The sun-kissed people of Newport Beach, California, are riled and swollen with anger because some of their town's 13 lifeguards make more than $200,000 a year. That's more than what some of America's hard-working business executives make!
It's even more than what California's paying its pampered prison guards, who have to stand around for hours and patrol the barbed-wire and concrete soul death factories for signs of prisoner mischief. They don't get to enjoy themselves in the sun like the lifeguards do, though the lifeguards themselves say their jobs require a bit more than frolicking and being attractive:
Those whose salaries are in question point out that they hold management roles, have decades of service and are considered public safety employees under the fire department, the same as fire captains and battalion chiefs. The full-time guards train more than 200 seasonal lifeguards who make between $16 and $22 an hour, run a junior lifeguard program that brings in $1 million a year and oversee safety on nearly seven miles of sand.
Many began as seasonal guards and worked their way into management roles and must stay certified as instructors in an array of advanced emergency, scuba and rescue techniques, said Brent Jacobsen, president of the Lifeguard Management Association, the lifeguards' union.
The sudden outcry about the babewatch lifeguards of Newport Beach stems from a local newspaper editorial about the salaries, which have almost single-handedly caused all of California's budget woes. There's also this SHOCKING video expose by David Spady, head of Americans for Prosperity's California chapter, who doesn't seem to hate all the lifeguards—just the ones drinking champagne, receiving pensions, and benefiting from all that union intervention:
The most respectable way to get rich and famous in America is by doing work that requires no physical labor, like being a CEO. (Luckily, our kids seem to be catching on to this, which is why they're abandoning lifeguard jobs for lucrative and prestigious corporate internships.) But the rich and famous Newport Beach lifeguards are making more than some of America's CEOs, and they don't even have MBAs. A letter by retired and pensionless oil company man Leonard Musgrave to The Orange County Register sheds light on the injustice of this situation:
"I supervised 13, 14 engineers when I was working and I was making $111,000 when I retired three years ago with an MBA and a technical engineering degree ... I mean, come on! All you have to do is look at good-looking women at the beach. I mean, they shouldn't even get paid! I'd do it for 10 percent of that pay. That's a good job."
Musgrave doesn't explain how getting to ogle "good-looking women at the beach" would benefit, say, hetero female lifeguards raking it in on the public till, but maybe he'll explain this in a follow-up letter.
Meanwhile, the city manager of Newport Beach is now talking about turning some of the full-time lifeguards into part-time ones, so that California won't be broke anymore. Doing this won't reverse all the years of lifeguard largesse, but it will definitely teach these life-saving loungeabouts a lesson about having realistic expectations. As a local councilwoman explains, "Because of the compensation, lifeguarding has evolved from a brief and youthful interlude into a career and that's probably what's most shocking." Indeed: having careers is not at all what America's about these days.