Public servants

I met a very nice couple at a wedding last weekend. Both used to work for the government but are now retired. He retired at 53 and she at 55. They have a house in Oxnard, a house in Palm Springs, and a house outside of Nashville.

‘Tis a wonderful thing to serve the public.

From Steven Greenhut:

The economy is struggling, the unemployment rate is high, and many Americans are struggling to pay the bills, but one class of Americans is doing quite well: government workers. Their pay levels are soaring, they enjoy unmatched benefits, and they remain largely immune from layoffs, except for some overly publicized cutbacks around the margins. To make matters worse, government employees—thanks largely to the power of their unions—have carved out special protections that exempt them from many of the rules that other working Americans must live by. California has been on the cutting edge of this dangerous trend, which has essentially turned government employees into a special class of citizens.

[...]

Municipalities have adopted Defined Retirement Option Plans, or DROPs, in which the employee earns his salary and his full defined-benefit retirement pay at the same time, with the retirement pay going into an account payable upon actual retirement. And as average Americans work longer to sustain themselves, public employees can retire in their early fifties with their plush benefits.

The old deal seemed fair: public employees would earn lower salaries than Americans working in the private sector, but would receive a somewhat better retirement and more days off. Now, public employees get higher average pay, far higher benefits, and many more days off and other fringe benefits. They have also obtained greatly reduced work schedules, thus limiting public services even as pay and benefits shoot ever higher.

Source

Demagogue

From Victor Davis Hanson:

A final prognosis—or why Obama is in deep, deep trouble, since he won’t quit in his dream to transmogrify American into something like Belgium at best and Brazil at worse.

Millions of independents and swing voters went for Obama for five reasons: (1) they believed the media hype that Bush was the “worst” (fill in the blanks); (2) the sudden financial panic of September 2008 and the anger at Wall Street banditry and bail-outs; (3) Obama’s youth, charm, and oratory; (4) the feel-good novelty of voting in our first African-American president; (5) Obama’s centrist campaign message of paying down debt, working with allies, drilling, being tough against Al Qaeda, and being bipartisan.

It’s taken almost 11 months, but voters now know that propositions 1-5 are now refuted or irrelevant:

1) Bush is history. Like Truman, in time he will begin to look better not worse. More importantly, Bush’s sins that bothered voters— too much big government and big deficits—were simply trumped by Obama’s gargantuan deficits and federalization of health care, banking, and the auto industry. “Bush did it” doesn’t work any more. “Obama did it even more” is the new worry.

2) The panic that we would lose all our 401(k’s) and home equity has passed. What we are left with in its wake is a sinking feeling that badgering small business and the Chamber of Commerce, as if they are Goldman Sachs grandees, isn’t working. Raising income, payroll, and surcharge taxes at a time state, local, and sales taxes are surging, is, well, a good way to turn a recession into a depression—or at least a stagflating, weak recovery. Sometime around next March, “Bush’s did it” will transmogrify into Obama’s recession. Obama can’t run against the economy, but must fix it—or take the blame. His best hope is that the Republicans don’t run a demagogic figure such as he himself acted in 2007-8.

3) Obama’s smoothness is getting old. All of us can almost write the next Obama speech: a) “some” say/do, but “I” say/do… The bad straw man is set up, followed by the contrast of the annointed “I” and “me” ad nauseum. b) then comes the apology for the sins of the rest of us—mitigated somewhat by the election of , yes, Barack Obama, the first black President; c) third is the impossible: spending more on health care saves more; cap and trade massive taxes will result in economies; no more lobbyists means gads of them, Bush shredded the Constitution equates into I’m copying his anti-terror protocols; d) an end with hope and change ruffles and flourishes. Bottom line: the oratory is old and trite, given the lack of commensurate accomplishments.

4) On the matter of racial landmarks, some of the voters think, rightly or wrongly, that they did their thing, proving America is not racist by the fact of Obama’s election. Now? A lot of independents, however, won’t seem obligated to vote in 2010 or 2012, motivated by the same sense of liberal assuagement of guilt. This been there/done that feeling will be accentuated should Obama’s supporters continue to play the race card as his popularity dips as a result of a statist and neo-socialist agenda.

5) We know now that the campaign was a centrist deception. Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright make logical the presence of the Truther Van Jones and Anita Dunn (cf. her encomium to Mao). His most partisan Senate record presages his near suicidal effort to ram through statist health care, tax hikes, and partisan appointments, in addition to polarizing rhetoric. His campaign promises to meet with Ahmadinejad were not only met, but again trumped by serial apologies, selling out the Poles and Czechs and outreach to Chavez and Castro. In other words, the so-called right-wing nuts who tried to scare the hell out of voters are proving to be Nostradamuses of sorts.

All sorts of things can happen. Printing and borrowing can give us a brief, though unsustainable recovery around 2010. A war could break out. We could get hit big-time again as in 9/11.

That said, I think not merely the thrill is gone, but a righteous anger about an Obama trifecta— of serial apologies and bows abroad, massive borrowing and deficit spending, and government-take overs of private spheres of life—is swelling up in the electorate. I haven’t seen in my lifetime anything quite like it. And this furor of being had has the potential not just to take Obama down, but also his ideology and supporters along with him for a generation.

Source