Throughout the past two weeks I have written of my criteria for determining if my elected officials have become co-opted members of the political class.
In the previous two articles, I described the politician who attempts to raise taxes and increase your already-high tax burden; he's waving the white flag of surrender and admitting to being out of ideas for making government run efficiently, thus necessitating more of your money.
I also wrote about the politician who fears transparency and either refuses to support new transparencies or rolls back old transparencies. This is the leader who doesn't want to be held to account by his electorate and it is a sure sign of his co-option into the political class.
This week I will describe the politician who believes that he personally deserves more of your money.
Being a servant to the public should be a sacrifice. It should be a limited time of sacrificial giving to the community and should never become a well-paid political career.
Those who volunteer to run for office (or who work for the government in any capacity) should have a servant's heart. They want to do a great job on behalf of taxpayer and do not want to personally take more from the taxpayer.
If they are running for an office or seeking a government job because of its salary, they are doing so for the wrong reason. The salary should be their last consideration for seeking office.
An elected official who supports a personal raise for himself does not understand this vital concept. He no longer has the heart of a public servant. He has transitioned from public servant into a well-paid political overlord.
I have seen this happen first hand and based on my observations, I believe this to be the best indicator of co-option.
If your elected official votes for a raise for himself, there is little doubt that he no longer has a servant's heart, and someone who does possess a servant mindset should be elected instead.
There are those who will vote themselves a raise and then try to defend paying more with the “You get what you pay for” logic.
Here's an easy response that most Oklahomans will quickly appreciate.
Did you know that Oklahoma legislators have long been some of the best compensated part-time legislators in the nation?
Yet, for many, many years the state has trailed the national average in many measurable performance outcomes.
I once observed that if legislative pay were to be tied to performance outcomes, the Oklahoma model would create a reverse correlation between pay and performance.
The more the politicians make in compensation—the lower the outcomes.
So, would it not seem logical to lower the pay?
I never thought it right that Oklahomans should be required to pay so much more for their politicians than those in other states.
And I certainly don't think it acceptable for my elected official to support increasing his own pay.
Those who do are signaling to the voters that their motivations are more likely related to their own selfish interests than in being a servant to the taxpayer.