The Liberian Observer published an article on 10/07/2016, titled, ‘Speaker Picks 15-man Special C’ttee.’ In the article, the author described the excessive salary of Representative Snowe as “Lucrative.” I am certain the US$1.5 million budget of the Speaker will also be described as very “lucrative.” I write to object to the author’s choice of words. Liberian journalists must reach deep into their reservoir of words to find appropriate words to best describe the deadly evil of greed and excessive salaries sinking the country. This will pave the way for the demise of the corrupt and deadly system of governance that’s 169 years old.
In my opinion, “Lucrative” implies profitability stemming from a fair earning. When the political elites elected as public servants set excessive salaries and benefits, they are using the power loaned to them by citizens to actually take money away from citizens’ healthcare, education, disease prevention and literacy.
Some may argue that the academic qualifications of Liberia’s political elites from elite universities in America justify the excessive salaries. However, data from American states such as Arizona and Massachusetts where most Liberian elites acquired their education clearly demonstrate how Liberia’s political elites betray and rob citizens of
Liberia. In Arizona, a state with US$36.6 billion FY-2017 budget and home to the University of Arizona, lawmakers earn US$24,000 yearly salaries. In Massachusetts, home of Harvard University and MIT and a state with FY-2017 budget of US$38 billion dollars, lawmakers make less than US$69,000 yearly. Compare that to over $100,000 yearly salaries of Liberian law makers in an impoverished war ravaged country with less than US$1 billion budget.
The author’s choice of “Lucrative” to describe the excessive salaries and benefits of Liberian lawmakers glorifies the act that fuels political violence, ritualistic killings, poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment in Liberia and many African countries. The author wrote; “Edwin M. Snowe is the new Chairman on the Foreign Affairs, despite row that the Montserrado lawmaker is already in a lucrative position as a member of the Liberian delegation to the ECOWAs Parliament.” Given the deprivation in post-conflict Liberia, evidence by the lack of electricity for most citizens, impassable roads during every rainy season, inadequate funding of education, poor healthcare that result in countless untimely deaths of citizens, the excessive salaries and benefits of Liberian politicians are unjustifiable and deadly!
The culture of greed in Liberia’s public service also means that Liberia will always have sufficient money for politicians to pay themselves and build huge mansions at home and abroad. They, like former Speaker Tyler will have money to travel to Ghana for medical treatment made possible by Ghanaian citizens. At the same time, Liberia will always have eternal insufficient funds for Liberian highways, bridges, education, healthcare, ultimately resulting in more deaths of thousands of innocent Liberian citizens year after year. We must expose the root of evil to hasten its demise in society. “The love of money is the root of all evils.”
Surely, journalists who promote the common good must strive to find the appropriate words to describe such deadly amassing of wealth in unsavory terms. For example, when stores located at rest areas along highways charge exorbitant fees because there are no other competitive stores nearby, “highway robbery” was coined to describe such profiteering. The difference is such stores are business entities. Public servants were elected to serve in the interest of the general public and not to use their positions for personal gain at the expense of citizens.