The thing is, however, is that many of those politicians are getting paid more than those talented people, and I often wonder why.
What is it that these political bigwigs do all day, after all? I’m pretty sure they sit at desks and don’t have calluses on their hands, and I’m also pretty sure they’re not creating lasting cultural innovations that’ll lift mankind up for years to come. No, instead they’re doing politics.
But that’s important, isn’t it? I mean, if we didn’t have people screwing with what works and trying to fix what isn’t broken what kind of world would we be living in?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to speculate on such an existence. In fact, it’s giving me shudders right now.
After all, there are people putting their hands into the ground and even into the toilet sometimes…but let’s be honest – they’re not as important as these folks sitting at their desks in Helena. Let’s be frank – anyone can clean a shitty toilet, but not everyone can find someone to shit in that toilet.
These politicians find us people to shit in those Montana toilets, mainly be creating policies and procedures that lure jobs to the state, creating more bodies that need more toilets.
Well, that’s the idea. I’m not sure it’s working too well, though. According to Census Quick Facts, the per capita money income for people in Montana is $25,002 and the median household income is $45,456. Both of those numbers are lower than the national average. What’s more, 14.8% of Montanans are living in poverty.
Now, that is a bit of an improvement. In 2000 the per capita income for Montanans was just $17,151.
Could you live on that? I don’t know. I’ve lived on a helluva lot less, and I haven’t even made that much money this year. Some of you made that this month.
Some of our elected officials do a helluva lot better than that, however, as you can see in their annual salaries:
- Governor: $108,167
- Lieutenant Governor: $86,362
- Attorney General: $104,077
- Secretary of State: $86,018
- Director of the Department of Revenue: $99,500
- State Auditor: $86,018
- Superintendent of Public Instruction: $104,655
- Director of Agriculture: $99,500
- Commissioner of Labor and Industry: $99,500
- Director of Natural Resources and Conservation: $99,500
- Public Service Commissioner: $95,651
Wow, what a lot of fucking money, huh? Boy, if I made $9,000 a month like the governor does I don’t know what I’d do! What do you do with all that money in Montana? I guess invest it, huh?
I wonder why Montana officials get paid so much when the people they watch over get paid so little. Certainly the ‘king on the hill’ here in Montana, huh?
So how’d it get like this, with our elected state officials making so much more than the rest of us? Collussion, corruption, cronyism? Nope, just the legislature.
This 2012 Missoulian article on Montana pay raises lays out a lot of the background, but beginning in the 90s the state decided to institute automatic pay increases based on the salaries of Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, and some other states in our region.
That’s great, but what chances does Bullock have of getting elected in Idaho?
Now, in 2012 we saw the governor’s salary go up by 8%, yet that same year saw legislators refuse to raise the pay of the 11,600 state employees – you know, the grunts on the ground, regular hardworking people – anything extra. In fact, legislators thought so much of hardworking Montanans that they actually froze their pay for two years. What a friend!
A real leader would have said you take my 8% pay raise and shove it up your ass if you’re not giving my workers a pay raise, but Brian Schweitzer wasn’t a real leader.
Bullock was a smart guy – he refused his 6.4% pay increase that same year, citing those workers. Two years before that he donated it to charity. Lot of others Democratic state officeholders did the same. Republicans? Eh…not so much.
At least Steve Bullock has some sense and knows that he doesn’t need $9,000 a month when he’s living in a free house and you just can’t spend that kind of money here. Well, you can, but you might be stupid.
I can’t help but think many in the legislature are stupid, and I sure hope we can have pay that makes sense for Montana. Personally I’d like to see those top salaries cut and some of that redistributed to those thousands of state workers.
But that wouldn’t make me a very good Montana politician, now would it?
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Montana Locations by Per Capita Income (Wikipedia)
Montana.gov State Official Pay, 2012