Post-Stockton, Democrat job-retention myth certain to be exposed

Post-Stockton, Democrat job-retention myth certain to be exposed

Both parties have bogus canards that they trot out when convenient. The worst example of this among Republicans is the idea that tax cuts always pay for themselves — that they lead to higher revenue. It could well be true for capital gains taxes and any other taxes that discourage investment or reinvestment of earnings in productive ways. But it’s a nutty thing to claim otherwise. Lower sales and property taxes don’t lead to higher revenue, and with the possible exception of certain categories of very wealthy investors, there’s no evidence that lower income taxes lead to higher revenue.

However, with Democrats in California, you see even worse canards. The worst is the idea that stricter regulations and government-imposed costs — AB 32, minimum-wage hikes and more — are somehow good for the economy.

job.retentionJust as laughable is the claim that without good-to-great pay and ridiculously generous benefits, there will be an exodus of wonderful workers from government jobs. We’re hearing lots of this in the aftermath of the federal bankruptcy judge’s ruling that the city of Stockton can invalidate and renegotiate pensions for current and retired employees. Example:

Dave Low, the chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of state public employees, said the decision could hurt not only workers but also residents of cities across the state.

“We are disappointed,” he said, “that the judge has sided with Wall Street in a decision that has the potential of devastating citizens, employees and making bad situations worse.”

If cities are forced to break promises made to employees, Low said, “it will result in a mass exodus of police, firefighters and other public employees who will have no incentive to rebuild bankrupt cities.”

That’s from the L.A. Times.

No market demand for public employees at all — except cops

What a load of hooey. As I wrote for City Journal a while ago ….

With the exception of law enforcement and some niche categories, no evidence exists of substantial market demand in any area of public employment. Public-sector compensation is so much higher than private-sector pay because of pay practices — including automatic raises negotiated by bureaucrats who often stand to benefit from the policies — and because of the political clout of public-employee unions.

What’s happened this year in L.A. with firefighter vacancies illustrates this. See my account here; there were 10,000 applicants for a 300-job fire recruit class.

And here’s what I wrote a decade ago for the Orange County Register. I can’t find it online, but Nexis comes to the rescue:

After the 1994 bankruptcy, it was plain that the biggest enemy of Orange County taxpayers was reckless Treasurer Robert Citron, who gambled vast sums on risky investments with the aid of his Ouija board and ended up $1.6 billion in the red.

A decade later, our worst enemy is something much more abstract: a theory advocated by county personnel managers. Leaving out the jargon, it boils down to the notion that wages and benefits must go up on a regular basis so as to keep the county’s uniformly competent workers happy and stop them from fleeing to better jobs elsewhere.

The latest example of bureaucrats’ devotion to this theory came last month when a plan surfaced that would push the top salary range for about 100 county bosses to nearly $250,000 a year and the range for another 850 executives to nearly $200,000.

The problem with this theory is basic: It’s a crock.

“It’s the bureaucratic equivalent of an urban myth. With the exception of police officers, there’s no data that indicates [competition for public-sector employees] at all,” says Steve Frates, a senior fellow with the Rose Institute of State and Local Government in Claremont.

No turnover shows job satisfaction is high

What does the data indicate? You guessed it.

How often an organization loses employees is far and away the best indicator of relative satisfaction with pay and benefits. County officials I spoke with last week said overall figures on employee turnover were not available, but they didn’t dispute that it was low compared with the private sector.

This job satisfaction isn’t surprising. As economist Paul Craig Roberts has documented, public employees have higher average annual pay, better benefits and more paid days off than private-sector workers. This gap has widened over the past 20 years, during which the private sector has undergone a productivity revolution while government manifestly has not.

I’m still waiting on that government productivity revolution.


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  1. Desmond
    Desmond 3 October, 2014, 11:20

    There should be a pipeline for veterans from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars to PD across the USA. Whatever standards they are using now, they are not working; there are too many citizens being shot by the current crop of cops.
    Assuming that there is not PTSD present, I can t believe the protocols practiced in the military in the middle east environments don t prepare one for law enforcement. Police and Firemen have sweet compensation, great pensions.
    The reality is that there is too much nepotism and cronyism among the current law enforcement, and that is because the total comp is great.

    Reply this comment
  2. dork
    dork 3 October, 2014, 12:15

    Been saying this for years, When Public Employees dare to go on Strike, FIRE ALL OF THEM, put up a Help Wanted sign and there will be Thousands of QUALIFIED Applicants on the doorstep when you get there.

    What they really mean is: If they leave these Government Jobs, they will be UNEMPLOYED the rest of their life, because no business in their right mind would ever hire an ex public employee.

    Reply this comment
  3. Donkey
    Donkey 3 October, 2014, 18:42

    The idea that RAGWUS feeders are “deserving ” is a joke. They constitute the most overpaid and underworked portion of our society. As a private citizen we get a negative ROI for our taxes. 🙂

    Reply this comment
    • T Mind of Ted Your God
      T Mind of Ted Your God 3 October, 2014, 20:03

      Duncey—— Do you hate ALL public employees from EVERY agency? That seems intellectually weak—-EVEN FOR YOU LITTLE BUDDY!

      Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 5 October, 2014, 10:04

      Well Mr. Donkey – both your Bruins and my Ducks took it in the shorts in this week’s college football. The Ducks looked awful. They hired a new defensive coordinator and it’s apparent that he has no clue of how to run a defense. If the Ducks continue to play like they played against unranked AZ it wouldn’t surprise me to see them lose 4 or 5 conference games this year. Just pathetic considering all the talent that team has. The coaches suck. Bring back Chip Kelly. I thought it was a given that the Ducks would be dancing in the ‘big game’ come January. Now I seriously doubt that they’ll even make it to the top 4.

      The Bruins got smoked by unranked Utah at home. The Utes played a smart game and beat them with a field goal with less than a minute on the clock.

      USC got their butts handed to them by AZ State too! lol.

      The entire Pac-12 is in an upheaval. That game next week between the Bruins and the Ducks should be a good one. I’ll be rooting for my Ducks, although if they don’t snap out of their coma I’m afraid the Bruins will take them to the spanking shed. We’ll see.

      Reply this comment
      • Donkey
        Donkey 6 October, 2014, 04:25

        I was bummed at the outcome LIC, but the Bruins have been hot and cold all year, I do however love watching football at the Rose Bowl, it is such a great setting once you get inside!! 🙂

        Reply this comment
        • LetitCollapse
          LetitCollapse 6 October, 2014, 06:50

          Are you going to the Bruin-Duck game next week, Mr. Donkey? That should be an incredible game. But it’s very unlikely that the Bruins or the Ducks will be dancing in the ‘big game’ come January. Both teams blew it.
          I used to like going to the college games too. But I got tired of fighting the crowds and tolerating the obnoxious drunks in the stands. Plus, the ticket prices are absurd. Watching the game on the tube is much more convenient. I get to see each play close up and multiple times. I get full explanations for penalties. I don’t have to stand in line for 10 minutes to take a pee. I can make my own snacks.
          I don’t even watch the pro games anymore. Since Year 2000 more than 700 NFL players have been arrested for one reason or another. heh. All are millionaires too. lol. And they are supposed to be our ‘role models’. lol. More signs of the decline of an empire.
          Even though I’ll be rooting for my Ducks I wish your Bruins lots of good luck next weekend.

          Reply this comment
          • Donkey
            Donkey 6 October, 2014, 19:35

            I have been to every game so far LIC, and don’t plan on missing one this year.
            Like you, I have tired of the pros. I played running back, and wrestled back in the day, doing for the team was a great feeling!!
            These RAGWUS feeders don’t have a clue, just a bunch of greedy slugs. 🙂

          • T Mind of Ted Your God
            T Mind of Ted Your God 6 October, 2014, 22:12

            Arrrghhh matey— I wrastled and played ball and boxed arghhhhhhhhh these pesky chauffer driven gov workers are making me post every day— arghhhhhhhhhhh we’re dooooooooooooomed little buddies!

  4. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 4 October, 2014, 23:18

    One of the funniest things I’ve ever read in the news was the reason given by Congress gave for exempting government workers from provisions of the ObamaCare law that ordinary citizens (non-government workers) are forced to obey….


    Congress said that they exempted the gov workforce from ObamaCare because it was concerned interfering with their health care benefits would result in “BRAIN DRAIN” because gov workers would quit and lesser qualified workers would replace them!!!! HAH HAH HAH! 😀 😀 😀

    How can you drain something that’s already empty??? 😀 😀 😀

    Reply this comment
  5. ECK
    ECK 5 October, 2014, 19:07

    This isn’t even true for cops. As I understand it, if you want to be a cop, you first have to pass the tests and get hired by a law-enforcement agency (city, county, etc.). Then you must attend and successfully complete the academy. Ok. But there has to be an opening in that agency first! I’ve got more than one young friend here on the SF area that’s passed the exams but has no job/academy prospect. I’m saying that the supply of potential cops exceeds the demand. So this job-retention myth is bogus.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 5 October, 2014, 19:55

      “I’m saying that the supply of potential cops exceeds the demand.”

      Of course it is. News reporters should know that. For every cop hired there are probably 5 to 7 on the qualified list who aren’t hired. Mostly because they don’t have an inside connection. In fact, the inside connection factor trumps the qualification factor. There are lots of cops hired who aren’t qualified to be cops simply by virtue of the fact that they had a strong inside connection. It’s a well known fact that the 15 minute oral interview at the end of the selection process carries by far the most weight in the selection decision and it is competely subjective. Same with firefighter jobs. The chief’s kid, the captain’s kid and the lieutenant’s kid with GED’s and HS diplomas have a much better chance at getting hired than someone with military experience who has a criminal justice degree but no inside connection.

      Reply this comment
  6. ECK
    ECK 5 October, 2014, 19:13

    Oh, and Chris, your statement “and with the possible exception of certain categories of very wealthy investors, there’s no evidence that lower income taxes lead to higher revenue”, re-think that. The wealthy investors taxes are part of the revenue and it has, indeed, increased.

    And see, Kennedy administration, Reagan administration, for evidence.

    Reply this comment

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