Can government be as greedy as corporations are supposed to be?

Very popular editorial from Investors Business Daily.


Nowhere has liberalism gone further than in San Francisco. And few, if any, other cities can boast such a well-heeled work force. Is this what “spreading the wealth” is all about?

We have seen the future and it works — for certain people. Take San Francisco municipal workers. The San Francisco Chronicle recently detailed just how overpaid the city’s employees are. Their average yearly salary is $93,000 before benefits. A third of them made more than $100,000 in 2009. A newly retired deputy police chief (not even the city’s top cop) made $516,118.

[…]Also in 2009, 28 city employees made more than the mayor, Gavin Newsom, who pulled down a respectable $250,903. Firefighters in San Francisco have a base salary of $102,648, while even lowly payroll clerks start at $54,314.

[…]Unions, particularly public-sector unions, leverage their money and membership to stock legislatures, city councils and county boards with friendly faces. Those faces, in turn, lock governments into contracts (particularly where pensions are concerned) that are extremely difficult to break.

The problem with this is that the private sector is the only part of the economy that actually has to please customers in order to get paid. Government workers don’t have to provide good service in order to get paid. They don’t compete with anyone, and individual workers have no incentive to work harder – their raises are based on union bargaining, not on pleasing customers. So then why are government workers making more money than the productive private sector workers when San Francisco has a $483 million budget deficit? Why isn’t this greed?

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