The Public Interest is One Guy

TJIC has a disgusting story of the state legislature passing a law just to bail out one guy who could not do well on his civil service tests but had friends in high places, vaulting him from 623 to 1 on the waiting list  (if only I could get the same law for me and security lines at airports).

Now, it is always possible to find anecdotes of government patronage, but I thought this quote from the Boston Globe about the extent of such help-one-person laws was incredible:

A Globe review found that 40 of the 218 state laws passed in 2007
provide benefits to specific individuals by name. Thirty allowed
employees of certain state agencies to donate sick days to particular
colleagues, and three granted retirement benefits to certain public
employees. Six exempted particular police and firefighter applicants
from maximum age requirements, allowing them to take civil service
tests and apply for municipal jobs at an older age.

If each of these is a worthy goal, then change the law to allow everyone to do it, not just your pals.


  1. Josh:

    I need to make me some friends on Beacon Hill...

  2. Bearster:

    I have just three words for this:

    Bill Of Attainder

  3. SuperMike:

    John Derbyshire made what I thought was a pretty good point over at NRO; he pointed out that even public service jobs operate in a world where the rules of supply and demand still hold. Out here in California, I don't think it's unusual to see ten qualified applicants for each firefighting job. (That's speculation; I really think it may be far more than that in cases)
    We know from the story that there are at the very least 620-odd going for some 200 spots in this case. Why not reduce the pay until only about 200 qualified applicants are willing to show up for the test? (The article doesn't imply that this guy doesn't pass whatever minimum standard there is to be considered) An unasked question is "why are these jobs so desirable"? (In urban California, firefighters make a respectable salary, at least twice that of teachers, plus plenty of overtime, have awesome benefits, and have time to pursue lucrative side jobs) Lower the pay until only those with a strong civil-service ethic or an emotional attachment to the family business are willing to sign up, and there won't be any need for this cronyism.
    The funny part is that the guy that is most aggrieved in the article appears to be most upset that this favoritism will supersede his preferred form of favoritism, which is race-based.