The Babe Ruth Principle and Palin’s make-up artist

Why shouldn’t Ann Strozzi be paid more than McCain’s policy advisers or speechwriters? Palin looks a lot better than McCain sounds,

In 1929, Babe Ruth batted .345, with 46 homers and 158 RBI’s. As a result, his contract for 1930 called for him to be paid an unheard-of $80,000, which was more than the $75,000 salary of the President of the United States. When someone asked the Bambino whether he was embarrassed to be paid more than Hoover, Ruth (a Democrat) is supposed to have replied, “But I had a better year than him.”

Call that the Babe Ruth Principle: that someone should be paid according to his or her performance, not merely the prestige of the job itself. A great right fielder deserves to earn more than a lousy President.

It seems to me that the Babe Ruth Principle has contemporary application. Consider, for example, the pseudo-fuss being kicked up because Sarah Palin’s makeup artist was paid $22,000 for just the first two weeks of October, far more than any of McCain’s speechwriters or policy advisers.

Why not? Comparing the way Palin looks to the way McCain sounds, I’d say the make-up artist was relatively underpaid.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com