Neither Scrooge Nor Patsy Be 12/13/13
A few weeks ago I came across Sean Hannity interviewing a panel of college kids, seven liberal and seven conservative. I normally don’t watch Hannity, but this time I did because I wanted to see if the lib-kids met my expectations. They did.
One liberal young lady, for example, began to hyperventilate about how she wanted to live in a world where there were police, firefighters, ambulances, schools, blah blah blah, gush gush gush, and all the good stuff associated with government.
Her implication was that liberals like herself are morally and intellectually superior because THEY want the law and order we pay for through taxes, while anybody who wants to cut taxes wants to return to the law of the jungle.
Well now, young lib-lady, this may come as a shock to you, but we all want to live in the civilized world you describe, but the issue is not civilization vs. anarchy. The issue is how a society keeps in check the self interests of the people in government.
In other words, how do we balance the needs of society vs. what the government bureaucracies want? They aren’t the same thing. Regardless of what the bureaucracies are supposed to do, their real number one job, as they see it, is looking out for themselves. People act in their self-interest. That’s how the world works.
One of the principles of our society is (was?) government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around, and the other way around is what happens if we the people don’t keep an eagle eye on those in government. Power is inherent in government, and the old adage that power corrupts is not a myth.
So, questions for the young lady: Can government workers be paid too much? Can government workers be retired too early? Can government workers enjoy pensions and benefits that are too generous? Yes, to all of the above. In fact, government workers ARE paid too much, retired too early, retired too generously, and, to add salt to the wound, are damn near impossible to fire.
The government gravy train stretches all the way from the school down the street to Washington, D.C., and passengers include retired 52 year-old teachers, city managers paying themselves $790,000 per year (Google: Bell CA) and GSA managers sitting in hot tubs in Las Vegas on the taxpayer dime.
Overpaid bureaucrats are perhaps the least of things to fear from government, but it is not a trivial problem. In the last twenty years or so, state and local government pay, pensions and benefits have grown to far exceed private sector levels and have exploded into huge liabilities that cannot be paid. Cannot. Period. Detroit.
Pay and pension troubles in Detroit and elsewhere are finally sparking public awareness of the problem, but the grim economic realities were no secret to anybody paying attention. Many cities have been teetering on the edge of financial collapse and bankruptcy for years, e.g. San Jose, Baltimore, Houston, Harrisburg, and on and on, but the really biggie is Chicago, where President Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is the Mayor.
Emanuel has told state legislators that Chicago’s “day of reckoning has arrived.” Emanuel would like the state of Illinois to bail Chicago out, but that’s not going to happen. Illinois is itself a basket case. He’ll soon ask the Federal Government to ride to the rescue. That’s not going to happen either. You want your 1040 to take a hit to rescue a city that pays the average city worker $95,406 per year, and allows some of them to retire as early as 50?
Taxpayers have been conned, robbed and sucker-punched by government employees, their unions and their elected enablers. The mutually beneficial partnership of public unions and the liberal politicians the unions generously support has begun to run out of other peoples’ money. The government gravy train is starting to derail across the country.
Expect public unions to scream bloody murder as their pay and benefits get cut. The largest public employee union is The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME. That‘s usually pronounced af-SCAM-me. How appropriate. Scam me, scam you, scam all of us, but the patsy-public is starting to catch on to the scam.