California

"No true liberal or progressive should support current public employee compensation."

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So a $53,000-a-year secretary, a $95,000-a-year "creeks supervisor" and a $67,000-a-year "tennis services coordinator" all walk into a bar…

To hear the punchline, check out the California Center for Public Policy's new report Reforming Public Employee Compensation and Pensions [pdf].

A coffee break too far.

While much of the report's content  will be familiar to regular readers of Reason's pension coverage, there's a very informative section (pages 10-16) breaking down how work rules have resulted in an effective four-day week for most government employees in California and describing the mechanisms that public-sector carbon blobs use to set up retirement packages that in many cases pay more than their full salaries.

The result:

No other employees in California work as little as government employees both as to days and hours, are paid more for comparable work, are as secure in their employment, have better benefits, will receive more guaranteed salary increases during the course of their careers, enjoy more favorable working conditions, or receive higher pensions for which they paid less.

The report, by CCPP president Lanny Ebenstein, was done with the cooperation of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, a donor to the Reason Foundation.

Ebenstein comes out strongly in favor of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi's Proposition B, describing it with the ominous-sounding phrase, "The eyes of the nation are on San Francisco." Ebenstein notes that Prop B "would effect the most employees and crucially existing employees, including public safety."

Two things worth noting here : Adachi is not what you'd call a limited-government libertarian. Nor is Gov. Schwarzenegger, who is in great part responsible for turning the public-sector pension crisis from an arcane subject into a national issue. Willie Brown, David Crane and most of the other people we've been covering on this topic are not exactly anarcho-capitalists either. The impetus for pension reform is coming solidly from good liberals, who recognize featherbedding by the public-employee bishopric as a serious threat to their vision of a more responsible government.

The other hard truth alluded to above, and underscored throughout the study, is that the really out-of-control compensation and pension troubles are coming from cops and firefighters. While the story of million-dollar-Bell City Manager Bob Rizzo and his gang of mafiosi makes great copy (and it's a gift that keeps on giving), at some point we need to reckon with the fact that public safety employees—who are generally held in high regard by the public and whose jobs even many libertarians consider necessary—are bankrupting local and state governments all over the country. And they've got all the guns.

NEXT: Baby Snatching: It's Hilarious When We Just Don't Like Their Kind

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  1. They need that money, or else dogs will be rampaging around their owner’s property unshot.

    1. Speaking of dogs, where’s Balko when you need him? Funny tag line – they mention that the police officer and the dog were treated for their injuries. No mention of treatment for the guy who got bitten by the dog.

      1. I linked this in Balko’s story yesterday. Notice all of the evidence against the guy was “Police said,” and “a police statement says?” No witnesses other than the cop.

        This guy’s gonna get a fair trial. Sure he is..

        1. Maybe they’ll be able to get Michael West to testify as to the bite marks on the dog….

  2. Look at all the food and breast implants that money can buy.

    1. I think Rizzo should ditch his breast implants. His gut implant, too.

      1. they picked him up at his home in Huntington BEACH? He didn’t even live in Bell?

        1. To be fair he was only on the beach because he couldn’t get back out to sea after washing up.

          1. Look, Mommy, he’s FAT!

  3. Any thoughts on the feasibility of just taxing the shit out of state workers’ pension benefits? It doesn’t involve breaking existing contracts.

    1. Don’t know about California, but in many states pensions aren’t subject to state income tax.

      1. Tax EXEMPT? Oh, what a sweet ride. Maybe it’s time they were-if they’re not in California, they should be. Wonder how far that would have gone to plug the budget deficit?

        Even beyond politics, one of the fundamental principals of justice is equality before the law. Exempting government employees from the law is creating a new aristocracy.

        1. It’s a state by state patchwork. Some states don;t tax it because they just don’t have an income tax (see, Florida). Some of the states, otoh, are blood sucking vampires that will go after military retirees that happened to serve their last tour in a particular state, and are hounded about ‘paying up’ even if they relocate immediately. (See fucking Commonwealth of Virginia)

    2. Yes, “give us back some of that money we gave you so we can afford to give it to you” makes alot of sense.

      1. Generally, the same laws should apply to public employees as to anybody else.

        As I understand it, California fully taxes retirement and pension income. Except if you are a public sector employee. Then there is no state income tax on your pension.

        1. —“Except if you are a public sector employee. Then there is no state income tax on your pension.”—

          I don’t think this is so. Part of the Bell scandal is that the Chief of Police got a pre-approved disabilty rating so that a portion of his pension would be tax exempt.

    3. The PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSION WINDFALL PROFIT TAX applied in an extremely progressive manner on all public retirees to be paid into that Public Pension Fund Lock Box.

  4. And they’ve got all the guns.

    Maybe in California. They sure as hell don’t have all the guns in Texas. According to the FBI there are 45,669 sworn law enforcement officers in the state, and 402,914 concealed handgun licensees.

    1. Apparently, one should not mess with Texas.

      1. Fortunately we just want to mess with California – and NOW we understand why some cops – and *which* cops – opposed the 2nd Amendment.

        1. cops and firefighters…whose jobs even many libertarians consider necessary

          Most, I’d say. The few true anarchists here are not representative of the whole, regardless of how often they comment. Private fire-fighting companies are certainly feasible if not already in practice in some places. But private, competing police forces, with their own rules and neighborhoods and jurisdictions? That’s pie-in-the-sky, anarcho-utopia nonsense.

          1. The problem has been that if a community needs 100 cops or 20 firefighter, then 200 cops & 40 ff is better and 400 cops and 80ff is better yet.

            It’s entirely rational to say that yes we need police and fire departments and yes those departments are 50% overstaffed to complete the necessary duties. Which leads to civil rights abuses as more activity is criminalized as a make work program for bored cops.

          2. Even a non-anarchist can deny the need for a professional police force in most areas, aside from a few constables to maintain the peace, and detectives to investigate crimes after the fact. Specialization of labor is typically great, but when that labor is violence, societies that don’t spread that responsibility and training out widely end up seeing themselves repressed at the hands of those who are now more powerful than others. (Those who beat their swords into plowshares…)

            1. The problem is that any sort of community with the type of minimal police force you describe requires a group of citizens in place that already have a high value of trust in each other.

              This sort of thing just wouldn’t work in larger American towns or cities due to 1) scale, and 2) several decades of various government bureaucrats, social engineers, and “community organizers” doing their utmost to degrade and destroy those trust bonds.

            2. aside from a few constables to maintain the peace, and detectives to investigate crimes after the fact.

              Did anyone hear the ‘ching ching’ stinger after this?

    2. They sure as hell don’t have all the guns in Texas. According to the FBI there are 45,669 sworn law enforcement officers in the state, and 402,914 concealed handgun licensees.

      I don’t remember if it was just about Texas or nationwide in scope, but I heard a story on the radio recently about how expensive mandatory handgun licensing classes and high fees were “disproportionately harmful” to poor people and that only rich people were getting to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

      So what was the proposed solution to get more handguns in the hands of poor people? Raise the price on rich people and subsidize the class tuition and the fees for the poor people.

      Sigh.

      1. Depending on how expensive those things really are, the subsidy part actually makes sense. The state should not be preventing people from exercising constitutional rights because they can’t afford to pay state-mandated fees.

        (Obviously if they can’t afford to buy a gun in the first place, that’s their problem)

        1. Yeah, OR the state could just reduce the fees. I know that’s hard math.

        2. My point is, why not just eliminate the fees and licensing altogether?

          1. There’s legitimate public safety reasons to require handgun training of permit holders. Carrying a gun should be treated like driving a car in my view.

            1. Except that the Bill of Rights disagrees with you.

              1. Since cheap/subsidized training requirements do not prevent anyone from exercising the right to keep and bear arms, no, the BoR does not disagree with me.

                In any case, just like the other rights, compelling public safety concerns do justify infringement in extreme cases. Such as, you can’t have a nuclear bomb in your basement, or an anti-aircraft battery on your roof, etc.

                1. Sure it disagrees with your drivers license analogy.

                  The 2nd Amendment explicit says that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

                  Is there an Amendment 2B that mentions the right to drive a car only if you have a proper license?

                  The two are logically analogous, I will agree with you, but one is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution and the other is not. That’s all I am saying.

            2. Please explain why…keeping in mind that government should have no power to require anyone to do anything special to own a piece of property.

              1. Ownership is not at issue, concealed carrying in public places is.

              2. Just like you can own a car without having a driver’s license, so long as you don’t drive it on public roads.

            3. Arizona has had an open carry without permit forever. Doesn’t seem to have contributed in any way to the murder/violent crime rate. Why does the government get to say which citizens can and cannot carry weapons in defense of their persons and property?

              1. I’m not saying the govt should decide who gets to carry a gun (outside of reasons like mental illness or past violent crimes by the person in question).

                Just that anyone who wants a permit should be trained how to use, carry, and store their weapon in a way that presents no danger to anyone except the bad guys.

                1. I’m not saying the govt should decide who gets to carry a gun

                  What do you think licensing is, exactly?

                  1. What do you think licensing is, exactly?

                    Ah. So the driver’s license regime is govt deciding who gets to drive?

                    Hysteria is a sad thing to see.

                    1. So the driver’s license regime is govt deciding who gets to drive?

                      Yes. It is. Driving is considered a privilege, and not a right (at least in CA)

            4. Yet another reason why Tulpa is not a libertarian…

              1. Right, anyone who doesn’t support arming schizophrenics is not a libertarian.

                1. No, anyone who doesn’t support freedom of ownership is not a libertarian.

      2. How about just not infringing and the right to keep and bear arms. The power to license is the power to control.

    3. There are a lot of guns in California, too. They’re not licensed for carry, but they’re out there.

      1. That’s right. California has plenty of red in the middle.

    4. That isn’t the half of it – here in TX you only need the license to concealed carry, not to own a gun. And we are a castle doctrine state so you can carry in many cases without having the license.

  5. city workers have already promised to pay their own retirement contributions in full, which is to commence July 01, 2011 [nine (9) months from now]. they did this when they ratified their most recent contract earlier this year. it should be noted that regarding pension reform and prop b; very little money will be saved by forcing city workers to contribute their fair share a mere six [6] months prior to schedule.  

    so apparently then, the “big savings” hoped for by passing such a brilliantly thought out piece of agenda must come from the lesser emphasized “healthcare” component of this poorly thought out piece of written scapegoating and bullying.  in exchange for continued health care provisions to children or other needy legal dependant of the hard working city employee, the wealthy authors along with greedy bankroller venture capitalist and billionaire backers of this divisive proposition have opted to use this “hidden” aspect to boost their “savings” figure which they shamelessly tout knowing full well that such drastic cuts will not only displace the most vulnerable, namely children and retirees needing healthcare who cannot otherwise afford it but to also undermine the overall universal healthcare concept, which most San Franciscans recognize as smart and cost effective.

    -all in an effort to gain a certain amount of esteem and notoriety for its author to run as a mayoral candidate in the 2011 local election with the support of the powerful wealthy.  people, please see this for what it is and not for what it is not!  cuts to preventive healthcare at minimal savings to the city fund will end up costing us tax payers double, triple and quadruple -when urgent care and emergency room services at the medical industry’s skyrocketing rates and exorbitant costs and fees are factored in as the only remaining viable options for those no longer able to qualify for any other type of reasonably priced medical coverage!  

    please vote NO on B.

    1. Man, you had me until the “hard working city workers” line. It was bold of you to try and sneak that in.

      Overall some brilliant satire though. Love the bit about teh evil venture capitalists.

      1. Not just evil venture capitalists but greedy bankroller venture capitalist

        And I think that the “hard working city workers” bit was right in line. It works because there really are Leftards out there who still believe that they exist.

        A-

      2. I know. Why venture capitalists specifically? Any idea?

  6. “Ebenstein notes that Prop B “would effect affect the most employees and crucially existing employees, including public safety.””

    OR

    “Ebenstein notes that Prop B “would have an effect on the most employees and crucially existing employees, including public safety.”

    1. I always get those two fucked up.

      1. I was taught as a kid that “affect” was a verb while “effect” was a noun.

        Which is actually incorrect, as there is a noun meaning of “affect” and a verb meaning of “effect”…but those meanings are used so rarely that I can understand why they’d fudge the truth a little to ensure you don’t make that Grammar-Nazi-Bait mistake.

      2. Me too. What’s worse is that I actually looked them up in the dictionary, and I still couldn’t figure them out. Then someone told me the rule Tulpa uses, and I’ve gone with that (except for when I forget).

    2. I usually let that mistake (and others like aberrant apostrophes and their/there/they’re) pass without comment in emails and blog posts, but if you release an official-sounding report you really need to be careful about that.

    3. Ebenstein notes that Prop B “would effect…

      So, “to effect repairs” is incorrect too? Fucking scifi dialogue….

      1. That usage is correct. That’s the verb “effect” which means to make, produce, or do. There’s also a noun “affect” which is more rare…it means an outward sign of emotion, iirc.

  7. Two things worth noting here : Adachi is not what you’d call a limited-government libertarian. Nor is Gov. Schwarzenegger…Willie Brown, David Crane and most of the other people we’ve been covering on this topic are not exactly anarcho-capitalists either.

    I’ll tell you who is a limited government libertarian…

    http://www.lp.org/blogs/daniel…..a-governor

  8. In short, … areas subject for legislation [include]:
    ? Require that all public employees work a certain number of days
    ? Set parameters on sick leave, holidays, personal necessity days, and vacation
    ? Establish sound actuarial bases for pension benefits
    ? Set maximum retirement benefit at $100,000 per year

    This is a joke, right?

    1. I have a better idea. Make public sector employees be subject to the same rules for private sector employees, i.e. market forces.

  9. public safety employees — who are generally held in high regard by the public and whose jobs even many libertarians consider necessary

    Fuck you, libertards.

  10. I agree. I have never once defended the outrageous pay schemes that most of our public employees receive.

    Why don’t libertarians focus on making government work, rather than tearing it down?

    1. We do, but you would disagree with us on the nature and scope of said “work”.

    2. You defend the governing philosophy that inexorably leads to such pay schemes.

      Tell me, how would liberals “fix” this problem? In most cases, the people in charge while this was going on were die-hard liberals, so it’s not a matter of the right people being in charge. Are you prepared to restrict collective bargaining by public employees?

      1. “In most cases, the people in charge while this was going on were die-hard liberals”

        You mean like the GOP governor CA has had for years now?

        “Are you prepared to restrict collective bargaining by public employees?”

        Certainly the problem does not lie in collective bargaining, there are many private sector employees who have that right who don’t make exorbitant salaries. The problem lies in who is doing the bargaining for the taxpayers.

        1. MNG|10.9.10 @ 9:51AM|#
          “In most cases, the people in charge while this was going on were die-hard liberals”
          You mean like the GOP governor CA has had for years now?”

          “Crane argues the lack of reform on pensions rests with a legislature that is controlled by public employee unions….
          Crane traces the political takeover by the unions to the Dill Act signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 1978 giving the public unions collective bargaining.”
          http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.c…..erry-brown‘s-feet

          Shut up, MNG.

          1. If collective bargaining is the problem itself, then why don’t private sector workers in California, who have that right, have such levels of compensation?

            And how is the legislature “controlled” by public employees unions? That’s like saying the legislature is “controlled” by corporations.

            Fail Ronnie, fail.

            1. Really trying for idiot of the day this morning, are you?

              MNG|10.9.10 @ 10:08AM|#
              “If collective bargaining is the problem itself, then why don’t private sector workers in California, who have that right, have such levels of compensation?”
              Uh, because the folks who negotiate with private sector unions aren’t owned by them.

              “And how is the legislature “controlled” by public employees unions? That’s like saying the legislature is “controlled” by corporations.”
              Gee, wonder who supports the SEIU and the Teachers’ Unions? Wouldn’t be the Dem majority elected by those unions would it?
              Shut up, MNG

              1. Er, you still didn’t explain how the legislature is “controlled” by the unions. Are there more union members voting as a Democratic bloc than there are non-union member eligible voters? do their votes somehow count more than other voters?

                And your first “point” is of course dependent on this “owning” argument you consistently cannot articulate.

                1. MNG|10.9.10 @ 10:20AM|#
                  “And your first “point” is of course dependent on this “owning” argument you consistently cannot articulate.”

                  Add the willful ignorance of the left to an infantile use of a diminutive.
                  Shut up, MNG.

            2. The problem, as you pointed out minge, is that the money being paid or promised no one is truly accountable for.

              And while the legislature may not be controlled by public employees union there is no incentive for legislatures to limit pay and benefits. Perversely, they would stand to lose votes, and campaign resources by taking on the unions, as this issue hasn’t been visual enough, until recently, for a politician to benefit from taking on the unions.

              What are some possible solutions to this issue?

              I can think of a few that aren’t coercive, but I am interested what others have to say first.

              1. “And while the legislature may not be controlled by public employees union there is no incentive for legislatures to limit pay and benefits.”

                Sure there is incentive, but it takes voters being informed and active.

                Think of what libertarians say when liberals complain about corporate influence in legislatures. They say, hey, the voters are still free to resist corporate backed ads and efforts and vote for people who will spank corporation’s behinds. Ditto for “public employees unions.”

                In other words, the fault really lies in the voters.

                One thing that could help is transparency measures that would make it clear what’s going on to voters (something akin to disclosure laws in the campaign finance world). But after that it’s up to voters (a scary thought I admit :)).

                1. Union support brings campaign funding, campaign volunteers, and a large voting bloc. When the general electorate is split between Rs and Ds and turnout rates are low, that becomes a huge advantage.

                  Corporate support brings funding, but none of that other stuff. And even the funding is limited since, unlike public sector unions, corporations have to be worried about backlash from customers who support the other candidate.

                  1. Think of what libertarians say when liberals complain about corporate influence in legislatures. They say, hey, the voters are still free to resist corporate backed ads and efforts and vote for people who will spank corporation’s behinds. Ditto for “public employees unions.”

                    In other words, the fault really lies in the voters.

                    Actually, the main thing libertarians say on that issue is that politicians shouldn’t be given the power that allows them to be corrupt in the first place. But that doesn’t agree with the liberal agenda, so you made up a strawman.

                    The fault is not in the voters; it’s in the corrupt politicians. What a concept!

                    1. “The fault is not in the voters; it’s in the corrupt politicians.”

                      There is nothing keeping the voters from replacing such corrupt pols, hence the voters are at fault ultimately.

                    2. There is nothing keeping the voters from replacing such corrupt pols, hence the voters are at fault ultimately.

                      Right, right. There’s nothing keeping people from being vigilantes, why do we need a justice system and laws? It’s ultimately our fault if someone else commits a crime, right MNG?

                      FAIL.

                    3. Except that in this case, the voters are also public employees and the more “corrupt” politicians operate in beneficial ways to them?

                  2. Corporations can bring more funds than unions, and of course one could argue that it can influence all of its employees to vote in similar ways now. Still, whatever power unions bring the libertarian reply to corporate power is still in effect: people don’t have to be swayed by their campaign contributions.

                    1. Still, whatever power unions bring the libertarian reply to corporate power is still in effect: people don’t have to be swayed by their campaign contributions.

                      Again, MNG, that is not the libertarian reply to corporate power, you disingenuous fuck. The libertarian reply in both these situation should be to not give politicians the powers that they will abuse in the first place. Quit repeating that lie, and I will keep calling you out on it, retard.

                2. This is the reason that the government has defined and limited powers, so that the uninformed voter can’t go willy-nilly frittering away other people’s rights and money.

                  Maybe it is time that we consider limiting the state’s ability to make collective bargaining agreements, but not the workers right to organize.

                  Kind of file the union’s teeth a little bit.

                  1. capitol l|10.9.10 @ 10:45AM|#
                    “Maybe it is time that we consider limiting the state’s ability to make collective bargaining agreements, but not the workers right to organize.”

                    This is exactly what Brown did; he signed a law requiring the government(s) to negotiate with the unions.
                    As you point out, there is no need (nor am I sure it’s legal) to outlaw unions, but there should be no requirement for the government to negotiate with them.

            3. This is tiresome, MNG. You ask the wrong question, as if the question is the answer. Correct question: Why don’t public-sector union pukes have levels of compensation comparable to private-sector union pukes…..get it?

              There is nothing wrong with unions qua unions, but there is something very wrong with public-sector unions and their incestuous relationship with the politicians and their extremely distant relationship to the taxpayers.

            4. MNG… Private sector workers cannot hold consumers of their products hostage. Government employees can.

              If a public sector union – say… police, teachers or transit authority workers – decides to strike, where are you going to go to get the same services?

              Nowhere.

              The MTA in Manhattan is your only subway option today. The Police are… The Police. Public schools account for the vast majority of education.

              If these people strike or threaten to strike, or if they even use the old tactics of threatening that if you don’t give them $XXX.00, you will be harming the little children with no protection from crime and no education… WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

              Because they are public employees, they frequently have a monopoly position mandated by law, they have you by the balls.

              And Ron L’s right as well… When politician’s constituencies are the very same folks then demanding more public money flowing into their pockets, those people (public employees) have an undue opportunity to directly vote themselves politicians who will give more and more money, benefits, etc.

              This isn’t rocket science, MNG… Seriously dude.

        2. I don’t consider Ahhnuld to exactly be a fire breathing conservative. In most States in middle America, he would be considered a liberal. But, you knew that.

          1. Well, the Gubernator has moved around in his time in office, but he has certainly at times been pretty mainstream GOP (note his favored slot in the 2004 GOP convention). And he’s not the only GOP governor in recent times (Pete Wilson).

            1. His favored time slot came from his celebrity, and his willingness to whore himself, not his policies.

              1. Yea, they gave him a time slot despite his opposition to what they stand for. Yeah, right.

                1. They gave him the time slot because he’s a gigantic fucking movie star, MNG… This is politics we’re talking about. What is wrong with you on this thread?

        3. The problem doesn’t lie in collective bargaining?????

          Sure it does.

          In the private sector, labor and management are truly parties with adverse interests. The money paid to labor comes out of the boss’ pocket.

          In the public sector, government workers bargain with other government workers over YOUR money … and with the added bonus that the government workers who are labelled “labor” can then contribute to and vote for those “management” government workers who play ball with them. A particularly significant incentive when you consider that the vast majority of those who vote in a typical municipal election are municipal workers and their families.

          Think there might be an agency/public choice issue at work here? Think that “management” in the public sector may not come to the table with your best interests at heart.

          (Oh..and given the political influence that public sector unions have at the State level — which has certainly been the case historically in New Jersey — when the municipalities do stand up to the unions, they simply go to the Legislature and get what they want by statute.)

          Ask yourself this question: why are less than 5% of private sector workforces unionized, but public sector workforces are almost universally unionized in any state where public sector unions are permitted? Think there might be a message here?

          1. In private corporations an agent (management) who is also an employee of the corporation bargains with employees of the corporation with other people’s money (shareholders). So, fail.

            1. 1. Shareholders are much more likely to punish a pushover agent than voters are to punish a government official. Agents can be fired at will, while officials can only be replaced every two years or more and then only by one other person who’s probably just as bad.

              2. If a private sector union gets too greedy they can drive their employer into bankruptcy and find themselves without a job. Not so with government.

              3. Most importantly, in the private sector, union members don’t get to vote for who they’re going to negotiate with.

              1. 3. Most importantly, in the private sector, union members don’t get to vote for who they’re going to negotiate with.

                Or campaign on the behalf of. Or give financial donations to. Or (in cases of police or dmv unions) dig up dirt of their opponents/detractors. Or electioneer for.

                If MNG can’t see that the unions are negotiating with their supporters, then he is forcibly keeping his own eyes closed.

                Tell me, have you ever heard a private union acknowledge the fairness of the management negotiations after a bloody contract negotiation? Rarely if ever. Now, tell me how often we see the union head giving a joint press conference with the legislators that they negotiated a swindle on the taxpayers with under a similar contract negotiation? It happens every time…and is usually followed up with a fat campaign contribution and support in the next election cycle.

              2. 2. If a private sector union gets too greedy they can drive their employer into bankruptcy and find themselves without a job. Not so with government.

                That’s why you get the gov’t to buy out the company before they go under, duh. GM Employees are smart as hell, managin to convert themselves from a private-sec to a public-sec union.

                Crafty Bastards know where the money is at: theft.

              3. 1. “Shareholders are much more likely to punish a pushover agent than voters are to punish a government official.” Citation needed. CEO’s are retained at incumbent-pol level rates from every study I’ve seen. Or do you mean some Austrian “in theory” kind of thing?

                2. If a public sector union gets to greedy they can trigger all kinds of bad things for the union too (many states require balanced budgets for example, and this could mean cuts, furloughs, or worse).

                3. In most corporate board elections the management chooses the ballot! This is why management is defeated in about 1% of such elections. Now THATS a power public sector employees would love to have. Face it Tulpa, the principal-agent problem is worse for private sector corporations…

                1. 1. I’d imagine if a Shareholder kept getting incensed and feeling screwed, he would have the commonsense to sell his stock.. You can’t really sell out on your citizenship, easily at any rate..

                  2. True, but in many cases, such as in California the judiciary and I think even the DA overruled things like furloughs, some IOU’s, and other forced budget-balance kinds of options.

                  3. In most corporations, the employees shareholders. A lot of senior managers have accumulated a lot of shares in their company, especially if it’s part of their benefits package. They have a vested interest in putting forth people that have the best interset of the company in mind. Why would I, as an employee with a stake in the future profitability of my employer, vote for someone who wouldn’t stand firm in bargaining agreements?

                  1. “the employees shareholders”
                    “the employees ARE shareholders”

            2. We have a winner for the idiot of the day!

              MNG|10.9.10 @ 10:21AM|#
              “In private corporations an agent (management) who is also an employee of the corporation bargains with employees of the corporation with other people’s money (shareholders). So, fail.”
              Those people on the management side depend on making money for those other people to keep their jobs.

              1. Holy God how can so many capitalist loving libertarians be so ignorant of the prelavance of the principal agent problem in corporate America? It’s only been written about by numerous libertarian scholars for decades (i.e., the law and economics folks). Ronnie, you’re actually ignorant of what your own side puts out!

                1. “capitalist loving libertarians”?
                  Redundancy-loving redundanc(ist)..?

        4. The problem lies in who is doing the bargaining for the taxpayers.

          This is generally correct, that the bargaining is not ultimately adversarial.

          But how do you fix it without just eliminating public-sector collective bargaining altogether? In the end, no matter who you appoint/choose to do the bargaining, he’s still not going to be as personally vested as the ownership of a private company would be.

          So I don’t see how the “but private employees get to do it too” argument is appropriate. Private employers are also spending their own money. Governments, or whoever represents them, are not.

          1. One would think folks as rhetorically dedicted to capitalism as you guys would be aware of how modern capitalistic enterprises work. Corporations often do not involve an “owner” bargaining with workers over his “own” money. They involve management (employees) bargaining with workers (other employees) over other peoples (shareholders) money. Under labor law they too must bargain collectively (indeed government agencies have a legal advantage in such negotiations in that usually the right to strike and such is more extensive for private employers).

            1. Ha ha, thanks for lecturing me on business structures and how they work. That’s particularly rich.

              Management is appointed by an owner/shareholders to represent that ownership structure’s own direct personal interest(s). If a particular shareholder or owner doesn’t like it, he can sell his stake to someone else or fold the company and start a new one, but eventually you end up with a private party’s own personal financial stake. The bargaining process is ultimately one of the liberty whether to participate or not.

              Not so for your government bargaining “commissions”. Not by a long shot. Short of living somewhere else, I’m stuck participating and someone else is negotiating my own money for me.

              1. OK, the level of ignorance has now officially reached colossal levels. Start, as many undergrads do, with this source, do a little reading, and you folks get back to me, m’kay?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal-agent_problem

            2. Of course there’s also that pesky fiduciary responsibility to the bottom line that management (employees) have in the private sector.

            3. How about a few more ((((( and )))))s? I know what that looks like, but maybe you can clarify. More “”””””s would help, too.

              1. Adorable! (musses hair)

        5. MNG, in the Bell case, they are ALL Democrats. Which proves Democrats are just as capable of graft and corruption as Republicans.

          Tony will, of course, disagree.

          1. Sure, corruption doesn’t necessarily have a D or R following its name.

            1. I fully recognize this btw as I currently live in Maryland, a very corrupt state one party (D) ruled state (those two things go together a lot imo), so I know. Probably my biggest reason for supporting Ehrlich is just to keep the corrupt state Democratic party honest…If I lived in the Deep South the reverse would be true…

              1. MNG, my man, I know I can count on your vote.

                1. early and often, early and often.

          2. Nuh-uh. The ONLY source of evil is the GOP. They own, exclusively, every morsel of evil in the entire world.

            1. Obviously, the Bell councilmen were Republicans in disguise.

              1. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!!

                1. This is what happens when you let Christ-fags run government. Obviously, the Bell council members lied about their political affiliations.

                2. Arf guy arfs a spoof. Kids today!

        6. “Certainly the problem does not lie in collective bargaining, there are many private sector employees who have that right who don’t make exorbitant salaries. The problem lies in who is doing the bargaining for the taxpayers.”

          And the pubsec unions have much more influence in selecting that person in government than they would in a private company, even one where they own shares, due to the fact that it’s one-person, one-vote.

          There’s also the problem that public employee collective bargaining is inherently against the public interest. Private sector collective bargaining might be against the interest of the company they work for, but that’s no reason for the government to intervene. Promoting the common good is another question altogether.

        7. Ahnold a die-hard GOP puke??? I am rolling on the floor, laughing out loud. Now Bruce Willis appeared in a movie called Die Hard. MNG you is cal-ee-fused.

    3. “I have never…”

      These Bell public servants are the epitome of the progressive politician. And you always support them, Chad. It’s YOU.

  11. We can get around the “broken promise” problem by doing to public sector employees exactly what they are doing to the private sector. Attrit them through ever expanding licensing & regulation schemes. Or just let them keep their phoney baloney jobs.

    1. Harrumph!

  12. this poorly thought out piece of written scapegoating and bullying. in exchange for continued health care provisions to children or other needy legal dependant of the hard working city employee

    I’m okay. I…

    I just have something in my eye.

  13. “The other hard truth alluded to above, and underscored throughout the study, is that the really out-of-control compensation and pension troubles are coming from cops and firefighters.”

    The same groups ol’ Meg Whitman has excluded from her public employee compensation/pension reform plans! Profiles in courage…

    1. Yeah, that whole thing isn’t cool. I think Jerry Brown is a statist turd, but he’s on the right side of this particular issue (or has somehow ended up there, maybe by accident).

      It certainly doesn’t give Whitman any credibility on the the whole “stop this train!” argument.

      1. But don’t you know Einstein’s definition of insanity? If not Whitman does, and she will tell it to you.

        1. As a general rule, I refuse to believe Albert Einstein, Abe Lincoln, or Mark Twain ever said anything unless there’s clear and incontrovertible evidence of them saying it.

          1. That’s a Mark Twain saying, isn’t it?

            1. Einstein further adapted it adding “Purple monkey dishwasher”, I believe. That’s what I heard Chomsky quote or something.

      2. …since politicians always lie to get elected…..

  14. Why don’t libertarians focus on making government work, rather than tearing it down?

    Go find whoever taught you to “read” and get your money back.

    1. I think Chad is just pissed because a gaggle of his fellow travelers got caught picking the pockets of the residents of Bell, California.

      Hell, we’re lucky we found out their political affiliation in the first place. The press was not exactly racing to be all up-fronty about it.

  15. Here’s another scam that must be stopped: http://texsquixtarblog.blogspot.com

  16. Here’s another scam that must be stopped: Google “Tex Amway Blog.”

  17. I’m not sure what Tony is getting at by tearing it down, there is a proud liberal/progressive tradition in exposing government corruption (think classic muckraking, or who was behind things like FOIA laws). That’s not tearing government down, it’s keeping them honest…

    1. Agree, but the tradition has slways focused on corruption involving money funneled to the evil rich or the killing of brown people somewhere.

      NTTAWWT, but exposing union corruption or anything involving the poor or “hard working folks” ain’t exactly their baliwick.

      1. How do you figure that? The origins of “progressivism” were steeped in exposure of and opposition to government corrpution like that exemplified in Tammany Hall. Early progressivism especially was rooted in “good government” movements dedicated to supporting middle class efforts to prevent government corruption.

        1. Modern-day “progressivism” has little in common with early 20th century progressivism. Other than a penchant for meddling in other people’s business and complete ignorance of unintended consequences.

          What is it with you guys appropriating other movements’ labels?

          1. Don’t forget eugenics.

            1. You know who else supported eugenics?

              1. Evil Chekhov?

                1. The Spock with the goatee?

          2. “Modern-day “progressivism” has little in common with early 20th century progressivism.”

            You need to have a conversation with Glenn Beck, for starters…

            1. Either way, progressivism is just as evil as far-right conservativism.

              1. Christ-fag Rush Limbaughite.

                1. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!

            2. You need to have a conversation with Glenn Beck, for starters…

              No thanks. Nice selective quotation though.

    2. How FOIA-friendly is the Obama admin, MNG? Any better than Bush?

      I doubt if such is the case.

      1. And many progressives feel quite betrayed by these actions of Obama. LBJ signed the first federal FOIA laws, an effort led by a liberal US Congressman (Moss). Exposing government corruption is part of our tradition as liberals.

        1. And yet you’ll still vote for him in 2012, and vote for an Obama-friendly Congress in 2010.

          1. “And yet you’ll still vote for him in 2012, and vote for an Obama-friendly Congress in 2010.”

            Wow, Tulpa is an Austrian who can actually predict human behavior in the future!

            1. Notice MNG didn’t deny that he will be voting for Obama in 2012.

              1. That election is years away. I can imagine scenarios where I vote for Obama and ones where I would not. It largely depends on what the other alternatives are.

                BTW-I am not voting for Obama friendly candidates this year, so Tulpa’s reverse Austrian prediction is in fact wrong there. You know what they say about assumming…

                1. I’m keeping the link to this post. See you in 2012.

        2. I agree that liberals have often exposed corruption — fifty, sixty years ago. Nowadays, with liberal-progressives firmly in charge, there is a current of corruption that runs widely and deeply at all levels of government. They have carved out their niches and will not police themselves. You can’t just blame it on the other guys, ’cause the other guys participate in the same game. And you will continue to vote for the same crowd again even though your feelings were “quite betrayed”. Sorry.

        3. Politicians will do what they need to, when their backs are up against the wall, to retain or obtain power. Heck, Ted Kennedy was a key supporter of the deregulation that took place under Carter. But when the heat comes off of them, they are back to their rapacious ways.

        4. Oh you. Don’t leave out how LBJ fought FOIA tooth and nail. Or how Moss couldn’t get the time of day for his pet legislation until Donald Rumsfeld came on board as a co-sponsor.

          Then LBJ decided to throw himself a little sulk-fest by not even having a signing ceremony for FOIA.

          Isn’t history fun?

  18. … public safety employees — who are generally held in high regard by the public and whose jobs even many libertarians consider necessary — are bankrupting local and state governments all over the country. And they’ve got all the guns.

    The old get old
    And the young get stronger
    May take a week
    And it may take longer
    They got the guns
    But we got the numbers
    Gonna win, yeah
    We’re takin’ over
    Come on!

    😉

    1. ….less and less high regard as the numbers of six-figure firefighters and cops with spiked pensions keep leaking out. But the reform has to come from the politician who has the huevos to say NO MORE. In Cali-land Jerry Brown has forever colluded with the public-sector unions, and whether or not eMeg has the huevos to defy them, I don’t really know. Terminator Ahnold did not.

      1. don’t get started on the seven-figure annuities.

  19. their vision of a more responsible government

    That was good for chuckle. Thanks.

    Ah yes, the “good liberals.” You know, people who want to make the gas chambers run more efficiently and do less harm to the environment.

    These people are reflexive backers of government power and apologists for every kind of state-sponsored stomping on the face of humanity. We’d all be better off if they’d never been born.

  20. Urban legend has it that all this was exposed because the city managers refused to replace a set of tires on a cop car…the cop knew the city government was literally swimming in money and blew the whistle.

    Maybe this will be like pulling the finger out of the little hole in the dike. (no jokes on that one, please)

    1. no lesbo?

      1. It’s just that I know how all the reason jokers are thinking.

      2. No homo has its place, but no lesbo is just wrong. Stop crushing our sexual fantasies.

  21. In the public sector, government workers bargain with other government workers over YOUR money … and with the added bonus that the government workers who are labelled “labor” can then contribute to and vote for those “management” government workers who play ball with them. A particularly significant incentive when you consider that the vast majority of those who vote in a typical municipal election are municipal workers and their families.

    Yes.

    And don’t forget- in the private sector, there is a very real limit to what bargains may be made; unsustainable wage contracts will result (except in cases such as Government Motors) in the eventual failure and breakup of the business.

    Governments just forcibly extract more money from the taxpayers.

    1. Precisely. The resident statist lick-spittle, whose alias I shall not even repeat here, seems to have left out this tiny detail in his pathetic attempts to justify government rape of the non-government sector by comparing it with the way things are done in corporate governance. I can divest myself of a corporation. If only I could divest myself of government. And its apologists.

  22. “In the public sector, government workers bargain with other government workers over YOUR money …”

    You mean, the way executive compensation is negotiated by and among other executives who serve on boards of directors?

    Yes, I am liking that argument more and more…Let’s now move on to major league sports where general managers who are former players negotiate with players.

    Maybe we’ll get to a discussion of a maximum wage law. Now that will be fun on this website…:-)

    My advice to the folks out there who whine about public employee unions: Start a union yourself…

    1. If there are flaws in the way that exec compensation is set in this country, and I for one believe that to be the case, … does that somehow detract from the claim that government unions are robbing us blind and that this practice needs to stop?

    2. A maximum wage is infinitely more evil a concept than the minimum wage, which isn’t exactly a good idea itself…

      IOW, only a goddamned fool advocates for a maximum wage.

  23. Oh, and for those who say “Oh, the government is taking my tax money by force,” there is a solution too. It’s called getting more people to vote for people who will drive a harder negotiating line with the unions. I find it amusing that conservatives in government in San Diego and Orange County, where I live and used to live, were the ones who made the worst (from a taxpayer perspective) deals with the unions. They did it to buy the public employee union support for the developer friends who funded the election of those conservatives.

    My liberal activist friends and I who are so isolated found this rather amusing over the years, and we often say we’d ironically be tougher with those unions because we believe in a larger community value. Oh well. We’re just a bunch of “statists” to the various commenters on this comment board.

    1. “we often say we’d ironically be tougher with those unions because we believe in a larger community value.”

      Bullshit. Your political stripe has spent several decades implementing a overbearing, palm-greasing, blackmailing bureaucratic political complex that’s degraded trust bonds between neighbors and torn communities apart. You still think that “what’s the matter with Kansas” is that they won’t conform to your Homo Economicus view of humanity, when the actual issue is the whole idea of what a community is and how it should function both economically AND socially.

      Please don’t flatter yourselves by pretending that you’re in favor of an exponentially smaller complex that would be run the “the correct people” and “be more fair.” Just because you happened to live in a city populated by Team Red politicians doesn’t automatically mean you would actually change how the system operated. As Los Angeles shows, you’d likely ramp it up even farther.

      Perhaps those Team Red friends of yours live in the gated communities because they’d rather be left in peace, than harangued by your Team Blue friends about how they are a bunch of heternormative bigots for not wanting to live in the same wastelands that your Team Blue friends were front and center in helping to create.

    2. So if you got mugged and your wallet got stolen, your solution would be to vote for people who promise to be tough on crime. Seems a bit indirect, compared to say, I don’t know, saying that you have the right to your property and that the thief be apprehended and your money returned.

  24. Private-sector unions have and adversarial relationship with management, and are always seeking sympathy and support from the public. Public-sector unions sleep with the “management” and generally have a big “fuck you” attitude toward the public.

    Corrupt statists are not good or bad statists depending on your political party. They’re just plain corrupt. I am amused that you and your isolated group of gated-community friends find it amusing that Republicans can also be part of the corrupt game. Expand your horizons, look around, do your own grocery shopping.

    1. I guess you don’t want to deal with the point that corporate executives’ salaries are negotiated with other corporate executives who serve on boards of directors. Maybe you are the one who needs to expand your horizons.

      Oh, and my wife and I do our own grocery shopping, thank you, and none of the ones I know live in a gated community (the Republican friends of mine do, so maybe you need to talk with them). What I mean by isolated is we are one of the few Democrats in Republican strongholds.

      1. Ah, but shareholders can more easily punish executives who blow their money than taxpayers can. If you want to change our system so that voters get as many votes as they pay in taxes, then you can compare it to the corporate world. Otherwise, go pound sand.

        1. “Ah, but shareholders can more easily punish executives who blow their money than taxpayers can.”

          Tulpa

          What % of “shareholder revolts” against management selected boards are successful, eh?

          1. What % of “shareholder revolts” against management selected boards are successful, eh?

            Quite a larger percentage than successful voter revolts against corruption in politics. Ask Carly Fiorina about delivering the bottom line.

            Besides, it’s not just the shareholders that need to be persuaded – it’s the possible shareholders that will set the price of the share.

            Unlike the government, where everyone is a shareholder, and cannot opt out.

          2. Also… If you’re a share-holder and you don’t like the direction a company is going, then you can certainly sell your shares and invest elsewhere.

            Rather than go to the annual shareholder’s meeting or write letters, then you can simply leave the arrangement, taking your money with you and lowering the value of the company. It’s really way easier…

            I can’t very well leave the arrangement I didn’t even agree to with governments around the world. And unless i want to be thrown in jail, I can’t take my tax money and go home.

      2. That is not the issue here at all Mitchell. The issue is that we taxpayers are forced to participate in this system without being given any control over it. In the private market, you are not forced to participate in ownership of any company, and if you do choose to participate, you can always leave if the company is not turning out the way you want.

        1. ” The issue is that we taxpayers are forced to participate in this system without being given any control over it.”

          Absurd, taxpayers pick the agents periodically. They are called elections, and they actually are less incumbent friendly than the ones in the corporate board world.

          1. Really? You mean we get to choose which agent will rob us? Wow MNG, I see the light now!

            Also, could you please address my actual point, which was that we don’t have a choice whether or not to participate.

            If I vote, I get “represented” by a thief. If I don’t vote, I get “represented” by a thief. And you think representation in our government means anything?

          2. Shareholders can sell their stocks. I can’t opt-out of a corrupt government.

            Consumers can choose not to buy from a corrupt corporation, I can not choose not to be a part of a corrupt government.

            There is a fundamental difference.

            1. In MitchellWorld, you just need to bend over and become part of the collective. At gunpoint, if necessary.

      3. No, I don’t want to address executive compensation in this forum. And I was just making light-hearted fun at your own self-deprecating humor about your “so isolated” friends. And I’m glad you shop for your own groceries — at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, I’m sure — they have good stuff.

      4. I guess you don’t want to deal with the point that corporate executives’ salaries are negotiated with other corporate executives who serve on boards of directors.

        Mitchell, I think many here are actually ignorant of that fact. They live in a naive world where management simply represent the best interests of shareholders while riding unicorns to breakfast with King Arthur…It’s an Austrian fairy tale I guess, at the end the sleeping beauty gets a kiss from Prince von Mises…

        1. and MNG is a cardboard cut-out character from a Rand novel.

        2. Mitchell, I think many here are actually ignorant of that fact.

          Has anyone here disagreed with that statement? The point is that no one is forcing you to be a shareholder. Anyone who doesn’t like how a company is being run can choose to not be a shareholder, can choose to not support that company. That means the company has an incentive to make shareholders happy, or they go out of business. Does the government give a shit about that? No, the government will continue on no matter what it does, because you are forced to support it and pay for it. Sure, individual politicians can get voted in and out, but that has no effect on the health of the government itself. The government will go on no matter which politician gets elected. It has no incentive to make us happy. It has no incentive to check itself and enforce rules on itself. Only the politicians who fear they’ll be out of a job have an incentive to make people happy, but that has nothing to do with checks and rules on the entire government, just on that politician.

          1. The government will go on no matter which politician gets elected.

            I think, unfortunately, that this might not be as guaranteed as it once was.

          2. Heller, the executive over compensation is pervasive. It’s not like I should go to Ford instead of GM. Same with Apple or Microsoft, and of course, the billionaire members of the Walton family and their incredibly well paid execs…

            This overall argument is all rather silly since the pensions are not bankrupting government if we actually look at the percentages of the government spending compared to what is needed to spend on the pensions in any reasonable shorter run. In CA, where I live, public pensions “eat up” 2% of the budget. Prison spending has gone from 3% to 10% of a growing state budget in the past 15 years. Yet, where is the movement to reform our ridiculous 3 strikes initiative to make it only apply to 3rd felony strikes that are violent, not for drug possession? Where is the same passion for that, compared to beating up public employees, including the police and fire fighters?

            Again, people would find that more liberals would be wanting to get tougher on unions’ pensions than they think. Someone on the thread mentioned Los Angeles County, which is far more liberal. They don’t have the problems San Diego and Orange County have on pensions, and even those counties’ problems are not insolvable or as dire as people think.

            I also think there is a jealousy factor that should be noted in all this handwringing and venom against public employees…Like I say, bitching about this pension stuff? Maybe we should be more willing to consider unions for the private sector again instead of beating up our fellow workers in the public sphere.

            1. C’mon, Mitch, man up and just say it:

              “I, Mitchell Freedman, believe that everyone with a job, should be forced to join a union and, as a bonus, have a portion of their dues go to the Democratic Party, exclusively, as one-party rule is the only salvation for a free America – that, along with forcing everyone to buy health insurance.”

              G’head, you’ll feel better once you let it all out.

              1. See Mitchell, this is how fundamentalist in any religion think. You don’t agree with every little point they believe in, so you are equivalent to a Satanist. Black and white, Manichean thinking…

            2. Heller, the executive over compensation is pervasive. It’s not like I should go to Ford instead of GM. Same with Apple or Microsoft, and of course, the billionaire members of the Walton family and their incredibly well paid execs…

              Hmmm, so you want their products but you don’t want to pay them (because they have two much moneyz!!!111), is that what you’re trying to tell me?

              I’d be fine with public workers getting paid exorbitant sums of money, but only if their salary was actually a result of people voluntarily buying their services, not being forced to pay for their services. You should have no reason to whine about corporate execs getting payed alot, since you decided to pay them. Their salary represents your and everyone else’s decision to make that company rich. The same cannot be said for the public sector.

              This overall argument is all rather silly since the pensions are not bankrupting government if we actually look at the percentages of the government spending compared to what is needed to spend on the pensions in any reasonable shorter run.

              What? Since when did the argument become about deficits? So far I have been arguing that we should not be forced to pay for these government workers’ big salaries. Deficits are a completely separate argument.

              Yet, where is the movement to reform our ridiculous 3 strikes initiative to make it only apply to 3rd felony strikes that are violent, not for drug possession? Where is the same passion for that, compared to beating up public employees, including the police and fire fighters?

              Right, we are so focussing on public pensions. Libertarians barely give any thought to the war on drugs and justice system reform.

              Don’t make me laugh.

              I also think there is a jealousy factor that should be noted in all this handwringing and venom against public employees…Like I say, bitching about this pension stuff? Maybe we should be more willing to consider unions for the private sector again instead of beating up our fellow workers in the public sphere.

              This has nothing to do with jealousy. Like I said before, I would be fine with them negotiating huge salaries IF we actually had a choice in the matter. That said, if we did have a choice in the matter, they would be paid the same as private sector workers. What private sectors get paid is a result of a voluntary system (except for when the government interferes, obviously). We have every right to be angry (which you misinterpreted as jealousy) that we are being forced to pay for higher salaries than what would result from a voluntary system.

              1. “Their salary represents your and everyone else’s decision to make that company rich.”

                I still submit that it is naive to think executive salaries necessarily reflect the excellence of the products and services the enterprises they manage put out. Like there are no cases of over-valued executive compensation due to systematic principal-agent problems….It’s this kind of simplistic thinking that seems rampant among libertarians, even the more thoughtful ones like heller, that has always made me glad I’m not one…I guess it makes the world a simpler place to live in and make sense in to think in such a way, but too much is sacrificed for that peace of mind imo…

                1. I still submit that it is naive to think executive salaries necessarily reflect the excellence of the products and services the enterprises they manage put out.

                  Ah, but that’s not what I said. Their high salaries represent everyone’s decision to make their company rich.

                  1. Why does no one ever seem to grasp the concept that a product’s “excellence” is not the issue at all – but rather that product’s value to the bulk of consumers?

                    Personally I consider a highly valued product, regardless of what it is, an “excellent” one, even when it’s something I don’t personally use – but MNG always confuses that with his own idea of what’s good and what isn’t. What he thinks is irrelevant. If 100,000,000 people decide it’s worth $20 for a brand new Iron Man 2 DVD, then the makers, distributors, and producers of that DVD are going to find $2 Billion in revenue in their pockets… End of story.

                    If you didn’t like Iron Man 2, that’s your own business, but Robert Downey Jr.’s salary definitely isn’t.

          3. Government, or rather administrations, have every incentive to at least keep a majority of voters happy, in fact they have the exact same incentive that CEO’s have: their jobs. Conceptualizing “governments” while ignoring the actual, particular administrations which constitute the government at any point at time is where I think you are making your mistake Heller. The latter are the actors at ANY point of time, and so it is the incentives relevant to them that matter.

            1. MNG, try reading a little more than the first sentence. What is the incentive for the government to give more control or voluntary choice to the people? Individual politicians, as I said try to make people happy, but this is not the same thing as making the system more voluntary, more free. In the private sector, the system is voluntary from the start, and this isn’t changed by anything a CEO does.

              Conceptualizing “governments” while ignoring the actual, particular administrations which constitute the government at any point at time is where I think you are making your mistake Heller. The latter are the actors at ANY point of time, and so it is the incentives relevant to them that matter.

              Didn’t I specifically point out the difference between the government system and the individual agents that come and go? I could have sworn I wrote about that, but I guess since MNG says I didn’t he must be right.

              As I said before, the government system doesn’t change in any meaningful way, no matter who is in charge at any point in time. The system is and always has been involuntary. Things change relative to individual administrations, but not anything important. Not anything that has to do with the system itself.

  25. I’d be happy if negotiating with public sector unions were outlawed. Call it a limitation of government. The cops and the paper pushers could still form a union/fraternal organization, but the government would be prohibited from entering into collective bargaining with them.

    It works for the Army

    1. …would be a start.

      1. Yes, let’s go back to the old days…and maybe every libertarian should read the recent historical novel, “The Given Day” by Dennis Lahane. It was as good as a history book in helping understand what might be wrong with not allowing any unions for public employees.

        1. A historical novel? Are you serious? That’s the evidence you’re giving?

          1. Do you expect any better of someone who perma-links Dr.Pauly Krugnuts?

            Fiction. Reality. It’s all good.

          2. I just thought it was entertaining and yet educational in dealing with the Boston Police Strike of 1919 and the government response against the police officers who struck–and about the horrible conditions and terms of employment they endured. It’s not something completely divorced from reality, like say, “Atlas Shrugged.”

            1. Mitchell, I’d suggest you read The Road to Serfdom, but you’d probably just dismiss it as out-of-handly as you dismiss Rand.

              But, hey, if you want to continue to believe in the almighty power of statism, that’s your right. In fact, it’s okay to believe in the concept – it’s the implementation that should be illegal.

            2. I’m going to guess you never read Atlas Shrugged, otherwise you would know it was about striking.

              1. Mitchell was *told* to hate Rand’s work.
                He’s just… following orders.

      2. The whole raison d’etre for unions is to protect the workers from being exploited by their evil greedy capitalist employers.

        This is a non seqitur in regards to employment by an elected government represening the people.

        1. Try again, J sub D. It is a non-sequitur in theory, not in reality. Without a union, the time will come when their salaries will lag, their benefits will disappear, and their overtime pay will go away. It is the way of the world, and the way of us human beings. Regulation and unions have their own issues and challenges, but getting rid of regulations and unions won’t change human nature, either.

          1. Have you looked at un-unionized (by law) military compensation?

            If so, please explain.

            1. Yes, and I find it interesting that their pay does lag. And the VA can run from great to horrific. And to the extent the other areas of government service are in fact unionized, their pay is undoubtedly better than it would be if all branches of government were without unions.

          2. Without a union, the time will come when their salaries will lag, their benefits will disappear, and their overtime pay will go away.

            Maybe they should look for a job in the private sector, then.

            1. According to the AFSCME, they’d be getting a pay raise if they did that today. That doesn’t explain the lower turnover rates for government employees compared to the private sector. In fact the lower turnover rate for government employees indicates the opposite. That is, total compensation (plus job security) in the public sector is better than the compensation received by the people paying for it.

            2. Mitchell Freedman,

              What level of government do you work for anyway?
              No need to be specific, Federal, State, County, or City?

              1. You folks are full of assumptions, aren’t you?

                I have been a private sector person all my adult life. I worked in a public library as a “page” putting away books and straightening shelves for a few years in high school and part of college.

                Projection city for you guys. If it is not about your life, you have no empathy for others and so you assume I am a public employee.

                1. That’s because you SOUND like a public employee, Mitch.

                2. Isn’t this an assumption too?

                  If it is not about your life, you have no empathy for others

                  Oooh those meany libertarians! They’re against taxation and welfare, therefore they must hate poor people and charity!

                3. You didn’t respond to the fact that public employees can seek private sector employment if their jobs cease to be rewarding.

          3. Cartelizations.

            It’s not okay when owners do it, but when labor does it, why, it’s just hunky dory.

          4. Without a union, the time will come when their salaries will lag, their benefits will disappear, and their overtime pay will go away

            So? Their salaries should lag because they’re too high. Their benefits should “disappear” (or, rather, have larger employee contributions). Overtime pay should be extremely limited, especially in states like California where the abuse is enough to double some people’s take-home pay. Only the most tribalist Democrat could believe that a policeman should start at $80k with full medical and a pension allowing them to retire in 30 years at full, inflation-adjusted, final year pay. That was the case in Oakland, and cops there aren’t even effective.

        2. J sub
          I’ve seen you make this argument before, and am always puzzled by it. I know you, and I know you believe that governments don’t have their citizens best interests at heart, and so citizens must be vigilant in dealing with their government. Why would that be any less true in situations where government is your employer? Hence public employee unions. With some irony the motive behind public unions is a belief that government’s are often heavy-handed and non-beneficent that is shared by libertarians…

          1. I’ve seen you make this argument before, and am always puzzled by it.

            That surprises me not one iota.

          2. “Why would that be any less true in situations where government is your employer? Hence public employee unions.”

            Because “the government” doesn’t pay their salaries, benefits, and pensions–the taxpayers do. And every time public sector employees scream for ever-growing revenues in these three areas, they are effectively declaring financial war on taxpayers.

            Just as the private sector cannot assume that growth will continue forever, so must public sector unions learn to accept this mathematical fact. Unfortunately, they are largely incapable of doing so, and act as if these things are a birthright rather than a function of the fiscal health of their community.

  26. “I fully recognize this btw as I currently live in Maryland, a very corrupt state one party (D) ruled state (those two things go together a lot imo), so I know. Probably my biggest reason for supporting Ehrlich is just to keep the corrupt state Democratic party honest…If I lived in the Deep South the reverse would be true…”

    In minge’s alternate reality, Georgia and South Carolina are the only Deep South states.

  27. These results are an obvious consequence of the incentive structure in public employment. At lease in the private sector, opposing union demands is a management with other very real concerns: being able to charge a competitive price, expanding the business (via hiring, R&D, etc), making a profit, and all these things provide a strong incentive for management to hold the line on giving away ever more lavish union contracts. And of course there is the ultimate limit on giveaways — the union knows there won’t be any benefits if they drive the company out of business. The market after all is a final arbiter of whether what you’re doing is worthwhile.

    WIth the public sector there are none of those counterweights to union demands. Most public managers don’t have any reason to really oppose ever greater benefits and many reasons to actually support them. They don’t have any immediate profit worries, their jobs are secure no matter how much they give away and they know the budgeting process will reward their “growth” with ever increasing budgets. Not only are most of them former public employee union members themselves, but the more those under them make the more likely they are at extracting raises themselves. And of course there is never any fear of actually going out of business.

    Given the obviously warped and unsustainable incentive structure, it’s not at all surprising that public employees are over paid and under worked. I’d say the real wonder is that the system hasn’t collapsed under it’s own weight yet. But it simply can’t continue on forever.

  28. The other day there was a story around here about a high-school principal who had been on paid leave for almost a year (the district wouldn’t say why she was on paid leave). But the most shocking thing (to me) wasn’t that she had been collecting her salary for doing nothing (we’ve heard those stories before) but there her salary was $120,000. Maybe I’m just out of it, but a high-school principal is now a six-figure job? With summers off, no less?? When you throw in her pension and health benefits and pro-rated 9-month job I’m sure that’s really a $200,000 job. No wonder real spending on education has don’t nothing but go up for 40 years. Gotta pay for those administrators BMW’s somehow. The most maddening part is that every time the rate of growth is temporarily slowed even a tiny bit we get nothing but stories of “drastic cuts” to education.

  29. “Why don’t libertarians focus on making government work”

    What the fuck do you think we’ve been doing? Shit, Chad, we only point out on a regular basis how badly the Team Red/Team Blue duopoly is committing massive, daily fail.

    If you can’t bother to pay attention, it’s not our fault.

  30. Oh, and this has to be a future Reason article:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39507182/ns/business-media_biz

    MSNBC’s new “Lean Forward” campaign just begs for derision… as in “…and grab the Astroglide”, which is my way to finish off the network’s new tagline.

    Steve Smith fans, feel free to spoof him into it somehow.

    1. Doesn’t MSNBC know that liberals are too stoned to watch the news? That’s why Fox is ahead, isn’t it?

    2. I mean, you have to be stoned to watch Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz regularly.

      1. There ain’t enough weed in the world to make MSNBC palatable.

    3. To lean forward is to think bigger, listen closer, fight smarter, and to act faster.

      What the hell?

      Aside from “listen closer,” no, no it’s not.

    4. Aside from catching passes for both the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants, who is this Steve Smith? And why does he speak in all-caps?

      (He had a great game for NY today, but he didn’t play for Carolina. I guess there was a scheduling conflict.)

  31. Geez, are all 200 comments about that fat of lump of shit? Fuck him.

    1. Just read Mitchell Freedman’s posts. Good for a laugh.

      1. Mitchell just can’t quite bring himself to condemn these City of Bell creeps.

        1. He’d rather pretend the City of Bell creeps weren’t all Democrats, as denial helps him fuel his belief system.

          1. No, they were Democrats…just not good Democrats.

            1. But the pressing question is, were they true Scotsman?

  32. We got the bad guys, case closed, now let’s move on to more important things. We have potholes to fill and bureaucrats to hire.

  33. It’s too easy to get lost in the details I think. I think the basic problem with employee /compensation/pensions being too high (yes, I do think it is a problem) is the same principal agent problem that corporate scholars have been thinking about for a long time. In both cases you have agents (pols/boards) that are chosen by principals (voters/shareholders) to negotiate in the latter’s interest with employees (management/public employees). In both cases the employees can influence the agents by offering things that would personally benefit them (management plays a large part in selecting boards and public employees can offer votes and support), and so the agent may not negotiate with the best interests of the principal in mind. Now we can get sidetracked on side issues (but you’re not forced to buy shares! some CEO’s own stock! etc) but my point is the problem is of the same nature. And interestingly, without I guess knowing it, most of those I’ve debated here have acknowledged that the problem is not intractable: whatever influence the employees (in both settings) can exert on the agents the principals still retain ultimate control (which is why so many people quickly moved to “but the shareholders can fire the management through the board!!!). My point is that the “pressures” the public employees can exert on the pols have analogies with the pressures the management can exert on the board, but in both cases ultimately nothing is stopping the principals from changing matters: the shareholders can vote out any lousy board which does not choose management that does its duty, and the voters can vote out any pol that does not take care to represent the principals in negotiating public employee salaries.

    It’s the same problem as corporate “influence” over legislatures. You can again try to distinguish them over side issues (corporations can’t deliver votes like unions!), but in both cases you have a group that can exert assistance to agents that cater to them rather than their principal (see, we’re just debating the relative extents of influence of unions vs. corporations, a side issue). But more importantly, in both cases ultimately the principal can provide the ultimate sanction: they can ignore union and corporate influence and vote out agents that do not represent them well.

    What interests me is that libertarians often shrug off calls for restrictions on the ability of corporations to influence legislatures saying “well, people can ignore their ads and such” but when it comes to unions the response is suddenly different. I submit it is just union hate at the heart of that (I guess I can see an argument about the unions being able to muster more voters because of their membership, but for this to carry the day you’d have to show that unions can get their members to vote in blocks that are larger than the possible amount of non-union voters in any district, something no one here has done [because I submit it is not reality]; otherwise ultimately the voters still retain the power to punish agents who put unions needs over voters needs).

    1. MNG, thanks for ignoring my argument. Too inconvenient for you?

      Sure, in both cases people can vote to change things, but that doesn’t mean things will change. The fundamental difference is that you can always opt out of any company. You don’t have to support any company. But you are forced to pay for the government, no matter who you vote for, no matter what you actually want or get from them.

  34. MNG, off-topic, again. Overdone parenthesis and scare-quotes. Newly-added forward slash marks applied in a tasteless manner.

  35. I eagerly await Tim’s expose about the perils of executive/banker compensation. What, you mean there’s a double standard? Shocked

  36. Americans need to upheal against Republican and democrats. The Government is the real cause of inflation, job loss, etc. Both have failed to stand up for American workers! Capitalism has and will always be here. It might be nice if corporations had more social awareness, but they don’t at present. This bad economy affects all Americans with the exceptions of a select few!

    We help Americans move to Asia for jobs and prosperity. Learn more at http://www.pathtoasia.com

  37. they are all heroes. In W’s inauguration speech, he said “we must find a way to pay teachers more”. Both him and Rudy loved to pose with police/firemen. Nobody has tackled this especially Arnold S. who has propsed new hires not get pensions which means than anybody age 50 now will never live to see the benefit

  38. From a financial perspective, safety workers (e.g., those with the 3%@50 pensions in CA, and who can often retire at age 50 with an unreduced pension EVERYWHERE) are the biggest problem.

    Critical steps…..

    (1) Create a lower category of non gun-carrying “officer” (obviously with a MUCH smaller pension) to assist the gun-carrying type.
    (2) Hire ZERO gun-carrying types until attrition brings their count down by 50% in crime-ridden areas, and by 75% everywhere else
    (3) tell the Unions for the gun-carrying type to go “F” themselves if they don’t like it !

  39. Nice that you’re putting so much faith in an organization called CCPP that is, essentially, one guy with a computer and web page.

    Great vetting there.

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