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Would You Give Back Half Your Paycheck, for Principle?


Kshama Sawant is the only socialist member of Seattle’s City Council, and she’s putting her money where her mouth is. After accepting office earlier this month, she announced that she will only keep $40,000 of her $117,000 annual salary — less than half, and about the salary of the average worker in Seattle.


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“Every Councilmember faces a choice of who they represent and which world they inhabit,” says Kshama Sawant, in a statement. “My place is with working people and their struggles. I want to give a voice to workers, trade union members, women, and immigrants. As a Councilmember, I re-commit to a fundamentally different political outlook. In line with the principles of the political party I represent, Socialist Alternative, I pledged to stay accountable to working people by taking only average workers’ wage.”

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MSNBC reports that Sawant plans to donate the rest of her salary to strike funds, civil rights, and women’s rights.

Sawant is the first socialist to be elected to Seattle City Council in 100 years. She replaces 16-year council veteran Richard Conlin. She was elected primarily on issues relating to income inequality, including higher taxes on the wealthy and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“Seattle City Councilmembers receive over $117,000 a year — the second highest of any city council in the country,” Sawant says. “Inevitably, such a salary removes Councilmembers from the realities of life for working people. I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite.”

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Should political officials have to live on the same salary as their constituents? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Every penny she earns is extorted from the people she “serves.” In contrast, I am paid for a service I provide in a mutually-beneficial voluntary exchange. She isn’t giving enough back, and I owe nothing.


I see that India has outsourced its socialists. Given the fact that since abandoning most of its socialist policies hundreds of millions of Indians have been lifted out of poverty, I can understand why.

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