Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Populace Exists For The Benefit Of The Bureaucrats

Very good Charles Hugh Smith column.


House Speaker Terrance Carroll, a Democrat, said the state already has cut $300 million from the budget. "The common good requires certain sacrifice," he said. "The vast majority of people understand why it's important."

Seven Questions for Mr. Carroll:

1. How much did Colorado state legislators cut from their own salaries, medical benefits, retirement benefits, per diem expenses, state vehicles provided, staff expenses, and all other forms of reimbursement and compensation?

I suspect the answer, if total compensation and bennies are used as the baseline, is between 0% and 5%.

2. How many employees did the State of Colorado add in the years 1999 - 2008? What was the percentage increase, compared to the increase in state population?

I suspect the answer will be employees were added at twice the rate of actual population increase. Thus a 3% rise in population, 6% more state employees, etc.

3. Starting with total compensation (salaries plus total benefits value), what is the average pay cut imposed on state employees?

4. How much did total compensation (especially pension benefits/contributions) paid to state employees rise in the period 1999-2008? How does this increase compare to the inflation rate in the same time frame?

I suspect the answer, if total compensation and bennies are used as the baseline, is that total compensation increased at twice the rate of inflation.

5. How much, in dollars and as a percentage of total state tax revenues in 1999, did tax revenues rise in the period 1999-2008? How does that compare to inflation in that period?

Surprise: I suspect the answer, if total tax and fees revenues are used as the baseline, is that taxes/fees revenues rose at twice the rate of inflation, thus inflation rose a total of 20% and total taxes rose 40% above the total collected in 1999.

6. If government is an enterprise with revenues and expenses like any other, then why shouldn't expenses be cut by 30% to match a 30% decline in revenues? Exactly what exempts government employees, contractors and recipients of benefits from the notion that when revenues fall, then expenses must be trimmed in parallel fashion?

Thus if local government added large numbers of employees during "prosperity" then the number of employees should be pared back to what it was before "prosperity."

If government employees were granted raises in wages and benefits during "prosperity" (in quotations because it was always a visibly bogus prosperity based on debt and irresponsible lending/spending) then as revenues fall by 30%, so too should employee compensation be trimmed by an equal percentage.

I am occasionally accused of union-bashing or public-employee bashing whenever I point out what can be easily verified: that private employees have on average been losing ground for decades, while public employees (at least in California) have been granted huge increases in total compensation--the cost of their healthcare and pension benefits are ballooning at guaranteed-to-bankrupt rates...

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