Steven Greenhut: Salary Info Shows Fruits of Union Muscle



The political system, as described in civics textbooks and by legislators, is a temple of democracy, where elected officials solve problems and do the public's work. But, as Nobel-winning economist James M. Buchanan realized, the people who work for government are as motivated by economics as those who work outside of it. They seek power and money within their organizations, just like everyone else. This not-so-glamorous theory helps explain why most of California's long-term financial problems are tied to one source, the unsustainable levels of compensation paid to state and municipal workers. Sacramento budget issues revolve around underfunded public-employee pensions, unfunded retiree medical care and the like. Even other issues, writes Steven Greenhut, like the lack of funds to pay for long-term infrastructure projects, are tied to public-sector compensation.