AN IMPORTANT ELECTION
Our country is at a crossroads that there’s no turning back from. The only way out, from the dire straights we find ourselves faced with is the November elections. Please take time to study the issues and the candidates, and above all, get out and vote. If you don’t vote, you become part of the problem. Our country needs your vote and your input.
The U.S. is several trillion dollars in debt and goes deeper in debt as the days and years progress. The same holds true with several state and municipal governments. This problem can only be solved by making tough decisions to cut entitlements, cut wages of all government workers, cut the size of the government workforce, and lower taxes so private enterprise can operate effectively.
Since the beginning of the recession (roughly January 2008), some 7.9 million jobs were lost in the private sector while 590,000 jobs were added in the public sector. Since the passage of the stimulus bill (February 2009) over 2.6 million private jobs were lost, but the government workforce grew by 400,000. The number of federal workers making $100,000 or more increased 46% between 2008 and 2009; federal workers making $150,000 or more increased 119%; federal workers making $170,000 or more increased 93%.
Another big problem facing Americans is the power of organized labor 52% of the country’s union members are in the public sector and they exert a lot of pressure on our elected officials. You don’t need to go to Washington to see this Government/union marriage adversely affect the tax payers. We’ve all heard and read about the million dollar shortfalls state governments and municipal governments are strapped with on both the east and west coasts.
Right here in the Midwest check out the finances of Omaha, Nebraska and get the shock of your life. Visitors often comment and ask how Omaha could afford 100 million plus costs for the huge Quest Center and the new college World Series stadium that will open up in June of 2011. What outsiders don’t know is that Omaha is $600 million in arrears because of police and firefighter pension fund shortfalls.
Former mayor Mike Fahey was the driving force behind NCAA negotiations that resulted in a new 140 million baseball complex and a 25 year NCAA contract. Plus, the city council named “Fahey Avenue” in front of the stadium. What wasn’t reported from 2004 was the police and firefighters pension contract that reduced the retirement age to forty-five and increased the benefits (including “spiking”, that ballooned yearly pensions up to six figures for many retirees). What also wasn’t publicized was the fact that Fahey’s brother was the legal counsel for the union. When the mayor, the city council, and the union all belong to the same political party, nothing positive happens for tax payers. Property taxes went up again this year ($13 million) to help pay for part of this pension shortfall. A group in Omaha is trying to get 26,000 signatures on a petition to recall current Mayor Suttle. It would be very costly to pay for another election only to have another union mouthpiece to take Mayor Suttle’s place. I’d rather sign a petition to take former mayor Mike Fahey’s name off the street in front of the new baseball stadium. You wouldn’t have any trouble getting 26,000 signatures or the votes.
On the federal level it’s no different! Figures through the end of 2008 showed average earnings and benefits in the private sector increased 31% from 2000 to 2008. Earnings and benefits for the federal civilian workers rose 57.5% in that period.
In Washington, any talk of cutting salaries seems taboo, but outside the Beltway, where most folks are making do with smaller paychecks or none at all, people would be very receptive to cutbacks in salary and jobs in the public sector. Ireland cut salaries of all public sector jobs by 20% in order to get their country back on track. The U.S. is raising salaries in the public sector, while allowing defined pension benefits and younger retirement eligibility than the private sector. When government employees retire 10 to 20 years before private sector people, there’s something dramatically wrong with the system. Those folks work for all of us and I for one, don’t want them to have better wages or benefits than we who pay them. After all, socialism works real well, until the people paying the bills go broke.
Will Rogers once said, “We got the best politicians money can buy.” If you doubt that check out these stats-Lobbying firms are pushing hard to hire staff members from Republican congressmen as they anticipate a huge Republican win November, They are starting out their offers at $300,000 and will go as high as $1,000,000. Is it any wonder why every politician’s goal is to get elected to Congress, if his staff can make those huge sums of money. What’s the Congressman’s take if he plays his cards right.
Back home in Wausa, Nebraska there were no credit cards and huge debt was seen as a character flaw. My family had discussions when they wanted to buy almost anything. The conversations focused on two questions: Can we afford it, and do we need it? If the answer to either question was “no” they didn’t buy it.
Our public debt in America comes from a refusal to ask these questions. We don’t need much of what we have, and we certainly can’t afford it. But we buy it anyway.
Some cities are taking a different approach to budget problems by outsourcing some of the most basic functions of local government because they no longer can afford to provide them. They’ve reduced costs, improved efficiency and reduced the size and reach of the government.
San Jose, California faced $118 million budget deficit so it hired “outside contractors to clean its city hall and airport” and dropped its custodial staff. It saved $4 million. Maywood, a tiny city southeast of L.A., dismissed its entire staff (including police) and contracted outsiders to perform all city services. They saved millions and no longer were liable and saved $21 million a year in legal expenses.
If other cities would follow the lead of San Jose and Maywood, think how employment would boom in the private sector, as more businesses would take over services now performed by government. We’d not only save money, we’d stop the bleeding that government and union defined pensions are causing. You have to ask yourself why taxpayers are footing the bill for government employees that have better retirement benefits, much younger retirement age, and longer vacations than the people they work for-the American working stiff. This has to stop!
So, who do you vote for? Above all, you can’t vote for someone you don’t trust, and that would probably include a large percentage of the Washington establishment. The Tea Party has put both political parties under scrutiny and won’t endorse any candidate that doesn’t pledge to reduce federal government, reduce spending, and advocates a strong states rights agenda which means that candidates must do what the majority of the voters in his or her state support. It also means voters must cross party lines in order to select the right candidate.
A good case study following Tea Party guidelines is found in South Dakota. Stephanie Herseth (House democrat) voted against the Health Care Bill because the folks back home in South Dakota didn’t like the bill. She doesn’t follow strict party lines and because of that, will probably be re-elected in a staunchly Republican state. That’s exactly what we need in the Congress.
One of my favorite politicians is a state senator in South Dakota, Frank Kloucek from Scotland, South Dakota. When Frank hits the term limits in the S.D. senate, he then runs as a representative in the state legislature and gets re-elected every time he runs. Frank is a Democrat from a district that’s 70% Republican. I’ve watched this happen for a lot of years and made point of asking voters why their district continues to elect a Democrat. The answer is always a very emphatic, “because we trust Frank”. How could you not trust a guy that would wear a seed corn cap with a suit and tie and always did political battle with a Republican governor and legislature with what appeared to be enthusiastic glee. Frank had only to walk into a room and Governor Janklow’s face would be turning red while Frank would be grinning from ear to ear as he readied for verbal battle like a junkyard dog. Their battles were legendary and Frank never backed down, even though his victories were few.
When you go to the polls to cast your vote, pick a candidate that will fight for you, despite the odds, and above all, vote for someone you can trust. That will make up for a lot of other shortcomings.
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