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Snow Job

Someone much wiser than me once described the Palestinians as a people "who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." I've stolen the line many a time, but never once claimed it as my own.

Likewise, the Boston Globe can be described as "never missing an opportunity to miss the point." Even when they are praising a good idea, they have to go out of the way to demonstrate that it's merely by happenstance, and they are still, at their core, utterly and staunchly and militantly wrong.

For example, there's a cost-cutting measure being tried in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts. Snow removal is a big expense for New England communities, and in nearly every one of them the municipality simply lacks the resources to manage snowfall. So they contract with private plow owners to step in, paying them for their services as they clear the streets of the oh-so-photogenic but dangerous Irrefutable Evidence Of Global Warmening.

But those plowers don't cheerfully volunteer their services for the common good. No, they're good old capitalists, and want to be paid for their labor and expenses. They're still cheaper than having the community buy its own plows and trucks and hire drivers, but it's still a hefty hunk of change -- and it's hard to know just how much they'll cost when annual budgets are set. Long-term weather prediction is still more art than science.

Well, someone in Quincy got one of those "let's change the fundamental assumptions" ideas when it came to snow removal. Traditionally, the plowers are paid by the hour -- the city tells 'em when to report for duty, then tells them when they can knock off. If the storm is delayed or shorter than expected, they get their money anyway for showing up and standing ready.

In Quincy, though, they're trying something new. They're paying the plow operators per inch of snowfall. If it's a dusting, they get minimal. If it's a colossal dump of white stuff, they make out like bandits. In brief, they don't get paid for their time, but for their efforts.

Is it a good idea? I dunno. My gut says no. The city has relatively little bargaining leverage with the plow operators. They're not bound to the city; they can readily say no and go shop their services to a neighboring community. And should enough of them say no, the city's well and truly screwed next storm. And as "it took five days to get my street plowed!" is something that voters tend to remember come election day, it's an area where elected officials are rather vulnerable.

But I say go for it. It's an experiment that could save the city a lot of money. And if it doesn't work out, then they can undo it with little long-term harm. It's innovative thinking, and that sort of thing in the field of spending less public money should be encouraged.

But back to the Globe. They, too, support the measure. But this is the Globe -- there has to be a chewy candy treat of sheer wrong-headedness at the core. There has to be something so mind-bogglingly wrong that is beyond the abilities of a moron, but could only be conceived of someone of exceptional intelligence and education. Where is it?

Ah, here it is.

On the surface, the system makes a lot of sense: pay contractors for performance, not the time spent idling in their trucks in anticipation of a storm's start time. Beneath the surface, it makes a lot of sense, too. People are fed up with the escalating costs of municipal government, driven by the high costs of pensions and health care for public employees.

Because people are fed up with city employees and their incredibly generous pensions and health care (and salaries) paid for out of the people's pockets, we're going to give less money to non-employees who don't get pensions, benefits, or even salaries.

It's like a bad 50's sitcom. The husband is upset at the wife spending too much money on shoes, so she economizes by canceling his country club membership. It just doesn't work that way.

So hats off to the government of Quincy. Succeed or fail, you're trying. You're taking a chance. And that's worth encouraging.

And to the Boston Globe... why the hell can't you ever seem to get it?  Is there some kind of pill you take that makes you impervious to common sense and reality?

And can I get some? I promise, I'll only take it moderately, on weekends. I could use a break from reality every now and then. I swear I won't be like you and make it a permanent vacation.

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Comments (26)

So what's your gripe? I don... (Below threshold)
Chakademus:

So what's your gripe? I don't get it. And by the way, please get rid of the Miley Cyrus picture on the sidebar, it's creeping me out.

Chaka, let me repeat myself... (Below threshold)

Chaka, let me repeat myself: the Boston Globe endorsed the idea, reasoning that "because people are fed up with city employees and their incredibly generous pensions and health care (and salaries) paid for out of the people's pockets, we're going to give less money to non-employees who don't get pensions, benefits, or even salaries."

If that doesn't make you say "huh?," you're more than qualified to serve on the Boston Globe's editorial board.

J.

Call Mister Plow, that's my... (Below threshold)
James H:

Call Mister Plow, that's my name, oh, ayuh.

Keep Miley there.... (Below threshold)
914:

Keep Miley there.

It makes perfect sense from... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It makes perfect sense from the Glob's point of view. Use capitalism as a last resort to prop up the bloated social welfare government.

This is clearly the path we will see the dems take over the coming years. Cut costs in any manner possible in order to maintain their outrageous pension benefits. Protect the union pensions and protect their own pensions at the expense of everyone else.

Perhaps this one action actually makes sense for the public as well. I doubt we will be as lucky next time.

Why don't they layoff some ... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

Why don't they layoff some useless city bureaucrats and their useless staff. The savings in salary, pension and health care benefits can go towards keeping the streets clear of snow and ice.

Nope, can't do that. It's too logical.

Chakademus,Quit wh... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Chakademus,

Quit whining and get an ad blocker. I wouldn't have ever known there was a picture of Miley Cyrus if you hadn't said anything.

Sheesh!

Warmening? Did I mis... (Below threshold)
GaryL:

Warmening?
Did I miss a new term that has come out recently in this hoax/faux crisis?

Sigh! The other half says I better stop questioning Jay's spelling and get out there and shovel the snow off our walkways. Oh well!

The Glob is complaining, be... (Below threshold)
Stan:

The Glob is complaining, because the snowplow operators are not union. The next editorial will be complaining about how the plow guys are not contributing the union pension plan.

Obviously by PAYING the sno... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Obviously by PAYING the snowplow operators we prevent them filing for un-employment! And as Nancy Piglosi explained: "Un-employment CREATES jobs!"

Of course, without plowed streets they won't be able to get to the Un-Employment Office in order to start creating those jobs...hmmm?!?

Nancy's "plan" has a kink or two. But since there actually ISN'T any snow (it's all a Right-Wing conspiracy theory), none of this matters!

"People are fed up with ... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"People are fed up with the escalating costs of municipal government, driven by the high costs of pensions and health care for public employees."

My immediate reaction to the above was a bit different. The Glob seemed to ever so gently redirect blame to lowly government employees in reciept of perks (ie snow plow drivers) that should have been directed toward the goverment bureaucrats and unions responsible for these high costs.

My city has a new, organic,... (Below threshold)
yttik:

My city has a new, organic, green way of dealing with snow. We let it lay there and melt. That way no salt gets into the environment, no carbon gets released from snow plows, etc. I kid you not, it's called the Non Snow Removal Snow Removal Program, or NSRSR. It costs us a few hundred thousand dollars, I guess because we still have to pay people to drive around and watch the snow melt so we can document how well the program is working.

yttik, do they have "Non Po... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

yttik, do they have "Non Police Response To Murder" Program (NPRTM) too? :)

The bodies will eventually decompose on their own...and rushing about in Police cars will only further warm the planet!!

Win-Win!

Jay, you'd understand the G... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Jay, you'd understand the Globe's position if you only were committed to Social, Economic and Ecological Justice . Capitalists are allowed to exist and enslave workers only to the degree that they fund the needs and desires of the political ruling class (and their union friends). I believe it is best summed up best by the phrase, "All your base are belong to me."

Damn, I wish I was making that up. Here's an example of what's going on in my state

Oops, no link. You'll have ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Oops, no link. You'll have to go to the New Haven Register and search on "enviornmental justice chief."

JT is probably right about ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

JT is probably right about the Glob.

Sadly, jim m is right too: "This is clearly the path we will see the dems take over the coming years. Cut costs in any manner possible in order to maintain their outrageous pension benefits. Protect the union pensions and protect their own pensions at the expense of everyone else."

We better get ready for a fight, because it's coming. If a local gov't is almost bankrupt and the choice is 'having cops on the street' or 'pay gov't retirees', then they are going to fight like hell to pay the retirees. (This is after they raise taxes past the point where people rebel or leave.)

And GaryL, Globull Warmenmongering is an all too real mental disease.

GaryL, I saw the phrase "gl... (Below threshold)

GaryL, I saw the phrase "global warmening" and just embraced it as a delightful way to mock the zealots. Sometimes I forget that not everyone thinks and remembers like I do.

J.

The city employee's union l... (Below threshold)
Woop dere It Is:

The city employee's union legally negotiated a contract on behalf of their employees.

Had the employees not lived up to their end of the contract they would have been fired.

The city must live up to their end of the deal as well. In labor negotiations there is always a give and take, a union proposal for higher wages that is countered by the city's offer for better pension benefits instead, deferring the cost to a later time, for example.

Only Republicans would choose to reneg on the deal.

Only conservatives would take employees who had worked for 20 years and take away benefits by reducing the legally, contractually-agreed upon deal.

The GOP wants to take away that which was legally won by these employees. Republicans do all they can to screw everyday folks.

Had the employees ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:
Had the employees not lived up to their end of the contract they would have been fired.

Damn, it's hard to get Coke Zero out of a keyboard.

"Had the employees not l... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Had the employees not lived up to their end of the contract they would have been fired."

You're right SCSI, that was pretty funny. I'll try really hard to convince myself of that next time I go to renew my license.

woop doesn't understand tha... (Below threshold)

woop doesn't understand that "reneg" can also mean "renegotiate." And public sector employees always see the current deal as a starting point... and only negotiate how much above it should go. The notion of cutbacks in time of crisis is absolutely incomprehensible to them.

Which is what is happening in New Jersey.

But then again, there's a hell of a lot that woop doesn't understand.

J.

Let's not be too hard on Wo... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Let's not be too hard on Woopi. After all, anyone who can twist union extortion into "propose", is someone from a very different universe.

Notice also that Woop's idea of "negotiation" is that both sides agree to give more to the union. The concept that unions might be overpaid for the work is utterly alien to the fellow.

In the private sector emplo... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

In the private sector employees sometimes have to take pay and benefit cuts.

Public employees used get paid less for doing their jobs and get better retirement and job security. However now they get everything good pay, benefits and great retirement all at the expenses of tax payers.

This put an undue burden on Tax payers. Government is to provide good and services to the Public. If we are reducing those services so that Unions can get windfall benefit at tax payer expense.

"Only Republicans would cho... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"Only Republicans would choose to reneg on the deal." - Woop

Wait! I live in Quincy. This town is dominated by republicans???? Who knew?!?

Unions are like all parasit... (Below threshold)
John:

Unions are like all parasites, they gorge on the host until it's dead.

..... Someone .... once des... (Below threshold)

..... Someone .... once described "the palestinians" as "a People" ....

Yassah Arafat?




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