Only Teachers, Firemen, and Cops?
Every time any state or municipality moves to reduce the costs of operation by speaking out about headcount reductions, or layoffs, the public employee unions, the Democratic Party apparatchiks, and the main stream media (or is that being redundant?) begin wailing that those heartless Republicans and conservatives, naturally led by the evil Tea Parties, want to leave our kids ignorant, our streets dangerous, and our homes at risk of burning down with us inside them.
First, one must ask, "By 'leaving our kids ignorant,' do you mean leaving them exactly as they are now?" What about their fear of those "dangerous streets"? What do liberals think our streets are now?
But I digress.
I will stipulate that almost every public employee, employed in a blue-collar-type job, does something that has some value. Is that value enough to justify pensions that beggar the imagination of their private-sector counterparts, or their above average fringes and salaries? Probably not, but at least we, the ordinary taxpayers, get something for our money. Not much, maybe, but something.
On the other hand, how many public employees in white-collar jobs provide us anything of value? Look at the listing of managers in any state university, and you will find some of the job titles inflated beyond the level of the Hindenburg. "Assistant Deputy Provost for L-G-B-T Outreach." "Inter-disciplinary Coordinator for Multi-Lingual Support and Augmentation."
Even on the level of a small town, this sort of silliness goes unchecked, and in large cities the number of public-sector employees is awe-inspiring -- in the same sense that seeing Godzilla in your backyard garden would be awe-inspiring.
According to New York City's own website, New York employs 300,000 in 70 different agencies. These are just a few of the agencies:
- Campaign Finance Board
- Conflicts of Interest Board
Perhaps these two could either be combined or work together. At the very least, one could assume that the board members already know each other.
- Children's Services
- Youth and Community Development
It would be nice to see a little less redundancy in where our money goes, wouldn't it?
- Housing Preservation and Development
- Landmarks Preservation Commission
- School Construction Authority
Do you think there might be a bureaucratic conflict if New York City wanted to preserve a house that was next to a landmark and in the way of new site for a school? If so, do you think the salaries and benefits for all three agencies would be a complete waste when they are stalemated?
- Film, Theatre and Broadcasting Office
Obviously a very important function. If this office didn't exist, Hollywood might start making movies like The French Connection in Dry Gulch, Utah instead of Manhattan.
- Independent Budget Office
- Office of Management and Budget
With such a powerful budget control presence, why would NYC need state and federal aid?
- Urban Park Ranger Program
An urban park ranger? To quote Nancy Pelosi, "Are you serious?"
And before anyone bewails the fact that this is about New York City, examine, if you will, some of the job titles listed by the University of California (and also being funded by taxpayers) as being open for applicants:
- Change Management Consultant (UC - Berkeley)
- Student Services Initiative Liaison (UC - Berkeley)
- Associate Director, Marketing and Alumni Services (UCLA)
- Chief Health Law Counsel (UC-San Diego)
The point is, regardless of the whining of public employee unions, Democrats, and the liberal media, there is an enormous potential for cost-cutting that would not impact a single teacher, fireman, or cop.
Perhaps a litmus test as to whether a public-sector position could be eliminated would be a poll of passers-by on any street in America. I have no hard data to back this up, but I feel fairly sure that 90%+ of those queried could tell you what a teacher, firefighter, or police officer does for them.
On the other hand, I would not be willing to wager a nickel on the odds that 90% or more of those queried would be able to tell you what either a student services initiative liaison or an urban park ranger does for them, if anything.
If we, the taxpayers don't have even a vague idea of what we are paying for, why are we paying for it in the first place?
I doubt even our "smartest-guy-in-the-room" president could tell us just how these jobs are the driving force of our economy. Does anyone think he could? Anyone at all?
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.