A shave and a haircut will cost you more than two bits just about anywhere, but it’ll run you over two Hamiltons at the U.S. Senate barbershop — more than double what barbers in some parts of the country charge. Yet despite these high prices, the shop, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, ended up $300,000 in the hole last year and got its own taxpayer bailout, proving once again that government is incapable of performing even the smallest tasks cheaply and competently.According to a report in The Daily, the barbershop opened in 1859 and strictly served Senators, whose tonsorial treatments were provided at taxpayer expense, until the early 1970s, when it was opened to the public — with the proviso that Senators and Senate employees take precedence over the people they are allegedly serving. Senators now have to pay for their own haircuts, though of course their salaries are extracted from taxpayers as well.
And those hair services aren’t exactly bargains: $20 for a trim; $27 for a shampoo, cut, and blow dry; and $105 for highlights. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — for whom, judging from his official photo, a $20 cut works out to about a buck a follicle — told The Daily that he pays less than half that price, before adding a tip, back in his home state.
With prices like that, how can the barbershop be so deeply in the red? General government incompetence aside, the prime reason seems to be that the shop’s employees are unionized federal workers. “They are using union labor,” former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) told The Daily, “and so their benefits and wages are higher than those of many jobs.” The iPad newspaper elaborates, contrasting the Senate barbershop with the private Capitol Barber, which is just three blocks away: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. In all, the government contributed $230,000 in benefits for the barbershop, the Senate Appropriations Committee said.
Taxpayers Clipped to Keep Senate Barbershop Afloat