Should Politicians Be Paid For Their Work?

Discussion questions

  1. How much are politicians paid in your country? Do they deserve that amount?
  2. What should the maximum salary per year be for politicans? And why?
  3. Could there be an alternative system of reward or payment for their services?
  4. What are the common problems or advantages with paying politicians for their work/time?
  5. Will higher salaries for politicians mean we will get better governments?

What do politicians do exactly?

A politician is someone who contributes to how the country is managed. Politicians can be elected through voting, which happens in democratic countries or they can be appointed by a leader. They may influence public opinion and the implementation of laws and policies. Usually, a politician is from a political party, which is a group that shares common beliefs and goals. On behalf of the community they represent, politicians might operate on a local or national level, influencing numerous bureaucratic processes and government decisions. In democratic countries, people can have a say in how their nation is managed by voting for their preferred member of parliament. People can freely express their opinions to the government and influence politics through public protests, signing petitions, lobbying, writing letters, or attending meetings.

Being a politician does not require a specific degree or major. However, it is a tough job. They should be excellent in communications, management, leadership, and governance. People running for office must be able to think critically to come up with a solution when there is a problem. When dealing with their employees and constituents, they should also display good analytical, creative, and communication abilities. As well as being committed to helping people, and to representing the interests of your constituents. In addition, as a politician, you are always in the spotlight. Everything you do, eyes are watching you. So, you should also be open-minded and be able to cope with criticism because as mentioned, people can have a say on how you manage the nation.

A country’s political system reflects the people’s way of living. A political system that functions well has excellent public services such as health and education. In other nations, a system with corruption and incompetence leads to poor public services.

How much do politicians earn?

In the United States, politicians can work in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government. The presidency is the highest elected position. The president is in command of the military and has the power to reject or approve the legislation. The president is paid $400,000 a year as commander-in-chief of the country. Next with the president is the vice president that earns $235,100 per year.
A governor is the highest-ranking government official in a state. Governors work with state lawmakers to allocate funding and make changes to laws. They can elect judges and other government officials, as well as veto legislation. For their job as the state’s chief executive, they are paid between $70,000 and $201,000. The state legislator’s main function is to make a law that caters to the needs of the state. The pay of state legislators varies depending on whether they work for full-time or part-time legislatures. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, full-time elected lawmakers at the state level earn an average of $75,415 per year while part-timers earn $12,838 per year.

Local elected officials include the mayor and council members. Mayors in a big city such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Houston are paid about $200,000 per year. However, if you’re a mayor earning the national average salary, you’ll make around $56,000 each year. The mayor is the chief executive officer. They are in charge of the administration, appointing and dismissing department heads. The mayor has veto (can overrule other votes) authority over the council, which has legislative power.

Teacher Resources

Level: Intermediate: B1/B2
Running Time: 90 minutes +

For more information on how to use this in the classroom, please have a look at our detailed post on using free lesson plans.

Key Terms

To understand this debate it is useful to learn the following words and concepts.












Pros and Cons of paying politicians

Politicians that get paid, will be more competent 


Politicians are human too. Just like the other workers, they are motivated to work harder if we get paid for what they work on. Thus, politicians should be paid for their work. As previously mentioned, being a politician is a tough job. You need to possess qualities that will enable you to overcome the issues your country is facing. If they are getting paid for their work, that is one of their motivations to serve their people better even if they are in a difficult situation.

The study, titled “The Voter’s Blunt Tool” where they used a game-theory method, claims that when elected officials are paid more, they are more invested in maintaining their jobs and are more willing to promote citizen-friendly legislation. They concluded that higher pay would result in more attentive public officials and more citizen-friendly legislation. Getting paid is one way to pay off all their hard work to serve the nation.


Politicians are public servants, hence the main mission of their political activity must be to benefit the people. If the politician is mostly motivated to enter politics and rule the country because of monetary incentives, it means that they would prioritize their interests over the country’s national interests.

Politicians should be in office solely to serve the country and lead it for the betterment of the country, not for the betterment of themselves. It would only act as a lure for greedy individuals if they are getting paid. 

In addition, working as a politician you get almost everything for free. For instance, if you are an important politician that needs to attend a meeting all over the world, you will be able to travel the world for free. As well as other services like security, education, and health. Politicians who work in parliament can get free food. Some of them receive tons of gifts from the people who admire them. So why do we need to pay them if they can get these incentives and benefits?

Corruption will end if politicians are not getting paid for their work.


If being a politician is not paid at all, we will prevent greedy and selfish politicians from entering politics who only want monetary incentives and do not care about their people. With less monetary incentives, more sincere people will be drawn to politics. We will attract self-assured leaders who genuinely wish to represent their constituents’ interests.

They can seek the privileges of power and influence that come with political posts in government at their own expense if they want them. If a politician is given too much authority, they may abuse it.

But if you give them nothing, they will be able to sympathize and understand the problems of the people, especially the poor if they have experienced the reality of it. In addition, some politicians see politics as a family career or business because of the high amount of money you can get from it. This is what we called a political dynasty wherein members of the same family are elected to various offices in the same order or at the same time to preserve their wealth and power.


There will be more corruption if politicians are not getting paid for their work. Politicians will be more tempted to accept bribes from the rich people to gain special treatment, or to get an advantage. Bribery occurs when someone bribes a government official to make a judgment in their favour.

The individual in need donates or gives something of value to sway an official’s actions while performing his public obligations. For instance, a large company wants to build a factory that produces harmful chemicals but needs a safety permit from the government. In order to secure a permit, the company offered the public official a huge amount of money in exchange for the permit. The government official released a permit without checking if that is safe for the residents living around the factory. If that is the case, politicians will be representative of those people in the upper class and leave poor people behind.

Being a politician is a life-and-death job, they should be paid for risking their lives.


We all know that being a politician is a dangerous job. You will face a lot of issues in our nation. These issues can be a life and death situation, and even your health will be at stake because of too much stress.

Entering politics means putting your life in danger as well. There will be people who will not be in favour of the politician’s intentions whether it is good or bad. Those people that will hate the politicians will take them down verbally but others will physically attack them.

For example, David Amess, a British Member of Parliament, was stabbed many times at a meeting with constituents in a church in eastern England. According to reports, a man entered Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, south Essex, on Friday and attacked Amess while he was having surgery with residents. Getting them paid and giving them incentives is the least that we can do for all their sacrifices to make the nation better.


Being a politician is a tough job that is why it also has a high level of security to ensure their safety well. In fact, according to the law, 18 USC 3056 the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect: The president and the vice president and their families, cabinet officials, White House chief of staff, and National Security Adviser. The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) has a high-profile personal protection duty inside the State Department, which is highlighted whenever the Secretary of State goes abroad.

In addition, being a politician is working with your brain. While many other people work using their physical strength daily at work, politicians spend most of their time in their office or attending meetings. As a result, working indoors may make their work-life a lot more convenient, and they will probably be healthier in the long term because they won’t be exposed to harsh outdoor circumstances.


Being a politician is indeed a tough job. They have a special role to make our society a better place to live in. As voters, we elect them to create the laws that all of us must follow, and as taxpayers, we trust them to spend part of our money in ways that benefit all of us. 

Read more

If You Want Better Politicians, Pay Them Less

Why we should pay politicians more

Politicians should take their pay

Pay Politicians £500,000 Each per Year and Maybe We’d Get Better Quality MPs

Images of people used under license from Generated Photos

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