Should Middle-Class Americans Subsidize $100,000-A-Year Pensions For Government Workers?


Greece this past weekend saw the
worst rioting since the debt crisis began. After Athens
had announced new tax hikes and budget cuts to reduce a
deficit of 13 percent of gross domestic product,

mobs drove guards
from

Greece`s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
and attacked
police.

In our own country, students,
teachers and administrators at UC-Berkeley held a

"Strike and Day
of Action to Defend Education"
to demand more
money from taxpayers—for themselves.

How
badly are they suffering?

According to

Peter Robinson
of

Hoover Institution
, California spends $13,000 per
student in the state system, compared to $6,000 in New
York.

Yet riots in Greece and
demonstrators in California do portend a time of
troubles. For the budget cuts and tax hikes needed to
keep the welfare states of Europe operating as
populations age and fewer children are born will be
staggering and endless.

And,
in the U.S., California is where we all are headed.

Nevada, Arizona and New Jersey are
staring at budget gaps of 25 percent. New York and
Illinois are not far behind. Michigan has an
unemployment rate of 14 percent. Detroit is the
quintessential sick city.

Republicans may get by this fall
surfing an anti-government wave. But they will soon have
to reveal where exactly they propose to cut.

Fortunately, good politics and good
policy give the same answer. USA Today`s lead story on
Friday"It
Pays to Work for Uncle Sam"
—contrasted the wages
and benefits of federal workers with those of employees
in the private sector.

Using federal figures from 2008,
reporter Dennis Cauchon found:

  • U.S. government workers
    earned an average salary of $67,691 for occupations that
    exist in both government and the private sector, which
    was $7,600 a year more than workers in the private
    sector doing the same jobs. Health and pension benefits
    for U.S. government workers average $40,795 per year,
    but $9,882 per worker in the private sector.

  • Nurses employed by
    Veterans Affairs hospitals earn an average of $74,460 a
    year, which is $10,689 more than private-sector nurses.

Chris Edwards of Cato Institute has
compared the pay and benefits of local and state
government employees with private-sector workers.

He
found the average hourly compensation, wages and
benefits of state and local government employees in 2009
was $39.66 per hour, 45 percent higher than the $27.42
per hour package of private-sector workers

Where
80 percent to 90 percent of state and local government
employees get paid sick leave, health insurance and life
insurance, and 90 percent receive pensions, that is true
of only 59 percent to 71 percent of workers in the
private sector.

These
disparities suggest that government work is becoming a

sweet deal
for those who can get it, which may
explain why government has begun to crush the private
sector that has to carry the government on its back.

Consider.
Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. manufacturing, backbone of
the nation, lost 5.7 million jobs, one-third of all the
manufacturing jobs America had. But government
employment rose that same decade by 1.9 million jobs to
22 million, with three-fourths of the new workers being
added to local government payrolls.

States
like California, whose public employees are among the
best paid in the nation, are the states closest to
chapter 11. Their last, best hope to close their
deficits is a U.S. taxpayer rescue a la Fannie, Freddy,
GM and AIG. But do the states merit a taxpayer bailout
if their crises come out of their own continuing
profligate ways?

 Writes
Edwards:

"Public
sector workers … can typically retire at age 55 after
30 years of service, as in California`s CalPERS system.
In CalPERS, workers receive an annual pension equal to
60 percent of final salary after 30 years. Public safety
workers in CalPERS can retire at age 50 after 30 years
of work with benefits equal to 90 percent of their final
salary.

"In California, there are 6,144
retired public employees in the CalPERS plan and 3,090
retired teachers in the state teachers` plan receiving
annual pension benefits of more than $100,000." [
PDF]

And
folks wonder why California is bankrupt. Should
middle-class Americans be forced to subsidize
$100,000-a-year pensions for middle-aged California
retirees?

 Yet,
Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, in that $787
billion stimulus bill, shoveled billions of federal tax
dollars into California to pay salaries, pensions and
health benefits of Californians who have been paid more
than private-sector workers all of their lives. Where is
the fairness here?

Not
another federal dime should go out to any state
government whose employees receive more in pay and
pensions than the average worker in that state or the
other 49.

As
for the U.S. government, Republicans should call for a
one-year freeze on federal salaries and a two-year
freeze on congressional salaries. If sacrifices are to
be made, the people who had a fat decade at taxpayers`
expense should make them sacrifice, not a ravaged
private sector that has contributed almost all of the
conscripts to today`s 15-million-man army of the
unemployed.

COPYRIGHT

CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Patrick J. Buchanan

needs

no introduction
to
VDARE.COM readers; his book
 
State
of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America
, can
be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book

is Churchill,
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How
Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost
the World,

reviewed

here
by

Paul Craig Roberts.