money -- and they don't even notice it! After the election, we see the rude awakening of those duped when these same representatives laugh in their faces. "What do we care about our silly blather from yesterday," they might be saying.

As Professor Dr. Hermann Oberth so aptly put it, "In life, a person of decent character has a certain number of options open to him for advancement. A person of low moral character, with the same degree of intelligence and drive and at the same point in life, also has all these options open to him -- as well as others which a decent person would not choose. For these reasons he has more chances for advancing himself. As a result of this negative character selection, the upper strata of society manifest an enrichment, as it were, in persons of low moral character." (Oberth was the father of space flight and teacher of Wernher von Braun.)

This is not to say that all politicians are crooks; but it's a case where the exception proves the rule.

Surely there are honourable people who, however, are not averse to being well remunerated for their idealism -- and once again we're back at the issue of corruption. So, does a higher salary make better leaders? I say no: leaders are born; they cannot be bought.