"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Public Employees Lecture New Jersey Taxpayers

The last thing we need is to be lectured to by Carla Katz. Yes, that Carla Katz. The union leader is upset because “there has been an escalating attack on the pension and health benefits of public employees”.

Katz: “Public workers are public servants who have dedicated their lives to providing needed and critical public services to New Jersey.”

Leave it to Katz to characterize state and local government employees as people dedicating their lives to public service. The vast majority of people earning their paycheck from taxpayers are not “first responders” - police and firefighters. They are bureaucrats and other government workers who are no more special or important to society than private sector workers.

We believe police and firefighters deserve special consideration – they put their lives on the line for all of us – that is true public service. The other categories of public employees do not deserve salaries and benefits that far exceed those offered to employees in the private sector. There is no possible justification for the average government worker receiving compensation greater than the people footing the tab.

Katz: “Public workers have chosen public service — not personal gain — as their life's work”

Katz speaks of public workers as if they were Sisters of Charity. If public employees have chosen “public service” over “personal gain” why do they need unions to press for ever higher wages and benefits on their behalf? Public workers go to work for the same reason as people in the private sector - to earn a paycheck.

A recent Courier News article reported that New Jersey’s public employees not only have secure jobs, they receive salary and benefits that exceed those earned by private sector employees.

Salary: “In fact, a New Jersey government worker averaged $54,600 a year while a private sector worker averaged about $49,000 a year, according to figures compiled by the state Labor Department for the first quarter of 2004.”

Health Insurance: A recent study reported New Jersey public workers both active and retired have a health insurance plan that is among the best in the nation.

“For example, nearly half of the government workers provided with health insurance, or about 168,000, enrolled in a managed care plan known as NJ Plus in which they pay none of the premium, have no deductible and have a $5 co-payment for doctors' visits.

Time off: New Jersey public employees typically enjoy up to five weeks of vacation per year along with 13 sick days, 13 holidays and three personal days.

Pension: While the private sector has moved to 401k employee retirement plans, New Jersey’s public employees receive a “defined-benefit" paying 50% to 70% of annual salary, plus annual cost-of-living increases. As retiree benefit costs pushed the state deeper into debt, New Jersey’s lawmakers sweetened the public employee retirement plan with a 9 % boost in benefits in 2001.

Katz: “The benefits of New Jersey's public workers are hard won and hard earned.”

Public employees need to be reminded that taxpayer income is “hard earned” and that it is employees in the private sector that make public workers’ jobs and paychecks possible.

Katz: “The Whitman administration income tax cuts cost the state $1.5 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2005 alone. In total, they have cost the state more than $14 billion in lost revenue.”

The “state” didn’t lose anything. Whitman saved taxpayers $14 billion which they in turn used to purchase homes, start businesses and invest in their families’ future. That $14 billion was earned by workers and used to create wealth and taxpaying jobs.

Katz' sense of entitlement to other people’s income is emblematic of Democrats who believe “the state” has a greater claim on your income than you do. As homeowners struggle under the burden of high property taxes, the inequitable distribution of state funding to local schools (derived 100% from income taxes) and tax revenue squandered through mismanagement, a lack of fiscal discipline and corruption - Katz complains “the state” (tax receivers) have been short-changed by $14 billion.

Acting Governor Codey’s blunt assessment of New Jersey’s finances – “The good news is, we're not bankrupt. The bad news is, we're close.” – apparently has no meaning to public employees. When Codey identifies a major cause of the state’ financial crisis - public employee pensions and benefitsCarla Katz gives taxpayers a lecture and displays an utter lack of concern for taxpayers.

While we are sure there are many hard working public employees, people that serve the public with a customer service attitude, there are others that have nothing but contempt for taxpayers. Need another example? Here is one more lecture from a guy that works in a municipal office in New Jersey:
We have always debated in the office as to what would lead a person to waste time and energy to come to the tax window rather than mailing their payment in. Lack of trust in the post office comes to mind. Lack of trust in government is mentioned, too. I choose a different answer; stupidity combined with stubbornness and a need to complain.

They are non-sensical, lost, confused, silly, hostile, and abusive people. Clearly, they come to the window with one goal in mind; to being ranting and raving lunatics.

Mail in your checks, folks, and chill out. Taxes suck. However, coming to the window to whine to a grunt employee is simply foolish, worthless and mean-spirited.
The public employee who wrote the comments above is backing Jon Corzine for Governor of New Jersey and so is Carla Katz. Corzine is in the hip pocket of the public employee unions and if elected, offers no hope for controlling the ever increasing number of employees paid by taxpayers or the out of control salaries and benefits demanded by public employees.

This November, taxpayers will have a choice - Doug Forrester who will represent all citizens of New Jersey or Jon Corzine, the champion of tax receivers and Carla Katz.


At 11:19 PM, Blogger Jack said...

Who are you to decide what people's motives are for working? Do you work just for a paycheck? You've never decided to do something because..you enjoy doing it?

As much as people complain about teacher's getting paid too much around here, I know of many who could be making much more than 40-60k in the private sector.

Did President Bush take the job of president because it paid 400k a year?

- Jersey Perspective

At 1:09 AM, Blogger Mr. Snitch said...

Probably no one runs for President for the cash. Don't know what that has to do with the post, but no doubt that is true.

I'm looking for an apples-to-apples takeaway here. If someone makes $40K in the private sector as, say, a clerk, (s)he should make less for the same job in the public sector. Why? Because there should be an incentive to do well and thereby find a better job, and because the private sector marketplace sets the salaries for these employees. (This tends to mean the public employee is generally of a lesser caliber than his/her private sector counterpart, because the better worker moves up and out. But this is a desiraeable function of government - offering less-capable employees a job in which they can better themselves and move up the food chain if they can. At least that is what I think if I encounter an unmotivated government employee. What concerns me are those who seem to have been there forever.)

If you study the macro forces behind politics, you find that Democrats tend to have strongholds in urban areas. The Dems will tell you that this is because smarter, nobler people become Democrats, and I can certainly see the temptation to buy into that worldview. Reading various posts on various sites, it's evident that many people in fact have bought into that, and perpetuate the idea that there is something intrinsically noble which can be determined by mere party affiliation.

A more likely reason for the preponderance of the Democratic Party in urban areas is the fact that such areas have much higher percentages of government employees (and private workers paid by government) than exurban areas. Come election time, it becomes part of their job description to make certain their elected politician-employers remain in office, which perpetuates Democratic hold over these areas regardless of politicians' 'job performance' and state finances. This is why Jersey in particular is famous for politicians being in bed with union leaders (quite literally the case in this election). It's also why the same party whose members are going to jail can sell themselves as the solution to corruption, a concept that apparently seems more bizarre to the rest of the country than it does here. If your employer tells you he is not corrupt, and you job depends on his good graces, most people will perpetuate their employer's viewpoint.

A situation in which a private sector clerk actually makes LESS than his brethren in the public sector is sympomatic of how far the pendulum has swung. The temptation for politicians to issue raises to keep labor peace is irresistable, up to the point where taxes must be raised. From all accounts, we may have actually reached that point. There is no reason to doubt that Democratic leaders are resigned to raising taxes after the elcetion, having already explored and exhausted other avenues. The only other option is wholescale cutbacks, and Jersey's Democrats depend on spending to remain in power.

Regarding teachers' salaries: Didn't see a mention in the post about them, don't know why they were brought up. Tecahers have traditionally been underpaid, and they may or may not be due a raise. However, it is generally true that people who do something as a calling (jazz musicians, priests, potters, bloggers) tend to make less than people whose goal is money (brokers, investment bankers). Teachers should be well backed (which brings us to the missing SCC billions), given time off to puruse other interests (including more financially lucrative ones) and shown respect. Increasing their salaries substantially, however, is unlikely.

Should the Democrats win this election, as still seems likely at this end, it means we have not yet plumbed the depths of voter dissatisfaction. Once Corzine is in office and musical chairs moves other elected Dems up the food chain (Senator Menendez and so on), I have no doubt we will see tax raises and the same sort of fiscal restraint that Corzine demonstrated with his ex-mistress (i.e., none). Corzine boosters such as Norcross will also thrive. In other words, should Forrester be elected, we may begin a correction of excesses. Should Corzine win, it will set the stage for an inevitable bloodletting come next election.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Lookie here Snitchster...

Jack's right on this one here, I've got to say. Perhaps along the river in Hoboken, party membership is based on idealism, but look at Brick City. In Newark, people vote for Sharpe James because he has the jobs in city offices, and because he fixes the cracks in the sidewalk that they walk on to work each day. It seems to me that that's the truth about what drives movable voters to a certain candidate or party allegiance.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

what would lead a person to waste time and energy to come to the tax window, you ask?
The reason is that you get a receipt, stamped and dated by the very tax office that has lost prior payments and made you waste TWO entire workdays getting certified copies of cancelled checks.

If you pay the day before the tax is due there's no line.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Mr. Snitch said...

Sam, you're saying pretty much what I said. I never claimed party membership was based on idealism, I said some Dems want to frame their motivations as morally superior. In situations such as Newark, lots of people register and even vote Democratic simply because it's the safest thing to do. Certainly James is seen as the source of local power in Newark, certainly that happens in other cities. Who said otherwise?

All Jack said was that teachers should be paid more and that some people, such as US Presidents, aren't motivated by money. Didn't disagree with the latter, though I did say there's not much chance of the former happening. And I stand by that.

The rest of my commentary dealt with the original post, rather than anything Jack might have said (except to say that teachers weren't mentioned in the post).

I appreciate your coming to your friend's defense. Not exactly sure what you're defending him from, though.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger STP said...

I am sure I work as hard as you do in your job (I will assume you work) and show a great deal of respect for the taxpayers in general. They get more than their money's worth from me. They also get the devotion to them that had me working while enduring cancer treatment. The fact that I can recognize a group of those people for being nasty, disrespectful and rude does not diminish my respect for the majority.

If you lived in the town I work in you would be treated professionally, get every bit of help you need if asked for, get a hard day's work from your servant and would do so at a pay rate far below what I could earn in private industry.

If I choose to criticize the behavior of a segment of the population, I do so from the experience of over a decade of observation.

When you work at a job while being treated for a serious illness, come in every day without a sick day since 1999, work some evenings well past midnight, take work home with you often, and do so at a salary below what your field pays, talk to me. Don't dare hold me up in your cheap way as an example of the pathetic gov't worker that is such a stereotyped bunch of nonsense.

If you choose to twist my specific rant into a general commentary that bares little more than cheap distortion, be my guest. I expect nothing more from this site. However, I do appreciate you sending me traffic so that your readers can see a more whole picture than the partial and imbalanced one here.

Ok, wingnuts, fire away in comments. I need a good laugh now.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger STP said...

I further can assure Mr. Fausta that our tax office loses less checks than a private company. Oh, and the lines are long until a day or two after the last day for payment.

And, I not Snitch will find this hard to believe, but sometimes the best and brightest choose to stay in government because they find it rewarding. I know of many examples of this. The lazy gov't worker and the hardworking private worker, both to extreme and never reversed is the ultimate old wives' tale.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...


If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.

At 4:03 AM, Blogger Xpatriated Texan said...

"A more likely reason for the preponderance of the Democratic Party in urban areas is the fact that such areas have much higher percentages of government employees (and private workers paid by government) than exurban areas."

Yeah, I agree that people will vote for whoever gives them a cake job. It doesn't matter if it's Democrat or Republican, though. I've blogged at "Tammany" about a JCIA inspector who was hired based upon his work experience as a forklift operator and his friendship with an un-named City Councilman. He didn't list any relevant experience or contacts on his application. Upon getting the job, he (allegedly) began funneling money to the mob. This happened while Schundler was Mayor - but of course, that means little since no one is naming the Councilman who did this.

The worst part - the current head of the JCIA says this is just how people get hired in Jersey City. No plans to change it, no plans to review other unqualified personel - just a shrug, a wink, and a grin. Part of the "forgiving nature" of Jersey politics that Bernard Kenny is becoming famous for noting.

Of course, Chris Christi has found plenty of corruption around the state on both sides of the aisle. I expect more. I hope for more. I pray for more. We need to see every crooked politician behind bars - no matter what party they work through.


At 8:17 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

It's me who posted, and I'm a Ms.
Mr. Fausta would be my husband who didn't post.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Bill said...

As far as government worker performance... I think a whole lot more of the public would be willing to give the public servants the benefit of the doubt if they knew that they could be fired for incompetance. My case in point would be the 9 Commincation Workers of America who received their jobs BACK after the union intervened when they were fired after the starving children were discovered down south... I public belief (and I'm almost convinced it's true from the DYFS case) is that it's almost impossible to remove an underperforming public servant...

At 8:27 PM, Blogger The Contrarian said...

The vast majority of people earning their paycheck from taxpayers are not “first responders” - police and firefighters. They are bureaucrats and other government workers who are no more special or important to society than private sector workers.

When people complain about high property taxes, I tell them to ask their local police and fire unions. On average, public safety salaries make up 75% of municipal budgets across NJ. While these people provide a viable public service, earning $100k after 5 years for only working 3 days a week, with lifetime pension payments (at 75% of their final salaries) and free health care for life sounds like the sweetest deal out there.

Of course, it's politically incorrect to even begin to question the golden wage and benefit packages we offer these folks (they are usually drowned out by cries of "9-11"), so I suggest you start looking in your own back yard.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...


Can't speak for everyone here at ENJ. but my municipal tax is a bit less than 17% of my entire property tax bill. If public safety salaries make up 75% of that 17% - that's less than 13% of my total property tax going for "first repsonders." Seems reasonable to me. It's the other 87% of the property tax bill that's breaking me.

Then of coruse we move on to state income taxes - 100% used for property relief - next to none coming to my town, reducing my bill.


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