Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Living Wages and Losing Money

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz worked very hard for a city owned swimming pool and it has been informative to watch him back down from his initial enthusiasm over absolute government operational control.

City pool needs private splash: The mayor's city budget, unveiled last week, seeks to hire a private vendor to run the concession stand at the city-owned Goodman Pool on the South Side. … The pool is losing money largely because it pays excessive wages to mostly entry-level, teenage workers. The pool workers fall under the city's "living wage " law, meaning they earn about $11 to $12 hour to sell soda and hot dogs, teach swimming lessons and serve as lifeguards. Other cities with pools in the Madison area offer market-rate pay starting at $6 to $7 an hour and peaking at $10 to $11 an hour.

City officials pledged to make the Goodman Pool self-sufficient when approving its construction in 2005. The goal was to cover all operating expenses with income. … Last year 's deficit totaled about $136,000. City officials were optimistic they could cut the annual shortfall in half this year. But it now looks like the 2007 deficit will be much higher than the $71,000 the city projected back in July.

Government is not and should not be business. The failure of socialism is the incorrect belief that regulation and production can both be optimized under one central authority. Mayor Dave, socialist at heart, may be forced by reality to admit that legislated wages are detrimental to long term operational requirements – IN THIS UNIQUE INSTANCE – but I seriously doubt a single specific will dampen his unbridled desire to control the revenue flow of anything government can punitively regulate.