Fate can be a lot of things, but mostly it seems to be cruel. A lot of folks have been agitating of late to reduce the size of government. I count myself among them. Remember when a trillion dollars was an unimaginable amount of money? At the federal level we now forecast trillion dollar annual deficits for the rest of our lives.
But what are we to do? As Barack Obama so frequently reminds us, the slightest downward trajectory in government spending will result in massive layoffs of police, firefighters, and teachers. Oh cruel fate! America desperately needs to cut spending and the only option is thinning the ranks of the three most popular, poll-tested categories of government worker! Won’t someone please think of the children!
Now at this point some of us might wonder how cutting spending at the federal level would affect state and local budgets. We’d be accused of wanting to cut firefighters, police, and teachers for asking out loud, naturally. But seriously, D.C. is like a pusher keeping the states addicted to deficit budgets with annual infusions of cash. Why the hell should fiscally sane states subsidize basket cases California, Illinois, and the like? Ideological redistributionism. Rewarding the most progressive, and subsequently brokest, at the expense of the prudent.
Damn the luck. If only there were some areas other than police, firefighters, and teachers where state and local governments could make the kinds of difficult decisions companies across the U.S. have to make when budgets tighten. HP announced they’re laying of 25,000 people. Doing just fine. On the plus side, outside of any settlement agreement HP won’t be paying those terminated workers 75%+ of their base salary or covering their health care for the balance of their lives.
I believe everyone would agree that state and local governments provide many essential services independent of police, firefighters, and teachers. Don’t try and tell me a cop is more important than a sewer worker or a teacher is better than a garbage man. Being important or popular doesn’t protect you in the private sector when budgets have to be cut. Why should it be unfathomable for public workers suffer the same fate?
That comment provoked laughter from the audience.
Asked to clarify, the White House said Obama was pointing out that while core Postal Service services are different from those offered by UPS and FedEx, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private shipping industry.
The audience laughed riotously as Barnack the Magnificent opened each hermetically sealed envelope and read the answer, “More Government Spending,” for every question, completely unaware it was not done in irony. It never occurs to him that bureaucrats spending other people’s money have absolutely no incentive to drive efficiencies and continuous improvement. Wanna know why core USPS service differ from those offered by UPS and FedEx? There’s a federal law that prevents anyone but the USPS from delivering mail. Do you even wonder whether they could do it cheaper and better than the USPS were that law repealed?
But I digress. We’re discussing state and local spending. And state/local governments would never impose legal barriers to providing services in competition with publicly funded institutions. Interestingly the census bureau has data on state and local employees. I’ve reproduced one of the tables in full below:
|Appendix Table A-1.Categories of Employees at the State and Local Level by Function in 2010|
Total full-time and part-time employment nationally
Coefficient of variation (percent)
Percentage of total government employment
Percentage employed at the local level
|Total U.S. Employment. .. . . . . . . . . .|
|Elementary and secondary education.|
|Police protection .|
|Persons with power of arrest.|
|Public welfare .|
|Judicial and legal.|
|Other government administration .|
|Parks and recreation.|
|Natural resources .|
|Solid waste management .|
|Housing and community development.|
|Social insurance administration.|
|Electric power .|
|Water transport and canals.|
|State liquor stores.|
|All other and unallocable.|
Out of twenty million total state and local government employees, there are 6,471,000 actual police, firefighters, and teachers. I exclude higher education, mostly because a professor would bristle at being called a teacher. That and because higher education is essential like a jaunty feather for your pimp hat.
Does the fact there are over 1.1 million professors at public colleges in the U.S. strike anyone as rather high? What about the two million other employees? At the ElHi level there are two teachers to each “other employee.” At university there are two “other employees” for each professor. Surely that has nothing to do with the higher education bubble.
It has been said that police, firefighters, and teachers are on the chopping block because of supposed austerity. Others have said we must raise taxes to stave off the wholesale firing of police, firefighters, and teachers. I reject those false choices and say you made your bed – with lavish public pensions and runaway spending – and now it’s time to lay with dogs and accept your fleas. Fix it or get out of the way.
“I mean, if you think about it, Sidwell Friends School is doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the public school that’s always having problems.”
That comment provoked laughter from the audience.
Asked to clarify, the White House said Obama was pointing out that while core public school services are different from those offered by Sidwell Friends School, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private education industry.
Funny how a man who fights tooth and nail to kill school choice unabashedly insulates his own children from the cruel fate he’s dictating for so many poor children. I know, if you return money to parents for education they may not spend it the right way. The public schoolhouse holds an iconic place in Americans’ souls alongside the buggy whip and curative galvanic belt. It would be cruel and foolish to cast aside an address-centric educational system which produces occasional islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity for a risky scheme involving willy-nilly free choice of schools as parents see fit.
Barack the Pragmatic. Remember him? The guy T. Coddington Voorhees fell in love with? What a bunch of schmucks. Who in their right mind could look at his history, public elected history, and see anything but a partisan ideological blowhard? Police, firefighters, and teachers. Does that still resonate after a thousand utterances? Obama is laughably range-limited and one dimensional.
I know you want to pound your opponent early but Romney has to be keeping his powder dry at this point in the campaign. Obama has so many markers out there. There was a time when I averred to spurn Romney should he win the nomination. I don’t entirely trust him or his instincts. Which politician can’t you say that about, though? What’s encouraging is his campaign being completely on the ball. He’s hired good people and they’re acting decisively. As a professional recruiter I respect that in an executive.
Now that he’s not debating other Republicans Romney has been quite good. I expect him to do well against an incumbent with a bag of economic nothing whose messaging is trite and predictable. Police, firefighters, and teachers. More like TSA agents, Department of Labor attorneys, and healthcare administrators, am I right? Oh cruel fate!