News has recently broken about the Alameda, CA, County Administrator, Susan Muranishi, who will retire with $420,000 annually from her pension and benefits. While public outrage is widespread, it is, sadly, accompanied by little thought or analysis.
One of the problems plaguing our government is a form of corruption called “the revolving door”. A public official who is responsible for regulating private industries will make recommendations and enforcement decisions favorable to those industries in hopes of getting a well-paying job when they leave government service. Like all people, they want to make a lot of money, but as public employees, they are almost never paid commensurate with people in similar positions of responsibility in the industries that they regulate. Their public salaries encourage them to think about how they can make more money later.
In fact, 423 important officials in the Obama administration have used their government positions to get through that revolving door. As anyone would, they want to get out of their low-paying public service jobs as fast as they can in order to get where they can make real money.
Corporations, on the other hand, have an interest in keeping the pay of public employees low, and it isn’t necessarily about keeping their taxes low. Their interest is that if public employees are hungry, they are easier to bribe.
However, Ms. Muranishi did not have that pressure on her. She worked for 38 years in the public interest and there has never been any indication that she performed her job in other than an exemplary fashion. She managed a very large organization that is responsible for serving the needs of 1.5 million people -- a tremendous responsibility. And she did it well enough that they kept her on year after year. Perhaps her $420,000 salary seems like a lot to those of us who have not escaped the oppression of the plutocrats, but it is far less than what is earned by people in similar management positions in private industry.
I say congratulations to Ms. Muranishi, and thank you for your service. I hope that you have a peaceful retirement and a good life. You deserve it!
We should pay all of our public employees, especially those who are responsible for legislation, regulation, and administration, much more than we do now. If the public wants their employees to be answerable to them instead of to corporate bribery, then the public should pay their employees like they mean it.