Government employees

The Crass Chris Example

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A mighty wind's a-blowin'

Seven months (yet several lifetimes) ago, I wrote:

What is your nomination for the most intriguing political story this year? Here's mine: What if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie actually succeeds in paring down the Garden State's runaway public sector, and maintains or even increases his political popularity while doing so?

It's probably still premature to pass judgment on it, but this weekend's big New York Times Magazine profile of Gov. Christie suggests things are going in that direction. Sample:

[A]ccording to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this month, most voters in New Jersey still admire teachers themselves, but only 27 percent have a favorable view of the union, while 44 percent say their view is unfavorable. By contrast, Christie's job approval has been consistently hovering above the 50 percent mark. […]

What the union's leadership seems not to have considered is that public sentiment around budgets and public employees has shifted in a fundamental way. […] [O]ver the last 10 years or so, most American workers have come to expect less by way of benefits and security from their employers. And with political consensus building toward some kind of public-school reform, teachers' unions in particular have lost credibility with the public. Forty­six percent of voters in a poll conducted by Stanford and the Associated Press last September said teachers' unions deserved either "a great deal" or "a lot" of blame for the problems of public schools. […]

Last year alone, 18 states either raised the pension-contribution levels for public employees or reduced benefits for their retirees, according to Susan Urahn, the managing director of the Pew Center for the States. Three states — South Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota — decided to eliminate cost-of-living raises for state workers who have already retired. […] Illinois raised its retirement age to 67, and Vermont, Michigan and Utah introduced "hybrid" retirement plans that are a step away from the defined-benefit pension plans that were the standard for much of the 20th century. […]

[N]ot only are public employees' contracts no longer untouchable for any politician who wants to stay in office, but it turns out that the opposite is true; taking the fight to the unions is a good way to bolster your credentials as a gutsy reformer with voters who have been losing faith for years in public schools and government bureaucracies.

This, more than anything else, is the lesson that Chris Christie has impressed on his contemporaries. The question now, and what a lot of these other governors are watching to see, is whether Christie can convert his anti-union riffs into a revised social contract for public servants. While he has enacted several pivotal pieces of his agenda, Christie has yet to pass more than a handful of the measures in his toolkit. This year will mark a major test of his staying power.

Whole thing here.

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  1. Forty?six percent of voters in a poll conducted by Stanford and the Associated Press last September said teachers’ unions deserved either “a great deal” or “a lot” of blame for the problems of public schools. […]

    Who cares? We don’t work for “the people”, we work for the Teachers.

    1. They’re not teachers. If they were, more than 1/3 of students entrusted to them would be able to read their own language proficiently.

      1. Teachers get too much credit and too much blame. 99% of how well a child can read has to do with the parents and natural aptitude or lack thereof.

        1. Teachers get too much credit and too much blame. 99% of how well a child can read has to do with the parents and natural aptitude or lack thereof.

          The above study was payed for by the thieving teachers union.

          And by study they mean bullshit they pulled out of their ass.

        2. So then I should be getting some of my kids’ teachers’ pensions, right?

  2. “And with political consensus building toward some kind of public-school reform, teachers’ unions in particular have lost credibility with the public”

    well good grief – all we ever here is “a nation at risk” and how important edumacation are. 30 years, or go back to spudnik, and its 130 years. More and More money and the same results….than teachers say they can’t really change attitudes…

    I didn’t learn anything from my teachers – and a few were borderline psychotic And a good deal I read in textbooks was unadulerated bullsh*t.

    1. But how are we gonna catch the Russians and Win the Future? if we don’t pour ever more money down the Learning Hole!!!

      This is our Sputnik momement! Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik!

      1. Sputnik beeped for a while then burned up.

        1. Then we need MOOOOOAAAR MONEY for education!

        2. History|2.28.11 @ 12:44PM|#
          “Sputnik beeped for a while then burned up.”

          Sounds like a Russian computer.

          1. In Russia, computer reboots you.

  3. many more kids should be vocationally tracked like most advanced democracies. college prep is useless for academic sub-average students.

    1. Re: OhioOrrin,

      many more kids should be vocationally tracked like most advanced democracies.

      I write in incomplete sentences public school taught me.

    2. Actually, this is the first post of yours on which we can agree.

      1. I don’t agree. Kids should choose to be whatever tracked, in a competitive market. Dropout tracked if they want.

        1. because dropouts have such a bright future.

          1. “because dropouts have such a bright future.”

            Yeah, and that future gets much brighter forcing them to stay in school constantly failing, doesn’t it?
            Sorry, there are kids who are not capable of high-school-level scholastics, and they’re not going to get better.
            Nor is it your or my place to tell them what to do.

            1. so u dont believe children should be told what to do? obviously u have no kids. and many kids futures would be brighter w a vocational education.

              1. Have you ever tried telling a high school student what to do?

                1. Have you ever tried telling a high school student what to do?

                  I have seen parents do it…including my own when I was that age.

                  And 9 times out of 10 the high school student does what they fuck they are told.

                  Of course the student will bitch endlessly about it but that is to be expected.

                  In almost every culture since the beginning of time poeple have called this behavior “growing up”.

                  They have also called the ability to take the constant bitching of high school age children in stride as “being an adult”.

                  1. They have also called the ability to take the constant bitching of high school age children in stride as “being an adult”.

                    THIS.

                    Too many parents want to be their children’s “friend” or buddy, and are afraid to be “mean.” You end up with a kid with a massive sense of entitlement and not a whit of discipline, because there is no adult in the relationship – just a chronologically-aged person trying to be a teenager and be a pal to their teenage child.

                2. raising two as a single parent. u pick ur battles.

                  1. “raising two as a single parent. u pick ur battles.”

                    u meen like splling n punchuashin n shit

                3. Have you ever tried telling a high school student what to do?

                  Yes, I do so on almost a daily basis. She’s my daughter, she has to do what I tell her. She knows that by now.

                  I hate to invoke a Yoda quote, but it is completely apropos here: “There is no try. Do or do not.”

                  You don’t “Try” to tell your high schooler what do to – you just do it. Hopefully by the time they’re 16, they have learned that there are consequences for ignoring their parents.

              2. Some parents don’t care if their own kids drop out. In fact, there may even be a handful who do not want their kids in school for whatever reason, whether it’s so they can work or not be indoctrinated or whatever. Should the state compel them to go to school against the wishes of their parents?

              3. PFC Dipshit making serious policy recommendations for the educational system in his 13-year-old girl text message-speak is over the top; this has to be a spoof.

                thx oo u make me laf lol omg wtf!one

                1. all i said was more kids should be vocationally tracked. keep attacking the messenger

                  1. keep attacking the messenger

                    Don’t mind if we do.

                  2. All right, you say that more kids should vocationally tracked, by what metric do you propose we use to place students?

                    1. comprehensive skills & proficiency testing starting in 8th grade along w interviews of the kids & parents. the vocational tracking starts in 9th grade. again most advanced democracies do exactly this. vocational jobs like masonery, plumbing, electrical, etc cannot be exported & will remain relevant for decent-paying careers.

                    2. What the hell is an “advanced democracy”?

                      The last thing we need here is a democracy. We live in a republic, not a democracy, and hopefully it will stay that way.

                  3. Ohio O-O,

                    We might have a slightly less difficult time taking anything you say seriously if you actually used complete fucking sentences, capitalization, punctuation, etc., instead of teenage text speak.

                    1. royal we? weeeeeeeeeeee

                    2. Skills tests are a way to measure a metric, and not a metric in themselves.

                    3. royal we? weeeeeeeeeeee

                      stupid shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

                  4. Re: OhioOrrin,

                    all i said was more kids should be vocationally tracked.

                    Something like tracking a dog that went to obedience school to see if he still shits on the carpet? Why can’t owners (or parents in the other case) do that themselves?

                    […] tracked like most advanced democracies[.]

                    Which gives a very creepy image of life inside those “advanced democracies.”

          2. Re: Mainer,

            because dropouts have such a bright future.

            Yeah, well – why spoil a good thing by going to school?

            http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/…..naire.html

    3. “many more kids should be vocationally tracked like most advanced democracies. college prep is useless for academic sub-average students.”

      How about “we” don’t *tell* them, “we” *allow* them and their parents a choice in the matter?

      1. As long as their precious snowflake doesn’t hold back the rest of class because he can’t keep up.

        1. “As long as their precious snowflake doesn’t hold back the rest of class because he can’t keep up.”

          Exactly the reason that grading should include “F”s.

    4. Yeah, I actually agree with you on this one. Half the problem with education is assuming that there is a problem to be solved. Giving little Johnny Retard the best in STEM education is going to result in wasting the time of a lot of teachers and a lot of taxpayer money, and that’s about it.

    5. I mostly agree with you too. Except no one should “be tracked”. But vocational education should be encouraged more. There is definitely way too much focus on college prep in high school.

      1. Forget about vocational schools. I want technical schools that can teach one how to redo your deck, install your electric lights and fix your toilets, so as to make hash of all those licensed (i.e. unionized by proxy) contractors and plumbers!

        I am sure OO would just love that!

  4. Forty?six percent of voters in a poll conducted by Stanford and the Associated Press last September said teachers’ unions deserved either “a great deal” or “a lot” of blame for the problems of public schools.

    The blame is entirely misplaced. Unions contribute to the unwarrated high level of compensation for teachers and for making termination much more difficult. But public schools fail because they were NEVER MEANT to succeed in the first place – at least, if by “success” you think academic achievement, lifelong thinking skills and knowledge. Public schooling was meant to create a cadre of sub-standard thinkers/toilers that would uncritically accept the government’s claptrap, and in THAT regard it has achieved even the most sanguine of expectations. It is the greatest triumph of the Progressives.

    1. Isn’t our system explicitly based on the Prussian model ?

      1. That can’t be. We’re not allowed to beat the kinder into total submission.

    2. I’ve also taken to always refering to public schools as “government schools”. It annoys some, but it makes them think.

  5. The question now, and what a lot of these other governors are watching to see, is whether Christie can convert his anti-union riffs into a revised social contract for public servants.

    I think it’s much simpler than this; they are watching to see if he can get re-elected, because that’s the only outcome that which matters.

  6. that

    Fucking editing- how does it work?

  7. I like it when the teachers’ unions and their shills say, “You can’t qualitatively rank teachers, because it’s too hard, and look at all those variables, but if you ask them, “Well, if that’s true, why should we pay them anything more than standard babysitters’ rates?” they get all blustery and offended.

  8. Not sure what your point is, other than to call notice to a lengthy article about Christie in the NY Times. But if you read the online version, you will also see that over 1000 (one thousand) people have weighed in with their opinions. Curiously, some claim it was a puff piece, others feel it was an attack. But most of the comments seem to be from people who feel that Christie is not unlike last year’s model, Sarah Palin, in that although he has only been in office for a year, already many are anointing him as the Chosen One.
    The more you know about Christie, the more you realize that he has done very little– except stop anything that might cost money. The only exception to that was $272 million to complete construction of yet another casino in Atlantic City, despite the fact that the current AC casinos continue to report major declines in revenue and attendance.

    1. “the more you realize that he has done very little– except stop anything that might cost money.”

      Sounds like he’s on the right track.

  9. The heated controversy over public employee collective bargaining is a clear indicator that something is amiss. What should be clear is that the fault does not lie with the unions, nor even with the right of such employees to collective bargaining, a right that exists throughout the private sector. But there is something wrong with the system. Let us look for a moment to see how the private sector works.

    Samual Gompers, who founded the AFofL, was asked what he wanted for his members. His answer: “More.” Let us take him as a qualified voice for those in both public and private workforces. Let us also allow that there may be a limit to how much “More”. The UAW wants More from Ford Motor, and they enter into collective bargaining. Ford management considers many factors, but chief among them must be, “how much more can we afford?” Should the UAW get too much, something’s gotta give. Return to stockholders, in the form of dividends or appreciation in stock values, is one place. Another, is in holding down labor costs through strategies such as automation. But at some point price increases are the last resort to cover increased hourly costs. What then? Maybe we all go buy Hondas.

    But “we” can’t go elsewhere for firemen, policemen, teachers or all the others in the public sector, except to move to a lower tax state. Of course, many do just that. Then “we” have many roles: taxpayer, voter, public service customer. In the election of our government officials we delegate the types of decisions faced by corporate management. Perhaps there’s the rub.

    Our government officials are either politicians, or controlled by politicians. They have power, and one of our oldest adages is that power corrupts. It’s to be expected. That corruption affects the collective bargaining in the public sector. How can we fix it?

    Absent going elsewhere, we must find a way to make the officials more responsive to our wishes. They must negotiate labor costs more in line with what we feel is a fair price for services received, or we must move on to Hondaland. How can that be addressed?

    My suggestion is to make labor contracts in the public sector expire at, or shortly after, elections. Then place on the ballot union demands and public officials’ best offers. We vote on which to adopt, and it becomes the basis for the contract. It’s returning the decision on these contracts to a referendum. Of course, we may not feel the official offer is acceptable. What the? Well, elsewhere on the ballot are the elected officials names. If we are dissatisfied, we have plenty of opportunity to change those too.

    This might even improve the performance of the public sector workforce, along with improving the methods of delivering that performance.

    Why not give it a try?

    1. “…My suggestion is to make labor contracts in the public sector expire at, or shortly after, elections. Then place on the ballot union demands and public officials’ best offers….”

      Doesn’t solve the conflict of interest.
      Let’s watch the handoffs on our slo-mo:
      See the money taken from the taxpayer? Right there.
      Now, watch as the unions and the “representatives” “negotiate” to move that money and more into union pay and benefits, there. See that?
      Next, watch some of that money returns to the pockets of the “representatives” who were supposedly “negotiating” with the unions at the one minute mark.
      Wonderful camera work!
      You may not be able to buy elections, but you can sure mobilize voters if those voters are government workers.

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