Saturday, May 27, 2006

An absentee legislature

A bill has been proposed in the Michigan legislature to dock the pay of legislators who miss numerous votes.

Quick: Is this a good idea or a bad idea?

If you said it's a good idea... well, think about it.

Do we really want our legislators hard at work? Doesn't this imply that government is the answer to our problems? Conservatives realize that government isn't the answer. Government is more likely to mess things up than make things right.

In addition, looking at the list of absentee legislators shows that most of them are Democrats, and most of them are from Detroit. If they don't want to vote, that's fine by me. In fact, I'd gladly pay them to never show up again.

For some strange reason, pay for politicians is the one category of spending that drives the public into a rage. The government can employ a million bureaucrats to just sit around--or worse, create regulations that cost the economy a trillion dollars--and nobody will notice. But if politicians get a few thousands dollars more, people will be furious.

As long as you support the existence of a republican form of government, you support employing politicians. The relevant question is not whether they deserve what they are making--they usually don't. The relevant question is what sort of incentives political pay creates.

The problem with politicians is not that they don't work hard enough. Most of them work all to hard. The problem is what they do. I agree with Thomas Sowell: I'd pay them much more to do much less.

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