Today I had a conversation with someone who plans to vote for Clive Palmer's party in the coming election. This was the first time I've met a Palmer supporter in the flesh and it was an interesting experience. A big issue for her is the obscene amount of money that politicians are paid. In her mind, politicians don't deserve pay rises and shouldn't get any 'perks'. They are already ridiculously overpaid.
Her comments have gotten me thinking. Why does she have a problem with what politicians are paid but no problem with what Clive Palmer earns? CP earns the PM's annual salary in around about 1 hour (according to the billionaire wealth calculator)!
Here are my thoughts.
1. Politicians market themselves as being like 'the rest of us'. Being too 'other' is not a vote winner.
2. Politicians are like 'the rest of us' in that they have 2 arms and 2 legs, but apart from that, they are not like many of us. They work long hours - much longer than the average shop keeper, they have lots of responsibility, they are generally well educated and have a drivenness about them that would give them big earning potential in the private sector.
3. People buy the propaganda and don't see the very real differences between their work and the work that politicians do.
4. Because politicians are 'like us', they should be paid 'like us'. And for this woman, that would mean a salary well under 50k.
5. It hurts us when people 'like us' get paid much more than us. We feel cheated. It's like we are in competition with them and we're losing.
6. Mining magnates are not 'like us'. They never said they were and it's obvious to us that they're not. Because of this we don't feel cheated when they are paid more than us. They are playing a different game.
It's all very curious. I think politicians have a dreadful job. However much you paid me, I'd never do it.