Honorary salary

“Caution, rant!” – based on Lightning icon by brsev (http://brsev.deviantart.com/), CC-by-nc

Now, Mr Wulff, the just-in-time1 retired Federal President, has been granted the honorary salary (“Ehrensold”, currently 199000€ ≈ $265000 plus office and a car with driver). How very fitting that this is decided by the Office of the Federal President, the head of which has been appointed by Wulff himself.2 (Sorry, the newspaper articles are in German only; perhaps Google Translate can make something of them.) In my opinion, the concept of “Ehre” (honour) is a bit peculiar, with some old-fashioned Germanic tinge to it, but comprises a necessary ingredient, which Wulff is lacking completely: common decency. Listening to any sense of decency, he would have waived the honorary salary, or at least postponed it to after the legal proceedings.3 After I had cooled down, I made a mistake:

I tried to imagine these 199000€ in proportion.

A bit more than one and a half year of this honorary salary would be enough to fund our departments's part of the 5-year project I'm working in. Stated differently, you could fund three such projects every year. And this is without the car and driver, which we would greatly appreciate, since we don't have our own car, not to mention a driver.

Even more scary is the comparision to our department budget. (But here, the State of Brandenburg contributes to the outrageousness.) Last year, we were assigned 2466.05€ for material expenses, and 500€ for student assistants. Summing that up, you could support us for almost 70 years (not accounted for inflation), or just as much departments at BTU for one year (there are currently 119 professors here).4

What should I say to this, except the quote I really need stamp, stencil and keyboard macro made of:

If the world wasn't such a beautiful place, we might all turn into cynics.

Paul Auster, Moon Palace

  1. He only stepped down from office after the state attorney requested to lift his immunity []
  2. Also, today's opinion piece on broadcasting station radioeins Kommentar bei radioeins addresses this, including the fine distinction of juridical versus political reasons for resigning, on which you can argue to your hearts's delight. []
  3. Were this honorary salary have been named in the usual legal/political language, e.g. presidial post-retirement grant, there would possibly have been less indignation. []
  4. That's of course oversimplified, because not every professor at BTU is second-class. Some get quite more funds. []

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