01 November 2008

Value of politicians

Here's a little factoid that I think is relevant to my politics as entertainment theme:

Three employees of our government, and their approximate salaries:

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister: £200,000

Mark Thomson, Director-General of the BBC: £816,000

Jonathan Ross, Entertainer: £6,000,000

Where is the power really in our system of government? Jonathan Ross's earning power is the result of a "tournament" effect of the star system in entertainment, so maybe we should leave that out. But what does it mean that the manager of the BBC is worth four times as much as the PM?

Possibly he is better qualified? Wikipedia suggests not. (Brown has a PhD in history from the university of Edinburgh). Hmm, Gordon Brown took a doctorate in history and I never knew. Is there some significance in the lack of public attention given (by me, at least) to that? Isn't it really quite important? Does the fact that the thesis was on a bit of the history of the Labour party make it less important?

Back to the pay, can we explain it away by saying that the mechanics of the different roles means that the director of the BBC needs to have special expertise, whereas the PM doesn't, instead having (highly paid) civil servants to supply the technical expertise?

OK, perhaps this isn't a big deal. Being Prime Minister certainly has perks beyond the salary. But the fact that taxpayers pay 30 times as much for Jonathan Ross than we do for a Prime Minister at least takes some of the ridicule away from my theory that politics provides more value as entertainment than as government.

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