High Salaries, Low Corruption?


I read a piece in The Week today, provocatively entitled “Pay politicians like movie stars!” The author, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, has taken aim against cronyism:

But much of it, as you already know, comes through because of the nasty business of the revolving-door. No one doubts that cronyism has gotten worse as of late, even as the revolving-door phenomenon has gotten worse. (And as the size and reach of government has increased, but that is a discussion for another day.)

If people who work in key roles in government — whether elected or unelected officials — know that if they work in the interest of a particular sector, they can make several times what they currently make after they leave their jobs, it’s inevitably going to sway them.

Gobry goes on:

It seems that the obvious remedy for the revolving-door problem is simply to pay top officials outrageously high salaries. Like, movie star salaries. That way, there’s no reason for them to look for a “second act” in the private sector.

Find the whole article here. To my lights, the psychology here seems amiss; it’s reminiscent of Dante’s argument that a ruler of the whole word would be free from greed because he already owns everything. But Gorby is right to raise the question: what can be done about cronyism?

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