How Unions Broke California

A fascinating look at how public sector unions broke the California budget.

California voters, predominantly members of the left-wing political tribe, believe that the only problem with the state's fiscal health is that it is too hard to raise taxes due to a right-wing ballot measure that passed in 1978. Yes, California is a high-tax state.

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An honest politician - when

An honest politician - when you buy him, he stays bought.

What is your solution?

I suspect that a large part of Cal's state and muni budgets are generated by education and public safety costs. Would you teach in California for minimum wage? Join the CHP for minimum wage? You want people who would take the job for minimum wage packing guns for the government and teaching your kids? I was a Seattle Police Officer for 30 years back in the bad old days but back then it was a fun job and a safe job. It's a new world out there and I wouldn't sign on now for even $60K a year.

How about a fair wage for a job?

Why do public sector jobs suddenly accrue so much? Something is clearly out of whack. The people are pissed and it is about time. I would say we are seeing the breaking point. Will this come to violence or be solved via non-violence. That, to me, is the question.

How can you define a "fair" wage?

How can you define a "fair" wage if you are not a party to the transaction--that is, if you are neither the employer nor the employee who negotiated the wage?

Isn't that rather the point,

Isn't that rather the point, though? The employer is the taxpayer, because they pay the bills, but they are not the negotiator, so the deal can be said to be unfair to them.

Sort of...

The taxpayer is not really the employer. The taxpayer is the victim of a government taking, and some member of the government is the actual employer.

The deal is unfair to the taxpayer in the same way that being robbed by the mafia is unfair. To complain about a mafia boss spending too much on his chauffeur's salary is a weak secondary argument that will probably fail anyway by contradicting some fundamental economic ideas. Do you really imagine that if the chauffeur were fired that the mafia boss wouldn't find something else to spend stolen money on?

To paraphrase from a long but interesting Ernest Hancock speech:

"Why do governments take from you?"
"Because they can."
"How much and how long will they take?"
"Until you make them stop."

But, Steve's larger point

But, Steve's larger point is correct, and he has identified the most crucial question to ask.

In Washington State

Police and fire departments have binding arbitration legislation as an alternative to other job actions.

Retirement benefits have case law declaring them to be deferred compensation.

Employers are concerned about the total compensation package. In contract negotiations the employer usually doesn't care how the package is divided between cash payments and benefits. Federal legislation has determined that an an employee has a vested interest in the company pension plan after 5 (?) years employment.

I was working for Boeing in 1963 during a layoff before the legislation was passed. The inside joke was that very few people ever collected a pension. An engineer, a long time employee, had a heart attack several months before he was was old enough to retire. The story was that the company sent him a pink slip while he was in the hospital.

The Oberto Sausage Company had operated under a union contract for years. The company was sold and a judge stated that the sale voided the union contract and the employees lost their benefits I think this included retired employees who had worked for and were collecting a pension. This is plain theft!