Where 80 percent to 90 percent of state and local government employees get paid sick leave, health insurance and life insurance, and 90 percent receive pensions, that is true of only 59 percent to 71 percent of workers in the private sector.
These disparities suggest that government work is becoming a sweet deal for those who can get it, which may explain why government has begun to crush the private sector that has to carry the government on its back.
Consider. Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. manufacturing, backbone of the nation, lost 5.7 million jobs, one-third of all the manufacturing jobs America had. But government employment rose that same decade by 1.9 million jobs to 22 million, with three-fourths of the new workers being added to local government payrolls.
States like California, whose public employees are among the best paid in the nation, are the states closest to chapter 11. Their last, best hope to close their deficits is a U.S. taxpayer rescue a la Fannie, Freddy, GM and AIG. But do the states merit a taxpayer bailout if their crises come out of their own continuing profligate ways?
"Public sector workers ... can typically retire at age 55 after 30 years of service, as in California's CalPERS system. In CalPERS, workers receive an annual pension equal to 60 percent of final salary after 30 years. Public safety workers in CalPERS can retire at age 50 after 30 years of work with benefits equal to 90 percent of their final salary.
"In California, there are 6,144 retired public employees in the CalPERS plan and 3,090 retired teachers in the state teachers' plan receiving annual pension benefits of more than $100,000."
And folks wonder why California is bankrupt. Should middle-class Americans be forced to subsidize $100,000-a-year pensions for middle-aged California retirees?
Yet, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, in that $787 billion stimulus bill, shoveled billions of federal tax dollars into California to pay salaries, pensions and health benefits of Californians who have been paid more than private-sector workers all of their lives. Where is the fairness here?
Not another federal dime should go out to any state government whose employees receive more in pay and pensions than the average worker in that state or the other 49.
As for the U.S. government, Republicans should call for a one-year freeze on federal salaries and a two-year freeze on congressional salaries. If sacrifices are to be made, the people who had a fat decade at taxpayers' expense should make them sacrifice, not a ravaged private sector that has contributed almost all of the conscripts to today's 15-million-man army of the unemployed.
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