Haley Barbour says the Indiana governor may need to focus on making money once he leaves the statehouse. Is his $95,000 salary enough?
Governors Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Mitch Daniels of Indiana are both due to leave office soon, a subject they discussed in a recent episode of the Ricochet podcast. What should they do next?
For Barbour, the answer is, "Make a lot of money." That was his advice for Daniels, who recently ruled out a presidential run.
HALEY BARBOUR: He's going to have to look at Sherri and the girls and say, "You think I oughta make some money for a change? Marsha thought that was kind of an interesting idea at my house.
MITCH DANIELS: It's true that Haley and I did not pick the optimal 8 years, or 9 or 10 years of our earning lives to go into public service. But I wouldn't trade it. And I know that he wouldn't either.
It seems to me that this is a noteworthy exchange - mostly because Barbour states plainly a mindset that almost every politician shares - even though I don't know exactly how to respond to it.
Here are two options among many:
1) Governor Daniels earns plenty of money in government. His salary of $95,000 per year easily puts him in the top ten percent of earners in America. He earns more than double the median income in Indianapolis, where he works. And unlike the vast majority of Americans, he has the option of living free in the governor's mansion, free transportation to and from work, an expense account, great health benefits for his whole family, a permanent security detail, and a pension. Plus his position as governor creates certain lucrative economic opportunities: he could easily make good money giving speeches, or writing a book, or lecturing at a leading university. The idea that he has sacrificed in order to be governor reflects an out-of-touch, ruling class mindset. Yes, he may work long hours, but he isn't digging ditches. He's doing a job that is psychically rewarding and affords a lot of fringe benefits, prestige being high among them. Plenty of honest, hardworking people would gladly trade places and count themselves lucky.