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The coming showdown with public employees

Cal Beverly's picture

Few in the media have drawn the lines between the increasing dots in our national financial meltdown. The raw numbers are being reported; the obvious conclusions have not been drawn. I take no pleasure in what I am concluding; nevertheless, here are the data. Judge whether my conclusions are warranted.

California leads the nation in budget toxicity. The state’s generous public employee pension system is the biggest of the black holes in that state’s descent into bankruptcy.

Elsewhere, a majority of states face unimaginable billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities created mostly by their public employee retirement obligations, which includes healthcare.

Local governments’ pension problems dwarf those of the states, simply because there are nearly three times as many of them.

This from a U.S. Census Bureau report just one week ago:

“The nation’s 89,526 state and local governments employed 16.6 million full-time equivalent employees in 2009, statistically unchanged from 2008, according to government employment data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Part-time employees numbered 4.7 million, not statistically different from 2008.

“Local governments accounted for 12.2 million full-time equivalent employees, and state governments had 4.4 million. (Local governments include counties, cities, townships, special districts and school districts.)”

Did you follow those numbers? Our country has 16.6 million people employed by nearly 90,000 state and local governments — and EVERY ONE OF THEM HAS A PUBLICLY-FUNDED, TAXPAYER-PAID pension plan. That of course does NOT include federal-level workers.

And we think Social Security is in trouble.

By the way, despite the nation’s effective unemployment and under-employment rate of 18 percent, did you notice that the number of public employees in 2009 was “statistically unchanged” from the previous year, 2008, when the financial tsunami hit us?

What that means is that while the private sector was getting slaughtered in firings and layoffs, the public sector was cruising along with almost no decrease in numbers, mostly complaining about a few furlough days and minor increases in their healthcare contributions.

And just to warm every private-sector heart, USA Today reported recently that federal employees are just about the only people besides investment bankers who are profiting during the Great Recession.

“Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

“Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

“Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

“These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“USA Today reported that average compensation for federal employees has risen 36.9 percent since 2000. Those numbers were adjusted for inflation.”

Let’s do the math. Private sector pay of $60,046, plus benefits of $9,882 equals $69,928. A federal worker gets $67,691 plus $40,785 in benefits: That equals $108,476 per average federal employee.

That is $38,548 MORE for the average federal worker doing the exact equivalent job as the private sector worker. No wonder the federal government is the only growth business these days.

The history is that once in our distant past “public servants” were paid less than private sector workers. To make public jobs more attractive even with lower wages, governments sweetened the pot with cushy benefits, most without the public workers taking a payroll hit — things like medical, dental and eye-care coverage for employees and dependents and defined benefit pension plans.

Additionally, public workers have come to enjoy — indeed, expect — job security far beyond what the private sector possesses. Compare how hard it is to fire an incompetent government employee versus how the private sector handles a sub-par worker. Government work has become the only “jobs for life” that still exist.

Then two things happened, mostly within the past 20 years: a relentless drive for parity with private sector workers and unionization of the public workforce.

First, public sector workers began getting raises every year — they call them “COLA” for cost of living increases. (When’s the last time an employee of a small business got a COLA raise — any raise?) Every couple of years, from deep in the bowels of most local and state government bureaucracies there would arise an agenda item that created a “salary study commission” or group. Every time (imagine that!) the bureaucrats would find a compelling reason to recommend to the governing body that “adjustments” upward needed to be made to public salaries in order to keep the public jobs “competitive.”

First the bureaucrats sought “competitiveness” with private sector “equivalent” jobs. Later, as it became obvious that the public sector was outrunning the private sector, the focus shifted to “competitiveness” with neighboring governments, since only the government sector offered such sweet deals.

In other words, the prevailing argument for more, more, more was based not on worries that a public employee would leave government work for a private sector job, but rather on concerns about that worker being lured to another, even more lucrative taxpayer-funded job with another government entity.

And then came the unions. For 2009, the latest year available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following as of January 2010:

“In 2009, the union membership rate — the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union — was 12.3 percent, essentially unchanged from 12.4 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.”

“The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions declined by 771,000 to 15.3 million, largely reflecting the overall drop in employment due to the recession.

“More public sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private sector employees (7.4 million), despite there being five times more wage and salary workers in the private sector.

“Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.1 percent.

“In 2009 ... union membership rate for public sector workers (37.4 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private industry workers (7.2 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 43.3 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters.”

Let’s process that: Four out of every 10 local government workers across this nation have union shop stewards and a built-in adversarial relationship with management and the ones who pay the bills — the taxpayers. And leading the pack of publicly-paid workers who expect and demand never-ending raises, better benefits and lifetime job security are “teachers, police officers and fire fighters.”

Now, who pays for all these government workers? (Yes, government workers pay income taxes, so they are paying back into their own pockets at most 30 percent of their costs. Private sector workers — including the unemployed — pay the rest.)

Do you begin to see the problem?

I’ve given you enough data to chew on for this episode (and please note that this very recent data is quoted verbatim from two federal government agencies, at a time when the executive branch is under the control of Democrats, not exactly sworn enemies of government workers or unions).

Now, four conclusions, one prediction and one possible interim solution.

Conclusion 1: Public workers’ salaries, benefits and pension plans are unsustainable at their current levels as the nation heads into a deficit-burdened future.

Conclusion 2: Government workers — at all levels, but especially at the federal level — are not feeling the pain the rest of us in the private sector feel. They will not feel our pain until reductions in force (RIFs) of public sector workers begin to match the private sector unemployment numbers.

Conclusion 3: Most local, state and federal government elected officials currently in office have neither the vision nor the guts to face the reality of the above conclusions and take the necessary steps to correct the blatant inequities between the public and the private sectors.

Conclusion 4: Something akin to a revolution will be necessary to bring government employment in line with the new financial realities.

Prediction: A growing backlash of taxpayers against public sector workers is beginning and will grow to proportions not now imaginable by many taxpayers nor by ALL government workers. Showdown time is looming, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

One caveat: Yes, our armed forces members are part of the federal workforce. Of all people on the planet, our warriors most deserve every penny paid to them. I hope the coming revolt against public sector excesses manages to avoid lumping our front-line service men and women in with the rest.

One possible interim solution: A five-year freeze on the salaries, wages and benefits of ALL government employees (except military) at all levels — federal, state and local.

How likely is that? (Most small business employees, I suspect, are going through the fourth consecutive year of small or no raises — the ones who still have jobs — so we already feel the pain of that interim solution.)

Remember that “hopey, changey thing”? Count on it: Change is coming.


First I was thinking along with you until you blamed President Obama and group for the "changey" thing. That is a mistake to this point. Everyone knows where this mess came from! Maybe the current administration is spending too much in their 18 months in office, but we are talking such credit problems in dollars and such lack of jobs for everyone, that there is no way it could have even been slightly improved by now, and if not done we would have immediate DEPRESSION with your 18% effective unemployment (I think more like 30% productivewise).

I have no objection to voters booting every lawmaker who has served over one term out this November, but even that which will not happen, would help little for now.

I didn't see where you said to lay off any Fayette County employees! Just stop their raises, I believe. Little help.
As to health care costs and pensions, you have to be crazy to think that will ever be eliminated---maybe reduced similar to what Medicare has been, but not eliminated or seriously cut.

Cal, there aren't enough productive jobs making products we can sell somewhere to make it out of debt! Laying off those working right now would also add to the problem, wouldn't it?
It would reduce spending and create a deeper depression which is what it seems that the conservatives wanted Obama to do 18 months ago!
They have convinced themselves that the banks wouldn't have gone broke an d the auto companies would have survived and that industry would have flourished if no spending had occurred and no unemployment extensions had been voted!!!

Is that what you want now?
Blame solves nothing---especially blaming the wrong people.

As to the TEAS and other "revolutions" they are made up of 65-70% disgruntled conservatives, no democrats, who refuse to admit they were wrong 10 years ago.

We must suffer a depression, I've said it several times here and get a lot of BS about Bush and Obama. DO YOU WANT IT NOW OR LATER AS THE GUY SAYS on TV ABOUT HIS HAMBURGERS? MAN!!!

Cal, only 40% of workers now support the other 60%---and the majority of the 60% are not who gets blamed---kids and women! Some are in jail, some in hospitals, some have never worked for money as a salary!

OK, I vote to declare bankruptcy for all pension plans now! State, local, military, SS, Delta, AT&T, etc. And all disabled and sick. That is my solution, what is yours besides freezing public wages?

fayette County funded the formation of their employee pension fund with contributions from the employee's own 401 and 457 plans and it is largely self sufficient with the county supplementing it by cutting the employer match to the 401k. Most large private employers offer a similar 401k match.
Firefighters, Police Officers and Teachers have historically been vastly underpaid for the services they provide. Firefighters and Policemen place themselves in harms way to help us and there simply is no private sector equivalent to compare their compensation with.

Our children receive the best education in the state and our incredible rate of graduation and subsequent college success show the life long impact of receiving a quality education. Our educators deserve better from us. Starting teacher salary is less than an assistant manager of a fast food restaurant and new teachers can barely afford to live.

In your comparison you were sure to add the healthcare benefits of government employees to illustrate their salary discrepancy, but you forgot to mention any healthcare or employee match for your private sector example. Im sure if you are a full time journalist then you don't get these, but most of us are not in fact, self employed.

I'm not defending Cal here--he is capable of that, but I do have questions as to your meaning.
What does: "fayette County funded the formation of their employees pension plan with contributions from their employee's own 401k and 457 plans and it is largely self sufficient....?"
What has that got to do with what Cal said?

We all are aware of the so-called "underpaid and under appreciated" cops, firemen and teachers.
However that is what it is and has nothing to do with guaranteeing them a no-cut salary and a permanent job in a recession!

I figure Cal's employees get some help with their health insurance and some sort of investment for them and he probably participates to some degree. Also, if Cal makes a lot of money for the paper, he will make a lot of money, and vice-versa, I suppose.

The 5-0's picture

I agree 100% with areyouserious.

I just wanted to add a few additional things-

I work with a local LE agency and have yet to see any cost of living increases for over 4 years (long before the Great Recession began). Starting pay for an officer in this area is around $31,000. We pay for dental & medical insurance. We purchase a good bit of our uniforms and equipment. We work weekends, holidays, graveyard shifts and "special events" which often pay little or nothing extra. Local governments have found ways to get around overtime laws to where after working a 42.5 hour week, they'll only pay us straight time or force us to "comp" it. Starting officers get a week's vacation every year. Pensions? Retirement? You can forget that. If they do pay any sort of pension, it is so pathetic, they might as well not give anything. (Retiring right now after working 25 years will get us around $300 a month).

I'm sick and tired of people saying us public servants live the high life and have it too good. You say that local government isn't making any cuts? I could have sworn that the ENTIRE public works department in PTC was laid off. Haven't you also heard about entire police and fire departments closing down all over the country and their workers out of a job? How do you get off saying our jobs are safe and secure?!

citizenal's picture

I appreciate your service in LE. However, you simply do not present an accurate picture in general. My son in looking at fire fighting. He has been told at several departments that he can start around $38K and get several raises pretty quickly for getting certifications bringing him to around $50 in 18 mos if he puts in the time - and all this is without a college education. Your situation is not the issue. It is the big picture and the facts speak for them selves. Cal is not the only one writing about this. Look on the web and do your own research. Public servants are not immune to dislocation but they are doing way better than the public sector. In our own PTC your reference the layoff of the lawn mowers - please consider that this only happened because of stupid leadership that started that department in the first place and then didn't manage it efficiently. Public sector workers need to be in competition with private sector - and let the most efficient win! That is not the way it works now - not even close.

A fireman at $50,000 in 18 mo.? Sounds a little quick!

However if I get the gist of your statement, people who work in the sun (grass laborers) should either have to work twice as hard as they do, or make maybe $20,000 w/o benefits?

By the way that tunnel under the road (54) near Walmart Center, as you see it from Huddleston, looks like a SEAL or Ranger training ground----high brush and shrubbery leaning over the hole, and the paths nearly covered.

“Paul Light, a political scientist at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and a specialist on government employees, estimates that in 2005, there were 5.4 million federal service-contract workers, double the number in 1990.”

Just so you understand that means that 5.4 million people were employed by "private sector companies" that won government contracts.

“Paul C. Light, Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow and founding director of the Center for the Public Service at the Brookings Institution, is the author of The True Size of Government (Brookings, 1999)”

This article will give you some perspective about the numbers of federal workers.
<a herf="http://wiredworkplace.nextgov.com/2010/09/too_many_federal_workers.php">Too Many Federal Workers?</a>

If you’re really interested in seeing “where’s the money going”, look <a href="http://washingtontechnology.com/GIG/washingtontechnology/TopLists/Top-10....

It’s pretty much a given that the collective pay & benefits’ for the Presidents entire cabinet doesn’t make what any single member of the boards of these company’s bring home.

As per Paul Light, "It helps to understand what tax dollars are paying for so that people have some perspective of what they are buying - as in this case homeland security and wars. After 9/11, the public was demanding the federal government do something. It did -- and it took people to manage it. That puts much of the criticism leveled at the federal government into perspective."

As I happen to work “locally” in the fire service, the 38K starting and the 50K in 18 months isn’t in Fayette County, and no counties west, east or south of here either. Sure, I’m aware of other departments north of here paying more, and offering increases for certifications as well as some offering increased salaries just for being experienced when hired. Its reasons like that why some local departments have lost good people. As far as 50K, that’s a stretch in 18 months and I happen to know of experienced Firefighters right here in Fayette that have been on the job here 10 -15 years that don’t make 50K. Public safety agencies can vary greatly in pay and benefits from county to county, and in Fayette the pay and benefits aren’t what many other metro agencies offer, to keep good employees. What’s always been interesting though is the fact that you really don’t find local Public Safety employees complaining about their pay and benefits – they just deal with it and still strive to provide the best possible service to their residents.

The 5-0's picture

You made an interesting point when you mentioned that public sector workers need to be in competition with the private sector. "To let the most efficient win."

I don't believe that can work when it comes to the military, fire and police.

When our country had freelance firefighters, it was common to see rival firehouses fight one another in the streets to see who would be responsible for putting out the fire (and getting the $$). It wasn't beyond some individuals to start fires in their own areas in order to boost business for their fire fighting company.

The government tried to fight the Iraq and Afghan war "on the cheap." One of the ways this was done was by giving a lot of the mundane security and escort jobs to cheaper mercenary groups. Incidents involving Blackwater's excessive use of force showed the military and the government first-hand the error in not having highly trained and sufficiently led military units in those roles.

Not too long ago in American and Western European history, law enforcement was conducted by groups of armed vigilantes, lynch mobs, garrisoned troops and neighborhood watch units. Now we have national and state standards, education requirements, mandated yearly training, etc... to train modern-day law enforcement to not only respect the rule of law but to be intelligent enough to make educated decisions on the street and justify our actions in civil and criminal court. The only option there is (if you want to see competition with the private sector) is to bring about law enforcement companies. I'm not just talking about private security, their main job is to observe and report criminal activity to public safety officers. I mean privately hired companies that are given charters by local governments to enforce local ordinances and state law. Do you think the public would be better served by a mercenary-type police company over what we have currently?

Cyclist's picture


Blame solves nothing[/quote]

We have a winner!!!!!

Now well someone please tell this to a certain individual that lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

I do get tired of the never ending cry that teachers don't make very much. What other occupation can an individual, just out of college with a 4 year bachelors degree, get an entry level job starting at $35,000+ that also gives full health benefits, retirement, at least 2-3 months vacation, every holiday off, no late nights, no travel, home by a relatively early time every night, etc.? Not many!

With a little more schooling and a few years experience, the salaries go up to $60,000 - $70,000 and, in Atlanta to $80,426. Then, if you have more ambition, you can go into administration and get well into the 6 figures. All with significant vacation time, full benefits, easy hours and no to little travel.

Compare it with the average FBI agent who makes $50,000, works around the clock, lots of travel, physical requirements, doesn't get 2-3 months vacation, long nights, can be dangerous. Or a staff accountant making $40,000, only 2 weeks vacation if lucky, maybe has benefits, works around the clock during tax season or during an audit.

Teachers need to stop complaining and the public needs to stop buying into the hype spread by the teachers' unions.

If you are a "whatever" @ the airline, you should have checked PILOT on the application or don't complain about the pay. The FBI agent, the "staff acct" (you?), seem to have the education to go teach in the Atlanta school system & make what you quote. Have at it. Next job I go for I am checking "Boss". What "teachers' unions" are there in GA? Never heard of any collective bargin. or seen a stike.

school system and have not had a child in school for many years. I know many teachers and am aware of the fact that a teacher's day does not end with the school bell. There are papers to grade, parents to conference with, forms upon forms to be filled out. Teachers have to or chose to attend many after hour functions; the school play, the football game, graduations, baccalaureate and many others. On top of this, they deal with parents who either do not care or are 'helicopter' parents. They have to have teacher/parent conferences--which are not always pleasant. A good teacher has to be a surrogate parent, a psychologist, a disciplinarian (have to be very careful about this or Johnny/Susie's mom will come down on you if you are perceived to have been too harsh with your words.). As for that 2-3 month vacation--I am not too sure as to the exact amount of time but I know they have to be there a week or two before school starts and a week or two after school is over. I do believe their pay is based on nine months and they can choose to span it out over twelve months. Then too, in this economy, and with the wacky system we seem to have, there is the threat of losing your job regardless of the fact that you may be an excellent, caring teacher for many years-one who has gone the extra mile and taken extra classes to better themselves and yes-their pay scale. After being told they would get additional pay for additional classes taken at their own expense, this extra pay is taken away. Then, I don't even want to get into the frustration a good teacher must have to has to teach to the test rather than to the actual learning she wants to impart. As in any profession there are excellent teachers and those who should be shoe salesmen . One thing I do know is that I would not want to be a teacher and do admire those who do teach.

Everyone finds their job or position in life, some because they are blessed financially are able to get a better position due to a better education, there are those who come up through the ranks and achieve much. Then we have those others who do not achieve as much and consequently do not make as much but are sorely needed in our society--the shoe salesman, the waitress, the check-out person at Wal-mart, etc. I personally feel whatever your position and no matter what your pay scale is, you may begrudge the person who makes more and has more benefits, but you should not lose sight of the fact that they have achieved and earned what they are getting. Would I like to have that kind of money? Sure but I have not earned it. I guess what I am saying in too many words is that everyone is at the position they chose regardless of the reason and they know the hours and the pay and benefits going in. Therefore, we should appreciate those who go the extra mile--first and foremost those that put their lives on the line--our service personnel, our police and our fire personnel, then the teachers who spend many hours with our most precious and at times most vexing 'commodity', our children and our future, then those in the service industry that we could not do without. We need each and every one.


I thought you may understand that!

I think teachers get a set amount of salary per year which is paid over twelve months---2-3 months of which they can do with what they wish! Some do nothing, some vacation, some go to school sometimes, some get another job!

Your last long paragraph confuses me, I'm sorry.
"Paraphrasing:" we are where we are because we earned it, but also they knew the score when they took the job. Therefore we should appreciate those going the extra mile! Kids are tough to live with. Everyone has a dangerous job or is too hard! We need everyone of them no matter how many there are!
Rattles your brain!

If my post left you feeling confused, imagine how each and every one of yours leaves us. Tell Bonkie, $, et al "Hi" for us.

FBI agents make a lot more than $50,000 - check out the GS pay scale :-)

Depends on Grade, Step level, and Where assigned.

Also - be sure to look at GS 1811 (criminal investigator) plus add %25 extra for auo (automatic uncontrollable overtime)

And there is also most likely a "Shift Differential" for night duty. I don't really know, but would imagine the basic Agent is minimum GS-9, maybe GS-ll.

Pay for FBI agents is just like pay for teachers, cops, firemen, etc.

Starting pay is insufficient to get the best, but within five years they make 35% at least more.

Within 10 years twice as much.

What needs to be considered is how many senior people are on the payroll, for whatever reason, and what is their average pay? We know what starting pay is!

All this night shift premium, automatic 20% overtime, special pay, insider's way to patrolling for civilian pay at more than cop pay, etc. is for starters!

......to look this stuff up:

FBI Special Agents start as GS-10 w. degree.
Starting base pay is $51,043 which includes + or - for location
That is added to for being available up to $61,000 - $69,000
(they are required to be available at least 50 hours/week)
The total range is up to $106,000. 90% of them are not rookies!

Don't know the weighted average, would guess after 5-10 years about $75,000
including all add-ons.
Their benefits are great. Many can't make it through boot camp. Many are too independent to be able to stay and get canned or quit.
They have few disloyal people after 2-3 years, nor unhappy ones.

Last bummer was the spy who worked around Washington. You know the Catholic Saint!

You shouldn't need to know more!

Now what do you think our enforcement people get under same circumstances?
For instance a Major with 10-15 years? How many actually make the minimum?

According to the most recent numbers available from the United States Census, average teacher pay in Georgia is $49,950. My wife started 6 years ago at $24,000, not 35 (with certification in special ed.). A "little education" is at night, after school. Not to mention that it's not Free either. The begining teachers have to use that HUGE salary of 25k to pay tuition as well. Daily paperwork, and it's every day, comes after that. Three months off for summer break is the first week in June until the first week in August. I'll let you do the math. Teachers stay a week after your kids get out and start a week before they do. (Special ed. Teachers have to start even earlier in July for extra meetings with other teachers and parents) There is no teachers union in Georgia. There is an entity called the “Professional Association for Georgia Educators” which is NOT a bargaining agency, it’s more of a lobbying group without any real leverage over anything.
If you're really a board member, you're just lying. If you're not, you're just lying.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

The salaries are published and public record. The additional education? Anyone in any field who wants to get promotions and move ahead will probably have to further education themselves and it isn't free. Do you think teachers should be an exception? Daily paperwork? Don't most jobs have this? Do you think teachers shouldn't? Summer break from June to Aug.? Please name another occupation that an entry level person right out of college gets more vacation time that that in their first year. Most companies I know don't qualify employees for vacation until after they have been there one year. I never said I was a 'school' board member so please stop the name calling.

Yes, teachers have health benefits and retirement benefits, vacation benefits, easy hours that the private sector could only dream of, especially if you look at those who are self-employed. Then govt workers, teachers included, can participate in 403(b) retirement which allows them to put even more money away tax-deferred and growing tax free. Meanwhile the tax laws against self-employed people have been tightened down considerably.

WOW, are you misinformed. In 30 years of employment, public and private sector, I was regularly required to take courses to stay relevant, learn new technology and work with others to teach, and learn various techniques. I NEVER paid out of pocket. I'm not just talking about 1 day seminars, I was sent to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, paid by my employer. Other than teaching, I can't think of an industry where continued education is MANDITORY, and the employee is forced to pay. Please educate me.

Summer break is not a vacation. People get PAID for vacation time. It's a furlough, and teachers are not paid for it. You seem to equate time out of work as a vacation. GREAT NEWS, there's no unemployment, just a lot of people taking leisure time away from work!
In addition to all these "easy hours" teachers enjoy, without any representation in GA, they also get "EXTRA" vacation days awarded by the district. Oh, they don't get paid for these either? No bother, they can just stop PAYING for their health insurance and all is good.

Yes, salaries are public record and published. I posted a source for my numbers and also shared part of our household income earned by a teacher. Where you just making a general statement, or do you stand by 35k to start and shortly thereafter 60k with a "Little" education?
If you really know the numbers but fudge them to make a point, that's a lie.

Comparing a public school teacher to a private business owner? Apples to ice cream.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

Now you are just being silly. Continuing education is not the same thing as going to college to get additional advanced degrees. Yes, MBA's in business generally make more than someone with a 4 year degree in business. It is the same with teachers and that is how it should be.

But, fyi, you are very uninformed if you think teachers have the only mandatory continuing education. People from insurance agents, to chiropractors, to financial planners to CPAs have to do mandatory continuing education. The fact that you don't know this shows your complete lack of understanding of the marketplace.

As far as summer being vacation or not, I'm talking annual compensation packages, in other words what the employee gets and what they have to do to get a certain salary. So your argument that teachers aren't "paid" for summers is total bunk.

At least your other posts made sense, even if they were filled with make believe numbers. Maybe you were in a hurry when you responded, but after several readings, most of this is just gibberish. I agree an MBA makes more than someone with a 4-year degree, and should, what’s your point?

I will AGAIN say, comparing a teacher to business owner is not a fair comparison. Each of those you named can hang out a shingle and open shop, so sure, a CPA taking courses to keep up with the tax code would pay out of his/her own pocket. They also have the ability to earn more by taking on additional clients/patients. Teachers don’t graduate and then decide to work for a corporation or go it on their own. They can’t just open a school.

I think your just being disingenuous to try and make your original fallacies stick. I said right up front that I didn’t know about other occupations that REQUIRED an advanced degree as a condition of employment and made the employee pay for it. Being afraid to admit that you don’t know it all demonstrates massive insecurity. I don’t pretend to know everything, and won’t LIE to make my point.
Speaking of which, you didn’t answer what was inconvenient. (Actually you didn’t answer anything) Are you sticking by the salary numbers you posted? I maintain that they were greatly inflated.

Lastly, teachers are PAID for SCHOOL YEAR. They DO NOT get paid for the summer break. Their contracts spell out that they are not hired on a 365 day yearly contract.

Not sure why I’ve even bothered to respond. You’re obviously a sophist, and will twist, turn, exaggerate or lie to make your point.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

I don't know what teachers you are hanging with, but I am a contract employee who is paid to work 190 days. No more, no less. I don't get paid vacations. The days I'm not working, I am not getting paid. I don't know what you mean by full health benefits; do you mean that the employee and their family are covered for free (nothing deducted from the paycheck)? If so, you are wrong. Retirement? It's deducted. Social security? Deducted. Life insurance? Deducted. I don't think I get anything for free if that is what you are implying. What do I give for free? Time before and after my contract hours. Thirty minutes to an hour each day. It adds up. You're right about the late nights, unless you coach (been there, done that) and then you will have many, many late nights and the pay breaks down to about $2 an hour. Coaches obviously coach for the love of the sport and aren't we lucky that they do? My daughter's friend is an RN. She went to college for 2 years, makes almost the same as me (I have 17 years exp and 3 degrees), works 36 hours, but gets paid for 40 and you can bet that if she goes in 15 minutes early or stays late to work with her patients, or meets with their family after hours, she is compensated. She doesn't take any work home with her; no charts to grade, data to enter, phone calls to patients families, etc. I'm seriously thinking of getting such a degree. GPBS has stated that there will be a huge shortage of nurses in the near future. Job security, right? And please...do tell...what is the name of the teacher's union in Georgia? Oh that's right..it doesn't exist!! hahahahahaha!!

More "scouting" around all the facts!

There are 365 and 1/4 days in a year. You work 180.

That leaves 365 - 180 = 185 that you don't work.

There are about 100 Saturdays and Sundays which leaves 80 days of no work + Holidays off.

80 days divided by 5 work days per week = 16 weeks off.
Or 80 days divided by 7 days = 11 1/2 weeks off! (Sorry- you said 190 days) (That is 10 weeks off) (This is a revision of a Typo)

It is my understanding that you can get bigger paychecks for 10 months and none for 2 months, or 12 smaller checks for 12 months. Doesn't this county offer that? You draw the same per year whichever way.

I have no objection to any of this, but it has nothing to do with being able to pay you anything!

Your deductions include about one fourth to one third of your health insurance costs. The county picks up 3/4 to 2/3 of the cost.

The Social Security and Medicare deductions are paid one-half by you and 1/2 by the county. Money well spent for your old age. Yes it will be there. If you had it....no, it wouldn't be there.

Now as to Nursing. First it takes a special person to be a Registered Nurse or a PA or a NP. Tough school for nerves and work.
Secondly--Hospitals are open 365 days a year 24 hours a day seven days a week. You must take your turn with nights, weekends and Holidays! You can't make many mistakes! None serious.

Now if you can do that, go get 2-4 more years of technical training and go after it.

Teaching is supposed to be a dedication.

Tenure is the problem anymore. Bad sorry teachers can't be fired. As to unions, They are protected but can't bargain for salary.

Mr. Beverly,

Could you please expand on our comment below? Why exactly should members of the military be exempt from your plan? Or, are you saying that only front-line service people should be exempt? If so, do you mean that the the supply sergeant that serves 20 years at Fort McPherson without ever being deployed to a war zone would be subject to the pay freeze? Just trying to understand your logic here.

Quote from Cal
'One caveat: Yes, our armed forces members are part of the federal workforce. Of all people on the planet, our warriors most deserve every penny paid to them. I hope the coming revolt against public sector excesses manages to avoid lumping our front-line service men and women in with the rest.'

Perhaps a solution would be to freeze basic pay and increase Hazardous Duty Pay, Rations Not Available and Housing Allowances. What I know is that I lived comfortably in 1977 in this area on E-8 pay and my spouse was a full-time Mother/Housewife. I am aware that this would probably not be possible today.

citizenal's picture

Thank you for this thoughtful editorial. There is so much being thrown against the wall that we often miss the really important issues. We need to focus on this one.

PTC Observer's picture

Cal these numbers are not surprising and really don’t capture the full extent of the burden of a bloated government apparatus. The number of “private sector” jobs associated with government through contract simply dwarfs the number of direct government employment. After all the revenue stream of taxes and debt going to support government has to go somewhere. The fact is that our government federal, state and local has become an overwhelming leviathan that is consuming our country.

What is the solution? Sadly there isn’t an easy one as you so aptly point out in your column. In fact this sad state of affairs has been repeated over and over again throughout history. The French Revolution was as much about revolting against the King’s smothering beadledom as it was about liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Our government is out of control and it is headed straight for the abyss and it will drag us all down with it.

Observer, I'm trying to understand what position your taking here. Would you agree that a private sector gov't contractor would be, atleast partialy, what Cal is screaming for? Without those contracts how many more people would be out of work, how many more private businesses would close? Should we do away with the contractors and have cities, counties, states and the fed hire full time plumbers, electricians, hvac repairmen, researchers, security specilists, etc? Oh, wait. Then they would be govt employees...

PTC Observer's picture

I don't know how much economic training you may have had so I will keep this simple. There are two primary schools of thought in economics; Keynesian economics and the Austrian school. Keynesian economics is taught in government run schools. This theory proposes that government can stimulate economies through government spending and that government is better equipped than individuals to decide how to allocate scarce resources. It can "smooth" the ups and downs of the economic cycle, notwithstanding the historical evidence to the contrary. The competing Austrian theory proposes that individuals that are free to choose how they spend their money “decide” through their money “vote” how resources should most efficiently be allocated. In other words it responds to peoples wants and needs through free exchange of goods.

These two competing theories can tend to cancel each other out. So the debate has been raging since the Great Depression when both emerged. The Great Depression was the one historical event that gave the Keynesian theory "legs". FDR latched onto Keynes' theory and promoted it during this period and it became the socialist mantra for “proof” that even economists believed in centralized government planning and control of the economy.

Now here’s the problem we face, as government becomes bigger and bigger, it soaks up money that would otherwise be allocated by free individuals. The money called “free capital” or “free float” disappears because it is artificially taken from individuals and allocated to resources that aren’t efficiently answering consumer needs, the money is answering the needs of government. Now we all know how efficient government is, right?

Under the Austrian theory, the consumer is king. The market should and does allocate based on what individual consumers want and need. It is based on the freedom of the market to operate. It also promotes individual freedom (Liberty), view this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwjjKFoBPcA for a description of the Philosophy of Liberty. In my opinion the theory of the Austrian School is the best way to lift mankind out of poverty and create individual wealth.

Now I will answer your question, every time the government allocates money taken from individuals by force and allocates it to others, it is inefficient. It doesn’t matter whether it spends money on government employees, government contractors or gives it to “worthy” individuals. The government is inefficient because it does not address the needs of consumers and it removes “free capital” to create market driven jobs. The only thing it does do is expand its power to continue its inefficient ways.

The free market (free individual exchange)is the best way to improve the lot of mankind.

Remember “The more power government has to provide things, the more power it has to dictate terms.” – Sheldon Richman

For more on the Austrian School of Economics – discover the Ludwig von Mises Institute at http://mises.org/

Mike King's picture

Here in good old Peachtree City the citizens are obligated to 'contribute' in excess of $1.4M to its own city worker persion fund (FY 2010 Budget). Worse yet, it is increasing annually. I wonder if any Council Member would care to comment?

Mr. King if you hate Ptc and its workers so very much why don't you find someplace else? Im not trying to be smart, asking a serious question. It seems you have sense of entitlement, and with your military service you should, but it seems like you think no one else is entitled to a govt pension. Why do you feel you any better than anyone else who worked or works for a govt entity? What makes you more entitled than a firefighter, cop, librarian or secretary all of which serve the people and in the first two examples risk their lives as you did in your military career? Might not be combat opps but when was the last time you ran into a burning building or took a phone call from an upset citizen that screamed at you for their mistake?

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take anything from our service men and women, I'm very very pro military. But I'm very pro fire and police as well and don't understand why you would want to take away from our domestic protectors and servants?

Mike King's picture

I have the highest regard for both police and fire department personnel, what I protest is the numbers that we in Peachtree City currently have. Individually, both policemen and firefighters deserve the same admiration afforded soldiers, in my opinion.

For a city that could be served concurrently by a Sheriff's Department and a County Fire/EMS, do you not see any potential savings? The $1.4M paid annually by the city covers primarily those unassociated with either fire or police other than to provide 'staff' support. The reasons that such functions that could be combined and are not are purely political and have nothing to do with serving the best interest of the public.

Don't get me wrong, I do not advocate the elimination of city police or fire departments, but I do recognize duplicity of effort. In times of economical stress even the military has taken cuts, and they have done so when that stress was much less. Few PTC police ever reach retirement as they are gone prior to being eligible.

What I protest is a Police Chief who by all rights should have been fired, but due to inaction by Council was allowed to retire at the city's expense. The Asst City Manager position that your mayor takes credit for eliminating was afforded 100 percent of his salary in retirement for life.

If you disagree and believe that any of these funcions cannot be combined, then you and I are at an impass. But a little thinking outside the box might just save the job of both a cop and firefighter when there simply are no funds remaining.

We are at an impass, but we are entitled to our opinions. What you suggest about combining services is improbable and very expensive and in the long run, you pay anyway. The fact is that neither the county sheriffs dept or the county fire dept have the personnel to take over city services in part or as a whole. More deputies and firefighters would have to be hired. In addition the sheriff's dept (all in the state) are only required to run the county jail. They have no obligation to provide patrol units to cover municipalities. They don't even have to have a patrol division. So you have two possibilities. 1. You pay more for more deputies anyway. Or 2. The Sheriff doesn't hire more and you get less law enforcement to cover the city.

If you look at other cities the size of PTC you'll see that ptc actually does more with less. both fire and police. And you'll see a lower crime rate than most. Only Kennasaw has a lower crime rate: but they also have almost twice the police officers that Ptc has.

As for your other points, i agree. But those decisions were made what? two, three years ago? Whats been done is done. As we've heard since childhood; Ain't no use crying over spilled milk. I'm pretty sure council and the mayor know that they would be tarred and feathered if they make a similar decision.

My opinion, one at least, is to stop wasting money on the cart paths. Granted some need fixed, fix those as needed. But, The new roundabout loop-de-loop at the parkway near Booth, waste of money. The new loop-de-loop under 74 at Pascal, waste. The bridge at flat creek, waste. Two gateway bridges on 54 and 74, hope they're joking. Saw the tunnel they're building under 74 at the baseball soccer complex, hope they wait a few years before deforesting half the south side to build a path to it. Same goes for widening the bridge at lake ptree. While most are crying over the milk thing, holding off would save at least a few million now until things pick up.

Mike King's picture

Valid points, but consider the consolidation of similar functions within the three department headquarters. I'm not advocating a drastic reduction of those who are on the cutting edge, but most (two-thirds) of those staff types who perform the same function regardless of locale.

On the additional cart path tunnels we agree as I believe they will eventually serve as examples for the PTCPD to use when requesting additional manpower to try and attempt to eradicate the graffitti. Something they cannot do, but they claim is a result of the massive gang problem they confront daily.

Spilled milk ignored and allowed to continue being spilled is not only wasteful, but it is a sign of neglect by those responsible.

Just be glad Mr. King didn't win when he ran for council. He writes about the excess of employees that PTC has, yet PTC has far fewer employees than ANY similar sized cities in Georgia, and has for many years - It's always been called doing more with less. He writes about the PD buying a Mustang, and that it was more expensive than the Crown Vic's they have , even though it was a gift from the state (Free), then still writes that it "still costs more"? He then tags that particular string with something like "it was going to increase our liability with overzealous officers getting into pursuits" - but as I pointed out with that string, since the Mustang has been assigned to a DARE officer, I didn't see too many pursuits occurring in the hallways at the school.
He's continually attacks the employee pensions, even after the Pension Workshop which was held by Council months ago found that PTC pays less than just about any other city around in pensions and PTC employees have the about the lowest pension benefit. And the system of having two (partial) pensions was the most cost effective. That meeting even ended with one Council Member stating something to the effect of "if not for the currant economy, council would have to look into increasing the employee pension benefits". I think Imker must have been dozing off through most of that workshop as he still doesn't get it either.
As for combining / merging Public Safety agencies in the county, I guess King once again points out his lack of knowledge on a subject, one that has been looked at COUNTLESS times, always with the same results. I know from the Fire/EMS aspect, it would cost PTC residents considerably more in taxes, and the end result was a substantial reduction in service. I'm not going into the many particulars here now, but I have posted many of them before in these forums, and there have been the many meetings, newspaper articles on the subject in the past, including the H.B. 489 discussions years ago. Mr. King will just continue with his erroneous posts and then add that he "has the highest regard for both police and fire department personnel" - BS.
It's obvious he has some axe to grind, maybe still a sore loser from his previous run at a council seat. As for attacking the previous Assistant City Manager's pension, what, Colin didn't deserve a pension for his many years he served as the city's Public Works Director, or is it just the fact that his final years of employment were in the position of Assistant City Manager, which hits Mr. King's nerve?

Mike King's picture

It's obvious you are a city employee and rightfully protective of your livelihood, but please consider that the $1.4M the city pays to your pension fund represents some four percent of the total revenue received by the city annually. Further, that sum is growing and unless that trend is reversed perhaps my grandkids and your kids will be stuck paying for the entitlements you 'earned' before they are allowed to feed their own families.

Approximately one in six American workers are employed by government, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that ratio cannot be sustained. Take into account that government employees are paid substantially better and receive much better benefits than their private sector counterparts, and that disparity widens. Further, this total does not include those contracted by government to accomplish what government workers were hired to do but are unable.

Your city is nearly at build out both commercial and residential, businesses are unwilling to relocate here because of high startup costs, and fewer young families are relocating to PTC. Many folks like myself are looking to downsize now that the kids are grown and gone, and those moving here are looking at senior housing.

Face facts, your revenue is in decline and is projected to remain so. Do you really expect those on Social Security to fund your retirement?

First those “entitlements” you refer to are part of the overall benefits package that recruits and keeps many of us in this field of work, as the pay isn’t what you seem to think for many of us, so all you have left is your pension, passion and pride in the job you do. Second, you lump Public Safety into “government workers” and in the same sentence state “we are paid substantially better / than our private sector counterparts” – As a municipal firefighter compared to what? I personally don’t know whom to compare myself to in the private sector, as there aren’t a lot of people starting up private fire companies in this area.
While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say I’ve worked elsewhere; in fact an issue in my interview when I was hired here was the fact that PTC paid so much less than the other agency I worked for. Further, if comparing my position today, I make easily 40% to 50% less than my previous department for the same position, as PTC still pays far less. Also, had I stayed at that previous agency I worked for, I would have a pension paying far more even than my currant PTC annual salary. I’m not sure what metric to use in comparing to the private sector, but it seems that you think PTC pays all it’s employees really, really well. I know you’ve previously thrown out some figure of dozens of six-figure employees on staff, that’s brought a chuckle to many.
For a comparison and again I can’t speak for everyone, I am aware of one of our neighboring agencies whom has a starting scale for the same position I hold, that’s 28% higher than my currant salary. I didn’t just enter my currant position/grade, so I’m not even near “starting salary” and I’ve even gained many outstanding merit appraisals in my time. While I’ve referenced pay disparities in this blog, it’s never been about pay for me and many of my co-workers, sure it would be nice to make more, just like it would be nice to have a better pension like many other agencies have. There are many other factors that come into play in public safety workers deciding, where they want to work their careers.
You write about build-out and revenue in decline, but we’re really no different to the many cities that were used for comparisons at the council’s Retirement Workshop, are those cities going to balance their budgets on the employees pay and benefits – I don’t think so. You mention “senior housing” and people looking for that, do you realize the ageing population in general is what’s requiring more and more attention from public safety. This translates to needing more personnel to handle higher call volume by Police and Fire/EMS, but you’ve already decided there are already too many employees, how’s that going to work out.
You’re the one whom keeps posting up about the high percentage of city revenue (I believe something like 68 % or so according to you – without looking for that post) going to employee salaries and benefits – maybe a stupid question, but what does ANY city’s budget go towards? Cities aren’t in manufacturing or retail so they’re not buying widgets to build or sell. It’s much like any business in the service industry that provides “a service” and not a product – ultimately equating to a higher percentage of expenditure going to personnel, to borrow a quote of yours –“that doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to figure out.
It’s almost like you want to put past councils bad financial decisions on the backs of the currant and future city employees. As Peachtree City residents, both you and I have the infrastructure, all the services and amenities; but you just don’t want to pay for them, it’s of your opinion the city should just take it out of the employee’s hides.
Here is what I take from your posts: You lump the understaffed local government of Peachtree City with “government in general”. You have no idea of what’s needed to provide the level of services that most PTC residents want, expect or demand. You obviously don’t see that city staff provides their residents/customers with more or a higher level of service as compared to other communities, and have continually done so over the years with less people. You continually attack the pay and benefits of the city employees on these blogs without any clue as to what you’re talking about. You have continually shown disdain towards the employees of Peachtree City including those whom serve to protect you and your family and finally you regularly display with your posts in this forum, inaccurate and un-factual statements that mislead readers.

I think Mr. King ran into many more "burning" buildings, and was shot at much more than the average fire or policeman!
He also draws a nice pension for that service, I suppose.

That is not exactly his point, I don't think.
He is suggesting "fewer" positions, not less pay and pensions!
The money isn't there.
If things keep going as they are, his pension money may also not all be there!
Make your case based upon quantity of employees, not much about salary each, although there probably are too many higher ranking people.

When the draft was the primary way to raise armies the pay and benefits were minimum. The average G.I. pay in the 50s was about $2,000 per year--spending money but of no help for the future in the military unless one stayed 30 years at those wages. The G.I. Bill for education was very helpful.
Currently, not counting the enormous sums paid contractors, the average G.I. pay now is about $50,000 plus benefits. There are many Sergeants, and a great deal of combat pay recently!

Going from $2,000 per year to $50,000 has more than doubled the actual cost of a soldier. That includes inflation factored into the numbers.
This is mostly due to a volunteer military instead of a draft as needed.

These are very round numbers but within reason as a comparison. It gets so complicated to try and actually get a very accurate number that it is extremely arguable.

If we simply compare the budgets of then and now of the Defense Department for an equal number of soldiers, the numbers look much worse. The efficiency of machines over human numbers has reduced the needs of so many soldiers but more expensive in cash.

WEe also no longer fully occupy what we take, and that requires fewer soldiers, but is not as successful.

Those who try to price what contractors cost to do logistics, food, transportation, profit and manpower find the numbers sickening, and not many even try for a gross number!

These statistics are simply an attempt to indicate the status of where we are with the military costs and results.
There is no criticism of the individual soldier intended nor is what reward they get meant to be lowered.
The master plan is the problem.

hutch866's picture

Once again you're full of it....Here's the pay scale, not hard to find at all...


I yam what I yam

If you are speaking to me about the military enlisted pay, you are wrong if you think I am?

Do a little forensics once in a while.

An average pay for an E-5 combined with an E-6 and averaged, which is where the majority by far are located you will fine an average base salary of between 37-40,000 dollars per year.

PLUS; Combat pay; GITMO pay; Overseas pay; Sea Pay, and exchange privileges, clothing, housing, food, utilities, and a whole multitude of "special pays." (Life Insurance).

I didn't even include in my estimate most of those items.

They earn it due to being available if nothing else.

Your thinking however is the same way that civilian people talk about wages paid by taxes: Starting pay and nothing else.

Yeah they get the base pay and health at least for life if they stay until full retirement.

We should just replace those government workers with less expensive illegal aliens. Harold Logsdon did it in Peachtree City. It would be tougher to file for a burning permit in Spanish so the city employee could read it, but we'd save a bundle of cash to waste elsewhere.

Now that's change we can believe in!!!

All good things come to an end. So just tell the employees lifes a bitch this is what we can do for you, if they dont like it give them 2 months pay and make sure the door doesnt hit them in the ass on the way out. This should start at the federal level, cuts in pay and benifits and make sure the federal workers pay the 1 billion in back taxes they owe before you let them go. See it pretty easy, its called tough love


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