25 July 2008

A Fool and Its Money

Here's an invite: My new blog. It's called Jenius Jots. You're welcome.

Following up with the topic of Fools and money, here’s an idea that will help limit the obscene theft legislators call “salaries”, “living wage” and “deserved”:

Limit legislators’ salaries to no more than 3 times the average income per capita.

The current income per capita in Puerto Rico (family of four) is about $17,000, give or take a couple of hundred dollars. Under My idea, that would limit Fools’ salaries to $51,000.

Now I ask you, brethren of My island: Is $51,000 a bad salary for rampant idiocy? Let Me weigh the argument even further by adding that at present, legislators make an average of $71,000 in salaries and $27,000 in benefits, and that with their new waiting-to-happen pay raise, those averages are expected to be $92,000 and $33,000.

Some objections might arise. Let’s tackle them one by one:

1) They won’t approve it. The legislature itself holds the power to raise or limit its salaries. But don’t forget: We are the bosses. A referendum can by signed into act by petition and then voted upon and it is binding. (Okay, supposed to be binding. Unicamerality, anyone?) Here’s a clincher: We create the referendum so that there are two options: Unicamerality beginning in 2012 with half the number of Fools (37 or less) or salary limits beginning in 2012 tied to income per capita. Either way, legislators have to act.

2) They’ll gimmick the numbers. To fiddle with income per capita would require executive branch (no capital letters for them either) cooperation, and given that thieves will band together if the pickings are rich, it’s possible. But the kicker here is that Our income per capita is tied directly to federal funding: Raise the numbers on one side and you lose money on too many others. Seeing as how political shenanigans grubbing for power are directly proportional to federal dollars, there’s a huge disincentive to gimmick the numbers.

3) It will attract even worse Fools. Lower pay, lower quality, right? Wrong. Look around you and you will see—time and time again—that value to society is rarely related to salary. Who’s more valuable to society: A neurosurgeon or a baseball player? The doctor makes, on average, about $180,000 a year; the average major leaguer is making over $3 million a year. What you get with a more reasonable salary is a larger pool of people who believe they can provide a greater good, rather than the current group of bottom-feeding lampreys. The key demographic: Retired people, who combine experience and perspective. Yes, they may be too conservative, but they would generally come in with the desire and time to work on true problems, not petty (and not-so-petty) theft.

Here’s the strongest reason to set the salary limit: It ties their performance to a standard We can all agree upon…and vote on anyway. The modern democracy We wallow in is all about the economy, in essence, how’s My wallet/purse doing? Making the Fools play their games to Our benefit is simply good business. And if—as the saying goes—they can make the tide rise, all Our boats rise as well.

Instead of just the freaking yachts We subsidize for the Fools year after year after miserable year.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


KW said...

Great post Gil. You're spot on. Why do you think the local government is so big? This is a subtle example of the Kleptocracy that drives me mad.

GCSchmidt said...

Thank you, MC-On-High. I'm partial to paraphrasing Snoopy here: We didn't invent kleptocracy, we merely perfected it.

Unknown said...

We are the best example of clueless pointy haired bosses there can be...
Wish there was a way to remove all those incompetents
Oh pretty cool the new website, reminds me of http://www.kottke.org/
You may have to check your links, they don seem 2 work.

GCSchmidt said...

Gabriel, thanks for the heads-up! Links should be working now. (In a double-edged comment, I am a Jenius.) I've been a reader of Kottke since 2004, but I never saw the similarity until you pointed out. Thanks again!