Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cuts? Oh, NOOOO!!!

This linked story about California's budget battle is a great example about something that's always bugged me about "public" money i.e taxpayer money. My money and your money. While the story is largely about public schools, my comments are aimed at government in general.

While you should read the whole story, I will excerpt a couple of notable portions. The article opens with a description of the crisis and what might be cut, then gives some reactions from students and educators about the supposed cataclysmic effect of the cuts. The world will end as we know it . . . you get the idea. Here's clip one:

Many Democrats and school advocates are calling for tax increases to lessen the impact on schools, but Republicans oppose raising taxes. They say California should live within its means and school districts should be given more flexibility to spend their funds.

"You can't spend what you don't have, and you can't spend what the taxpayers don't have," said State Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Mr. Huff's comment seems sensible. But here's the other side:

The cuts are expected to lead to sharp reductions or complete elimination of after-school programs, summer school, adult education, guidance counselors, and electives such as art and music. Class sizes are set to expand from 20 to more than 30 students for kindergarten through third grade.

The teachers union is threatening to strike to protest layoffs of 125 teachers, larger class sizes and proposed cuts to their health care benefits.
"We can't cut our way out of this. We really can't. There will be nothing left of education," said Pixie Hayward-Schickele, who heads the teachers union.

Now this is interesting to me. Any business or household has to live within its budget or it goes under. The alternatives are to make more money or to cut things.

Not so for the government or institutions on the public dole. Cuts? Surely you jest. Year after year, increases are demanded to pay public employees more regardless of performance, and whether or not the money is there to do it. Eventually, the public body goes into deficit spending, and then the public is blackmailed to approve higher taxes to offset the deficit put in place. Or in other instances, the legislators in a given area vote for tax increases regardless of whether the public wants them or not.

When the public finally has enough and begins demanding that the government live within its means, we hear all the sob stories and horror stories of what will happen if they don't get the money they demand.

I think it's about time the beast got starved to death. Many people do not get automatic pay increases every year outside of occasional cost-of-living raises. With many, any pay increases are due to increased responsibility or due to merit. Businesses and industries have to make cuts. Their employees have to bear them, whether it means pay cuts, loss of benefits or even layoffs. It's sad, but it happens. Look at what's happened in the auto industry over the past couple of years. However, those on the public dole seem to think they have the right to limitless raises and benefits whether or not the state, city or county can afford it.

Some of these programs are nice, but aren't necessarily vital to education itself. I know some will argue with me about that, and that's fine. If you look at any budget, you'll find areas where you can cut. And most public education programs have things that really aren't necessary except to the targeted special interest.

So the public education system has to be cut. What will become of us? Somehow, we'll get by. We did before, and we can do it again. I have to live within my means or pay the piper. So should government, whether it be local, state or federal.


lee n. field said...

"cuts must come, but woe to him by which they come. It would be better for him, politically, if a millstone were tied around his neck and he were drowned in the sea, than cuts would come to one of these."

Interesting times. Will we finally see the long predicted, long staved off paying of the piper? Will we survive it?

Re education itself: I do a little bit of work inside one of the regional public schools. I see enough to thoroughly depress me. Education needs to be rethought, and not by educators, from the ground up. And I'd be willing to bet (not having seen them from inside, but in passing) that your typical "Christian school" is a clone of the public schools with a spiritual overlay. And no, computers (my business) are most emphatically not the answer.

Stan McCullars said...

More evidence that the teachers' unions care only about their own wallets and could not care less about the students they allegedly serve.

Ron said...

Teachers' unions nor any other unions have exclusive rights to this attitude. As an outsider, I have the ability to take a specific viewpoint. But when it actualy involves me personally,it takes on a completely different appearence. Not agreeing with them, just trying to acknowledge how rosy our own mirrors are.

Solameanie said...

All this is colored by another article I read about some more outrage. Apparently some of the public employee pensions (New York?) are into six figures, and the unions are fighting like mad to keep them.

The gravy train never stops.

Ron said...

What thought would there be if management pensions and benefits are even higher? Here's an example I know personally. I was speaking to a friend who is in middle management at a GM plant that is in the midst of a 9 week shut down. As a part of our conversation, I asked what was needed from the Union to assist GM going forward. His response was the sub pay (pay the union workers receive while shut down and/or laid off) must be eliminated. I agree, since this was initially instituted to tide employees over during retooling for new models and was usually short enough term that they weren't eligible for unemployment. Of course, through the course of years of negotiations(of which the company agreed) this got out of hand. But that's not my real point. During this 9 week shut down where the UAW employee are receiving sub pay, my friend (who is well into a six figure income) is receiving his full pay as well, obvlious to this being the same thing as the union, sees himself entitled and would be enraged if GM stopped paying him in kind. There's alwaysmore to these stories besides demonizing unions, even though they do have their flaws.

Solameanie said...

I don't intend to demonize unions completely. I believe they had their purpose in earlier days when abuses were horrific and widespread. However, these days, they in large part have become nothing more than shills and cash cows for the Democratic Party. There are exceptions, of course, but I think I'm correct in large part.

Ron said...

I see where you're coming from and agree from a broad, political standpoint. But it's akin to forming an opinion about all Calvinist's by looking at the antics of Driscoll. Pretty large net.