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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 5:20 pm | Mostly Cloudy 57º


Randy Alcorn: The Larger Leech on the Economy

That sucking sound is the government coming after more and more of your income, incentive and initiative

The hissy-fit thrown by Wisconsin’s public-employee unions over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to repeal collective bargaining by government workers is one of the more vivid displays of the entitlement greed that has all levels of American government teetering at the edge of bankruptcy. If there can be a silver lining to the Great Recession it is that it forces nearly everyone to confront excess and to prioritize expenditures.

Predictably, the reaction of virtually every beneficiary of public funds to the fiscal reality of less is that none of them are willing to give up anything. If the public treasury is empty, then the public is expected to give more — especially those who have more. There is to be no discussion about excess or effectiveness of public funds expenditures, only that the recipients of the expenditures are more than deserving and that dire consequences will befall society if the public trough is not replenished.

The reality of America today is that everything is a profit center, not just business, but charities, religion, medicine, education and, certainly, government. All scramble, scheme and solicit for as much money as they can get. Public servants, especially the unionized, have profited as well as any. They have feasted off the public treasury to the point that proper and essential government services are in jeopardy because of the over-generous compensation and retirement packages that complicit elected officials have limitlessly ladled out to public employees.

Overall, public employees are paid significantly more than equivalent private-sector workers, and there is no contest with retirement benefits. Public employees’ plans are often breathtakingly generous, and not infrequently gamed to extract maximum payouts. Yet, listen to them and their political allies howl about any austerity measures that would reduce that compensation. Most of them know the cupboard is nearly bare, nevertheless, they expect others to take the cuts — sometimes even their fellow workmates.

When Michigan’s state police union was presented with a choice between an across-the-board compensation reduction or layoffs, the members voted to keep their high pay and let the less-tenured officers get laid off — proving once again that there is no honor among thieves.

Any austerity measure that reduces education expenditures is typically condemned with emotional caterwauling about how government budgets are being balanced on the backs of children. The great sophistry of political scallywags is often the welfare of children. America spends more on education than does any nation on earth except Switzerland, and yet America has steadily declining results to show for it. If money was the solution to America’s education problems all of our kids would be Rhodes Scholars.

Education money is a misallocated resource enriching too many who do little to educate students. This is all the more problematic because education usually commands the lion’s share of most state budgets. Teachers’ unions are one of the greatest obstacles to more efficient and effective education, yet in one of the more glaring examples of the unholy alliance between elected officials and public-employee unions, California’s previous superintendent of public instruction actively supported expanding unionization of education.

While many Americans are struggling to survive the recession, government loots as much as 48 percent of Americans’ income. Government keeps expanding, adding more employees and demanding more money, either through taxes or insidious fees. Today, 23 percent of American workers are forced to have a license issued by some government agency — requiring a fee of course. There are now 1,110 professions, including interior designers and manicurists, that must be licensed by government.

Certainly, government has been one of the larger leeches sucking America’s economic blood. The Great Recession may force these bloodsuckers to break suction and confront their fiscal excesses.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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