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The war over the war for talent

Via Matt Yglesias, a nugget from Mitt Romney's speech today that I had missed earlier: Did you see that today, government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector. Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for bureaucrats? I'm not really sure what Romney is ...

Via Matt Yglesias, a nugget from Mitt Romney's speech today that I had missed earlier:

Did you see that today, government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector. Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for bureaucrats?

I'm not really sure what Romney is talking about. I think it's pretty clear that the U.S. private sector is the way to go if you want to make real dough. But there's a real case to be made for paying bureaucrats well. In Singapore, where the GDP per capita is nearly $50,000, ministers make more than a million bucks a year. Back in April, the government there gave itself a big fat pay raise:

The government says a million dollars is not enough, and on Monday it announced a 60 percent increase in ministers' salaries, to an average of $1.9 million Singapore dollars, or about $1.3 million, by next year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s pay will jump to about $2 million — five times the $400,000 earned by President Bush.

The move was extremely controversial domestically, but the government's rationale makes a lot of sense:

The ruling People's Action Party defends the high incomes by saying ministers and civil servants must be paid enough to attract the best talent and prevent corruption.

So, I would pose Romney's question the other way: Can you imagine what happens to a government bureaucracy that can't attract the best talent? I can.

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