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Letter to the editor:

Lean government is most effective

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 (2 a.m.)

In response to Wayne Grose’s letter to the editor, “Uncertainty not pinned to Obama”: He apparently wants the U.S. government to spend billions to employ public workers. I believe our fiscal disaster locally and nationally is due to outrageous pay and benefit compensation of public employees, some collecting more years than they worked. How can you guarantee pension for life? It should have been a 401(k) plan. Most state and city government budgets go to labor costs. We should operate with efficiency and be lean and not be another U.S. Postal Service.

To improve the economy and lower unemployment, you don’t just spend and create public jobs for jobs’ sake. Job creation should be in the private sector. Spending on infrastructure improvement is something that needs to be addressed, but it should be done for a reasonable price. As for the housing crisis, who in their right mind would lend without 20 percent down? Purchasing a home is like the stock market — you could gain or lose equity. Everything is a risk. Buying at those insane high prices in 2004-05, of course it was going to tumble and be underwater. If your stocks fall, no one bails you out. You just take a loss.

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Discussion: 72 comments so far…

  1. This letter is correct.But even with 35% down we lost all of it . Nearly everyone I know who owned houses they bought in the 2005-2009 period lost something. It was a bloodbath that wiped out our economy. Nevertheless, the government's careless waste in throwing money at this fiasco was inexcusable.

  2. Vidi,

    You make valid points on corruption, nepotism and inefficiency in the private sector. It does exist and there are examples and there are things that government needs to do.

    However, you seem to be unwilling to address the very real problems with government in many areas.

    Yes, 401K's lost value in the housing crash, but if government workers are granted fixed pensions after a short work career that pay the workers 75 % of what they made while working and those pensions are lifetime pensions, the private sector will be taxed out of existence to fund them. Can't you see that?

    Privatization of public schools, privatization of prisons, privatization of the U.S. Post Ofice, and other governmental functions is not a panacea, but can't you see that these governmental organizations have real problems with cost, efficiency and quality?

    Medicare advantage plans are not efficient and the medical insurnace industry is bloated and costly. We know this but the ACA is very poor legislation that gets more people covered by does zero to control costs, and has a huge sop to big pharma that will keep drug costs high. Can't you see that?

    I am not one that believes all government functions should be privitized so I don't agree with the far right, but I also cannot go where you seem to go and bury my head in the sand and insist that there is nothing wrong with the way government operates.


  3. Letter writer is correct. US economy and its links with other global economies are too complex and large for governments' manipulation. It's the private sector growth that creates the industries and technologies to keep the wheels of commerce and business humming along at increasing rates. The current economic tsunamis in Europe and Obama's failed economic policies over the last 3 1/2 years should be proof positive for all to know and understand. John Maynard Keynes and his economics are dead. RIP


  4. Was that mean Government or lean government I guess it don't matter "job creator" ?

  5. Any numbskull trickledowner is just going to make things worse. Government spending and direct hiring do provide relief and increase demand. Bean counting has never got us out of depressions. I believe electing republicans is bad for the country.

  6. No government is most effective in bringing on world wide corporate dominance.

  7. Are immigration laws tied to for profit prisons in other states?


    That mantra of "we want a small government" is a lie and we all know that for a fact. The radical right wants to run the government as a business and donations by a few billionaires might just make that happen. Through government control the radical right wants to control what people do in the bedroom. They want to privatize Social Security, Medicare, and public education. What a women can do with her own body is to be decided by politicians on the right. Taking food out of the mouths of hungry children falls into that plan of small government. "Small government" is a psuedonym for privatization and is borderline fascism, something that was attempted by Prescott Bush during the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

  8. Vidi,

    If you are just going to rant rather than respond to the questions I asked, I'll just stop asking. We need to find a middle area between the foxholes on the left and right. Rants won't get us there. Rational discussion can. I'll ask that you read my post again and respond, not rant.


  9. Darthfrodo,

    We all need to stop drawing a conclusion and then cherry picking facts that support our conclusion.

    Some pensions are reasonable and I have no problem with those. But the fact remains that when government unions negotiate salary and benefits with elected officlas and they use taxpayer money to fund them and then they will be rewarded by union support at election time, that system is ripe for abuse.

    Just read the news and you will find numerous examples of ridiculus salaries, work rules and benefits for public sector workers that have been negotiated for by public sector unions and rubber stamped by elected officials using taxpayer dollars.

    Local governments are going broke over the load of debt and their only alternative is to cut services or ask for higher taxes. Taxpayers are finally beginning to say... no more.

    The good times have ended for most of the middle class and with them went the ability of local governments to fund the current salaries, benefits and work rules. What is starting to happen is that the good times are also beginning to end for public sector employees.

    I don't blame them for not liking it or for fighting it, but I didn't like it when I lost 50 % of the value of my house and my investments, my business suffers and there are few jobs for me to try to go after, but I just had to 'eat it all' and try to survive.

    That's now what the public sector workers are facing. The Obama stimulus is gone and the taxpayers are saying .... no more debt... for another one.

    I am fine with public sector workers. I just happen to think they should not make more than the private sector (which is the reason they are necessary) makes and that when tough times hit, they should not be anymore protected than the middle class private sector is.


  10. Kepi,

    Call me whatever you like. I am called all kinds of things by letter writers.

    I view myself as someone trying to bring people from the edges closer to a place where they have some chance at compromise.

    No one side or party will dominate this nation for long and since that is the case, we need compromise to get things done.... especially in our present financial situation.

    Almost everyone that writes in is cemented in their view, their unconditional support for their side, their complete hatred of the other side, that compromise is impossible. The same is true in most of America.

    I don't know why so many can't see it, but our country cannot survive if this continues and we will all suffer.

    I do what little I can to encourage compromise.


  11. Vernos,

    Both Progressives and Conservatives have leveled 'conspiracy' charges against the other side, and I am sure there are 'some' people on each side that 'conspire' do do really bad things.

    That said, when any of us sign on to conspiracy theories (as you do and many on the right do) you use a brush to paint EVERYONE as being a part of the 'conspiracy'.

    Can't you and others see that by signing onto conspiracy theories and repeating them, that you make political disagreements into 'wars'?

    In a war, there is only us and the enemy and their are no good guys in the enemy camp.... no good Germans, Italians, Japanese... in WWII. All of them must be destroyed!

    After the war we discovered that there were good Germans, Italians and Japanese and they discovered there were good Americans. But it was only after alot of destruction, expense and loss of life... and one side had to be nearly destoyed.

    Do we want our politics to be 'war'? Participation in conspiracy theories and generalizations lead to politics as war.

    I say to all...Be careful of what you believe and what you say. We are very close to politics as war. If we don't back up, we can destroy our whole country.


  12. Kepi: I'm not a conservative. I'm a centrist. In fact. slightly left of center. I have been all my adult life.


  13. You're welcome.

  14. A 401k is not a retirement plan -- and it is not a substitute for one.

  15. Kepi,

    There is always 'potential' for compromise. The problem we have is that Americans have so demonized anyone with views different than theirs, that both sides are like an armed camp, with those on the other side viewed not as people with different views, but enemies looking to do intentional harm.

    Our elected officials are taking their queue from us and our attitiude. After all, the President and most members of Congress are wealthy and are paid a salary, benefits and retirement most of us could only dream of. They are safe even if nothing gets done but the rest of us are not.

    I want to see compromise and I am willing to vote these people out if I don't get it. It can't be my way or the highway on either side .... and right now, that is the attitude on both sides.


  16. Dean, part of it is all those amateur economists in the government and legislatures. They believe all that hype about government payments stimulating the economy???? While true that spending shows demand and there is some market response, that response is less than IF real consumers spending their money, making choices, paying low prices were part of the market. So for every dollar we tax and every dollar we deficit, we are HARMING the economy--because you and I don't get to spend it on things that would grow a real economy.

  17. The present pension "crisis" is the result of four very old and large chickens coming home to roost at the same time:

    1. Unrealistic assumptions about annual investment returns. Over-estimating investment growth made it easy for politicians of both parties to promise pensions. After all 6% compounded annually doubles your money in 12 years, 8% in only 9 years, and 12% in 6 years. Look at the investment assumptions for any pension plan (public or private). Can you find a plan based on 4%? Now, compare to reality: For over 272 years, from 1740 to the present the average yields on high-grade corporate bonds have fluctuated in a range from about 1% to about 3%, with a midpoint of around 2%. Because people fantasized larger returns, pensions were underfunded. After all, it was not necessary to put in lots of money because investment returns would be so large that the principal would be more than large enough to pay out benefits.

    2. Not only could pensions be underfunded because it was assumed that investment returns would far exceed what was really probable, but that same assumption allowed governments run by politicians of both parties to use the "surplus" in the plans to fund budgets by spending money from the pension plans. And so they did. Of course, they always promised to return the money later. Now it is later.

    3. Our economic circumstances have put government budgets under pressure. They have big expenses and smaller revenues. There is no surplus money to pay back the borrowings or to make up for the underfundings.

    4. Because of demographics, a larger than normal percentage of the workforce is retiring, increasing the necessity of payouts.


  18. All other things being equal, we keep shooting our economy in the foot and now we're aiming higher. We keep pulling billions and trillions out of our economy and send it overseas--to Europe for our troops, to Africa for aide, to South America for "diplomacy", to everywhere for anything. Instead of endless, indecipherable agriculture programs, let's allow food, grain, corn, beef to reach "free market" levels. Instead of subsidizing farmers and pretending that the billions of bushels we give away costs us only XYZ billion, let's tell the truth--it costs perhaps 10 times more than that. Ditto for all the medicine and vaccines we dump out there from HIV treatments for every African to malaria inoculations for every swamp land. Ditto for "membership" in the IMF, NATO, UN....

  19. Leric,

    That is an excellent mathematical analysis. It is too bad most people can barely do basic math. I attend investment seminars every once in a while to learn what is new and I always cringe at the questions that are asked. Americans have no clue about how finances and investments work.

    As an example, I once worked at Hughes Aircraft and at the time, they offered a 401 K with a match of 75 cents for every dollar I contributed. Once the benefit person made her presentation, some of my colleques asked what I was going to do. I said I was going to contribute as much as I could to the limit of what the company would match. Many of them said they were not going to participate. I informed them of the match (fee money) and the tax advantages and they still wanted to keep their entire paycheck to spend and live on.

    And therein lies a big part of our problem today.

    Too many Americans are absolutely clueless financially.


  20. bite - "News flash!!! There ain't no starving children in this country. The liberal bastiges that say that are simply lying."

    I have news for you, it is a real problem. As usual Fox has some peoples brains scrambled and they ignore reality. Your alternate plain of realism won't make poor people or their problems vanish. I'll assume you've never read about Appalachia and the starvation problems they've had, or cities that were turned into ghost towns after steel mills closed such as Pittsburgh.


  21. wtplv - "Both Progressives and Conservatives have leveled 'conspiracy' charges against the other side, and I am sure there are 'some' people on each side that 'conspire' do do really bad things."


    I've stopped believing in conspiracies ages ago. I base my comments on what I read and see first hand. I do know that since the far right gained control of the GOP they've gone off the deep end. I saw it before when the John Birchers gained political power and again when the idiots in Washington spread the rumor that Clinton assassinated Foster and then attempted to empeach him. The GOP looked like fools both times and they are doing it again. It mass hysteria when a Republican can't win or cheat their way into a political position. It's their policies that brought the middle class to the edge of extinction over 30 years while the fat cats got fatter than ever. If the GOP, as it is of now, regains control of the White House and Congress, I can gaurantee we all are screwed. There have been some very unstable people recently elected to office. We are slowly coming out of the great recession and GOP policies, if followed through, will be disasterous.

    The British Isles is a classic example of what happens when "conservatives" take control. They were working there way out of their economic situation and austerity dumped their economy back into the toilet. As a matter of fact if it weren't for American banks selling Europeans the garbage they manufactured through the housing scam and derivatives Europeans wouldn't be in the condition they are.

  22. Darthfrodo,

    Thanks for the clarification. Yeah, at one point my home in Peccole Ranch was valued at 650,000. Now I might get 325,000. It's pretty ugly.

    I am just bothered by people like Vidi. No, not all public sector workers are overpaid, underworked and have obscene benefits and retirement compared to the private sector. However, many are and it shows in the cities, counties and states struggling with their budgets.

    But Vidi and many others won't go there and argue that all is well, nobody is overpaid, etc, etc.

    When so many people will not even move off their position, no matter the evidence, I fear for our survival as a nation.

    I don't just mean Vidi and those on the left either. Many on the right are equally as intractible.


  23. Vernos,

    After reading what you write, I have to question your assertion that you no longer believe in conspiracy theories.

    The impeachment attempt of former President Clinton was driven by the fact that he lied under oath about Monica Lewinsky. Fair minded people can argue over whether what he did rose to an impeachable offense and he was not convicted after all, but it had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

    And I have problems with the Tea Party as well, not mostly because of what they believe in (I agree with some of that) but that they will not compromise. I can also state my belief that it is a gross exaggeration to say that the R party is the Tea Party and visa versa.

    I see you also believe that every single effort made to purge voter rolls of people not entitled to vote is 'voter supression' and not an honest attempt to see to it that only people entitled to vote, vote.

    The R party has not been in a dictatorial position over the last 30 years. Where we are IS NOT the result of one party making all the decisions.

    Vernos, I agree we ARE screwed but not for the reason you believe. Both sides of Congress will not 'compromise' and until the American people say loudly that not compromising is not ok with them, that will continue.

    Let's face it. If Romney wins, D's in Congress will say... you blocked our guy... so here that is right back at you... but twice a much. If Obama wins, R's will say, when you had a majority in Congress and the White House, you ran right over us, backed the truck up and ran over us again.... so we're not cooperating with a thing you want to get done.

    And what's sad is they are both correct. Neither party is going to budge until we force them to.


  24. In responce to your article to the right its always about lowering taxes and cutting jobs for the working guy. Your battle cry is the over paid public worker that makes millions of dollars. Teacher have to like what they do because it can't be for the money. Also we never hear the right say that some bisiness is making to much money or anybody saying some ceo gets paid to much. Because public employees make a living wage to live on doesn't make it outrageous. Also you have a pension that you paid into over years and is paid out to over time after retirement. You are obviously complaining because you don't have a pension that you paid into and are jealous. Also your complaint you made about the post office is wrong. The reason the post office has money problems is because they have to pay in 75 years of pension in ten years which is killing it. I'm sure that's alright with you as you like to destroy all government and public employees.
    Public employee jobs are created because they are needed to perform services like teachers, police and fire fighter who run into burning buildings. Maybe you should try it and tell us how much its worth. If the jobs should only be created in the private sector then the owner would make the most of the profit and be the middle man. If public employees make a decent wage then he will inturn buy things and help the economy for the worker and wealth for the businessman as well. If all wages are cut for all union and public emplyees than they have considerable less to spend. Eisenhower fixed the economy by passing a massive tranportation bill building highways and schools that inturn created jobs that help the economy so don't tell me that our fiscal disaster can't be helped can't be helped by people having a decent paying job. I also don't see any of these public emplyees getting filthy rich.
    Also you comment that of course the housing market was going to fail was also wrong. We all knew the housing market was at some point was going to go down but it crashed because of the greedy banksters loaning money to people who couldn't afford their loans. Everybody wants to blame the buyer but if the banksters weren't giving all these risky loans we never would of experienced the bubble but I'm sure you would say there are risks to everything. That's the American Dream in a capitalist world.

  25. Vidi,

    The 'facts' are a mixture of what you see and believe and what you refuse to see. Just like others that write here, on the right and on the left, you only are willing to see and acknowledge things that support your views.

    Until we can get mant more people on both sides to let the facts guide them to the truth, we will have big problems.

    Logic and deductive reasoning argue that we study all facts and then draw a conclusion; not that we draw a conclusion and then only see and acknowledge facts that support our preconceived conclusion.

    Have a good night...


  26. @Casler...

    "But Vidi and many others won't go there and argue that all is well, nobody is overpaid, etc, etc."

    Michael, Michael, Michael.
    I don't think I've EVER read a post where someone claimed 'NO ONE' is overpaid in the public sector.
    NOT ONE...

    But you guys LOVE to perpetuate the myths that
    A) The MAJORITY of the public sector is overpaid and overly endowed with gold-plated benefits.

    B) That FURTHERMORE they don't actually 'work' for the 'riches' they receive.

    C)That cities/states/counties/Fed's are going BROKE BECAUSE OF public sector employees.

    Could you AT LEAST acknowledge that
    A)The MAJORITY is NOT overpaid, nor are they overburdened by abundant benefits

    B)That MOST public sector workers do great work, work awfully hard at what they do, AND at least a decent percentage of the gigs are such that THE AVERAGE WAGE-WORKER would run and hide if faced with the day-to-day responsibilities entailed therein

    C)That cities/counties/states/fed's are going broke for reasons TOTALLY UNRELATED, fundamentally, to wages paid to employees; that they are ailing financially because of the GREAT RECESSION and related tax collection issues, and a HOST OF OTHER REASONS that are not directly attributable to your average public sector worker.


    To the Windbag;
    Dude, comparing numbers of posts alone won't cut it. That doesn't give any CONTEXT; like, over WHAT PERIOD OF TIME were the posts written? 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? MORE?
    However, that's EXACTLY WHY most of your posts are misleading...
    "Lies, damnable lies and statistics."

    Here's the CORRECT LINK to Vidi's important post earlier...

  27. Lean is a relative term. A lean government is fat to some, just right to others.

    A Lean Government has no absolute definition - there is no structure to define this organization.

  28. Thanks to Michael and Leric for such fine posts.

    I had to wait until I was 50 to buy a first home. Because of the time being marked by the Savings & Loan crisis, it caused me to look at history.

    I determined that the wise thing to do would be to buy a home less than we wanted, but sufficient for our needs. I wanted to pay it off before the next crisis hit, as I knew it would.

    When I saw the speculation balloon, I told my husband, who wanted to sell and buy a bigger home, that there would be trouble from what was happening and people doing what he suggested would be making the wrong move. I refer to people in our financial level.

    Trouble hit, another serious crisis arrived, just as has happened in the past. Locally, it was a depression.

    Our neighbors were trapped, having taken out second mortgages to buy luxuries. We paid off our home because I didn't know how bad it would get, but I suspected very bad. We made the right decision. Had we not done so, we very probably would have lost everything, including our home due to the limited income as a result of the depression.

    Regarding my 401K, I did exactly the same thing as Michael. I took advantage of the free money. Two financial crises caused a loss both times, but some remained and is now in a safe place.

    I'm still a little bit ahead on personal investments, but I am not a big investor. My investments are generally in very good companies & sectors that seem to survive even in bad times.

    The key to our situation was to not look with eyes glazed over with wants, or to compete with anyone for status. I try to look at reality with an eye to history. I took a conservative route and we are surviving the crisis, for the moment.

    I don't see public employees as the enemy dipping into the taxpayers pockets. They are like anyone else. I don't know a single person that doesn't try to get the best deal they can in their jobs. Although now people just want a job.

    Some may abuse the system, but that isn't limited to public employees. I have always worked in the private sector and saw loads of abuse.

    I even began to think that mediocrity rises for their own survival, in the private sector.

    That said, I do believe that some unions have not seen that they also have a role to play in helping our country in a crisis. Not all, but some surely.

    If we had an atmosphere of finding compromises, instead of the adversarial atmosphere that is present, we might see the holdout unions coming to the negotiation table with willingness to compromise.

    Extreme positions are destructive and offensive to people who want to be reasonable, whether in the private or public sectors! There are so many extreme positions that it will work against our nation, not help it move through this terrible time.

    We really need unity desperately, not division, in a time like this. We are all in this together.

  29. Teamster:

    I'd rather be fooled by myself than you. Then I have no one to blame except me. So far so good.

    Big decision out today. ObamaCare individual mandate will be struck down. That's my prediction. What say you.


  30. Gmag39,

    I'll agree that not all public employees are overcompensated and some work very hard at what they do. It's 'similar' in the private sector. Some employees are good, others are not....with a couple of big differences. 1) In the private sector, you compete with other companies so you have to be competitive or you go out of business. 2) Compensation and benefits are tied to bottom line; whereas in the public sector, compensation comes from tax revenue, which is too often viewed as unlimited and always rising.

    I have worked in both the private and public sector and I liked my working conditions much better in the public sector. Compensation was better in the private sector but I had to work alot harder and I eventually got laid off.

    Many mant cities and counties have said that a huge % of their entire budget is eaten up by personnel costs, both current and retireees, so you can claim it just ain't so, but in fact it is so.


  31. I say to Carmine D that the actual decision by the U.S. Supreme Court confirms your predictions aren't worth the (non) paper they are printed on...

  32. And I say to you hind sight is 20-20. At least I made a prediction. And the Supremes struck down the mandate on the basis of its core: The commerce clause. If you read my posts here, I said the commerce clause, the basis for Obamacare, was an over reach of the Executive and Legislative Branches. Supremes upheld that thinking and ruled the mandate is constitutional as a tax. That was not the argument you and your favorite president and dems used. In fact just the opposite. All of the supporters of Obamacare argued it was not a tax.

    AND the Supremes struck down the States' forced expansion of Medicaid at their expense and penalty if not done, as unconstitutional. In essence removing the bulk of the payment mechanism for the uninsured who can't pay for Obamacare.


  33. Mr. Schaffer:

    The Supremes, thanks to CJ Roberts, just gave the GOP the trump card and cause for a landslide win in November 2012, White House, House and Senate: "Repeal Obamacare and vote for candidates who will." If you can't see that then you need more than your eyes checked.


  34. At least I know the correct begin and end dates of the federal fiscal year. You struck out twice here with your guesses. Can you get it right on the third try?

    The only fraud and hoax today that came to light is Obama and his supporters pawning off the individual mandate as permissable under the commerce clause. Ruled that one unconstitutional. It's a tax.


  35. I am really glad the Commerce Clause was not upheld, and the "Tax" part was.

    It makes it easier to have a single payer national health plan for all in the future.

    It use to be when expenses went up, incomes also increased at some point. If not people sought jobs in other companies that paid more. Competition was in play.

    Business has the upper hand when there fewer jobs and more workers.

    Workers have the upper hand when there are more jobs than workers.

    We have had times that worked very well when there was more of a balance of jobs and workers. It was before all the division, greed and selfishness took hold to such a huge extent.

    Many of you here have no experience of that, you were too young or not born yet. So, you will find it hard to believe that we ever had a well functioning economy and politics.

    One benefit of the ACA for employees may be that they are no longer stuck in jobs they hate because of health insurance needs.

    This could lead to a worker's market, if we survive the economic crisis. Companies might have to be more competitive in their work practices to attract good employees.

    Maybe it will even breed some new entrepreneurs who will create jobs when others won't. I hope there are some who won't be looking for fortunes at the expense of others.

  36. As usual Teamster you believe what you want to believe. Obamacare mandate was found unconstitutional on the basis that the Admin passed it: Under the Commerce Clause. As I said. It was an overreach of the law. Also as I said. The Supremes, John Roberts the Chief Justice, found it constitutional on the basis of a tax. Which is in the realm of the Congress to do. If you understand how Obama and his Health Care Bill supporters passed this bad policy it was claimed by them not to be a tax. In other words they lied.


  37. BTW Teamster, Supremes struck down the Medicaid expansion imposed by the Feds on the States. That was the way it planned to add borderline poverty people to the insured roles at government [aka taxpayer expense]. Now what? Who pays for them?

    What the Supremes did was to return a bad policy and law back to the Executive and Legislative Branches for revisions and reforms based on the legal constraints of the Constitution. In the process solidify and mobilize the GOP and those against it for the upcoming election. if you can't see that, then you need more than your eyes examined.

    If you think this is a win for the Obama Administration, think again. It's not. It's the worse possible political outcome imaginable. Add to it the millstone around his neck from Holder and the terrible economic news, and the president has a rough road ahead to make a case for his reelection. Which he still hasn't done.


    PS: Romney is beating out Obama on the cash contributions. And the presidential debates to come.

  38. "PS: Romney is beating out Obama on the cash contributions."

    I can only assume from whom since they don't have to reveal themselves thanks to the Supreme Court decision.