Paid first lady points to rough times ahead

Should a position without even the vaguest hint of a formal job description be considered valid employment? Gov. Jesse Ventura recently proposed that his wife, Terry Ventura, be paid for serving as first lady. While being married to the governor, or any other high-profile politician may not be a spring picnic, it is certainly not a position for which one should be compensated by the public.
When Jesse Ventura decided to run for governor, he understood that Terry Ventura would come along for the ride, whether she liked it or not. Now that he is in office, Ventura wants to change the rules, creating a taxpayer-funded job for a non-position. Should the governor have his way, his wife would receive $25,000 simply for marrying the right guy.
If Terry Ventura wants to earn a living, she should join the work force. In a state with such low unemployment, she should be able to find work without considerable difficulty. Otherwise, someone must run the Ventura ranch in Maple Grove while the governor is busy wrangling with the Legislature in St. Paul.
Should Minnesota begin paying its first lady, repercussions will be felt around the nation. Other governors’ spouses would demand a salary in return for their services. It would not be long before Hillary Clinton — who arguably deserves it more than anyone else — would be on the federal payroll.
Ventura believes his wife should be paid for the role she will play as first lady because of the public’s expectations. The first lady must attend charity benefits, promote fund raising, make public relations appearances and support her husband in decision making.
These tasks, however, are not forced upon the first lady. She can choose whether or not to carry them out. The motivation behind her actions should be a desire to see her spouse and the community he serves prosper, not a weekly paycheck.
And what about those governors, present and future, who are unwed? Where would the funds reserved for the first spouse be spent? Should the governor be allowed to hire a fill-in — a first mistress? Could she be impeached?
At his Tuesday rally on the University campus, Ventura made clear he believes students who are smart enough to attend college should be smart enough to find a way to pay for it without heavily relying on government assistance. Certainly someone who is smart enough to become governor is smart enough to compensate his wife for her services as supporter, public relations agent and escort to various political functions without taking money from the taxpayers.
This proposal has no basis and has not been thoroughly thought out. Ventura should leave ideas of nepotism in the cold, hopefully to be buried beneath the Minnesota snow and forgotten by spring. While this issue has made the start of Ventura’s governorship a rough one, the public will forget if Ventura succeeds. However, if ideas like this are the best Ventura will bring to the governor’s office over the next four years, Minnesotans may soon regret last November’s decision.