ASSU salaries and spending caps

Today’s Daily writes about the salaries ASSU officials receive. The highest paid of all is Michael Cruz, former Senate Chair, current Vice President, and candidate for President in the upcoming election, although he won’t reap the full year’s Vice President salary since he was just elevated to the position. He may not have realized it, but he argued against campaign spending caps with this quote:

Cruz said he did not weigh compensation as a factor in his decision to run for elected office; he preferred instead to focus on “how much social good and social change I can make.”

It’s true: the experience of having been the ASSU President (and Vice President) far outweighs the monetary costs of forgone salary (from alternative jobs) and time. Exec candidates say they can’t afford to spend $1,000 on a campaign, yet they are willing to work 1,200+ hours for around $10,000 if they win. If they and their running mate each spent just 33 hours working at a typical on-campus job, which is a small fraction of their time commitment if elected, then they could afford $1,000 in campaign expenditures. As an aside, higher Exec salaries (justified on the grounds that they make it so low-income students can be Exec) probably increase campaign expenditures, since dollars spent on one’s campaign (all else being equal) increase one’s chance at winning the Exec salary jackpot.

High salaries in government are justified on two grounds. One, they allow people who haven’t already amassed significant wealth to work in government (in elected or unelected positions alike). This makes government more representative of the population. Two, they reduce corruption for a number of reasons, but mainly by making corruption less relatively appealing (think of why third-world police solicit bribes). Only the first applies to the ASSU (realistically), but it is still a good justification. So, I don’t see any problem in principle with these salaries.

Bonus: salaries of selected employees of The Daily. This is public information because The Daily received $89,500 from students through Special Fees last year, and because they are a not-for-profit corporation.

Disclosure: I was the 2009-2010 ASSU Elections Commissioner and received $3,000 in total for my work. I cannot claim to be underpaid; in fact, I would have done the same job for less money, so in some sense I was overpaid. The experience I got was extremely valuable and far outweighed the salary.

(H/T Alex Katz)

**Update:**The Daily IRS disclosure is from 2008, as it says on the form itself. This is the latest info we have, but we should see more recent info when they apply for Special Fees again this year.

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