The U.S. Senate has its own barbershop. It charges $20 a haircut. It cuts the hair of anyone who wants a haircut, but Senators get in line first. This costs the taxpayers $300,000 a year.
When I was on Ron Paul’s staff, I used to get my haircut in the House barber shop. It cost $2. That was in 1976. Today, that would be the equivalent of $8. It was a better deal back then. I suppose the subsidy was greater.
Why not charge whatever it costs to break even? Because that would mean higher haircut prices. Or it might mean a larger advertising budget. Or . . . unthinkable — it might mean hiring non-union barbers.
A private barber shop three blocks from the Senate office buildings can be used for comparison. It is called the Capitol Barber.
Capitol’s four barbers and stylists made $22,000 to $30,000 last year with no benefits, manager Lynn Dang said. At the Senate barbershop, formally called Senate Hair Care Services, the top four barbers and stylists made more than twice that — $54,761; $70,349; $73,658; and $81,641 — plus they have a generous 401(k) plan, health care and paid vacation.
Why should taxpayers subsidize haircuts? Because that’s part of the deal. Politicians like perks.
The Senate could privatize the barber shop. But that is unlikely. Republicans and Democrats alike agree: it’s better to trim taxpayers.