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Being born, raised and currently living in Pennsylvania, I agree with your article’s contention that the Commonwealth’s legislature is grossly oversized. The entire body should be cut, drastically.
But I disagree with your view that the legislators are overpaid. If anything, I believe that Pennsylvania lawmakers, and their fellows in state legislatures around the country such as you cited in your article, are woefully underpaid.
I know that opinion will not be very popular among readers of TAS, but let me make my case before everyone breaks out the pitch forks and torches.
The question, as I see it, is how do you get the best people to participate in government? And by “best,” I mean the brightest, most creative, and most hard-working individuals. From what I can see, many current legislators fail to meet any of those criteria.
A simple answer is to pay them well. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a multi-billion dollar budget, and in many respects can be compared to a very large corporation. The Commonwealth has income, disbursements, and administration costs, just like in any business. Shouldn’t we want the best and brightest to run the place? But the total income of the average Penn. legislator, including the perks and benefits, is roughly comparable to what a junior member of middle management makes in a large corporation. To put the problem into semi-economic terms, the Commonwealth is competing with private business for employees, and the market price of a top manager is well beyond what the Commonwealth is willing to pay. I’m sure that someone will argue that it’s a privilege and an honor to engage in public service, and that’s true. But privilege and honor don’t pay the bills.
Think of it this way, the highest paid employee of the Commonwealth is the head football coach at Penn State, who pulls in a salary five to six times the amount paid to the legislators (and considering the Nittany Lions’ record the past few years, that a crime in itself). That is crazy.
I work for a large corporation and personally know many of our upper level executives. They are bright, creative and hard working. And they are paid accordingly. Why would any of those talented people want to give up 90% of their salary to take on an aggravating job like working for the Commonwealth?
As it is, our current system for compensating legislators seems designed to attract one of two types of people: 1) dilettantes who have already made their fortune and can afford to ignore the low pay, or 2) the pure political animal who needs the ego reinforcement of public life more than he/she needs money. In either case, the quality the individual seems to take a back seat.p>So let’s cut the size of the legislature but drastically increase the pay. br> — unsigned /p> p> I would be interested in reading a detailed article listing not only the salary our esteemed senators and congressmen have awarded themselves, but the additional frills such as per diem, housing allowance, travel allowance, retirement, medical benefits, and the amount they pay into Social Security and Medicare. Sounds like the perfect article for a “top notch” American Spectator writer!
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?