TEA and Fantasy

"Many people live in information cocoons in which they talk only to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect."

David Brooks
NY Time columnist

"They come with perceptions fundamentally at odds with reality...and create a world in which their consumers have a reality presented to them that is completely at odds with the reality the rest of us live in."

Michael Tomasky
New York Review of Books


Roadkill said...

“There are, indeed, two Americas: the increasingly straitened world of the private sector, where jobs are competitive, money is scarce, and job security is, for many, nonexistent; and the lush world of the government employee, where competition is more or less unknown, salaries and benefits often double those available to private workers, retirement is ten or more years earlier than in the private sector, and it may take a felony to get fired.

"This is the central economic conflict of our time, between lavishly compensated and ever more gluttonous government employees, and wealth-creating private citizens who are increasingly unable to support their public-sector masters in the style to which they have become accustomed.”

John Hinderaker

Roadkill said...

Speaking of Reality, and living in that of one's own creation, check out this recent (6/1/10) column by Richard Cohen, [Extremely Liberal Columnist] from the Washington Post:

"This is a good news, bad news column. The good news is that crime is again down across the nation -- in big cities, small cities, flourishing cities and cities that are not for the timid. Surprisingly, this has happened in the teeth of the Great Recession, meaning that those disposed to attribute criminality to poverty -- my view at one time -- have some strenuous rethinking to do. It could be, as conservatives have insisted all along, that crime is committed by criminals. For liberals, this is bad news indeed."


Facts can be cast and recast, and often are by people who don't want to accept the conclusions that logically are drawn from them. It appears that Richard Cohen has bumped into reality, and to his credit, has renounced one of the pat liberal dogmas regarding the cause of crime.

The question is, what other liberal dogmas (i.e. private property and corporate profits are bad; big government, high taxes, and deficit spending are good) will also wither in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Sunny B. said...

Hinderaker says some interesting things, but what's his point? Is this the boiling frog syndrome? Is he blaming it on the unions? Is the government sector the cause of the competition in the private sector and the low wages? Sounds like a free market whiner to me.

If you want the unfettered potential of boundless riches, you better take the private sector path. If you want the uninspired comfort and predictability offered by government jobs, take that route. It's all about choices.

Who is Hinderaker blaming for this perceived ill? Obama? Bill Ayers? Che? Mao? Marx? 99 percent of the voting public whose closes contact with politics are candidate commercials on TV?

I don't by this agrument. I don't see any credible uproar over Hindraker's rant. Polaris is leaving Osceola and moving 500 jobs to Mexico. They are planning to build a big factory farm in St. Croix County that will get most of is labor from Mexico. The manufacturers in the area only hire temps and don't give paid vacations, sick leave, petions, bonuses, etc. That's your free market utopia.

Notice how the "drill baby drill" crowd is now the same crowd trying to blame Obama with the the Gulf oil disaster. So much for private industry caring for more than its bottom line.

Roadkill said...

Are the public officials listed in the story below leaving what you describe as "the uninspired comfort and predictability offered by government jobs?” Perhaps they are off to seek “the unfettered potential of boundless riches” in the private sector.

Associated Press
23 July 2010

BELL, Calif. – Three administrators whose huge salaries sparked outrage in this small (Pop. 40,000) blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles have agreed to resign, the City Council said Friday.

Council members emerged from an hours-long closed session at midnight Friday and announced that they'd accepted the resignations of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams.

Rizzo was the highest paid at $787,637 a year — nearly twice the pay of President Barack Obama — for overseeing one of the poorest towns in Los Angeles County.
Spaccia makes $376,288 a year and Adams earns $457,000, 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

"I'm happy that they resigned but I'm disappointed at the pension that they're going to receive," said Ali Saleh, a member of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse or BASTA.

Rizzo would be entitled to a state pension of more than $650,000 a year for life, according to calculations made by the LA Times. That would make Rizzo, 56, the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system.

Adams could get more than $411,000 a year.

Spaccia, 51, could be eligible for as much as $250,000 a year when she reaches 55, though the figure is less precise than for the other two officials, the Times said.


This would appear to support Hinderaker's thesis that there are two Americas – public sector and private sector – and they are just as he describes them.

Sooner or later, liberals will have to acknowledge that public employees and their unions are driving state and local governments into insolvency, and that something must be done about it.

At least the poor folks in Bell, CA are making a start in the right direction.

Sunny Badger said...


It's government by the people for the people, etc...

People like to bitch about government. Few take the time to get off their ass, get involved and figure out what is going on.

Those who show up at the meetings have a voice. The decisions on these pay increases are being made at public meetings. Where is the opposition? Where are the TEA Party people? Evidently they only bitch about federal issues.

Do you heard the TEA Party complaining about government welfare to rich farmers? No. There are lots of farmers in the TEA Party movement and at the rallies. They got guns and also want to stop the socialism...which they are part of.

Roadkill said...


C'mon now; you know perfectly well that "farmers in the tea party movement" are not driving state and local governments into bankruptcy. Bloated public sector salaries, pensions, and social programs are doing it. Examples abound.

But you make two valid points, one regarding the lack of public interest in self-government until we are all in finanical extremis, and another regarding the bloat and waste of farm subsidies.

Sunny B. said...

If you can't overcome a lack of interest or understanding by those that vote, how do you stop politicians from pandering to the special interests that fund and the sports-fan-mentalities who vote for them?

The long run view seems to have two camps. We have the money -- as in public debts and deficits - matter and we have to stop this madness or our kids will have to pay for it. Then there's the we-have-to-save the Earth for our children and future generations. Maybe I'm simplifying this, but in the shouting match of today's partisan, political pissing match, you must think one way or the other. There's no compromise.

If we are talking about a political system that leans toward "democracy," we must include the concept of compromise. There no compromise in totalitarian states or a state of anarchy and that's where the political fringers seem to see us going in the cheats seats of the perspective end zones.

Farm subsidies are a tiny portion of the problem. Likewise, earmarks are a tiny portion of the problem. Eliminating the tiny portions completely isn't likely to happen. But the big issues like social security, military spending, etc. still remain.

A beer-addled letter writer in the New Richmond News last week quoted Ted Nugent saying "it's open season on politicians." Are people naive enough to believe replacing a politician with a politician is going to change things?

Roadkill said...

This is an interesting news item that directly pertains to our discussion, manifesting some of the "credible uproar" you were asking about in an earlier comment:

Calif. controller: Disclose municipal salaries

August 3rd, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) --

"California's controller is ordering all cities and counties to start reporting the salaries of elected officials and public employees.

"Controller John Chiang said Tuesday he will post the information on his website beginning in November.

"The directive comes after revelations that the Southern California city of Bell paid three of its top administrators a total of $1.6 million a year. Part-time City Council members were paid nearly $100,000 a year.

"Currently, local governments must report only general figures about revenue and expenditures to the state controller's office."

It seems that John Edwards was right - there are two Americas: Well paid Public Employees on the one hand, and lower-paid Private Employees - who provide via their taxes the lavish salaries, benefits, and pensions of public employees - on the other.

Fortuately, it appears the citizenry is starting to wake up to the unfairness and unsustainability of the situation.

Roadkill said...

In my previous comment, I suggested that the great disparity between public and private incomes was "unfair." That was an unfortunate use of a word that normally is weilded by the left in order to wring more tax money out of the producers and job-creators in our society.

More accurate adjectives, when describing the great disparity between large public sector and smaller private sector incomes - especially since the public sector sets their own salaries, benifits, and pensions in law, would be "rapacity" or "avariciousness." I mean, how else do you describe a situation where the 38,000 residents of a small California city (per capita income <25K) were paying the city administrator almost $800,000.00 per year, the police chief over $450,000.00 per year, and each city council member almost $100,000.00 per year? With all those salaries set by the public officials who are raking in the cash?

I guess "immoral" would also work.

Sunny B. said...


"Immoral" is a religious concept isn't it? How can you apply that to government. Government isn't a living, breathing thing. It is a patchwork quilt stitched together by many people -- elected, hired, etc. -- who don't know what the big quilt picture looks like or will look like. They are just stitching their piece together and we will see what the outcome is do the road.

What's you solution to this problem?

Roadkill said...


I think its hard to separate morality from the law. For instance, religion injunctions against murder, theft, and lying have been codified in civil law from Babylon (Hamurabi), though Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe, right up to the US Code. Most jurisdictions today still have a charge for “moral turpitude.” So I think its difficult to draw a bright line between the two. They are interwoven.

There have always been sanctions against stealing. Some would argue, unconvincingly in my opinion, that stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is moral. The US government used to have such sanctions, until the rise of the welfare state and onerous progressive taxation schemes. But even the most liberal amongst us would not defend stealing from the poor in order to give to the rich (or the privileged, or the elites, or however you want to define the political class and government employees). Those same liberals might even characterize such a system of upwards wealth transfer as immoral.

So anyway, I think this present trend to reign in lavish government employee pay, benefits, and pensions is something on which both conservatives and liberals can agree. The libertarians amongst us are certainly onboard with it already.

As for your “patchwork quilt” analogy, I might add that our Federal system, with layers of jurisdictions running from the national Federal level, down through the States, Counties, Municipalities, and School Districts, can create such a mess – but only if the various jurisdictions ignore the clearly defined limitations of such government overreach. (See the 10 Amendment) The Feds do it all the time, claiming (unpersuasively and unconstitutionally, I think), that the commerce clause permits them to do just about anything they want to do. States have traditionally stayed in their lanes, operating like little “laboratories of democracy” in the words of the Supreme Court, but recently they too have been guilty of overreach (Arizona’s efforts to enforce national immigration law being Exhibit A).

The interesting thing is, most of these problems with an incoherent, piecemeal, and groping approach to governance have arisen since the political class in this country determined that the government is the answer to all problems. Bureaucracies are like any other parasitical organism – they feed off the host until the host dies.

This recent trend whereby citizens have stopped cooperating in their own financial death at the hands of big government is encouraging. We can only hope the movement is successful, and we don’t end up like bankrupt and in decline like modern Greece, Spain, and the rest Europe.

Roadkill said...

Another encouraging sign from this morning's Silicon Valley Mercury News:

“Amid nationwide outrage about public employee salaries, a divided San Jose City Council on Tuesday took aim at the city's soaring compensation costs. As a result, voters this fall will decide whether to rework the city's pension system and clamp down on costs for police and firefighters.

“The council voted 7-4 to put a measure on the ballot that would change a three-decade-old policy giving outside arbitrators the final say in contract disputes with public safety workers. Mayor Chuck Reed says the policy has helped hike police and firefighter costs 99 percent since 2000, contributing to 10 consecutive years of deficits. Just last week, the city laid off 50 firefighters to help plug a $118.5 million shortfall.

"Retirements now cost us three times what we paid in 2000, even though our employee count has fallen dramatically," said Reed. ‘This is a first step, I believe, of gaining control.’"

Sunny B. said...


On your quest to stop this march to socialist ruin, have you actively participated in any of the campaigns of those you believe can stop this march?

Personally, I get a little bored listening to those who think they can change the world by typing comments on a blog or shouting at me because I happend to see things differently than they do.

I'm generalizing here and not saying you are that way. You've commented enough OnTheBorderline to know what I mean. I mean this for those on either side of the the debate.

There is an election in Wisconsin this Fall for governor, senator, etc. Voter turnout will be low. Two years ago the kids were all pumped up when Obama got the nod. The Republicans finally got the grunt work section of their party excited by putting Palin on the ticket. This year the campaign offices will be begging for volunteers while the fringer scream and shout about revolution and change without getting off their collective asses to knock on a door, make a phone call or do anything for their candidate.

Speech might be free, but talk is cheap.

Roadkill said...

More evidence of unsustainable government employee parasitism, from today’s Cincinnati Inquirer:

City pensions a 'disaster scenario'

“None of the numbers Cincinnati City Council members heard or saw at a meeting Thursday about the staggering financial woes of the city's retirement system offered much encouragement about finding a less-than-painful solution.

“Not the warning that, without substantive changes, the $2 billion system could see a projected $1 billion long-term shortfall balloon to $1.5 billion within five years.

“Not the fact that, even if the plan achieves what many see as wildly optimistic investment returns, it still could lose up to $30 million a year. Not recommendations that, to avert those doomsday scenarios, City Hall might be asked to come up with an immediate cash infusion of as much as $439 million or nearly double its annual payments.

"We're in a disaster scenario here," said Councilman Chris Bortz.”

This is yet more evidence that Hinderaker was correct in his assessment, and that there is in fact a “credible uproar” about government employee pay, benefits, and pensions. Absent some type of Federal bailout (which is, prima facie, outrageous, except now in the Obama era), the little people of Cincinnati are going to have to pay off this debt.

But no penaly, I might add, will attach to the feckless and irresponsible government officials who contracted to pay for these unfunded city liabilities. They are all safely retired - probably on a government pension to boot.

As someone once said, “A government that can give you everything you want, can take from you everything you have.”

Roadkill said...

More fuel to the fire...

USA Today
12 August 2010

"At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

"Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

"Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available."

Roadkill said...

Sunny (and Citizen Paine, if you're still around):

Happy Labor Day!

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day in a country divided between two kinds of workers. The first is the private-sector worker, the vulnerable one who rides the business cycle without shock absorbers. The second worker, who works for the government, lives a cushioned existence in which terminations take years, pension amounts are often guaranteed, and recessions are only thunder in the distance.

Yet worse than this division is the knowledge that the private-sector worker will pay for public-sector comfort with ever higher taxes.