2011 May 11 Wednesday
Newport Beach $200k Per Year Lifeguards

Mish points to a report in the Orange County Register about high pay for lifeguards in Newport Beach California.

According to a city report on lifeguard pay for the calendar year 2010, of the 14 full-time lifeguards, 13 collected more than $120,000 in total compensation; one lifeguard collected $98,160.65. More than half the lifeguards collected more than $150,000 for 2010 with the two highest-paid collecting $211,451 and $203,481 in total compensation respectively.

When you see reports like this one they are not anomalies so much as outliers on a distribution curve of abuses. The problem varies by degree but is widespread. What happens with government is similar to regulatory agency capture by regulated target industries. But government is not just captured by industries. Government is also captured by government employees.

We need innovations in public policy that make it easier for the voters to limit the tendency of government to serve its employees at the expense of net taxpayers (people who pay more in taxes than they get in benefits). How to limit the extent of parasitism by governments? It is a never-ending problem. We need better techniques for addressing it.

Some ideas: Outsourcing is one idea. But it requires government employees to manage suppliers. Can be hard to do well. Benchmarking would allow better comparison between different cities and states. A relentless drive to automate should be combined with hiring freezes. Few interactions with government should require an office visit. Web servers should do more of what governments are supposed to do). Constitutional barriers to tax increases could shift the balance of power toward greater frugality. Greater transparency on government worker pay and benefits would make it easier for citizens to learn of excesses.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 May 11 07:38 PM  Politics Parasites

REN said at May 13, 2011 1:44 PM:

If you go back to the years leading up the Wilson Progressive Era, you see something fairly astonishing. The consumer price index was fairly flat, and the growth in government was also flat. After Wilson, the curves take off in a fashion familiar to today's world.

The progressive's gave us the 16'th ammendment (income tax), the 17'th (popular election of Senators), and the Federal Reserve Act. These all work together like a machine. The 16'th serves as a backstop for the private banking cartel i.e. the federal reserve system. If you dont' think this is true, then witness TARP, where you were taxed to backstop the banking sector. The 17'th broke Federalism, where States were intended as a bulwark against growth in Washington. Senators are supposed to represent their States, and their boss was to be their state legislators. If a Senator got out of hand he could be recalled by the State. Today, Senators are populists, and are directly elected. This is totally contrary to the intent of the Founders, who wanted States to be sovereign as possible, and said states were to keep the Central government in Washington under check.

Immediately after the passing of the 17'th Wilson noted that lobbying activity markedly increased. Senators became easily corrupted because they needed money to get elected, or more correctly, to buy our votes.

Our real problem is that central government type Statism is metastasizing into more and more central control. Our ancestors during the progressive era really hosed the country, and allowed a Trojan virus to enter into the body politic. True Federalism is the antidote, and that means returning power and control to the individual States. The lowest possible government is best for the people, and will tend not to usurp power unto itself. Low level government can be held in check by citizen watchdogs.

The best and maybe only solution, will be to undo Wilson's traitorous acts. HR 6550 was a good recent attempt to fix the banking problem, but it got no attention, which is a statement in itself. The next fix would be to undo the 17'th, which I consider to be the worst of all the ammendments. We'll need a Constitutional convention to return to Federalism. The individual states need to be empowered and Sovereign as the founders intended. There may be no fixing at the margins as the cancer has spread.

rightsaidfred said at May 15, 2011 6:01 PM:

Good points, REN, but the genie is out of the bottle. Locals haved learned to vote for big central control.
It has been rise of the parasites since the Progressive era.
We need a change in who votes, i.e. we need to strengthen net taxpayers.

Randall Parker said at May 17, 2011 7:13 PM:


It is interesting that Woodrow Wilson noticed the federal income tax increased lobbying. That the change happened so quickly is amazing. Corruption can spread very rapidly.

Yes, we need to reduce the revenue-raising power of the federal government. If it has types of revenue it is not allowed to raise at all and percentage limits on how much it can get from allowed taxes this would shift politics toward a big battle for the limited money it can spend, rather than fight to constantly increase spending overall. A balanced budget amendment is also needed.

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