Gary Jason:

Two recent stories out of California show that what is already the most stupidly governed state is slipping into outright insanity.

The first is a new illustration of the crazy compensation levels of all too many state employees.  It turns out that the chief psychologist for the state’s prison system earned $838,706 — last year alone!  To be precise, the shrink earned somewhere between $261,408 and $308,640 in salary, with the remainder coming from bonuses or cashing in unused sick leave.

This is not an anomalous case.  Of the ten highest-paid California state employees (all earning more than a half-million bucks a year), seven worked for California’s grotesquely dysfunctional prison system.  Of those, four were prison doctors or dentists.

Other high-paid officials include the federal receiver who monitors the California prison system, Clark Kelso, at $508,140, and CalPERS chief investment officer Joe Dear at $548,142.

Clark Kelso, by the bye, was hired because in 2005, a federal judge actually took over the California prison system’s medical system.  This development came on the heels of lawsuits on behalf of several dozen convicts who died in prison, allegedly because of poor medical care.

California’s prison system is a poster child for the folly of government monopolies.  It is a sprawling system, housing 163,000 prisoners, and it is so overcrowded the U.S. Supreme Court recently ordered that it release 37,000 prisoners.  It is a deformed creature completely created by Jerry Brown, the worst governor in California’s history.  Brown was the lunatic who in 1978 allowed California public employees to unionize, and he has diligently done the bidding of the prison guard union ever since.  This has included refusing to allow private prisons to compete with the inefficient government ones or send inmates to prisons run by other states (both forms of “outsourcing”) — all the while allowing their compensation packages (including lavish pensions and health care benefits) to grow explosively.  (“Outsourcing” here is a misleading term for contracting with private companies to perform government work.)…