Friday, January 27, 2006

Politician Cuts Salary In Order To Hire More Public School Teachers

This is a novelty:

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- President Evo Morales cut his salary by more than half and declared no Cabinet minister can collect a higher wage than his own, with the savings to be used to hire more public school teachers.

The move followed a campaign pledge to tackle political corruption and restore honesty to the government of South America's poorest country. But critics called it a propaganda ploy that will do little to help the needy.

Five days into his leftist government, Morales announced Thursday his salary would be $1,875 a month -- a 57 percent cut from the previous president's earnings -- and that his Cabinet would also have their salaries capped at that figure.

''I ask for (the ministers') understanding and efforts to try to meet this demand, not for Evo but for the people,'' Morales said.

He said the savings would be used to hire more teachers, adding: ''We need 6,000 new teachers and there is only money for 2,200.''

Morales' predecessor earned $4,362 a month. The yearly savings of more than $31,340 on the president's income -- including expenses and Christmas bonuses -- is about enough in Bolivia to rent an upper-middle class apartment, buy one new Ford Focus or pay the annual salaries of 10 veteran teachers.

The average Bolivian teacher with 10 years of accumulated service earns about $250 a month.

Street protests by teachers, miners, and Indians ousted two of Morales' predecessors since 2003, uprisings fueled by indignation against wealthy elites.

In December, voters elected Morales by a landslide after he promised to tackle corruption and poverty. He was inaugurated Sunday.

Restaurant waiter Jose Maria Oropeza applauded the cuts. ''It's a good sign that he's putting his salary on the line so that the country can begin improving, and not only his salary, but all the Cabinet ministers,'' Oropeza said Friday.

But he said daunting problems remain.

''The poverty rate here is high and no one can deny that. But with this government, I hope that things will start improving,'' he said.

Critics said the salary cuts were a superficial gesture that would not begin to address Bolivia's deep-seated poverty.

Ruben Costas, governor of Santa Cruz in the country's eastern business hub, called the cuts ''demagoguery,'' saying good leadership and social programs matter more than the president's paycheck.

In addition, some officials complained they might not be able to maintain homes in far-flung districts while working in La Paz.


''Morales is acutely aware of the symbols, both in terms of the indigenous identity of the country and by setting the standard for cutting salaries,'' said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

''But now the test is, 'Can he follow through?' ... Ultimately, he will face real decisions,'' Shifter added.

Other leaders have introduced salary cuts. In January 2002, Ecuador's President Lucio Gutierrez took a 20 percent voluntary pay cut to $5,120 monthly. A year earlier, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo announced he would cut his pay to $12,000 a month after critics denounced a plan for an $18,000 monthly salary. Protests were so loud he had to cut it again to $8,400.

No wonder the Bush administration and FOX News hate Morales and think he's a Castro-loving, commie, pinko lefist Sandanista. He's for cutting the salaries of preznits and maybe even heads of big companies when the rest of the country (or company) isn't doing so well.

Commie bastard. How the hell does he expect his Bolivian cabinet ministers to live on $1,875 dollars a month?

And for what? To hire more teachers?

Jesus Christ, I bet Pat Robertson will be publicly praying for the assassination of this guy any day now.

And with good reason.

We wouldn't want this cutting of executive salaries in order to hire more workers to spread north of the border, would we?

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