Public Sector vs. Private Sector Compensation or, Suck It, Private Sector.

From a new Cato report on "Employee Compensation in State and Local Governments":

The study's author, Chris Edwards, found that the wage premium for public sector employees was about 34 percent and for benefits about 70 percent.

More here.

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  • Ben Kenobi||

    It pays to be a member of the educated class apparently.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Along with this news here I feel much better...ohh wait.

    Can I bum a quarter man?

  • Sean Connery||

    Suck on it private sector. Suck it long, and suck it hard.

  • Ska||

    YTMND

  • Yeah!||

    Slurp! Slurp!

  • ||

    I had killer benefits as a state employee at Ohio State.

  • Kolohe||

    I did not know The OSU granted 00 certification.

  • ||

    Excellent. But I only had a Licence (yes, that's the British spelling) to Thrill, not to Kill.

  • ||

    They're doing God's work, so it's OK.

  • proud libitard||

    I worked as a contractor for a State one time and the lot of the people there were dumb as rocks...I understand they need to be paid but to get more than me? That sucks!

  • Galt||

    the best idea I've seen is a special 90% tax for pensioners that get bailout funds for their pensions. It was good for banker bonuses that got bailout funds, so it's not unprecedented.

  • ||

    I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

  • ||

    The only times I've had to work with public employees, they were the laziest fucks I'd ever seen, mostly concerned with passing the buck, ass covering, and office politics. The worst was the NYC DOT office; my company contracted to write some software for tracking their repair trucks.

    It was a complete clusterfuck, as they couldn't even articulate how they did their daily business. The management was utterly incompetent, yet vicious about protecting their positions and willing to throw lesser employees under the bus.

  • Suki||

    I found the lesson in your comment. When working for NYC DOT, stay away from the buses.

  • Michael||

    Back in the nineties, I worked for a company that re-manufactured Diesel drive trains and was contracted by numerous public transit agencies. Of the rebuilt transmissions that we'd ship to them, about half would return a few days later completely blown up and expected to be covered under warranty. Their "technicians" would routinely install them into the buses without changing the filters and flushing the lubrication lines, so whatever detritus may have caused the last catastrophic breakdown was sent right into the new unit. Needless to say these weren't covered under warranty. The agency had to foot the bill for fresh rebuilds every time. Starting pay for one of these "technicians" was exactly twice what I earned at that company at the time I left.

  • ||

    I knew some bright, hardworking bureaucrats when during my White House fellowship, but I betcha most of them have moved on to private sector or university gigs. The frustration level with the vast conspiracy of idiocy in DC simply cannot be endured by non-power-hungry intellects for long.

  • Abdul||

    My question is: does this compare apples to apples? For instance, does it compare private sector HR specialists to state HR specialists, etc.

    Pretty relevant question, no?

  • Chad||

    Of course it doesn't. It is comparing a professor at State U vs a Wal-mart greeter.

    Reason seems to have a problem comparing apples to apples today.

  • bleephole||

    No - it compares Chad to a moron so it's about right.

  • CS%||

    I think you mean CEOs to janitors at the county courthouse.

  • anonymous||

    Hey, that's a valid point if you're dealing with whiny feminists complaining about patriarchal bias and the male/female wage gap.

    When you're talking to libertarians about the public sector unions and the public/private sector wage gap, it's avoiding the issue.

  • ||

    HR specialists? I'm tempted to make a comment about HR in general, but I'll refrain.

  • The Gobbler||

    Those who can, do.
    Those who can't, work in HR.

  • ||

    We have an enormous HR department that has the lack of respect of the whole company. If it weren't for litigation avoidance and mitigation, not a one of them would be here. I miss the little old lady who used to constitute the entire "Personnel" department.

  • RCTL||

    You can thank the government for that.

  • Xeones||

    Since principles are a luxury i can't really afford right now, i've decided to try and get one of these here public sector jobs. I intend to loot as much as i can from the system, thereby helping to hasten the day that it collapses under its own weight. You all can thank me then.

  • ||

    I bet this IP address can be traced to the white house.

  • Old Mexican||

    The study's author, Chris Edwards, found that the wage premium for public sector employees was about 34 percent and for benefits about 70 percent.

    This is because the state bureaucrats are more productive...

    What the hell are you guys laughing at?!?

  • ||

    What if I just tell all of my neighbors to pay me for services they don't really benefit from, then threaten to lock them in my basement if they don't pay me?

  • Old Mexican||

    They would ask "Who the hell do you think you are, a Democrat?"

  • ||

    I wish it were that simple. From my experience, the other guys have no problem taking my money and wasting it either.

  • Old Mexican||

    PL, of course. I was just teasing ;-) It is perfectly understood that Republirats and Dem-agogues are euqally happy to plunder us.

  • ||

    All your stuff are belong to us.

  • HRH Barak the 1st||

    Hey, that's my line!

  • ||

    But enough about your sex life, Pro L . . . .

  • ||

    Hey, now!

    I guess my analogy about treating my neighbors the way the government treats us didn't work.

  • proud libitard||

    no, I think it's quite correct even with THAT interpretation...

  • ||

    Can't argue with that.

  • ||

    Abdul is correct. If the study is to be useful, as opposed to a flame-throwing piece of bs, it should compare similar jobs and educational requirements. If after controlling for these factors there still remain pay differences, then there's a story to tell. There's some bright economists working at Cato. I guess they were part of any review process for this work.

  • The Gobbler||

    My takeaway is that US citizens are second-class citizens.

    IOW, as woman wage earners are to men wage earners (or as black wage earners are to white wage earners), American citizen wage earners are to the Public sector wage earners.

    Perhaps we should start an equal rights movement?

  • JB||

    The 'educational requirements' of being a government employee are that you have the IQ of a piece of shit.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Well you also have to take into account that a bunch of government jobs are just makework jobs handed out as political patronage and/or jobs doing things that were never any business of the government to get involved in to begin with.

  • Just Sayin'||

    "If the study is to be useful, as opposed to a flame-throwing piece of bs, it should compare similar jobs and educational requirements."

    How many private sector employees can retire at 50, 52 or 55 with a pension?

    How many private sector employees can double-dip pensions?

    How many private sector employees still have pensions?

    What is the unemployment rate for public sector employees? How many were let go for cost cutting during the last 2 years?

  • CS%||

    I know countless government employees who couldn't find a single private sector job, so you're comparing awesome pay and benefits to $0 (unless you include welfare benefits, the other government paycheck for similar level of competence).

  • No Name Guy||

    And the surprise in this report is what?

  • ||

    If private sector employees all disappeared, most of us would be dead not too long after. If public sector employees disappeared, I think the results would be far, far less catastrophic.

  • MNG||

    Er, since we are a nation which restricts many of the functions of government, duh.

  • ||

    Which formerly restricted, MNG, which formerly restricted.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?

  • Paul||

    Er, since we are a nation which restricts many of the functions of government, duh.

    Yeah, name one.

  • ||

    Sounds like a scam to me.

  • ||

    Bless you, sage.

  • MNG||

    As has been pointed out this could be very meaningless. If the public sector had more white collar or professional jobs on average then of course the average pay and benefits are higher. I mean, the average pay and benefits as Goldman-Sachs is higher than the average pay and benefits at Wal-Mart. Must be those financial sector unions!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    As has been pointed out this could be very meaningless. If the public sector had more white collar or professional jobs on average then of course the average pay and benefits are higher.

    Employees are paid according to their marginal productivity, i.e. how much they can add to a company's productivity compared to his or her wage (cost).

    If these so-called "white collar" jobs are not generating more output than their cost (which can be infered from the fact that the States are facing massive budget shortfalls), then the conclusion is that these jobs are unproductive or LESS productive than their marginal cost, which means it is meaningless to state these jobs are white collar. The fact is that these people are being either overpaid or are not productive at all.

  • Usual Troll||

    When I read, "Employees are paid according to their marginal productivity," I realized I had stumbled upon a virtual reality site, and not a representation of the world in which we live.

  • ||

    Old Mexican - please take an elementary school civics class. Productivity from white collar public sector workers is not the issue. They simply make budget/financial recommendations. The legislators you vote for make the decisions that drive budget deficits.

  • ||

    Then we would expect the average pay of the guy who cleans the lunchroom at NCLB Elementary gets about the same as the gal who cleans up at Mickey D's, right?

    Is anyone here foolish enough to believe that is the case?

  • Suki||

    Don't muddy MNG's little brain with those details. We are just noise against his truth.

  • Paul||

    If the public sector had more white collar or professional jobs on average then of course the average pay and benefits are higher. I mean, the average pay and benefits as Goldman-Sachs is higher than the average pay and benefits at Wal-Mart. Must be those financial sector unions!

    Ahhh, this old canard.

    *cracking knuckles*

    Here's the problem with that. I have a reliably liberal friend who likes to trot this one out from time to time. It goes a'little something like this "Oh, but those people in government could be earning much more in the private sector. I mean, look at the CEO of Coke, or Apple, or IBM".

    Ahh yes, we all assume that the lackluster layabout mis-manager of say, Seattle City Light would be the CEO of Coke, if only he weren't so focussed on "public service". Or maybe the dimwit director that runs the DOT would be at the helm of Hewlett-Packard, or that really popular Mayor Nickels with that "increasing national presence" could be running Goldman-Sachs...

    Nope, the reality is a lot of these guys might be CEOs but I have to tell ya, they'd probably be earning $120,000 a year at the helm of a floundering startup, earning dubious stock options worth $.15 cents a share.

    Welcome to the private sector, fuckwads. Relish it.

  • ||

    There's a difference between hosts and parasites, I guess.

  • Old Mexican||

    Table 1 indicated that state and local workers have very generous defined-benefit (DB) pension plans compared to private sector workers. These plans have been overpromised and underfunded, which has created huge long-term gaps in government budgets.


    Which is why those same governments are trying to raise taxes to pay for these shortfalls but under the guise of keeping important things like libraries or paramedics funded - you know, for the children.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    MNG, do we get to factor in $0 salary for each unemployed college grad when comparing public vs private sector salaries past the burger flipper stage?

  • MNG||

    Someone needs to look up the definition of salary...

  • MNG||

    I wonder how well the private sector would do without a public sector building the roads, providing contract enforcement, giving police protection, etc? Oh, wait, we already know (Somalia anyone?).

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    I wonder how well the private sector would do without a public sector building the roads, providing contract enforcement, giving police protection, etc?

    If the government limited itself to only THOSE things listed above, the private sector would probably do MUCH better than today, since the plundering would be less.

  • Suki||

    The public sector builds the roads? I always see private companies building the roads after the crazy bidding process to get the road building contract. Extra points for the award if the company has a woman or a minority in charge, but no extra points for building a better road.

  • MNG||

    Here is why Suki usually doesn't venture into the deep waters of multi-sentence posts, like Sarah Palin every sentence is another high risk of saying something stupid.

  • MNG||

    The government doesn't build the roads, it just raises and provides the funds for them and directs their building.

    Oh Suki, stick to the one sentence texts my lass...

  • ap||

    and what a spectacular job is does!

  • Suki||

    The funds it steals at the point of a gun to give to the cronies of the rulers.

  • suuka||

    yeah, that 4 cent per gallon gas tax so you can drive on perfectly graded, paved roads sure is a killer.

  • ||

    I read about these bake sales.

  • bleephole||

    Don't argue the point, attack the poster.

  • OMG||

    Wow, you really are an asshole, aren't you

  • ||

    Drink!

  • WWJGD||

    Drink!

  • ||

    Sigh.
    Drink.
    This is generally an indicator that your argument has reached the level of satire, and is best discarded. Head back to the "You can lie quite easily with statistics" argument.
    Somolia doesn't work as an argument because "This is the way things are" is a weak counterpoint to "This is the way things should be"

  • MNG||

    But it has so many of the qualities of the "way things should be" people here commonly say they want. No evil over-regulation and nanny-state proliferation of laws in Somalia!

  • JB||

    Can we raise money to send this retarded troll to Somalia?

    I heard they are in desperate need of people with PhDs in political science.

  • MNG||

    Hey, it's your paradise, not mine...

  • Suki||

    How about Gaza?

  • ||

    And your paradise is. . .the U.S.S.R.? Just as fair a statement, seems to me.

  • Paul||

    There's a lot of evidence that it would do just fine. The streets would be a little bloodier, I'd concede. But at least you could fight back.

  • ||

    I note that the jobs you list are all blue collar.

    Police are blue collar, fire fighters are blue collar, teachers are white collar, but not paid a lot. Road builder are blue collar. That covers most of the stuff people directly benefit form.

    So who are these white collar workers the government is paying? Accountants? Bureaucrats? Regulators?

    Most of the white collar stuff you could get rid of without affecting any of the police, fire, schools, and roads stuff you are citing.

    Now granted that the Police and Firefighters are probably overpaid too, but they probably aren't pulling in 6 figure salaries either.

  • ||

    You said it brother. Were it to have a functioning government, Somalia would be a paradise just like the rest of Africa.

  • ||

    MNG,

    Yes, my dream is Somalia. Because that's the inevitable result if we don't let the government run amok. I reject your reality.

  • MNG||

    Pish-posh, you just don't want REAL freedom, you Statist!

  • MNG||

    Hey Pro, the government has really been shrunk there. It really does very few functions. They don't have a Fed for example, hell it's a libertarian paradise!

  • oaktownadam||

    Somalia is the perfect example of a failed socialist state, not a libertarian utopia.

    But you knew that already.....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....list_Party

  • MNG||

    And that party was put out of power for over a decade, a decade in which all the things libertarians here dream of and advocate, abolition of managed currency, extreme deregulation, expensive public employees, etc., were all realized. In a word, Libertopia*

    *Well, Anarch-topia, but since people here use such general government hating rhetoric I'm just going to get in the lumping spirit

  • The Gobbler||

    Yes. All Libertarians hold a secret desire to be pirates.

    There. I said it. Someone had to.

  • Suki||

    What about talking like them?

  • anarchist||

    And what's to say that we in the Western, statist world are getting a balanced picture of the situation in Somalia?

    Don't forget that States from all around the world have been, and continue to meddle in Somalia's internal affairs. Just look at Western-backed Ethiopia invading, and the US Navy assassinating the privatized self-defense forces.....

  • ||

    Arrrrrrrrrgh! I've always wanted to be a pirate or at least kill them.

  • MNG||

    Somalia has rejected socialized medecine for example...

  • Paul||

    Somalia uses eminent domain.

  • MNG||

    And no taxes! User fees only in Somalia, boys!

  • Luke Johnson||

    The Somalia analogy confuses cause and effect. "No government therefore lawlessness" or "Lawlessness therefore no government"

  • Luke Johnson||

    I'm blaming squirrels for leaving my argument half formed. What I'm trying to say is, the problem with Somalia isn't that there's only a private sector and no public sector, it's that there pretty much isn't either (aside from the pirate stock market).

  • Suki||

    MNG will jump the shark while burning a strawman around 3:18.

  • MNG||

    Suki thinks jumping the Shark has something to do with Free Willy...

  • bleephole||

    Free your willy here and see what happens.

  • thumb's up||

    ...and again at 3:19

  • MNG||

    Well, the very point is that lawlessness is likely what you get when there is no government. Which should cause one to temper general denunciations of government I should think...

  • The Dakota||

    Bullshit.

  • Suki||

    No, she really did jump the shark in that one, dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

  • ||

    Actually, according to the UN the Somalia economy [is] stronger than others in Africa.

    Boy howdy, them UN fellas sure is a bunch of ancap weirdos, ain't they?

  • oaktownadam||

    Here's AFSCME's response to this:
    http://www.economist.com/displ.....d=15172548

    (scroll down to "valued workers")


    SIR – That you regard public-sector workers to be “coddled” and “spoiled rotten” because of their health-care benefits and pensions says more about you than the workers (“Welcome to the real world”, December 12th). You even distorted the evidence, claiming that public employees earn more than those in the private sector. As the Bureau of Labour Statistics makes clear, when comparing pay within occupations public employees do not receive more than their counterparts in the corporate world.

    We believe that all American workers deserve decent health care and a secure retirement. The decline of unions in the private sector is one reason why those benefits are not shared by more families. Contrary to what you might think, it is not government employees who brought the American economy and state and local budgets to the brink of disaster. Rather than attack public employees for negotiating good contracts, we should expand the ability of all workers to bargain for better wages and benefits so that they and their families can share in the American Dream.

    Gerald McEntee
    President
    American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
    Washington, DC
  • oaktownadam||

    I just have to chuckle at the "secure retirement" line, knowing what we do about the solvency of public pension plans......

  • ||

    God love the unions.

  • MNG||

    "Rather than attack public employees for negotiating good contracts, we should expand the ability of all workers to bargain for better wages and benefits so that they and their families can share in the American Dream."

    I'm not sure what's objectionable about that. I'd like it if everyone negotiated the best salary they could.

  • oaktownadam||

    The difference is that management in this case is also selected by the unions.

  • MNG||

    How so? The management of government is determined by elected representatives. Can only public union members vote where you live?

  • oaktownadam||

    Well, until very recently, I lived in San Francisco and Oakland, so, yes.

  • MNG||

    Wow, only public union members can vote in those cities? Must have missed that on the news.

  • MNG||

    In other words, caught you in some bullshit there fella! Don't fret it, it's a commonly asserted and just as commonly not backed up line around here.

  • American Worker||

    WTF is wrong with you? Why are you always an ass?

  • MNG||

    Do you consider anyone who does not uncritically accept whatever is posted on H&R to fan libertarian outrage? Look, perhaps you're used to swallowing stuff, but I'm not ;)

  • oaktownadam||

    I will refer you to this article:
    http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-1.....in-the-u-s

    And then you can tell me all about how SF's power structures work...especially as someone who clearly has never lived there.

  • MNG||

    It's not that I don't recognize public employees unions as an interest group that can work to get sweet deals from the governments that employ them. I just think there are many interest groups like this, and ultimately it is the responsiblity of the voting taxpayers, who outnumber these interest groups everywhere I know of, to select representatives who will make the best deal for them.

  • oaktownadam||

    But you don't seem to recognise that unlike, say, corporate interest groups, unions actually have votes....and they're not shy about reminding elected officials of that fact. If

  • oaktownadam||

    Doh!

    I meant to say:

    If there ever was a clear-cut case of blatant rent-seeking, public sector unions would be it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    I'm not sure what's objectionable about that. I'd like it if everyone negotiated the best salary they could.

    People already do this, MNG - it's called "Labor Mobility". I don't think, however, that this is what you have in mind - more like "Mandated Unionization By the Gods of Statism Above."

  • MNG||

    I don't think most people have negotiated the best possible salaries for themselves. If it were possible for them to do so it would indeed make me happy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    I don't think most people have negotiated the best possible salaries for themselves. If it were possible for them to do so it would indeed make me happy.

    There is no way you can know that, unless you can read minds. People negotiate their wages by accepting to work for someone at the wage being offered, just like a mom accepts the price of tomatoes when she pays for them. If neither the job seeker nor the mom accept the price, both go somewhere else.

  • MNG||

    That's absurd. Have you ever heard of things like incomplete information, for starters, that keeps people from negotiating optimal bargains?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    That's absurd. Have you ever heard of things like incomplete information, for starters, that keeps people from negotiating optimal bargains?

    I have heard of such a thing and other red herrings like "perfect markets" and "perfect competition."

    The concept of "imperfect information" or "incomplete information" is a red herring because nobody can know everything, first, and because people value information in the very same way they value everything else: according to its marginal UTILITY.

    A person that decides for job A instead of jobs B and C without the knowledge of jobs D, E, F, G, ad infinitum, because of the marginal utility the knowledge of those jobs brought to him - something like ZERO. The fact that he had "imperfect information" is thus meaningless in economic terms - he had all the information HE valued. Who cares what YOU or I value, if the decision was HIS?

  • MNG||

    But if he knew the information he could do better, so he hasn't negotiated the best deal he could, which is my point, right?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    But if he knew the information he could do better,

    What's "better"? According to HIM, or according to YOU? Remember, he is the one making the decision.

    [S]o he hasn't negotiated the best deal he could, which is my point, right?

    He negotiated the best deal for HIM, MNG, according to the choices he valued. A person's opportunity costs depend on those choices he VALUES, not on all the available choices. As a choice, he could have considered a higher paying job in Tokyo - would that mean he SHOULD have moved to Tokyo, instead of staying in Peoria?

    Another example: Should the mom research her choices on tomatoes thoroughly, using her time to spot the best price possible, wherever the tomatoes are available? Remember, economics is about making choices on LIMITED RESOURCES, which include TIME.

    This is why the concept of "imperfect information" is meaningless, it's a red herring. A person chooses using the information he VALUES THE MOST, not ALL possible information.

  • MNG||

    But if is information were greater he would choose differently. That's the point.

    One of the many things unions do is provide information that helps workers in bargaining the terms of their contract. Many consumer agencies (like consumer reports) do the same. Maybe a person doesn't know how to access such information and does take the time to figure out how (maybe they don't value such information enough, but they also just may be ignorant of its existence), but my point still stands: IF they had it they would be better able to bargain based on their own criteria.

  • MNG||

    If the Mom were presented with that information it might change her choice, based on her own criteria. In other words, she could make a better choice for her.

    That's checkmate Sparky.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    If the Mom were presented with that information it might change her choice, based on her own criteria.

    And maybe she wouldn't. If faced with tomatoes on 50% discount but 10 miles away and tomatoes not on sale 500 feet away, her decision would still be influenced by the marginal utility the choices provides to her.

    In other words, she could make a better choice for her.

    MNG, the only person who can know what's better for HER is the mom of the example, not YOU. YOU are not the one buying the tomatoes, SHE is. That's the point - you cannot read minds.


    That's checkmate Sparky.

    Don't be so narcissistic, you're not that clever.

  • TickleStick||

    + 50 tomatoes

  • thumb's up||

    Uh.. just because YOU say it's checkmate, don't mean it IS checkmate. There's gotta be no way for the other guy to move for checkmat. Look below and you'll notice that Ol' Mex has a move. And to me it looks more like checkmate for you little one.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    But if is information were greater he would choose differently. That's the point.

    Neither of us can know that. The brain that makes the decision is HIS, not yours or mine. With greater information, he could still choose the same choice.

    One of the many things unions do is provide information that helps workers in bargaining the terms of their contract.

    So far I have seen that this is irrelevant when it comes to making choices - one has to JOIN a Union first in order to be employed.

    Many consumer agencies (like consumer reports) do the same.

    The difference here is that Consumer Reports and other journals do not make you accept their recommendations. In a Union, you're stuck.

    Maybe a person doesn't know how to access such information and does take the time to figure out how (maybe they don't value such information enough, but they also just may be ignorant of its existence), but my point still stands: IF they had it they would be better able to bargain based on their own criteria.

    Again, you cannot do that, unless you can read minds. A person makes choices in the face of limited resources, which includes his or her time. A person makes choices based on the marginal utility each choice provides for HIM or HER.

  • MNG||

    You keep repeating nonsense. It the Mom's criteria is to have the best combination of the lowest price and lowest travel distance to the store, but she doesn't know about a store's sale that would best meet her criteria, then if she were to suddenly find out about a choice she was previously unaware of that served her two criteria better than previously known choice then she would be able to make a better bargain on her own terms. Which is what I said at the beginning, that there are things, like more information, that would enable people to make better bargains for themselves. You keep repeating "well as an empirical matter people trade things like time and information costs for higher prices/lower wages." This PROVES my point OM: getting information is something of value BECAUSE it enables someone to make a better bargain for themselves: in life sometimes we will value something else over that information (like our time spent in gaining it), but that doesn't mean the information has NO value. It has value, and that value is EXACTLY what I said it was at the start: it would help make a BETTER bargain. See, that was my starting point, that a better bargain is POSSIBLE. I won at the beginning, you've just never understood the point...

  • American Worker||

    We do.

  • ||

    we should expand the ability of all workers to bargain for better wages and benefits so that they and their families can share in the American Dream.

    See, e.g., GM and Chrysler.

  • ||

    Really, that's such a non sequitur straw man from someone who should have a passing familiarity for the libertarian program. I tut, tut in your general direction.

  • MNG||

    Well, I'm partly funning of course, but I'm partly serious. Those who hate the public sector and government in general, and think the private sector is a panacea, have real-world examples to look toward...

  • ||

    Unless we get nuked into Fallout 3, even a totally stateless U.S. would look nothing like Somalia.

    Besides, I'm a minarchist, not an anarchist.

  • MNG||

    "even a totally stateless U.S. would look nothing like Somalia"

    And what do you base that on, our innate goodness and charity? Or hundreds of years of living under working instutions (that include government?)?

    "Besides, I'm a minarchist, not an anarchist." Oh I see, government sucks, except where it doesn't.

  • Old Mexican||

    MNG,

    You do not have to go far - the Old West was more or less government-less, yet it was MUCH better and MUCH LESS chaotic than Somalia. Read:

    "The Not So Wild Wild West"

    http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

  • MNG||

    You mean the Wild West like the town in Unforgiven that made people surrender their firearms at the town limits?

  • Old Mexican||

    No, I mean the REAL wild west, not the MOVIES Wild West. Read the essay, it is well documented. Also, read:

    http://www.amazon.com/Not-So-W.....0804748543

    "The Not So Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier" by Terry L Anderson.

  • MNG||

    In what way is this supposed to be convincing? He references several interesting studies of homicide rates in cow-towns, then says "well, even if there was more crime they might have had different standards about crime, and then they describe some case studies of private agencies. THIS convinces you? Jeez, again, what kind of "skeptic" are you dude?

  • Old Mexican||

    The essay is free to read, which is why I linked to it. For a more thorough study on the economics of the Wild West, you would have to purchase and read the book, or find it at your local library - I can only do so much, MNG.

  • Suki||

    Why do you people always jump to fiction for your examples? Why, why, why? Is the next one going to be China Syndrome to scare your fellow idiots and try to scare normal people?

    See if you can work the Saw series soon too please.

  • MNG||

    Suki, Sorry I should remember that there are people like you in the audience before picking such an adult movie. I'll try to work in Spongebob Squarepants Pest of the West next time for our junior posters.

  • Suki||

    Run down to the daycare to speak to your fellow idiots and their customers next time Miss Nice Gay.

  • Paul||

    You mean the Wild West like the town in Unforgiven that made people surrender their firearms at the town limits?

    EXCELLENT EXAMPLE!!!

    The government law enforcement officer confiscated all guns and what were you left with? A dangerous, corrupt group of officials that ran amok with nothing to keep them in check. Good example.

  • ||

    Now you're being silly. I like water, but I don't hook my mouth up to a fire hose each morning.

    Note that Somalia has none of the cultural advantages that we of the West (using shorthand here) have--a relatively free market tradition, a concept of property rights, a preference for rule of law, etc. What do you expect when a dictatorship collapses without another all-powerful government to take its place?

  • Lisa Lampanelli||

    "Now you're being silly. I like water, but I don't hook my mouth up to a fire hose each morning."

    I do.

  • MNG||

    Where do you think all that comes from? I'm betting it comes from hundreds of years of living under certain institutions most if not all of which government was a crucial aspect of.

  • ||

    The government used to have squat to do with our daily lives. In the U.S., most of our major institutions evolved from the ground up. In a lot of ways, that's true of the common law, which serves as the foundation for our legal system.

  • MNG||

    Pro
    The government used to have squat to do with private property or the rule of law (two of the three things you cite above)? WTF?

  • ||

    Yes, that's what I'm saying. The fact that you can go to court to enforce your rights doesn't make those rights "government-granted" rights. Most American law until quite recently was common law, which derived largely from local judicial decisions. Government, yes, but hardly anything centralized.

  • Tony||

    American law evolved from centuries of wresting absolute authority from the divinely appointed monarch of Britain. I think you ought to be grateful for the rights you have compared with most of humanity throughout history rather than whining about the tiniest amount of civic duty.

  • Old Mexican||

    Tony,

    You are not suggesting that our rights as human beings were given to us by the government, do you?

  • Tony||

    The idea is that we gave them to ourselves and protect them with our government.

    Where else did they come from? The rights fairy?

  • Old Mexican||

    Tony,

    Then the rights wee NOT given by the government - so why would anybody be thankful for the rights we already had by ourselves? And what does civic duty anything to do with having rights?

  • ||

    Who wrested power from oppressive governments? Government? Or maybe, um, the individuals who fought against oppression?

    Government at its best can provide a forum for protecting our rights (i.e., the court system) and providing a place where we can discuss and agree upon laws. In our system, that latter function was designed to be limited--laws could only cover certain areas in certain ways. Without such limits, the ability of people to fend off oppressive acts within the system are nil. Which is why stopping the trend before it gets out of hand is best. Otherwise, we face the real possibility of internal rebellion, or, at least, violent insurrection in one form or another.

    "Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence. It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind those we are obliged to trust with power. . . . In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

  • ||

    I'm betting it comes from hundreds of years of living under certain institutions most if not all of which government was a crucial aspect of.

    That in a nutshell is the perfect, seamless circle of statist thinking.

    If its good, it must come from the State. If it comes from the State, it must be good.

  • Paul||

    MNG, hundreds of years ago government primarly extract taxes and provided little else except for a "common defense", of course with conscripted soldiers.

    You're also comparing apples to oranges. There are technology issues that come into play as well. I would argue that as technology increases, less government is necessary (overall). For instance, do we really need laws about percentages of trans-fats, 5 cent taxes on grocery bags and smoking ordinances? Do these things really make our lives better and healthier?

  • WWJGD||

    The Arabs called Somalia the "Land of Give Me Something". There's a cultural oddity there that I don't think many acknowledge.

  • WWJGD||

    Somalia is a collection of violently competing groups of thugs, of which one calls itself the "government" (Formerly the TFG) and neither of which are terribly strong.

    The only difference between Somalia and the US is the power difference between the groups of thugs. And the currency. And we have Tila Tequila.

  • Slippery Wax||

    I work with a man who was a mediator for the UN and he worked in Somalia. One day, as he told some stories of his travels, capitalism in Africa came up.

    He said that capitalism in Africa, and more specically Somalia, was when one group controls a means of passage, and then extracts dues from others for the use ( ie. road blocks, pirating, etc. ).

  • All Hail Our Nat'l Overlords||

    Heckuva Job, TSA: Michael Yon arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to disclose his income:

    http://hotair.com/archives/201.....e-airport/

  • ||

    While I haven't RTFR, it is quite true that that chart says absolutely nothing.

    Really, I mean, MNG only makes good coherent points once every week or so. We should encourage him when he does this, not attack him.

  • oaktownadam||

    Indeed. I for one welcome dissenters. The internet has enough echo chambers, we don't need Reason to be yet another one.

  • Xeones||

    Well, the very point is that lawlessness is likely what you get when there is no government

    [citation needed]

  • MNG||

    X, about half of the posts have been about the case I cited. You're like a child who wonders into a movie...

  • Xeones||

    I read your posts, MNG. They stank like unsubstantiated shit. Putting your fingers in your ears and shouting SOMALIA SOMALIA SOMALIA doesn't count as an argument, but just for fun, i'll see your Horn of Africa and raise you medieval Iceland.

  • MNG||

    Home of Bjork. Well, I have to concede in the face of that X (oh, and I have to go pick up the kids).

    Over a hundred post on a thread about compensation packages. I think my work here is done ;)

  • Shorter MNG||

    I lost.

  • ||

    One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

  • At MNG's house…||

    MNG's child: "Hey, it's cold in here, can I light a fire in the fireplace?"
    MNG: "What do you mean you want to burn the house down? Are you insane? This cold house keeps the rain off."
    "Look, I just don't like how cold it is. I want it to be warmer."
    "Sure, fire is nice and hot, but you must be crazy to think it's a good idea."
    "Fine, MNG, I'll just call child protective services. Maybe they have a warm bed for me."
    "Oh, sure, now we see the truth, you're libertarian until you need the government."
    "Maybe I should call the hyperbole police while I'm at it…"

  • ||

    Win.

  • Byron||

    MNG's child

    a horribly chilling thought...

  • Xeones||

    Well, I have to concede in the face of that X

    Aww, you mean i don't get to bring up the voluntary nature of membership in Algonquin and Lakota societies, or the institution of judgeship in ancient Israel? Damn.

  • Xeones||

    ancient Israel

    Pardon, i forgot to whom i was speaking. Please read that as "ancient Gaza," if it helps.

  • ||

    Where would you rather live, Ancient Israel or the Ancient Gaza Strip?

  • Suki||

    Is it the Gaza Strip with brass poles?

  • Paul||

    Racist.

  • ||

    One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!!

  • ||

    I want to live in a movie version of ancient Egypt.

    With hot and cold running slave girls.

  • ||

    I want to be Yul Brynner ruling over Egypt. Except in my case, I let Chuck's people go. I mean, what the hell do I care? Good luck with that desert-wandering business and watch out for the natives! Be sure to send back a postcard, bro!

  • Suki||

    Stop the tease please?

  • Robert||

    Unlike most issues, this is one we can actually do something about rather than just complain: get a gov't job. I am, starting tomorrow, as a trainer for the US Census Bureau.

    Seriously, if you complain that too much money is being taken from you to fund public sector jobs, get on the receiving end instead and stop complaining.

  • T||

    Yes, because once we all work for the government, we can all be taxed to pay for it! the circle of life will be complete!

  • Paul||

    get a gov't job. I am, starting tomorrow, as a trainer for the US Census Bureau.

    Seriously, if you complain that too much money is being taken from you to fund public sector jobs, get on the receiving taking end instead and stop complaining.

    See the difference?

  • ||

    "watch out for the natives lions!"

  • ||

    once we all work for the government, we can all be taxed to pay for it! the circle of life will be complete!

    "All aboard the perpetual motion machine!"

  • ||

    P Brooks,

    Shoot, if I were calling the shots, Moses and I would still retain that brotherly love, and we would combine forces to dominate the region.

  • ||

    Moses and I would still retain that brotherly love, and we would combine forces to dominate the region.

    This is what differentiates you from Chad and MNG.

  • ||

    Which part?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Michael,

    Back in the nineties, I worked for a company that re-manufactured Diesel drive trains and was contracted by numerous public transit agencies. Of the rebuilt transmissions that we'd ship to them, about half would return a few days later completely blown up and expected to be covered under warranty. Their "technicians" would routinely install them into the buses without changing the filters and flushing the lubrication lines, so whatever detritus may have caused the last catastrophic breakdown was sent right into the new unit. Needless to say these weren't covered under warranty. The agency had to foot the bill for fresh rebuilds every time. Starting pay for one of these "technicians" was exactly twice what I earned at that company at the time I left.

    Also in the nineties, in Mexico, I used to work for a company that sold hydraulic parts and equipment. We sold a hydraulic valve to the local airport which is run by the government with a unionized crew. The mechanics couldn't install it, saying it would not fit. I went there and found that the manufacturer had change the design but was only 1/64" thicker, so it did not fit against the firewall the previous valve was installed on because of the coat of paint it had. I told their mechanics to simply scrape off the paint and that the valve would fit, since it was the same valve. I went back to the office wondering where in the world did the airport get these guys, but I bet they were being paid better than I was.

  • Chad||

    What's up with Reason spouting non-controlled comparisons today. Clearly, CATO did not hold education constant, for starters. The government tends to hire a disproptionate share of of people with degrees (largely because of teachers). Come on, you guys can do better.

    However, I agree that government pensions are out of control. They are what is bankrupting just about every state, and the reason that our state budgets look terrible despite the fact that there don't seem to be any cops anymore, but there are lots of potholes and stupid students.

  • OMG||

    Oh my, I think I agree with Chad (at least second paragraph). Yikes!

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Do teachers work 12 months a year? If not, you have to factor that into their 'annual' salary.

  • Chad||

    Teachers work longer hours than most professionals when school is in session. From what I have seen (and as indicated by shortages and surpluses), math, science and special ed teachers are underpaid, while most other teachers are overpaid relative to the market.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    Teachers work longer hours than most professionals when school is in session.

    But averaged out, the number of hours is less than for most professionals, especially in this crisis. I am working 50 hours a week, with only 2 weeks vacations.

    From what I have seen (and as indicated by shortages and surpluses), math, science and special ed teachers are underpaid, while most other teachers are overpaid relative to the market.

    Without a profit-loss test, there is no way to determine if math and science teachers are being underpaid. Under market conditions, a lower wage for science or math teaching would immediately shift labor from those teaching positions towards the other positions until the market clears. If this has not happened, it is either because these teachers do not feel they are being underpaid, or these teachers are held hostage on their seats with tacks.

  • Chad||

    OM, a large portion math and science positions in this country are filled with people with little training in math and science, precisely because labor has shifted to the private sector.

    You kid's high school chemistry teacher probably took a total of four chem classes in college, barely passed them while earning his or her degree in history.

  • ||

    Many government jobs require a degree...in anything. Those employees might not be too happy with where that particular degree would get them in the private sector.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    The government tends to hire a disprop[or]tionate share of [...] people with degrees (largely because of teachers).

    It makes one wonder if the government is getting its money's worth.

    I remember that the government is supposed to be people working for US. I would certainly not hire a college graduate to clean the street lights of bird nests...

  • Chad||

    You don't hire them directly. Instead, you sub-contract out such work, just like most major companies do.

    This is precisely why the government's average wages and salaries are so high.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    You don't hire them directly. Instead, you sub-contract out such work, just like most major companies do.

    Companies subcontract work as a matter of cost cutting. The government doles out contracts to the better connected politically. Companies are held by the profit-loss test that the market imposes; the government is held under no such test, so its expenditures cannot result on a higher output, not a measurable one.

    This is precisely why the government's average wages and salaries are so high.

    There is no way you can say that with accuracy - since the government is NOT held by a profit-loss, productive output test, the salary levels can be too high for the potential output, or maybe too low - who can say? You?

    I contend that what these statistics try to convey is a sense that government spends money on wages or pensions with no regard for productivity, and also that the government seems to operate on a different reality than the private sector.

  • ||

    The part about brotherly love, coexistence and co-operation.

    I was going to say something about not enslaving Peter to support Paul, but I suppose that depends on your definition of "dominate". My original assumption was competitive capitalist success via free trade and comparative advantage; I hope that's what you meant.

  • ||

    My plan is to oppress the Egyptians into a liberal, free market economy. Thus will Egypt be colonizing the Moon in 200 A.D.

  • hmm||

    I've worked civil service. It's a strange world.

  • public sector employee||

    Suck that dick! All the way to the balls. Swallow me! No, don't spit it out.

  • more to come||

    and now comes the very "efficiently" run government run healthcare...

  • ||

    The comparisons of public vs. private compensation are terribly misleading. The private sector workforce contains many employees in the fields of retail and hospitality, for which there is little to no equivalent in the public sector. These jobs tend to require little education or skill, and they offer low wages and low benefits.

    By contrast, a public employee is twice as likely to have a college degree, and many others, like firefighters and police officers, work in positions that involve physical risk.

    Comparisons of public and private sector jobs must be adjusted to reflect such differences, or else they are virtually useless.

  • ||

    God, what pathetic asswipes you libertarians are. Oh, and big surprise that Cato's numbers turn out to be misleading. Wow, I almost fainted!

  • ||

    You can thank God for the unions,every watched how many city employees it takes to fill a pothole?

  • john||

    it's quite appalling. no wonder a lot of people make out on coupons.

  • دردشة||

    thanks

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