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?

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m all in favor of higher salaries for legislators, but it’s not going to stop corruption. To lessen the effects of corruption we need term limits. They don’t need to be severe term limits to do a lot of good. But if we expect people other than lawyers to interrupt their careers to serve relatively short terms in legislatures we need to compensate them decently, and that means higher salaries and pensions. Maybe we could adopt a sliding scale – the longer the term served, the lower the pension – but we also need limits. (And no, elections are not good enough limits. They don’t help me to limit your congressman who uses his seniority to amass power and loot for his district at the expense of mine, which has the best Member of Congress in the USA, namely Justin Amash.)

    I’m also in favor of cutting the budget for Congressional staffers. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry thinks that’s a terrible idea, and when we discussed it on Twitter he didn’t admit that I am right and he is wrong.

  2. Greed has nothing to do with low pay. Greed is a character flaw.

    If Mr. Gobry is not wise enough to understand that, then his article is not worth reading.

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