Wednesday, August 8, 2012

- Some Jobs Shouldn't Be Saved

The head groundskeeper for the Putnam Valley School system in rural Putnam County NY, makes $90,000 per year. And that's with the football field at the new High School being made of Astroturf. The school superintendant in this modest sized hamlet (there are only a total of 3,000 students in the entire school system) makes over 200K per year. The new high school they built during the 1990's is a palace and the compensation they offer to their teachers and staff is designed to 'compete' for talent with other more prosperous communities in nearby Westchester County.

This profligate spending has raised local real estate taxes so high that the wealthier home owners have begun selling their homes at a loss relative to inflation, just to leave the taxes behind. As they leave the home values are adjusted down and property tax revenues will eventually follow them as the new owners demand new tax valuations. But the ludicrously generous contracts entered into with the school system staff can't be abandoned so easily, the unions and their lawyers will see to that. So eventually the town will end up bankrupt, and will have to renegotiate with everyone, including the union.

This is how it works in the public sector where politics holds absolute sway. In the private sector though, it's different. In the private sector when there has been bad management, you can terminate employee's contracts, close factories and do what you must to save the institution; or you can decide to close it up entirely and sell off its assets. It's subject to the owner's discretion - and that's how it should be. Surely that's what 'private property' still means right? Even in the age of Obama?

So I don't buy all this talk of workers having their lives destroyed by a factory being closed. No one in the private sector, NO ONE, closes a factory where the products are being produced efficiently and the institution is generating profit. I'd be willing to bet that those plants that were closed all involved labor unions who had companies in a choke hold and the owners had the choice of closing the factory, or going out of business.

The principle that there are jobs which are worth 'saving' at any price is mistaken. We each have a responsibility to make ourselves marketable. We need to produce more value than we cost. Otherwise, we might as well all be working in government subsidized union dominated buggy whip manufacturers. Some jobs shouldn't be saved. Sometimes those people should move on to do other things. And we need to let the market decide which jobs those are, not the government. If 'the market' decides then we end up giving customers the things they want. If we let government decide, then we end up making things that politicians want.

And as we enter the era of the municipal bankruptcy, one lesson we should take with us is how poorly our politicians are at running anything.


chess said...

"Otherwise, we might as well all be working in government subsidized union dominated buggy whip manufacturers."
You have just stated the endpoint in Obamanomics.
Sir you can go to the head of the class.

frithguild said...

Municipal officials, elected or not, do a fine job doing what they were elected to do. Public sector unions and their friends support candidates that if elected will sit accross from them at the bargaining table. One who campaigns on a platform of reducing services commits political suicide. As municipal bankruptcies become more common, so will policies to avoid them because those in power want to remain there or move to higher office

Tom said...

That's an interesting theory, but at the end of the day someone isn't getting something. Since debt purchases are voluntary rather than compulsory, there isn't anything that government can do to compel the purchase. And in my mind that means the unions are going to get hit hard. Spending will be reduced whatever the political viability of it.

Unless you're imagining empowering municipalities to compel debt purchases. Buy a bond get a contract, or something like that.

frithguild said...

Every pig at the trough gets slaughtered in a bankruptcy. If the budget becomes untenable and municipal officials are smart enough to see it coming, the big pigs squeeze out the little ones. So yes, at the end of the day somebody goes hungry. Only then is the barnyard neat enough to sell debt.

Chess said...

This is the kind of shit I am dealing with. HALF.. HALF

St. Louis firefighters are notorious for abusing their taxpayer-supported pension with nearly half of all firefighters retiring with some kind of "injury" granting them a lifetime of benefits. Often those same "disabled" firefighters -- who say they're too handicapped to work -- go on to engage in physical activities like snowboarding or karate.

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