Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Two Americas: Public vs. Private Employees

1. "If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government (see chart above).


2. NY Times -- "Carlos Bejarano, a Phoenix school superintendent with more than 30 years in education is one of an increasing number of public employees here who are retiring one day and going right back to the same jobs the next, enabling them to supplement their income with retirement benefits without really retiring at all."

It's called public sector "double dipping," "faux retirement" or "non-retirement retirement." 

3. Boston Globe -- "Health insurance plans to cover city and town employees in Massachusetts cost 37 percent more than similar plans for workers at private companies, mostly because municipal employees pay minimal copayments or deductibles when they get care, according to a new statewide survey.

The report, which focused on 14 municipalities, found that city and town workers typically pay only $11 to see their primary care physician, half the amount typically paid by workers in the state, federal, and private sectors."  (HT: Steve Bartin)

$11 for an office visits, that's "almost free," so it's no wonder medical costs are so high for city workers, they probably go to the doctor every time they have a mild cold. 

73 Comments:

At 4/05/2011 9:38 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Great title from the first article cited (WSJ):

"We've Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers"

 
At 4/05/2011 10:03 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Generation after generation, the Democrats have used taxpayer money to purchase support and loyalty of the unions. This strategy has destroyed entire industries and left most cities, states and now the nation itself bankrupt. Either we wake up and demand and end to it or we face the consequences.

 
At 4/05/2011 10:21 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Interesting considering I posted a link to this very opinion piece back on April 1...

The only reason I caught that nugget was due to Professor Mark having that WSJ ticker widget on the right side of the main page...

Speaking of the WSJ think of this recent opinion video: California considering fighting public sector uinions...

 
At 4/05/2011 11:24 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

But in other posts, Dr. Perry has explained the decrease in factory jobs as a benefit of increased productivity, or output per manhour.

I would like to see federal outlays of a fraction of GDP decreased to 16 percent, and a realte decrease in fedeal payrolls.

With cuts in the military, USDA, Commerce, Labor, and HUD, I think we can get there.

 
At 4/05/2011 11:31 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

While speaking out against a proposed bill that would make DUI laws more strict for repeat offenders, Montana state Rep. Alan Hale, R–Basin, said drunken driving regulations hurt local businesses and are "destroying a way of life."

"These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good at all. They are destroying them," he said in a speech on the state House floor. "They are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years."


Hale, who, according to his campaign website, runs a bar in Basin, says pubs are important gathering places in his rural Montana district -- important gathering places that are only accessible by car.

"These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together," the first-term lawmaker said in a statement publicized by the Montana news blog The Lowdown.

 
At 4/05/2011 11:39 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

How The Military Can Make You A Millionaire
Ric Edelman

Spring 2004

How can you get the military to give you a $1,167,448 bonus? It's simple: All you have to do is retire with an annual pension of $35,000 at age 43 after 20 years of service. Assuming you receive your pension until age 85, $1,167,448 is how much your military pension is worth in the civilian world.

We all know military benefits are pretty good. You get mess hall and PX privileges. You can take advantage of on-base housing and living subsidies, including medical care. And you get a pension - an incredible pension! In fact, it's so good that few people in civilian positions ever get this kind of opportunity. So let's examine the numbers behind a military pension.

Retiring servicemen and women can expect to get 50 percent of their base pay from their pensions after completing 20 years of service. Let's use the example of an O4 whose monthly base pay, as of January 2003, was $3,311.10. With an annual three percent cost of living adjustment (COLA), that same officer can expect to earn $5,980 a month in 20 years, or $71,762 a year.

Assume this soldier retires at age 43 with 20 years of service but with no increase in rank. Also assume that this soldier can also expect an annual three percent COLA after he or she retires. In the civilian world, you would need to have saved $1,167,448 to receive a $35,000 pension from age 43 to age 85, and to get a mere three percent increase on that pension money every year. That, in short, is how much a military pension is worth.

 
At 4/05/2011 12:03 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Cool, Benji. Are you coming all out for Paul Ryan's new budget plan made possible by the GOP control of Congress?


Now run away.

 
At 4/05/2011 12:18 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I like Ryan's plan, the cuts in outlays. But as Ronald Reagan once said, "Where is the rest of me?"

Where is the rest of Ryan's plan?

Ryan turns into a little girl when it comes to cutting the Department of Defense, the VA, or the USDA.

It like trying to win a football game with a good defense, but no offense. A half-plan.

 
At 4/05/2011 12:48 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji,

"Where is the rest of Ryan's plan?"

Ok, so where is your boyfriend's plan? Oh, that's right, his plan is to grow the debt to almost 90% of GDP by 2025. His plan is to bankrupt the country. Still, you can harldy wait to prove your love again in 2012.

"Ryan turns into a little girl when it comes to cutting the Department of Defense, the VA, or the USDA."

His plan does cut farm subsidies. Meanwhile, part of your boyfriend's new "energy plan" is more ethanol boondoggles. That wont stop you from ranting about all that GOP rural welfare from North Dakota though, will it?

I admit Ryan doesn't cut nearly enough, but your boyfriend and the Democrats are still calling it "extreme" and "irresponsible."

 
At 4/05/2011 12:48 PM, Blogger Kevin Peterman said...

"But in other posts, Dr. Perry has explained the decrease in factory jobs as a benefit of increased productivity, or output per manhour."

...or outsourcing to countries where the cost of manufacturing is cheaper. I agree, the manufacturing labor force has been freed up to work in other sectors and this chart is just one part of the total pictue.

What concerns me is the rate at which government employment is increasing, going from less than 4% of the population in the 1940s to over 7% today.

 
At 4/05/2011 12:54 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Paul-

Your cutting remarks leave me disemboweled!

But I am not a supporter of Obama. I held my nose and voted for him, as the best of two options.

The R-Party took a vibrant optimistic country--America 1999-- and in eight years were were reduced to huge federal deficits, two endless wars, a collapse of our financial system, and a Dow Jones lower than when Bush jr. assumed office.

Then I was supposed to vote for Sarah Palin?

That said, I give Obama only a "C."

 
At 4/05/2011 1:09 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji,

You've been schooled here many times about your cliche arguments, and nobody believes the body part you were "holding" when you voted for Obama was your nose.

"Then I was supposed to vote for Sarah Palin? "

John McCain was at the top of the ticket, perhaps you were unaware. You might recognize him from his ACU, CAGW, and NTU ratings that gave him high marks. Your boyfriend and his idiot sidekick all received the equivalent of "F's."
But yeah, Palin repeatedly predicted how Obama would act as a human wrecking ball. She's far smarter than you, in other words. You pulled the lever for a socialist community organizer and his idiot, choo choo train obsessed sidekick.

"That said, I give Obama only a 'C.'"

Which only demonstrates the power of true love. He offers national bankruptcy, Ryan offers a responsible first step towards averting catastrophe.

But damn those North Dakota Republicans and their lard!

 
At 4/05/2011 1:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"You've been schooled here many times about your cliche arguments, and nobody believes the body part you were "holding" when you voted for Obama was your nose."

*like*

 
At 4/05/2011 1:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Considering pseudo benny's incessant whining about what's spent on the Defense Department maybe he's got a point...

I say let's start with what's spent in California...

CA Ranks at the Top for Federal Spending with $346 Billion in Funds for 2009

 
At 4/05/2011 2:03 PM, Blogger The Rush Blog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:07 PM, Blogger The Rush Blog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:08 PM, Blogger The Rush Blog said...

This article is such crap. Why aren't you complaining about the money spent in costly foreign wars, along with tax and other benefits for the very rich?

Why does the GOP constantly target working Americans - regardless of whether they work for the private or public sector, and yet continue to ignore or support the agenda of again, the super rich?

And why do so many Americans continue to ignore what the GOP is doing and buy their crap?

What are we supposed to do? Go back to the same agendas that the Bush Administration supported? The very agendas that allowed the corporations and their greed to drive this country into an economic quagmire? I may be somewhat ignorant, but I'm not that stupid.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:23 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

i say we put benji in the army.

if it's such a great deal, join.

you can be private benjamin jr.

would you encourage your kids to join?

to get people to join an all volunteer army in wartime takes competitive pay.

we can argue that our foreign policy is too expensive (and perhaps even agree) but your argument that somehow soldiers are overpaid is ridiculous.

that is a seriously risky job and one with a short career life as 40 somethings very rarely are able to keep up in combat.

if this were such a killer deal, you'd think the army would be inundated with applicants, but it isn't.

the market is telling you people don't want those jobs at that price. you'd rather see a draft than higher wages?

 
At 4/05/2011 2:24 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

The NYT article on retiring school superintendent Bejarano highlights a common practice in both private and public employment.

The idea that such "double dipping" is somehow unfair, or "cheating", is misguided.

First of all, in this case, Mr. Bejarano has been promised some amount of retirement pay, and other retirement benefits. This is money that will be spent no matter what else happens. They are sunk costs.

If he started a new career in another business, with high salary & benefits I doubt that anyone would complain. Why is it a problem when he fills a now vacanct position in the school district?

Bejarano has proven to be highly qualified by having "tried out" the job for the last several years. If that were not the case, he should have been fired before now, so it would seem that he's the best candidate for the job.

The school district can fill this position by promoting a current employee, hiring someone from outside, or by hiring a contractor - Bejarano.

This third option is likely the least costly ,as it involves no future commitments to retirement or other benefits, or for that matter, to continued employeement beyond an agreed upon time period.

So, what's the problem?

 
At 4/05/2011 2:32 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"Then I was supposed to vote for Sarah Palin? "

I got to agree with you. I don't know why everyone picks on you here for stating the obvious; Paul Ryan's plan is great, but doesn't go far enough. And thats ok, because its a big step in the right direction. But yeah, military should be on the chopping block too.

And if these guys think voting for McCain and Palin would have made a difference, they're lying to themselves. McCain and Palin are both big-government tools. Palin brings nothing to the table other than social conservatism (in a very unappealing guise, too), which is the last thing we need. She just jumped on the Tea Party wagon, and people like her continuously hijack the Tea Party message towards irrelevant social issues.

"Why does the GOP constantly target working Americans - regardless of whether they work for the private or public sector, and yet continue to ignore or support the agenda of again, the super rich?"

Why don't you grow out of your class warfare garbage. Thats so 1848...

"I may be somewhat ignorant, but I'm not that stupid"

Ignorance can be fixed. Stupidity on the other hand...

 
At 4/05/2011 2:33 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"i say we put benji in the army."

Ordinarily, I'm opposed to using force on others for any reason, but in this case I may have to make an exception, and agree with your idea.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:34 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"the market is telling you people don't want those jobs at that price. you'd rather see a draft than higher wages?"

No. It means we cut the scope and expanse of the military. Thats the market signal.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:44 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

also note:

soldiers have to give up their civil rights when then join the army.

they cannot quit mid term even if they want to. they must obey potentially fatal orders or be imprisoned.

they do not have freedom or speech nor association nor can they even determine where they will live.

it would take a helluva lot of money to convince me to take that deal.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:53 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

"No. It means we cut the scope and expanse of the military. Thats the market signal."

that is a separate issue.

as i said above, we can certainly decide that our foreign policy is too expensive, but taking it as it is, soldiers are still underpaid in my opinion.

benji was arguing that soldiers were overpaid. given their current job, would you take the job at those wages?

whether we want to fund overseas adventurism at all is a different issue. i'm speaking just of soldiers and whether or not their wages reflect the market for labor.

with unemployment this high, especially among the young and uneducated, you'd think there would be lines out the doors of recruiting stations if this were such a great offer. the fact that there are not is, therefore, quite telling.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

The Rush Blog

"Why aren't you complaining about the money spent in costly foreign wars, along with tax and other benefits for the very rich?"

It appears that you've missed most of Benjamin's posts, or you wouldn't ask that.


"Why does the GOP constantly target working Americans - regardless of whether they work for the private or public sector, and yet continue to ignore or support the agenda of again, the super rich?"

I wasn't aware that working Americans were being targeted by anyone except our incompetent POTUS and the collectivists in Congress. Can you provide some specific examples of what you mean?

As to the rich, you are aware, of course, that they ARE rich because they have proven themselves to be the most productive members of society, and adept at creating wealth. It seems logical to leave them with as much of the money they have earned as possible, so they can continue to create wealth, jobs, and better standards of living for all of us.

You raise some interesting questions, but as they appear in the form of high volume rhetorical rants, they are difficult to respond to.

 
At 4/05/2011 3:09 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Why aren't you complaining about the money spent in costly foreign wars, along with tax and other benefits for the very rich?"...

What are you babbling about Rush blog?

Are YOU wanting to pay as much in taxes as the rich?

"Why does the GOP constantly target working Americans - regardless of whether they work for the private or public sector, and yet continue to ignore or support the agenda of again, the super rich?"...

What planet is this happening on?

"What are we supposed to do? Go back to the same agendas that the Bush Administration supported?"....

Do you mean a return to the Bush administration where unemployment numbers that were half of what they are now during the Obama administration?

Does this make you happy Rush blong? Gasoline up 100% under Obama

 
At 4/05/2011 3:20 PM, Blogger Eric said...

"it would take a helluva lot of money to convince me to take that deal."

Those you mentioned along with deletion of habeus corpus essentially require the military to be voluntary. These precepts are totally unconstitutional for US citizens otherwise...but then so are the undeclared wars, executive orders and UN treaties used to move you around spreading "democracy".

 
At 4/05/2011 3:22 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/05/2011 3:24 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

"Why does the GOP constantly target working Americans...?"

You mean like Ryan does? By not raising my taxes?

Your lack of logic is breathtaking.

I'm tired of hearing the left prattle on about "working Americans" when what they're really talking about are society's leeches who are sucking the life out of real working people -- leeches like the public employee unions, welfare lifers, corporate welfare recipients, bastard-makers and other moochers who elect imbeciles to pick my pocket on their behalf. In other words, the non-working, unproductive, entitlement-demanding dead weight of society.

 
At 4/05/2011 3:25 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

In addition to the $1.161 million pension (2004 dollars), federal military employee retirees receive lifetime free VA care. Lifetime!

If we want to pay down the federal debt, we simply will have to scale nback federal psending, and put debt reduction as top priority.

Same groups are going to take some haircuts.

When the military takes haircuts, it will raise a lot of noise.

But rarely have our bona fide defense needs been so minimal. Nor the need to pay down debt.

 
At 4/05/2011 3:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Ron H, did you visit the Rush blog?...

Apparently she's all about movies, at least presently...

Its kind of cool...

The Rush blog movie picks though aren't exactly my cup of tea...

 
At 4/05/2011 3:41 PM, Blogger juandos said...

AIG says: "I got to agree with you. I don't know why everyone picks on you here for stating the obvious..."...

You're kidding, right?

pseudo benny whines continuously about the relatively speaking little stuff, meanwhile the real money wasters of extorted tax dollars he never says boo about...

 
At 4/05/2011 3:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Hey Ron H, did you visit the Rush blog?...

Apparently she's all about movies, at least presently...
"

Not yet, but I will on your recommendation. I guess movies and movie people kind of fit a leftist agenda.

 
At 4/05/2011 4:02 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"that is a separate issue. as i said above, we can certainly decide that our foreign policy is too expensive,"

Its not a separate issue at all. If military is too expensive, then cut it down to size, not keep spending more.

"i'm speaking just of soldiers and whether or not their wages reflect the market for labor."

The two issues are one and the same. If more troops are needed to support greater expansion of the military scope, than its a driver of expense. If the scope was more limited, then compensation could be higher in return for a smaller force. Of course, Iraq and Afghanistan are the biggest drivers of this. ie...the military doesn't have a recruiting problem, it has an over-extension problem.

This does not mean, however, that the forms compensations take are irrelevant.

"pseudo benny whines continuously about the relatively speaking little stuff, meanwhile the real money wasters of extorted tax dollars he never says boo about..."

Hmm...he's saying he agrees on the big stuff, and complains that the "little" stuff is always ignored. And he's right.

 
At 4/05/2011 4:02 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"I guess movies and movie people kind of fit a leftist agenda."

Sarah Palin doesn't like movies?

 
At 4/05/2011 4:12 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos

Rush Blog is an interesting site, as you said.

I wonder, when Ms. RB rails against the rich, if she envisions the many of them who star in movies, like Nicole Kidman?

I bet not. Maybe obscene income earned by pretending you are someone else is OK.

 
At 4/05/2011 4:22 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Two thoroughly bizzare comments from AIG:

1)"Hmm...he's saying he agrees on the big stuff, and complains that the "little" stuff is always ignored. And he's right"...

2) "Sarah Palin doesn't like movies?"...

Regarding the first comment, obviously you're not talking about the pseudo benny that comments on this blog, right?

The second comment is what?!?!

Merely a question?

 
At 4/05/2011 4:27 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

AIG

"I guess movies and movie people kind of fit a leftist agenda."

Sarah Palin doesn't like movies?
"

???

I don't know how to respond. I don't know if Sarah Palin likes movies, and I don't know why you think I would know such a thing.

My comment referred to my perception that many people involved in the movie business are politically somewhere to the left of Barbara Boxer.

 
At 4/05/2011 4:40 PM, Blogger Paul said...

AIG,

"And if these guys think voting for McCain and Palin would have made a difference, they're lying to themselves."

What utter garbage. Uh, Obamacare? The stimulus? Ryan's plan might stand a chance under a McCain presidency if it could get through Harry Reid's Senate. Under Obama, the chances are almost nil. 100% doomed if the people do not rise up to support it. If it fails, hello national bankruptcy.

 
At 4/05/2011 4:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Ron H, a trillion dollar question for you (rhetorical question? maybe not), is Pelosi to the left of Boxer politically?

 
At 4/05/2011 5:18 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"The second comment is what?!?!"

A joke, a jab at the comment that "movie people" are Leftist by definition of liking movies. The girl/guy is probably 18 years old at best. Anyway, moving on.

"What utter garbage. Uh, Obamacare? The stimulus? "

You think McCain would not have passed a similar stimulus? Of course he would. Did McCain vote for Bush's prescription plan? Then why the double standard?

"Under Obama, the chances are almost nil. 100% doomed if the people do not rise up to support it."

You think Republicans would be 1/4 as "fiscally conservative" these days if it weren't a Dem president doing all the spending? I don't remember a SINGLE one of them complaining about Bush 2 years ago. True a lot THOUGHT it, and muttered it under their breath, but its not good enough to wait until you fall off a cliff before speaking out.

If McCain were president, we'd never hear of Paul Ryan, and we'd never hear of a Tea Party, and we'd never hear of spending reductions (maybe from the Dems). I don't prescribe to these politics, I'm afraid, so for me McCain and Obama are 99% identical, and Palin is just as much of a farce as Biden.

 
At 4/05/2011 5:34 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"A joke, a jab at the comment that "movie people" are Leftist by definition of liking movies"...

I kind of thought so AIG but wasn't sure...

"You think Republicans would be 1/4 as "fiscally conservative" these days if it weren't a Dem president doing all the spending?"...

Hmmm, maybe the Republicans wouldn't but the conservatives (expecially the newly minted ones) did rage (and one didn't see it in the lamestream media) against Republican spending...

If I were to guess from what I saw here in the St. Louis, Mo area I would have to say that the seeds of the TEA party actually started forming up in 2006...

"I don't remember a SINGLE one of them complaining about Bush 2 years ago"...

Good point about Bush and his apparent extreme allergy to the use of the veto pen...

Yes AIG far to many Republican went along to get along and shame on them...

Now AIG this is wrong if my own experiences are anything to go by: "If McCain were president, we'd never hear of Paul Ryan, and we'd never hear of a Tea Party..."...

Maybe you don't realize how many conservatives absolutely dispise McCain as a politician...

 
At 4/05/2011 5:38 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"You think McCain would not have passed a similar stimulus? Of course he would."

Absolutely not. Nothing in McCain's voting record indicates he would have. His stimulus would have been something on the lines of real tax cuts. McCain and Coburn released a couple of reports documenting the unbelievable waste that came out of Obama's staggeringly irresponsible "stimulus."

"Did McCain vote for Bush's prescription plan? Then why the double standard?"

No, he didn't. So what are you talking about? Oh, you don't actually know what you're talking about, as you just demonstrated here.

"I don't remember a SINGLE one of them complaining about Bush 2 years ago."

Then you don't pay attention. Besides, there is a world of difference between Bush's spending on failed liberal programs and Obama's ruinous quest to "make government cool again," as he put it during the campaign.

"I'm afraid, so for me McCain and Obama are 99% identical, and Palin is just as much of a farce as Biden."

Which demonstrates again you haven't paid attention. You can actually see the documented difference between McCain and Obama by looking at their voting records at the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, National Journal, and the American Conservative Union. If you want to see the liberal analysis you can go to sites like Americans for Democratic Action. All those sites validate a world of difference between Obama and McCain.

 
At 4/05/2011 5:42 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Juandos,

I lived in Az for 10 years and absolutely despised McCain too, but he has been pretty solid on spending. He doesn't take earmarks, for example. Obama, on the other hand, appropriated nearly a billion dollars of pork to his constituents during his short career as a part-time Senator.

There's yet another difference for people like AIG to chew on.

 
At 4/05/2011 6:24 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"conservatives (expecially the newly minted ones) did rage"

Why are they newly minted? Most of them are grown-a** people twice my age, and yet they discovered fiscal conservatism 2 years ago?

"Maybe you don't realize how many conservatives absolutely dispise McCain as a politician..."

And who did they vote for?

 
At 4/05/2011 6:47 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Che-

You are right; Washington did want a standing army; Congress would not give him one, until a very small one in his second term.

Consider this:

"The Founders of America extensively considered this same issue. Many were strongly against there ever being a standing army in America during times of peace, although they favored a navy to protect our shoreline borders. The theory was that an army had too much potential for mischief, to oppress people...
Thomas Jefferson first suggested that we not have a standing army, and wrote a series of letters in 1787, as the Constitution was being debated, urging James Madison and others to write it into the Constitution.

The idea was, instead of a standing army, for every able-bodied man in the nation to be a member of a local militia, under local control, with a gun in his house. If the nation was invaded, word would come down to the local level and every man in the country would be the army."

In any event, the USA nearly completly demobilized after both WWI and WWII. That was the tradition, and it was the right-wing that wanted a small military.

It was only later we created a large, permanent standing military--one increasingly becoming a parasitic dinosaur.

 
At 4/05/2011 7:24 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

benji-

the way social security and medicare/aid are structured, we could drop military spending to zero and we will still be broke and running deficits in 15-20 years.

sure, we can cut milspend, but you are focused on the wrong issue.

that is not what's sinking us.

 
At 4/05/2011 7:31 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

you are missing the point.

they are 2 entirely separate issues. we are not adding soldiers. we are trying to keep numbers stable and failing.

the reason for that is that not enough people like the deal of giving up their rights and being shot at for crummy pay and a $35k pension even with unemployment this high.

benji was arguing that soldiers are overpaid. given that so few people find the bargain attractive right now, this is clearly untrue.

arguing that we should have fewer wars is a totally different issue and not what i am trying to address at all.

what i am saying is that for the job as currently exists, there are lots of vacancies in the military. if it were such a great deal as benji claims, then this would not be so.

you can argue that we ought to have fewer of any sort of government employee, but is says nothing about their payscale, only the desire of people to hold those jobs does.

 
At 4/05/2011 7:32 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

paul-

"What utter garbage. Uh, Obamacare? The stimulus?"

i agree with you. the best reason to vote mccain was that he would have vetoed anything that looked like obamacare.

with a congress like we got in 2008, the best you can hope for is gridlock.

 
At 4/05/2011 9:27 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"we are not adding soldiers. we are trying to keep numbers stable and failing."

Thats the point. You should be cutting. Saying not enough people want to join, is like saying "not enough rich people pay their taxes!". Its a supply and demand curve, and you're ignoring it at your own peril.

"benji was arguing that soldiers are overpaid. given that so few people find the bargain attractive right now, this is clearly untrue."

Certainly not. The two are not necessarily connected. I can overpay you for a job, and still have trouble filling enough spots. Its supply and demand...but they're paying for it with OUR money. The one thing I agree with Benji on, is that the form of compensation through pensions and benefits, is as unfair to taxpayers as are the pensions and benefits of teacher's Unions. VA costs 150 billion dollars. Thats ridiculous.

"arguing that we should have fewer wars is a totally different issue "

Thats the driver of recruitment shortfalls.

 
At 4/05/2011 9:37 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"His stimulus would have been something on the lines of real tax cuts."

His buddy GWB dole out how many trillions to banks and automakers? What did McCain have to say about that?

"McCain and Coburn released a couple of reports documenting the unbelievable waste that came out of Obama's staggeringly irresponsible "stimulus.""

After the fact everyone is a conservative

"Which demonstrates again you haven't paid attention. You can actually see the documented difference between McCain and Obama by looking at their voting records at the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, National Journal, and the American Conservative Union. If you want to see the liberal analysis you can go to sites like Americans for Democratic Action. All those sites validate a world of difference between Obama and McCain."

There's difference in voting, and then there's difference in practice.

 
At 4/05/2011 10:52 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Hey Ron H, a trillion dollar question for you (rhetorical question? maybe not), is Pelosi to the left of Boxer politically?"

Wait! My brain just blew a fuse trying to figure that one out.
--
--
--
Ahh, yes. I think the answer is yes. Although it's possible that Pelosi is also brain damaged. The symptoms are similar.

 
At 4/06/2011 2:52 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"He doesn't take earmarks, for example. Obama, on the other hand, appropriated nearly a billion dollars of pork to his constituents during his short career as a part-time Senator"...

Well if nothing else Paul we can assume that McCain learned something from his Charles Keating - Silverado S&L experiences...

 
At 4/06/2011 2:56 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Why are they newly minted? Most of them are grown-a** people twice my age, and yet they discovered fiscal conservatism 2 years ago?"...

Well AIG you may have heard of something called the internet, now people no longer have to depend on what passes for news from those who were and still are heavily invested in the liberal/leftist philosophies...

 
At 4/06/2011 2:58 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"His buddy GWB dole out how many trillions to banks and automakers? What did McCain have to say about that?"...

You really haven't been paying attention have you AIG?

 
At 4/06/2011 3:00 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Ahh, yes. I think the answer is yes. Although it's possible that Pelosi is also brain damaged. The symptoms are similar"...

Ahhhh Ron H I too have wondered about that...

 
At 4/06/2011 7:58 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

but if you agree that not enough people are joining, then you must also agree that that means the compensation package is inadequate, which is my point. you seem unable to grasp the difference between number of employees and wages.

i'm not saying anything about whether or not the military is too big, just saying that, relative to other opportunities, people are not finding being a soldier attractive, counter to benji's claim of an outrageous compensation package.

cost = employees X wages.

you are arguing that employees ought to drop. i am arguing that wages are not too high given the job description.

can you really not see the difference here?

 
At 4/06/2011 8:20 AM, Blogger Paul said...

AIG,

"His buddy GWB dole out how many trillions to banks and automakers? What did McCain have to say about that?"

Ah, so change the subject when you've been proven wrong. Where did you hear McCain and Bush were "buddies?" From the same source that told you McCain voted for Bush's prescription drug plan?

"After the fact everyone is a conservative."

Uh, no, McCain has been pretty consistent on spending over the years. So has Obama. If you think they're the same then I'm sorry you haven't done your homework.

"There's difference in voting, and then there's difference in practice."

Ha, what a pathetic retort! Yeah, suddenly the voting record indicating deep philosophical differences doesn't matter! Damn the facts, they're all the same I tell ya! Obama 2012!

 
At 4/06/2011 9:22 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Benjamin: "The R-Party took a vibrant optimistic country--America 1999-- and in eight years were were reduced to huge federal deficits,"

That's not true at all, Benjamin.

First, the size of the federal deficit says absolutely nothing about whether the country is vibrant and optimistic. The U.S. economy continued to grow from 1982 through 2008, regardless of the size of government deficits.

Second, the Republican Party controlled Congress from 1994 to 2006. It was Newt Gingrich and the Republican victory in 1994 which forced Bill Clinton to issue his proclamation that "the era of big government is over". I will give Clinton credit for recognizing the shift in political winds. But it was Gingrich who slowed the growth in federal government spending.

Finally, with respect to the deficit, it was the Social Security and Medicare surpluses in the late 1990s which enabled Gingrich and Clinton to achieve the so-called "balanced budget". Those surpluses were the result of a demographic bonus which will not be repeated again.

I do agree that the Republican Party under "W", Lott, and Delay did not show any leadership with respect to federal budgets. But they had a lot of help from Democrats in raising government spending. In fact, it was only Republicans in Congress who opposed increased spending during Bush's two terms.

 
At 4/06/2011 10:26 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"Ah, so change the subject when you've been proven wrong. Where did you hear McCain and Bush were "buddies?" From the same source that told you McCain voted for Bush's prescription drug plan?"

Ok so I'll admit that I was a bit harsh on McCain, and he wasn't as bad as I had thought. Either way, the entire point of his presidential campaign was "vote for me, I'm W". I never heard him say ANYTHING about Bush's mistakes and terrible presidency, just how he was going to continue down the same path.

So voting records are one thing, when it comes time to open your mouth and take a different path, I didn't see it.

And if he did, the fact that I didn't see it (me being a mildly interested voter of no particular preference)...is indicative that it certainly wasn't a big part of his selling point.

"Uh, no, McCain has been pretty consistent on spending over the years"

I never heard him say a word about the Bush spending during his campaign. Maybe he did, but again the fact that no one can recall it, may be indicative that he wasn't really pushing anything anti-W.

"Ha, what a pathetic retort! Yeah, suddenly the voting record indicating deep philosophical differences doesn't matter! Damn the facts, they're all the same I tell ya!"

His time to show what he was made of in practice came during his presidential campaign. Thats what matters to me. And he said s*** about Bush's spending being out of control, or about the bailouts. Where was his "conservatism" then?

"Obama 2012!"

Don't be silly. If the Republicans are going to resort to the same stupidity as the Dems; ie if its not Bush, vote for it, than I got no reason to vote for you either. I don't want Barbie dolls who can say a couple of words and phrases right, but in practice are no different.

Put up good candidates, or shut up.

 
At 4/06/2011 10:32 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"but if you agree that not enough people are joining, then you must also agree that that means the compensation package is inadequate,"

No. The compensation package is related to the value an individual delivers. It doesn't have to do with an artificial demand which can be infinite. You can be overpaid for the job, and still not fill your spots.

I'm not saying they are overpaid. I'm saying that we are paying them under the same rules as we pay public employee unions; massive guaranteed benefits which drive us bankrupt. 150 billion for VA is rather absurd. WHY?

"you are arguing that employees ought to drop. i am arguing that wages are not too high given the job description.

can you really not see the difference here?"

I can, and I don't agree.

 
At 4/06/2011 10:42 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"You really haven't been paying attention have you AIG?"

No. I haven't. I'm not nearly interested enough in partisan politics to care about McCain. But don't expect me to vote for him, if his entire selling point is "I'm like W". If he was truly what you claim him to be, he'd go up there and denounce the terrible path W took this country in for 2 terms.

He did the exact opposite. And then he brought in Sarah Palin, arguably the most ignorant useless and polarizing politician (even more so than Obama, imho)

"Well AIG you may have heard of something called the internet, now people no longer have to depend on what passes for news from those who were and still are heavily invested in the liberal/leftist philosophies..."

The internet wasn't discovered 2 years ago either. And news doesn't really have much to do with having a philosophy of limited government and fiscal conservatism. Many, or most, of these Tea Party people were perfectly happy under W and likely would be perfectly happy under a Republican president expanding spending.

I get the feeling that this is fake outrage from the "conservatives".

I WANT real outrage. I WANT real consistent thought on these issues which isn't painted by partisan politics. Republicans are to blame for a huge chunk of the failures of government they have forced on us. Unless they admit this, and get rid of their past, nothing is ever going to change. It ain't going to change with silly characters like Palin at the forefront.

Get serious Republicans

 
At 4/06/2011 11:57 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

i really feel like you are not getting this.

you are assuming the employer has all the power.

if i have a job open with great pay, people will want it. if i have a job open during a time of high unemployment and no one want it, then the pay/task ratio is too low. it's as simple as that.

the market has decided that the wages are below market for the job. an employer may lament all he wants that the job is only worth X, but unless workers agree with him, then he is off the market.

thus, they are being underpaid for that level of demand. this is a basic, unarguable fact. if supply does not emerge to meet your demand, your price is too low. this is econ 101 stuff.

you are arguing that demand is too high and trying to use that as a proxy for price.

my only argument is that at this level of demand, we are clearly underpaying soldiers. if this were not true, supply would emerge.

 
At 4/06/2011 12:09 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"No. The compensation package is related to the value an individual delivers. It doesn't have to do with an artificial demand which can be infinite. You can be overpaid for the job, and still not fill your spots"

this is makes zero sense. it's essentially gibberish.

compensation package is a function of supply and demand. it is a much more complex relationship than just "value delivered" whatever that means. further, there is a great deal of room to disagree about the "value delivered" by a soldier or a policeman or a massage therapist. that's why we use market price instead of your subjective ideas.

what artificial infinite demand? where are you even getting that concept? it's certainly not germane to this conversation. the term "artificial demand" is meaningless outside of game theory around frauds and would only exist in this case if the army advertised jobs that it did not want to fill, a situation i doubt you will claim to be true.

and if you "overpay" for a job, you will fill your spots unless there is a supply constraint, which is clearly not the case for soldiers given the current youth unemployment rates.

who doesn't want to be overpaid?

price is too ow to reach the supply curve.

 
At 4/06/2011 12:26 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

btw:

"How can you get the military to give you a $1,167,448 bonus? It's simple: All you have to do is retire with an annual pension of $35,000 at age 43 after 20 years of service. Assuming you receive your pension until age 85, $1,167,448 is how much your military pension is worth in the civilian world."

this math is ridiculously fishy.

assume you retire at 43. assume you live to 83. (40 years) use a 5% discount rate.

your last $35k is only worth 7k when you retire. the dcf on 35k in perpetuity at a 6% discount rate is only $583k in current value. whoever did this math is statistically illiterate.

to get a number that high even on a stream that lasts forever you'd need to use a 3% discount rate, far below the risk free rate for such durations even now and barley half of what it was when he wrote that article.

 
At 4/06/2011 12:35 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

AIG

"His [McCain] time to show what he was made of in practice came during his presidential campaign. Thats what matters to me."

In my opinion this is the WORST time to believe what a candidate says. Everything translates to "I'm your guy, vote for me."

I noticed that Obama stood for whatever he thought his audience of the day wanted to hear. This changed frequently. I had no idea what he stood for, but his background scared the crap out of me.

I'm certainly no McCain fan either, but to defend him just a tiny bit, he had a tough, narrow path to follow. While the Dem candidate could bash Bush at every opportunity & promise "hope & change", McCain had to differentiate himself from Bush, to attract those unhappy with Bush, while at the same time not alienating other parts of the Republican base.

"Put up good candidates, or shut up."

That's an interesting comment. Are you asking others to select your potential choices for you?

It's possible to promote and support someone who you feel shares your principles, and would act in your best interest. Your efforts might make a difference.

Disclaimer: I haven't followed my own advice on supporting potential candidates, so I probably shouldn't talk. I, like others, often vote for whoever I consider the least dangerous among several bad choices.

 
At 4/06/2011 12:57 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"if i have a job open with great pay, people will want it."

The job is flipping burgers. I pay $12/hour; way overpaid for the job. Now I have a mythical requirement for 2 million burger flippers, at $12/hour. You may still have a shortage, because there's only a limited supply of people who are available and willing to take the job. It doesn't matter if its overpaid for the task, it may still be underpaid for the available people. If the market is telling you to stick to particular group of people, and not crowd out the private market, then stop trying to do it. Offer educational opportunities or other such career-building services, instead of guaranteed benefits ad infinitum.

"if i have a job open during a time of high unemployment and no one want it, then the pay/task ratio is too low"

Of course not. The military hires 18-25 year olds in a particular physical condition with a very stringent contract. It is hardly something that is effected by momentary swings in unemployment.

Here's another issue of why whether the job is overpaid or not, is not related to recruitment. The contract you have to sign to join the military is insanely limiting. Imagine if a private job required that you provide 5 years of your life, endure mental and physical abuse without complaining, and go to jail if you refuse an order from a superior. Would the job require to pay WAY over-market rates to attract any individual? Yes. It would be overpaid for the task, but the premium for entering into such a contract is huge.

But this is not an argument to say that the military can therefore have a huge slush fund of OUR money to keep doing this. Maybe we should tell the military...reform! Change your views of soldiers and of command. Treat them like private labor, offer them career and educational advancement, treat the military like just any other job and any other service...not like a slave ship.

Ie...we're not paying them for the service they deliver, but for the premium of taking away their freedom for 5 years. Well lets stop doing that, and focus on the JOB. Its like public school teachers who are not paid for teaching 1+1 to 6 year olds, but are actually paid for 4 years of undergrad and 1-2 of master degrees, which are totally necessary for teaching 1+1=2

 
At 4/06/2011 1:18 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"there is a great deal of room to disagree about the "value delivered" by a soldier or a policeman or a massage therapist"

There's very little argument about what is the value delivered by a policeman or a therapist. A policeman is free to come and go, to be fired, to quit, etc. Leaving aside "collective bargaining" distortions, their value is directly reflected in their wage. Much more so for the therapist.

A labor market in the military, doesn't exist.

"compensation package is a function of supply and demand."

Not in the military. Demand can be unlimited, and money can be unlimited. Supply is not unlimited however. Which is why you have shortages! So we get back to the original point; the military does not have a recruitment problem...it has a demand problem.

"what artificial infinite demand? "

Artificial demand as pertaining to Iraq, Afghanistan and any number of other unnecessary deployments and over-extensions. These drive artificial recruitment targets which are not related to the delivery of the service WE pay for; defense. And I'm no Paultard or say we need to focus strictly on our borders like Benji...but there is such a thing as going too far.

"and if you "overpay" for a job, you will fill your spots unless there is a supply constraint"

There is obviously a supply constraint! Joining the military entails more than delivering a service; it entails 5 years of no freedom, jail time if you disobey, and no freedom of movement. Very few of these features add value to the end goal, but they severely limit supply.

Why should the taxpayers dole out endlessly for a service which is being diluted? VA and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan alone account for 30-40% of military spending. Thats insane.

The military is specifically the area where we need severe constraints in spending, in order to infuse some market discipline and efficiency in what they do. Now I will admit that the military had been doing this very well in the 90s. But we went completely insane since 2001, over a bunch of rats.

 
At 4/06/2011 3:46 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"A labor market in the military, doesn't exist. "

that is completely untrue unless you have a draft. the military seeks to hire all the time, especially now. if they cannot, then they are offering too low a wage. that is a labor market.

the military also must retain employees. sure, they cannot quit at will, but they have to re up every 2-4 years which is a contract renegotiation. that is also a labor market.

regarding "artificial demand", that demand is anything but artificial. i don't think you understand that that term means. the demand from those wars is about as real as it gets. you are confusing "demand from a project i do not support" with artificial demand. keep in mind that those wars were VERY popular when they began. if you're going to make social value arguments, you need to remember that. sure, we're sick of them now, but that was not the case when they began.

"
There is obviously a supply constraint! Joining the military entails more than delivering a service; it entails 5 years of no freedom, jail time if you disobey, and no freedom of movement. Very few of these features add value to the end goal, but they severely limit supply. "

that is not a supply constraint. again, you are misusing terms. that is the shape of the curve itself. a true constraint would be needing 300 interventional radiologists a year and only having schools to train 200 or having demand for 5 million playstations and only being able to produce 3 million.

there are plenty of people who could be soldiers and do the job, just not enough that WANT to. that's a price issue, not a supply constraint.

you then go on to take issue with missions, not employee cost.

the military is not significantly bigger than it was in the 90's, it's just getting used a great deal more. this means fuel, munitions, transport, and all manner of other costs that have nothing to do with soldier pay.

you keep trying to make my narrow claims about soldiers and overpay into some sort of broad policy issue, which is a whole separate discussion.

 
At 4/06/2011 4:25 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Put up good candidates, or shut up"...

Well that's the problem AIG, you know so little about politics and the players you wouldn't know a good candidate if he or she came up and shook your hand...

 
At 4/06/2011 8:44 PM, Blogger Paul said...

AIG,

"Either way, the entire point of his presidential campaign was "vote for me, I'm W".

It was? Where did you get that from? I never heard him say or imply that.

"I never heard him say ANYTHING about Bush's mistakes and terrible presidency, just how he was going to continue down the same path."

He had to thread the needle. Big deal, not all of us hated everything about Bush. Why didn't YOU pay more attention to McCain and Obama's policy ideas and voting record?

You want your info spoon fed and you want the perfect candidate. Grow up, it rarely works out that way. Sometimes you have to vote defensive, and 2008 was definitely one of those situations. Obama came with big red flashing warning lights that could be seen by anyone paying the slightest attention. You were so concerned about Palin, did you ever once consider the half-wit Obama selected? No, of course not. You outsourced your information gathering to the media who deified this jerkoff who is destroying the country.

 
At 4/07/2011 2:07 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Welcome to collectivism boys and girls. Anyone who can believe and still drink the Kool Aid deserves what s/he gets.

 
At 4/07/2011 11:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

AIG

"The job is flipping burgers. I pay $12/hour; way overpaid for the job. Now I have a mythical requirement for 2 million burger flippers, at $12/hour. You may still have a shortage, because there's only a limited supply of people who are available and willing to take the job."

You aren't the price maker in this case, the potential employees are. If you offered $100/hr I think you will agree that the 2 million jobs would be filled that same day. People would leave other employment to flip burgers at higher pay.

Somewhere between $100 that fills the job openings instantly and leaves a line of applicants stretching around the block, and the $12 that left you with unfilled openings, is the correct amount of pay for the job. It doesn't matter what you believe the job should pay. At the market clearing price, everyone who wants to work at that price will become employed. You will have no openings left, and no applicants will go home jobless.

 

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