Saturday, 12 January 2008

Socialism, Venezuela-style

It is not easy to compare the standards of living between different countries with very different taxation systems and prices. Still, I wanted to compare the ratio of deputy/teacher salaries in Venezuela and in a European country like Germany. Salaries in most other countries are more or less lower, but the ratio between salaries for teachers and deputies is more or less the same as in Germany.

A Venezuelan teacher (single, no child) earns monthly around 1300 Bs plus Bs 206 in meal tickets (which are not counted for their pension later on). They also get 3 month bonus at the end of the year.

A Venezuelan deputy earns like a satrap: 16000 Bs. a month plus 10 months of salary as bonus PLUS expenses for trips and other work-related issues. That is much more than what a German deputy earns in absolute terms and Venezuela's prices and taxes are in general much lower than Germany's.

It was not only in Medo-Persian times, but also
in these times of the XXI century socialism

The salaries of Venezuelan deputies are nothing special for Chavez's top level administration. We thank this information to a well-known Venezuelan priest-journalist, padre José Palmar

A Venezuelan teacher does not pay income taxes because she does not earn enough to pay them. I am still not sure about the amount of taxes Venezuelan deputies pay. I will try to find out about that, but it is going to be difficult: transparency is not Venezuela's official motto.

Calculating what deputies really earn is more complicated. As this site shows (one can get similar data from the German government fairly easily or by visiting the Bundestag), a single no-child Bundestag member would earn something like this:

Gross salary: 7.009,00 euro

From this he would expect to pay the following:

Income tax: 2.198,25
Solidarity payment with Eastern Germany: 120,90
Church tax (most still pay it): 197,84
Social security:274,95
Another compulsory health insurance (Pflegeversicherung): 29,96

The net income would be around 4.187,10 €

He would also get 3.647 euros for compensation work for which he will have to pay his trips to and from Berlin as well as a second flat and office if he does not live there permanently. Most deputies fall under this category as Germany is a federal state where members of the Bundestag are expected to spend quite some time in their constituencies and Berlin is far from most other big population centres in Germany. You cannot be just commuting from Munich, Cologne or Hamburg every day.

If the German Bundestag member does not spend a lot, he would give around 500 euros for a second flat in Berlin. He would also give something like 500 euros for an office there and 500 for an office in his constituency and around 1000 (this is not compulsory!) for his party if he really expects to have the chance to be elected again. The German government will pay the salary for possible assistants directly to them.

The salary of a German teacher
varies a lot depending whether he is a "Beamter", a public servant for life, or a normal employee. If he is the former and he is a single person without children, he will get 2300 euros net and will have no right to strike. If he is just a state employee (as it is the case in Eastern Germany and for some teachers in Western Germany), he would get 1600 euros (again, if single and no kids). This is a big difference, but still the dimensions are way from what we see in Venezuela.

The following chars try to put in perspective what deputies in Venezuela and Germany earn gross. The blue part of the first chart shows what percentage of the "deputy pie" a Venezuelan secondary school teacher gets and the second one what a German teacher gets of the German pie a Bundestag member gets.

Basically, a Venezuelan teacher earns 5.5% of what a Venezuelan deputy earns.
A German teacher earns 42,8% of what a member of the Bundestag earns (gross salary).

Salary is not everything. Teachers also need to have had a very good education, they need to have gone through a strict selection process, they need to get all the time intellectual and other professional stimuli (formation courses being just one example), they need to have good teaching materials at hand and not too many pupils for each classroom. Last but not least, they need to have some status based on what they earn compared to others. As we have seen, deputies in Venezuela earn like little satraps in comparison to what the general population earns.

One cannot be surprised that Venezuela was LAST in Unesco's 1998 test for mathematics in Latin American secondary schools: it was behind Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, even Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. The salary is not everything, but one sees what a "wonderful example" the socialist deputies (and all other high officials of this regime) are giving to the people.

Chávez declared some time ago he expected high politicians to reduce their salaries and donate something. He himself donated some dollars he got from Khadaffi for a prize for Human Rights (yeah) and one of his politicians declared he was donating part of his library to the country. I haven't heard much of the others. Meanwhile, everyone in Barinas, Chavez's region, speculates about the land the Chávez clan possesses now and what all his relatives working in high posts might be earning.

And yesterday Chávez declared he will push again for a reform to allow himself to be reelected without any limit.


  1. You write that a Venezuelan teacher with no child makes "X" amount. Does a teacher with 2 or 3 children make more? Does a teacher with 10 years experience make more than a teacher with one year experience?

  2. Hi, John. Yes, a teacher gets some extra money for each child and he/she gets more money for each year of experience, like elsewhere, but it is not much.

    I put the case single-no child for the sake of simplicity and time: I would have to spend more time calculating deputies' and teachers' salaries for Germany for 2 children and X year. If I have time, I do a couple of other cases, but it won't change the whole picture:

    in poor Venezuela (and my country is poor in spite of all the oil), the difference between the salaries of deputies and teachers is much bigger than in Germany (or many other countries), Venezuelan deputies are earning even in absolute terms more than German deputies (which is a lot) and the purchasing power of Venezuelan deputies is much higher than that of German deputies, who are not bad off.
    Venezuelan deputies are just one example of the high-ranking bureaucrats we have and they do not represent an example for teachers or anyone else who is just outside politics.

    There are other problems I will talk about later. I will also explain some ideas about how we could improve things, as far as I see.

    Have you been to Venezuela?

  3. I've never realized that those Venezuelan government SATRAPS have also a 10 month salary bonus!!!!!


  4. Well, somehow they have to make ends meet, buy some Christmas presents for their children, live


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