Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cue the pitchforks and righteous indignation

Don Martin leads the charge against MP pensions:

In 75 days, another 75 MPs will join that most exclusive of retirement clubs by qualifying for the safest pension on the planet.

The surviving MP class of 2004 will have reached six years of elected service on June 24 and thus qualify for a minimum $27,000 parliamentary pension at age 55 that will, in some cases, hit six figures by the time they are unelected.

Here's the thing. It's not really the "safest pension in the planet". Only 70% of the new MPs from the class of '04 will have lasted in Ottawa long enough to get their pensions. Twice during this period they will have had to fight just to keep their jobs.

They'll have worked long hours - for most of them, miles away from their homes and families. A good percentage of them endured ridicule, some had their lives destroyed.

Yeah, our MPs frustrate the hell out of me. But I don't think it's unreasonable to pay them a good salary, and to offer a pension to individuals who are serving their country with little to no job security.


  • I concur, as long as they're not able to double-dip.

    Don Martin is just obsessed about pensions because his company, Canwest, is bankrupt and would not be able to pay him any pension :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:34 AM  

  • Jeff Jedras (aka. A BCer in Toronto) had a very good post on this exact subject. I'd recommend reading.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 11:12 AM  

  • I agree. I don't think the average person understands just how difficult being an MP is. Add that to often ridiculously terrible job security and I think this is warranted.

    I found Steve Paikin's "The Dark Side: The Personal Price of a Political Life" to be very informative on the difficulties of being an MP. Many have a lot of trouble find jobs when they almost inevitably lose an election.

    By Blogger The Fwanksta, at 11:52 AM  

  • Well said, Dan!

    The difficulty, increasingly, though, is in the disappearance of pension plans for ordinary Canadians who also work hard, give a large chunk of their lives, and build this country. If we could solve that problem then the pensions for the politicians wouldn't stand out.

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:13 PM  

  • I love the argument that MPs have terrible job security. Where the heck do you guys work? MPs have their jobs for roughly two years in a minority situation and 4 in the case of a majority. Most people would be happy with that type of security. Well, anyone who doesn't want to the same exact thing for 35 years. It must also be really, really tough finding that first job after your losing election with Member of Parliament on your cv. Those poor souls.

    By Anonymous Jobs4life4everyone, at 2:14 PM  

  • "If we could solve that problem then the pensions for the politicians wouldn't stand out."

    How about we all budget our money over our lifetimes so we can afford to retire at a level we are satisfied with? There. Problem solved.

    By Anonymous Trust People With Their Own Money, at 2:21 PM  

  • Personally, I disagree

    It's a recession and most people don't have the expense accounts and travel budgets and perks and privileges that these people do.

    Yes, Guergis has come under unfair scrutiny, you bet - and sure, they all work hard. Me, I work hard, too - and I don't make what these people make, and I'm more a committed team player than 70% of MP! Me, I don't know anyone salaried who's received a raise lately - and the people who form the organizational leadership of the nation are more than comfortable enough to set an example.

    That's my opinion, doesn't have to be yours. Me, my preferred mode of leadership is example setting during challenge -- and it's a challenging time.

    As an MP, I would not vote for a salary raise at this time.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 2:22 PM  

  • I'm going to have to take issue with your phrasing here, Danny Boy. There is a marked difference between having your life destroyed (think earthquake, typhoon, fire etc) and destroying your own life (think heroin, drinking and driving, letting your douchebag of a husband drive around in your taxpayer provided car when you know it violates all kinds of rules).

    I'm not sure the pensions need to be as high as they can work out to be. I'd say if someone has a PhD in economics and serves in the treasury or as finance minister, then there's a certain qualification there. But barring that they should be scaled back.

    The fact Poliviere gets a pension is a joke. Sometimes you only need one example to show a major problem with the system. And Pierre would definitely be enough. But I'll also throw in one Mr Anders.

    By Anonymous Luke, at 2:45 PM  

  • One possible solution to the whole compensation dilemma is to pay MPs on the basis of what they made in the private sector prior to being elected. This idea has been put forward by Jeremy Rifkin in "The End of Work", and by social theorist Jurgen Habermas; their formulations, however, covered ALL "social" work, and not just those of MPs.

    In effect, once an MP was elected, he or she would be considered "seconded" from their private sector job. They would receive the same pay, indexed for inflation. Pensions, if they existed, would be contributed to in the normal manner. The federal government (or provincial governments, for that matter)would provide tax credits to the previous employer in the amount of the pay and benefit packages.

    What this does is re-inforce the notion that politics is public service, would encourage those who would otherwise seek office but won't because of a reduction in income, and would DISCOURAGE those who only seem to want an INCREASE in income. I think we would get a more competant crew.

    MPs, MLAs, MPPs, MNAs, etc would still be given an allowance to run offices,etc.

    By Blogger Party of One, at 4:36 PM  

  • Whoa... that idea is so fucked and twisted I'm going to have to think it over, Party of One. I'm not sold entirely, but I'm really intrigued -- it might just work out great.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:46 PM  

  • "As an MP, I would not vote for a salary raise at this time."

    I totally agree. Now's definitely not the time for a raise. But I don't think that's on the agenda.

    By Blogger The Fwanksta, at 8:53 PM  

  • MPs pensions aren't the problem, it's people who got themselves elected frothing about MPs pensions and who are now quite happy with them that are the problem (not to mention their supporters who have rather selective memories). And who can forget the promise to turn Stornoway into a bingo hall. Heady times, those were...

    By Anonymous Timmipeg, at 12:40 AM  

  • Indexing pensions or salary to what they made in the private sector is an interesting idea.

    It makes a certain amount of sense, although I have a feeling it would lead to some problems in practice...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:46 PM  

  • Pierre Polievre being eligible at 31.

    Just the thought makes me puke.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:03 PM  

  • had 2 google Pierre Poilievre

    on wikipedia found his "personal website", which I figure was made and planted on wikipedia by a political rival...

    Use your imagination and experiment, the Fleshlight will never say no. My cockhead is feeling those soft bumps like a thousand tongues licking my dick from all directions, and it was pure heaven. You did not get into the mental game of fucking it like you would when making love with your partner.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 PM  

  • Poilievre's website is "ResultsForYou.ca".

    By Blogger Paul, at 9:54 PM  

  • Jeepers.

    Being an MP is hardly one of the toughest jobs out there.
    Take a look at doctors, for example, that is a tough job and there is no pension for them, at any time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 PM  

  • "Take a look at doctors, for example, that is a tough job and there is no pension for them, at any time.'

    Probably why alot of them become politicians. Safest place to have a medical emergency is in the government benches at Queen's Park. Maybe if get rid of the pensions they'll go back to where they're needed more. We did subsidize their education afterall.

    By Anonymous Where Did All the Doctors Go?, at 3:15 PM  

  • I think there are really two separate questions here - how much should we reward politicians and in what ways should we reward them.

    On the latter question, I'm not sure an ironclad pension that pays out after 6 years is the best way in which to reward politicians. It is more costly than paying high salaries in the long run, especially as life expectancies continue to rise.

    Moreover, it ensures that a large percentage of MP's will be extremely nervous about elections just before their pension clock starts. This could indeed have an adverse impact on questions of real import like confidence votes.

    I think paying people based on their pre-parliamentary incomes is also a bad idea.

    Many people do work that is of great social importance, but that is not especially well-paid. Social workers are one example. I want to see more middle class people in parliament, with real life experience - as teachers, soldiers, social workers, nurses, etc. If middle class people are going to take on the risk of running for office, as well as the additional costs (eg. maintaining a home in Ottawa, trips, fancy dinners - which are key to networking), they need to be paid appropriately.

    What is the problem at the end of the day? It is that MP's are underpaid directly, and overpaid indirectly. This is a lousy system, which leads to abuses and raises costs. At the same time it is likely to remain the status quo, since parliament takes flak whenever it votes to raise its own wages.

    My solution - have an independent committee determine MP's wages. Cut back the golden-plated pension plan and other perks (especially those open to abuse) and raise MP salaries directly. This is the way to cut costs, reduce abuse, and still encourage candidates from many walks of life.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:25 PM  

  • "Pierre Poilievre being eligible at 31."

    Is no different from any other MP. Nobody collects a Parliamentary Pension prior to age 55, regardless of their age at the time their minimum six years of contributions to the plan have been met.

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:38 PM  

  • Hoser, you always give persuasive posting.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:05 PM  

  • I think everyone must read this.

    By Anonymous plazas con cherlon, at 11:00 AM  

  • By Blogger mmjiaxin, at 8:19 PM  

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