Well, You Had To Expect This Was Coming

Via the Washington Post:

President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party.

Of course, in retrospect we have learned that the first stimulus was mostly about saving government jobs as well, rather than creating any private stimulus.   Government workers are among the Democrats most reliable political supporters, and the SEIU, among other organizations, have had close ties to Obama for years.  State and local governments are finally facing some accountability for spending and being forced to roll back spending increases of the last few years that have far outpaced inflation and population growth, so of course Obama wants to short-circuit this accountability process.

Think about this -- every one of these bailed out governments have certainly had local legislative deliberations and likely votes on bonds and tax increases over the last year.  If their problems still persist, its because the local taxpayers don't want to pony up any more money for their local government and the local legislators refuse to cut spending sufficiently.  So if Smallsville, California won't pony up more money for their government and won't balance their budget, why should I be on the financial hook to bail them out?

Andrew Coulson looks at one of these groups, teachers, and wonders what all the fuss is about -- its about time we laid some public school employees off after years of rapidly declining productivity:

I have been looking for a good excuse to clear my reader cache of a whole series of articles on government salaries and pensions, and this seems a really good time.

Much like the bailout of billionaires on Wall Street, the government worker bailout is targeting a group already doing much better than their peers in private industry.  (via Carpe Diem)

Related, via Carpe Diem:

"Who are America's fastest-growing class of millionaires? They are police officers, firefighters, teachers and federal bureaucrats who, unless things change drastically, will be paid something near their full salaries every year--until death--after retiring in their mid-50s. That is equivalent to a retirement sum worth millions of dollars.

Chris Edwards has a related essay, focusing on federal government pay.

Matt Welch looks at two DC-area counties and shows how their relative financial health is closely related to their hiring and pay policies.


  1. morganovich:

    i find it interesting that the same people who scream "moral hazard" and "no rewards for bad behavior" about wall st are so anxious to do the same thing with state and local government.

    at least wall st makes the money it pays it's people.

    we just had a deputy police chief in san francisco pull down over $500k in final year salary and retire using that as the base for his pension.

    we'll be paying him $400k/year for another 20-25 years.

    but hell, we pay our bus drivers $100k in SF and then wonder why we can't balance the muni budget.

  2. William J McKibbin:

    Everyone in government knows that public sector employment is the number one driver of our economy -- the other thing that everyone in the government knows is that once everyone has a government job, there will be no need for private enterprise at all -- in fact, once 100% of our GDP is produced by government, then we will finally be able to end our worries with the private sector and concentrate on what is really important, and that is increasing the wages and benefits of government workers. Let's face it, public service pay is a disgrace compared to what professional atheletes and moviestars earn. It's time to get over our worries with the private sector and move on to the important issue of pay parity between government workers, professional atheletes, and moviestars...

  3. caseyboy:

    William, please tell me you are being sarcastic! If things progress as you envision we won't have private industry movie-stars or athletes. Our athletes will be members of the armed services just like they were in the good old USSR. Our movie-stars will be government party officials. Since no one will actually be expanding the economic pie via personal ingenuity or innovation we will experience a growing shortage of goods and services, including medical care.

  4. Craig:

    I graduated in 1967 from a pretty good public high school. We had 22 National Merit semifinalists in my graduating class, the most in the state. Recently, classmates have been circulating their class photos from the elementary schools that fed our high school. I was shocked to see that most of the classes had 25-30 students. By today's standards, such a large class size would have prevented us from getting a good education. The solution would have been to hire more teachers. Yet, we all did pretty well, and the teachers also seemed pretty pleased with their career choices.

  5. Peter:

    Having served on the local fincom I had intended to work on finding and cutting excessive spending. I ran into a couple of problems. First was unfunded state and federal mandates. The second was union contracts that are renewed every three years. Between the two this accounted for over 90% of the budget for the town. As fincom members are not allowed to serve on the personnel board that negotiates union contracts there was very little if anything I could do to cut spending in the town. As far as the last 10% I suppose we could have cut out the use of things like paper, heat, electric you know the really wasteful stuff. By the way Craig state mandates include a maximum student teacher ratio of 15 to 1 in core subjects. This is why there is now a teaching assistant in almost every classroom all the time unlike when we were growing up and a teaching assistant was just there for training purposes in a couple of classrooms. For those who care our town alone has unfunded retirement benefits on the order of $12 million. Anyone care to chip in?

  6. jma:

    Re Craig's comments: When I started grammar school in 1950 there were 40 to 42 students per class and this continued until middle school when the size dropped to 35 or 36 average, seldom less. The teachers did not complain and delivered an excellent education. I don't believe teachers today understand how to engage their students in learning and, therefore, many kids act out. I served as a volunteer in the classrooms for over 20 years and noted that those who intrigued their students could teach any size class. The droners would put a two-student clasroom to sleep.

    Regarding public sector pay, just vacation in Florida. Former police and fire fighters in their early 50's with waterfront homes, mini-yachts, pricy cars...no need to go on. Some also operate those beachfront tiki bars, which must have cost a fair penny. My friend, whose brother is a "cop" in Miami, could always I.D. such establishments. Certain air about the places, she say. Hmmm...