Why would Florida Gov. Rick Scott reject a $2.4 billion federal grant for the first stretch of a $2.7 billion high-speed rail system that the state desperately needs? Politics.
The tea party taketh my sanity, but it also giveth. Here’s how:
Nothing against March Madness, but isn’t it odd that keepers of civilization bow before this big-money college basketball tournament but ridicule a small-money government program to take young men off the mean city streets and put them on supervised basketball courts.
What makes Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal think he can get away with doing exactly what Republicans bashed New York Rep. Charlie Rangel for doing? Beats me. But he’s running a family charity that takes contributions for companies wanting favors from his administration.
Humankind meets its limitations in Japan’s tragedy
Have you seen this?
This financial crisis is forcing State and local agencies
to make some tough decisions. If things continue for
much longer, there’s a real risk that we may have to
lay off Jose.
Once again, the coalition of the powerful has come up with a “humane” solution for the immigration dilemma.
Once again the powerless, the American low-skilled worker, is ignored.
WHO’S MISSING AT THE UTAH COMPACT PARTY?
We can argue over what government does and whether it does too much. But there shouldn’t be any controversy over cutting government duplication, triplication and quadruplication. Thank you, Government Accountability Office for giving us a rough blueprint.
In their comments to my posting, Workers Unite! In Misery, T Derr and SMStauffer both make good points, though they do misread parts of what I said. They both ask for a response from me, and respectfully, here it is:
True, most government retirees aren’t cruising between the country club and polo grounds, but I do live in a city (Providence, RI), where plenty of government retirees are making six-figure pensions. A retired deputy fire chief has managed to amass a pension paying him $160,000 a year. Meanwhile, firefighters and cops can retire at half pay with life-long health benefits after only 23 years on the job.
Here is a posting by Scott MacKay, who covers Rhode Island politics for the NPR station, WRNI, and is nobody’s idea of a conservative. Listen to the exasperation in his voice.
I have decent health coverage from a private employer. But several years ago, when I wanted Lasik surgery on my eyes, I had to pay my way. That meant flying to a cut-rate clinic in Canada. My teacher friends had Lasik treatments right at home, at taxpayer expense. (My real estate-tax rate is among the highest in the country.)
My cousin, a wonderful teacher in Texas, is about to retire at age 52 with full health benefits for her and her husband.
A friend whose teacher husband died about 14 years ago gets gold-plated health coverage for $200 a month for life, courtesy of the Massachusetts taxpayers. She lost a private-sector job not long ago, and her health coverage went with it. But she has some savings and has decided to spend her winter skiing instead of seeking employment, since her major expense, health coverage, is taken care of. She also lives with a boyfriend whom she’ll never marry because that would mean loss of her health-coverage deal.
Conservative Peggy Noonan explained over the weekend why taxpayers are so angry at teachers unions, even as they love the teachers. Here’s the part on how the teachers union lost friends in New Jersey:
A year ago Chris Christie was sworn in as the new governor. He immediately faced a $10.7 billion deficit and catastrophic debt projections. State and local taxes were already high, so that if he raised them he’d send people racing out of the state. So Mr. Christie came up with a plan. He asked the state’s powerful teachers union for two things: a one-year pay freeze—not a cut—and a modest 1.5% contribution to their benefit packages.
The teachers union went to war. They said, “Christie is trying to kill the unions,” so they tried to kill him politically. They spent millions on ads trying to take him down.
And it backfired. They didn’t kill him, they made him.
I could go on…
What I’m saying here is that the argument that public employees accepted substandard salaries in return for a decent retirement is a misrepresentation. Their retirement is above decent, and the result (as MacKay says) of public unions buying off politicians who themselves planned to be retired in Florida when the fiscal roof caved in.
SMStauffer: I suspect that if we were to pay workers the raises they traded in for better retirement benefits, and took those benefits back, the taxpayers would feel great relief. I’m not sure of your situation, but I think the pension deals for teachers are more than “adequate.”
But let me say this. I’m share your disgust at corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich. Again, the politicians’ fault.
T Derr, your analysis of the flaws of 401(k) plans sounds on the mark. What I don’t understand, though, is why public-sector workers deserve special protection above that enjoyed by the private-sector workers who are helping government workers retire at age 55.
My point is not to demonize public workers. Teachers, especially, are perhaps the most important members of society. I want to pay them well, but with upfront salaries, not back-door deals made between politicians and their unions.
For those of you who haven’t read the column that started our conversation, read this.
Suburb’s Veneer Cracks: Mother is Held in Deaths goes the NYT headline. One need not read further to question this take. Clearly, it is the mother who cracked, not her neighborhood.
But the story reports on the murder of her two teens by Julie Schenecker as a huge surprise in a seemingly idyllic place like Tampa Palms, with its golf course, top schools and gated villages. It’s “the kind of place people move to get away from crime.”
But what does that have to do with murder by a mother, unless one assumes that nice places cure craziness? In any case, Schenecker is expected to plead innocent by reason of insanity.