In my book Libertarianism: A Primer, I have a chapter of pop public choice called “What Big Government Is All About.” The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority isn’t really big government, just a local D.C.-Virginia-Maryland authority to run a couple of airports. But it demonstrates some of the problems you can expect from economic entities that don’t face a market test. Here’s how the Washington Post story today begins:
Meet the Kulle family: mom Helen, daughter Ann Kulle‐Helms, son‐in‐law Douglas Helms, son Albert, daughter‐in‐law Michele Kulle and Michele’s brother, Jeffrey Thacker.
They all worked for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. All at the same time.
And what about Dad, I wonder. No job for Dad?
Anyway, officers of the agency don’t seem perturbed by the story.
“There were no clear‐cut guidelines,” said MWAA board member H.R. Crawford, who will leave the board next month when his term expires.
Crawford, who has had at least three relatives, including a daughter‐in‐law, work at the agency, said family members are employed frequently, particularly among board members.
“If you ask a third of those folks, their relatives work there,” he said. “I never thought that we were doing anything wrong.”…
“This is a government town and an agency town,” Crawford said. “If there’s a possibility that you can hire a relative . . . it was the norm.”…
“This is not a patronage mill,” said Davis, whose daughter worked in the fire department for two months in 2011. “Dozens of employees’ kids worked there.”
At this point the response of good‐government liberals is always: Pass an ethics law. Yeah, that ought to work.
MWAA’s ethics code prohibits employees from hiring, supervising or working with relatives. They also cannot supervise family members — directly or indirectly — or “have influence over their work.”