Why do we call them 'public servants?'

Have you ever noticed the steps cities and states take to make our lives miserable in order to extract tax increases from us? When budgets are cut back because of fewer taxes, what goes first in the triage that politicians engage in? Libraries shut down early or are just closed or longer waits at drivers license bureaus, among other inconveniences.

We are also warned that fire and police forces will be cut back (invoking fear). The children are made to pay the price, too. Bands, sports, afterschool clubs all go by the wayside. Field trips become a nostalgia item. Students are forced to use old textbooks, falling apart at the seams. The PTA is asked to make up the shortfall and parents fees go up for an odd assortment of items.

But what escapes the budget-cutting? Gold-plated salaries, pensions and health benefits enjoyed by so-called public servants. But politicians want to bury this truth.


We see one example of this from Fairfax, Virginia. The school system is looking for a whopping tax increase to pay for teachers' retirements and benefits. But that is not the propaganda being promoted. Fortunately, the people of Fairfax, operating through the Fairfax County Taxpayer's Association (FCTA) had enough of the duplicity. Unwittingly, the superintendent of the school district and the school board itself gave us a lesson we all need to absorb.

"The FCTA asked why the school board is urging the supervisors to raise taxes by $81.9M although only $9M is needed to pay for next year's expected increase in student enrollment.

"The school superintendent acknowledged that the reason is the increased cost in employee benefits, especially pensions. According to the schools' proposed FY2011 budget, employee benefits costs are increasing by $98M, of which $71M is for pensions and another $15M is for retiree medical benefits.

"The school board has been less than straightforward with the community about this. During her opening remarks at the forum, school board chairman Kathy Smith talked about cuts to band and sports, and bigger class sizes, but never acknowledged that the cuts were being made to pay for increased benefits costs. School board members urged the audience to ask the supervisors to raise taxes. If taxes are not raised, then the board will cut band and sports and increase class size to make the pension payments."

The teachers are supposed to be truth-tellers, no?

Instead, what they are doing is trying to pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes and using the image of our students paying the price for our stinginess and cheapness as a tool. There are superb teachers; but there are also bad apples who are granted tenure quite early and then enjoy the same lockstep advancement and benefits that good teachers enjoy.

The same truism exists for millions of government workers. But they all enjoy benefits (salary, health, and retirement) that dwarf those available in the private sector. In a time of sacrifice, is it too much for public sector unions to ask for some of their workers to pitch in and help the taxpayers that pay their salaries. Instead, a huge chunk of the stimulus money went to government employees to pay for these golden benefits and our children will be the ones paying the bill for many years to come.

Public servants is a misnomer. We should seek to expand charters, vouchers, and every tool in the kit we have to blunt the power of teachers' unions. We should privatize as many government services as we can and start instilling some common sense in how services are provided to our nation's citizens.

 


Have you ever noticed the steps cities and states take to make our lives miserable in order to extract tax increases from us? When budgets are cut back because of fewer taxes, what goes first in the triage that politicians engage in? Libraries shut down early or are just closed or longer waits at drivers license bureaus, among other inconveniences.

We are also warned that fire and police forces will be cut back (invoking fear). The children are made to pay the price, too. Bands, sports, afterschool clubs all go by the wayside. Field trips become a nostalgia item. Students are forced to use old textbooks, falling apart at the seams. The PTA is asked to make up the shortfall and parents fees go up for an odd assortment of items.

But what escapes the budget-cutting? Gold-plated salaries, pensions and health benefits enjoyed by so-called public servants. But politicians want to bury this truth.


We see one example of this from Fairfax, Virginia.

The school system is looking for a whopping tax increase to pay for teachers' retirements and benefits. But that is not the propaganda being promoted. Fortunately, the people of Fairfax, operating through the Fairfax County Taxpayer's Association (FCTA) had enough of the duplicity. Unwittingly, the superintendent of the school district and the school board itself gave us a lesson we all need to absorb.

"The FCTA asked why the school board is urging the supervisors to raise taxes by $81.9M although only $9M is needed to pay for next year's expected increase in student enrollment.

"The school superintendent acknowledged that the reason is the increased cost in employee benefits, especially pensions. According to the schools' proposed FY2011 budget, employee benefits costs are increasing by $98M, of which $71M is for pensions and another $15M is for retiree medical benefits.

"The school board has been less than straightforward with the community about this. During her opening remarks at the forum, school board chairman Kathy Smith talked about cuts to band and sports, and bigger class sizes, but never acknowledged that the cuts were being made to pay for increased benefits costs. School board members urged the audience to ask the supervisors to raise taxes. If taxes are not raised, then the board will cut band and sports and increase class size to make the pension payments."

The teachers are supposed to be truth-tellers, no?

Instead, what they are doing is trying to pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes and using the image of our students paying the price for our stinginess and cheapness as a tool. There are superb teachers; but there are also bad apples who are granted tenure quite early and then enjoy the same lockstep advancement and benefits that good teachers enjoy.

The same truism exists for millions of government workers. But they all enjoy benefits (salary, health, and retirement) that dwarf those available in the private sector. In a time of sacrifice, is it too much for public sector unions to ask for some of their workers to pitch in and help the taxpayers that pay their salaries. Instead, a huge chunk of the stimulus money went to government employees to pay for these golden benefits and our children will be the ones paying the bill for many years to come.

Public servants is a misnomer. We should seek to expand charters, vouchers, and every tool in the kit we have to blunt the power of teachers' unions. We should privatize as many government services as we can and start instilling some common sense in how services are provided to our nation's citizens.