Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Real greed is when adults force children to give them a bailout from debt

This is a must-read by Mark Steyn.

Excerpt:

While President Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand new, even more unsustainable entitlement at the health care “summit,” thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split screen – because they’re part of the same story. It’s just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They’re at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is further upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter 20 (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter 17 or 18.

What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1, or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: 10 grandparents have six kids have four grandkids – i.e., the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 “lowest-low” fertility – the point from which no society has ever recovered. And compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when 10 grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?

By the way, you don’t have to go to Greece to experience Greek-style retirement: The Athenian “public service” of California has been metaphorically face-down in the ouzo for a generation. Still, America as a whole is not yet Greece. A couple of years ago, when I wrote my book “America Alone,” I put the Social Security debate in a bit of perspective: On 2005 figures, projected public pensions liabilities were expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of GDP. In Greece, the figure was 25 percent. In other words, head for the hills, Armageddon, outta here, The End. Since then, the situation has worsened in both countries. And really the comparison is academic: Whereas America still has a choice, Greece isn’t going to have a 2040 – not without a massive shot of Reality Juice.

Is that likely to happen? At such moments, I like to modify Gerald Ford. When seeking to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, President Ford liked to say: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Which is true enough. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work – for many of them the workday ends at 2:30 p.m. When they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

We hard-hearted, small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government. Once a chap’s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest. He’s got his, and to hell with everyone else. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.

The perfect spokesman for the entitlement mentality is the deputy prime minister of Greece. The European Union has concluded that the Greek government’s austerity measures are insufficient and, as a condition of bailout, has demanded something more robust. Greece is no longer a sovereign state: It’s General Motors, and the EU is Washington, and the Greek electorate is happy to play the part of the United Auto Workers – everything’s on the table except anything that would actually make a difference. In practice, because Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland are also on the brink of the abyss, a “European” bailout will be paid for by Germany. So the aforementioned Greek deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos, has denounced the conditions of the EU deal on the grounds that the Germans stole all the bullion from the Bank of Greece during the Second World War. Welfare always breeds contempt, in nations as much as inner-city housing projects. How dare you tell us how to live! Just give us your money and push off.

This is the real character of people who avoid having to care about producing goods and services to please customers – people who join public sector unions and work for the government. They elect candidates who will provide them with a standard of living much higher than what they can produce by their own efforts, and pass the bill down to real workers in the private sector, or worse, workers who are not even born. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that parasites should enslave children who are not yet born so that they can have a standard of living they haven’t paid for. And it’s laughable that they impugn the character of productive private sector workers and business owners by talking about “Greed”. The parasites in the public sector unions are the greedy ones. What could be more greedy than intergenerational theft?

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is issue 2? Should you vote no on Ohio issue 2?

In the 2010 mid-term elections, Republican John Kasich won the governorship and promised to balance the state’s budget by reining in the state’s spending on salaries and benefits for public sector union employees. To accomplish this, the Ohio legislature pass Senate Bill 5. However, an effort is on the ballot to repeal the law, and Ohio voters will get a chance to keep or scrap the law on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011.

Here’s what Ohio’s State Issue 2 is all about:

Issue 2 makes some very fair and common sense requests of our government employees to give local communities the flexibility they need to get taxes and spending under control, while providing the essential services that we rely on.

  • It allows an employee’s job performance to be considered when determining compensation, rather than just awarding automatic pay increases based only on an employee’s length of service.
  • It asks that government employees pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium. That’s less than half of what private sector workers are currently paying.
  • It requires that government health care benefits apply equally to all government employees, whether they work in management or non-management positions. No special favors.
  • It asks our government employees to pay their own share of a generous pension contribution, rather than forcing taxpayers to pay both the employee and employer shares.
  • It keeps union bosses from protecting bad teachers and stops the outdated practice of laying off good teachers first just because they haven’t served long enough.
  • Finally, it preserves collective bargaining for government employees, but it also returns some basic control of our schools and services to the taxpayers who fund them, not the union bosses who thrive on their mismanagement.

Even under the reforms of State Issue 2, Ohio’s government employees will still receive better pay, better health care and better retirement benefits, on average, than the vast majority of Ohioans who work in the private sector.

There are a number of myths going around about Issue 2, and it’s important to set the record straight, so I’ll do that below.

Ohio Average Pay: Public vs. Private

Ohio Average Pay: Public Unions vs. Private

Myths and truths about Ohio State Issue 2

Here’s a common myth:

State Issue 2 would “cut salaries and benefits.”

The truth:

Issue 2 would not cut salaries or benefits for any government employee. Employees would simply be asked to pay a modest share of their benefits, just like employees in the private sector do. For health care coverage, they would pay at least 15% of their overall plan. (Many local government employees currently pay less than 9% of their health care premium, while the average private sector worker pays upwards of 30%.) In addition, employees would be required to pay their personal share of a retirement plan (only 10%), rather than asking taxpayers to pay that share. That’s not too much to ask at a time when many private sector workers get no retirement benefit at all. Finally, Issue 2 requires that benefits apply equally to all public employees, so no one gets special treatment.

And another common myth:

State Issue 2 will eliminate government employee pensions.

The truth:

Government employees will still get a very generous pension benefit – an annual payment that averages their three highest annual salaries. That’s a pretty nice deal, when many private sector workers get no retirement benefit at all. State Issue 2 only ends a practice where some government union contracts require taxpayers to pick up the tab for BOTH the employer AND employee shares of a required pension contribution. In this economy, it’s simply not right to ask struggling taxpayers to foot the bill so government employees can get a free retirement. Issue 2 simply says government employees should pay their required share (10 percent) and taxpayers will contribute the employer share (14 percent).

Another myth:

State Issue 2 will cut teacher salaries.

The truth:

That’s one of the scare tactics government unions are using to turn people against these reforms. Nothing in Issue 2 determines salary levels. It only ends the practice of handing out automatic pay raises, or “step” increases, and longevity pay – or bonuses just for holding the job for a certain period of time. Issue 2 also asks that performance be added as a factor in teacher compensation, a goal President Barack Obama set out in his national education policy in 2009.

And another myth:

State Issue 2 will cost jobs

The truth:

Just the opposite is true. Ohio’s state and local tax burden ranks among the top third in the nation. As a result, companies large and small have left our state in pursuit of better tax incentives elsewhere, taking hundreds of thousands of jobs with them. If Ohio hopes to compete for new job growth, we have to make our state a more affordable place to live, work and do business. That starts with getting the cost of government under control so we can direct more of our limited resources into economic development, community revitalization and better schools.

More myths about Ohio State Issue 2 are corrected on this page.

Newspaper endorsements

So far, Issue 2 has been endorsed by several Ohio newspapers, including the biggest ones.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The fiscal picture of local governments and school districts, especially, will improve as they are able to right-size their work forces and their expenditures on services. That will happen over time, not overnight, as new contracts are established.

Repeal SB 5, though, and it’s going to be awfully hard for local governments to manage their payrolls without resorting to larger-scale layoffs than would otherwise be necessary. And local governments will continue to be hamstrung by anti-merit seniority rules that lead to worker complacency and protect dead weight and time-servers.

Voting YES on Issue 2 will prevent layoffs by keeping public sector wages and benefits in line with what the private sector can afford to pay.

The Columbus Dispatch:

Despite the insistence of opponents, the effort to reform Ohio’s out-of-balance collective-bargaining law is not an expression of disrespect for or dissatisfaction with Ohio teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government employees. It is a much-needed attempt to restore control over public spending to the public officials elected to exercise that control.

It does not assert that public employees are worth less than the compensation they’re receiving, only that the compensation has grown faster than the public’s ability to pay for it.

[...]With more ability to control the escalation of salary and benefit costs, governments won’t be forced as often to impose layoffs, and might be able to afford to keep even more police and firefighters on the streets.

Again, no one is saying that public sector workers don’t matter – the question is whether we can afford to give them better wages and benefits than the private sector workers who are their customers and their employers. Public sector workers work for the public, and the public can only afford to pay so much.

Conclusion

Government employees are paid 43% more than private sector employees, in salary and benefits:

I think that people who care about the long-term prosperity of Ohio should vote “YES” on Issue 2 to make public and private salaries and benefits MORE EQUAL. Ohio is facing enormous economic pressure from the global recession, and everyone has to make sacrifices. Now is not the time for public sector workers to insist on higher wages and benefits, especially when the private sector workers who pay their salaries don’t make as much money, nor do they get the pensions, nor do they get the better job security. Ohio voters can certainly go back and renegotiate union salaries and benefits when Ohio is out of the recession.

Click here to learn more about Ohio State Issue 2.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ohio Issue 2: Should voters vote yes or vote no on Ohio State Issue 2?

In the 2010 mid-term elections, Republican John Kasich won the governorship and promised to balance the state’s budget by reining in the state’s spending on salaries and benefits for public sector union employees. To accomplish this, the Ohio legislature pass Senate Bill 5. However, an effort is on the ballot to repeal the law, and Ohio voters will get a chance to keep or scrap the law on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011.

Here’s what Ohio’s Issue 2 is all about:

Issue 2 makes some very fair and common sense requests of our government employees to give local communities the flexibility they need to get taxes and spending under control, while providing the essential services that we rely on.

  • It allows an employee’s job performance to be considered when determining compensation, rather than just awarding automatic pay increases based only on an employee’s length of service.
  • It asks that government employees pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium.  That’s less than half of what private sector workers are currently paying.
  • It requires that government health care benefits apply equally to all government employees, whether they work in management or non-management positions.  No special favors.
  • It asks our government employees to pay their own share of a generous pension contribution, rather than forcing taxpayers to pay both the employee and employer shares.
  • It keeps union bosses from protecting bad teachers and stops the outdated practice of laying off good teachers first just because they haven’t served long enough.
  • Finally, it preserves collective bargaining for government employees, but it also returns some basic control of our schools and services to the taxpayers who fund them, not the union bosses who thrive on their mismanagement.

Even under the reforms of State Issue 2, Ohio’s government employees will still receive better pay, better health care and better retirement benefits, on average, than the vast majority of Ohioans who work in the private sector.

There are a number of myths going around about Issue 2, and it’s important to set the record straight, so I’ll do that below.

Ohio Average Pay: Public vs. Private

Ohio Average Pay: Public Unions vs. Private

Myths and truths about Ohio State Issue 2

Here’s a common myth:

State Issue 2 would “cut salaries and benefits.”

The truth:

Issue 2 would not cut salaries or benefits for any government employee. Employees would simply be asked to pay a modest share of their benefits, just like employees in the private sector do. For health care coverage, they would pay at least 15% of their overall plan. (Many local government employees currently pay less than 9% of their health care premium, while the average private sector worker pays upwards of 30%.) In addition, employees would be required to pay their personal share of a retirement plan (only 10%), rather than asking taxpayers to pay that share. That’s not too much to ask at a time when many private sector workers get no retirement benefit at all. Finally, Issue 2 requires that benefits apply equally to all public employees, so no one gets special treatment.

And another common myth:

State Issue 2 will eliminate government employee pensions.

The truth:

Government employees will still get a very generous pension benefit – an annual payment that averages their three highest annual salaries. That’s a pretty nice deal, when many private sector workers get no retirement benefit at all. State Issue 2 only ends a practice where some government union contracts require taxpayers to pick up the tab for BOTH the employer AND employee shares of a required pension contribution. In this economy, it’s simply not right to ask struggling taxpayers to foot the bill so government employees can get a free retirement. Issue 2 simply says government employees should pay their required share (10 percent) and taxpayers will contribute the employer share (14 percent).

Another myth:

State Issue 2 will cut teacher salaries.

The truth:

That’s one of the scare tactics government unions are using to turn people against these reforms. Nothing in Issue 2 determines salary levels. It only ends the practice of handing out automatic pay raises, or “step” increases, and longevity pay – or bonuses just for holding the job for a certain period of time. Issue 2 also asks that performance be added as a factor in teacher compensation, a goal President Barack Obama set out in his national education policy in 2009.

And another myth:

State Issue 2 will cost jobs

The truth:

Just the opposite is true. Ohio’s state and local tax burden ranks among the top third in the nation. As a result, companies large and small have left our state in pursuit of better tax incentives elsewhere, taking hundreds of thousands of jobs with them. If Ohio hopes to compete for new job growth, we have to make our state a more affordable place to live, work and do business. That starts with getting the cost of government under control so we can direct more of our limited resources into economic development, community revitalization and better schools.

More myths are corrected on this page.

Newspaper endorsements

So far, Issue 2 has been endorsed by several Ohio newspapers, including the biggest ones.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The fiscal picture of local governments and school districts, especially, will improve as they are able to right-size their work forces and their expenditures on services. That will happen over time, not overnight, as new contracts are established.

Repeal SB 5, though, and it’s going to be awfully hard for local governments to manage their payrolls without resorting to larger-scale layoffs than would otherwise be necessary. And local governments will continue to be hamstrung by anti-merit seniority rules that lead to worker complacency and protect dead weight and time-servers.

Voting YES on Issue 2 will prevent layoffs by keeping public sector wages and benefits in line with what the private sector can afford to pay.

The Columbus Dispatch:

Despite the insistence of opponents, the effort to reform Ohio’s out-of-balance collective-bargaining law is not an expression of disrespect for or dissatisfaction with Ohio teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government employees. It is a much-needed attempt to restore control over public spending to the public officials elected to exercise that control.

It does not assert that public employees are worth less than the compensation they’re receiving, only that the compensation has grown faster than the public’s ability to pay for it.

[...]With more ability to control the escalation of salary and benefit costs, governments won’t be forced as often to impose layoffs, and might be able to afford to keep even more police and firefighters on the streets.

Again, no one is saying that public sector workers don’t matter – the question is whether we can afford to give them better wages and benefits than the private sector workers who are their customers and their employers. Public sector workers work for the public, and the public can only afford to pay so much.

Conclusion

Government employees are paid 43% more than private sector employees, in salary and benefits:

I think that people who care about the long-term prosperity of Ohio should vote “YES” on Issue 2 to make public and private salaries and benefits MORE EQUAL. Ohio is facing enormous economic pressure from the global recession, and everyone has to make sacrifices. Now is not the time for public sector workers to insist on higher wages and benefits, especially when the private sector workers who pay their salaries don’t make as much money, nor do they get the pensions, nor do they get the better job security. Ohio voters can certainly go back and renegotiate union salaries and benefits when Ohio is out of the recession.

Click here to learn more about Ohio Issue 2.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We’ve become a nation of takers, not makers

From moderate conservative Stephen Moore, writing in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida’s ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York’s.

Even Michigan, at one time the auto capital of the world, and Pennsylvania, once the steel capital, have more government bureaucrats than people making things. The leaders in government hiring are Wyoming and New Mexico, which have hired more than six government workers for every manufacturing worker.

Now it is certainly true that many states have not typically been home to traditional manufacturing operations. Iowa and Nebraska are farm states, for example. But in those states, there are at least five times more government workers than farmers. West Virginia is the mining capital of the world, yet it has at least three times more government workers than miners. New York is the financial capital of the world—at least for now. That sector employs roughly 670,000 New Yorkers. That’s less than half of the state’s 1.48 million government employees.

The problem with having a high number of government workers is that government workers don’t actually produce anything to sell. They pay the salaries of their workers by taking a percentage of the money that productive business make when they sell customers useful things like cell phones and laptops and automobiles.

This article is the second most popular on the Wall Street Journal. Recommended.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How much influence do labor unions have in the Democrat party?

I found this amazing Milwaukee Journel-Sentinel article on Marathon Pundit’s blog. It explains where the political contributions of the biggest unions go. Let’s take a look at a few of the unions.

Excerpt:

• National Education Association. Membership: 3.2 million; assets: $216 million. The NEA, representing most of the nation’s teachers, has 31 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 in pay and benefits. The president, Dennis Van Roekel, received $397,721 in salary and benefits. Of the $3.7 million NEA spent on political activities in the last election cycle, 98% went to Democratic candidates. The NEA has 98,000 members in Wisconsin.

• Service Employees International Union. Membership: 1.8 million; assets: $187 million. The SEIU, whose membership has increased in recent years, has been organizing hospital, home care and nursing home workers, along with local and state government employees, janitors and security officers. The union has nine headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The former president, Andy Stern, was paid $306,388 in salary and benefits from the union in 2009. Stern resigned in 2010 and was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, formerly the executive vice president. Over the past two years, SEIU gave almost $2 million to Democratic candidates and $8,500 to Republicans. It has 18,000 members in Wisconsin.

• United Food & Commercial Workers. Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $157 million. The UFCW, whose members work in meatpacking, food processing and retail grocery stores, has 17 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The president, Joseph T. Hansen, received $360,737 in compensation in 2009. Of the $1.9 million the union donated to political candidates over the past two years, 99% of it went to Democrats.

• International Brotherhood of Teamsters: Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $175 million. The Teamsters, whose origins date to the horse- and mule-team drivers of the late 1800s, represent truck drivers and a wide array of blue-collar and government workers. Eight headquarters officers and employees received more than $200,000 in 2009. The president, James P. Hoffa, was compensated $364,869. Over the past two years, the Teamsters have donated $2.3 million to Democratic candidates and $46,500 to Republicans.

• American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. Membership: 1.5 million; assets: $78 million. AFSCME, one of the fastest growing unions in the United States, was founded in Wisconsin almost 80 years ago. At union headquarters in Washington, 10 officers and employees receive more than $200,000 a year. McEntee was paid $479,328 in salary and benefits in 2009. Over the past two years, AFSCME has donated $2.3 million to Democratic candidates and $78,500 to Republicans.

Emphasis is from Marathon Pundit. The Democrat party is basically owned lock, stock and barrel by the unions.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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