In California, don't call them 'public servants'; call them 'the government gang'
With its monopoly on the legitimate use of force, government gets its way. Just as gangsters do — with the ever-present knowledge that non-compliance will be met by people ready to use force if necessary. The purported difference between governments and gangsters is that the former are supposed to be subject to the rule of law and operating "in the public interest," while the latter are out only to enrich themselves.
But in California's state government, one-party control and the lack of media scrutiny and public attention has led to the capture of control over tax revenues by so-called "public servants." That's government employee unions, which donate heavily to the ruling party, the Democrats. The result is plunder of tax revenues on an unimaginable scale, creating a ruling class of wealthy people (the value of a six-figure pension for an employee who retires after twenty years of employment is millions of dollars), while starving the actual delivery of services to the taxpayers who face jail if they don't cough up what is demanded of them.
As a Californian of more than three decades, I have watched the highways deteriorate, with no new construction of freeways (or reservoirs, for that matter) while the population soared. I have watched the schools go from bad to horrendous. Meanwhile, taxes have soared to levels that are driving out middle-class taxpayers in very large numbers. The rest of us who are not members of the government gang watch as the gang members get rich. How rich? Even I was shocked by the data reported by Steven Greenhut in The American Spectator:
Hundreds of California government workers earn more than $500,000 a year — and that's just the tip of the public-employee compensation iceberg. (snip)
...a new report from the Orange County Register's Teri Sforza hints at why these agencies never have enough money to do their jobs. Based on data from the state controller's office, she found that "More than 100 city and county workers earned total compensation exceeding a half-million dollars in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties last year." One need only look at the Transparent California database to see that this is no aberration.
One Orange County city, Placentia, decided recently to exit its contract with the Orange County Fire Authority and start its own fire department as a way to gain control of spiraling compensation costs. No wonder. We see page after page of OCFA employees earning total compensation of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The top earner received $534,000 in total pay and benefits — nearly five times the base salary of $117,000 a year. This is no aberration. Pull the data from any agency and you'll be shocked by the pay levels.
The average California firefighter at the county and city level earns nearly $200,000 a year in total compensation for a minimal work week (and they're paid while sleeping). State-level firefighters earn close to $150,000. Police sergeants, city managers, you name it — they often earn $300,000 or more in pay and benefit packages. Those numbers include only the funded portion of the equation. California has hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension and retiree-medical costs — shortfalls that ultimately must be paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers.
In fact, total compensation packages, including benefits such as early retirement and lifetime medical care, add from one third to one half of the salary, meaning the average firefighter receives at least $300,000 a year.
Some employees have compensation levels soaring over $1 million in one year, costs that typically reflect those ridiculous DROP programs (Defined Retirement Option Plans). Compensation packages are so generous and retirement ages so low (age 50 for public-safety employees; 55 for most others) that these employees have no incentive to keep working once they hit retirement age. But many want to keep working, and their agencies need their labor. So employees double-dip by receiving their retirement and their full pay, which they get in a lump sum when they really do retire.
There is much more to read in Greenhut's article. The conclusion is clear to me. California politicians are conspiring with public-sector employees to run the government for their own benefit, not to serve the public. It's all legal, because the state Legislature passes and the governor signs the legislation taking tax revenues and giving them to an elite of favored public
servants masters, who put their own interests ahead of the people who pay their salaries.
Graphic credit: Needpix.