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Bloviating Zeppelin: Public Service Question:

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Public Service Question:

Question for my readers:

People generally revere or deride FDR; as you can see, he held collective bargaining in disfavor as applied to the public service sector. What, you ask, is the rough definition for "collective bargaining"?
Negotiation between organized workers and their employer or employers to determine wages, hours, rules, and working conditions.

The State of Wisconsin, for example, is pushing for the complete elimination of collective bargaining for its public service workers. As a matter of fact, the bill did pass. This movement will now continue on to other states.

The State of Fornicalia Little Hoover Commission wants to roll back pensions for existing employees, dump guaranteed retirement payouts and put more of the pension burden on workers.

All well and good because, moreover, the public sector employee is responsible for a good portion of today's economic ills in the nation.

So: goodbye collective bargaining, also.

If it is decided that collective bargaining should be eliminated for the emergency side of the public sector -- law enforcement and fire/medic response (dependent upon the model in your state) -- and the public sector is continued otherwise unchanged (no incentive pay, no chance to participate in bonuses during good times, no incentives/changes in status, conditions, environment, wages or rates based upon merit, performance, per-call/run service), then each state, county, city, agency, entity can proffer a position with wages convenient for it and applicants/recruits unable to afford or live on that rate may go directly to Hell and work in the fast food industry. Or something that pays better.

Or you can, as I wrote in AJ's blog, privatize law enforcement:
I hope to be retiring soon. It will be incredibly interesting to see the quality of law enforcement we will get in the future. But first you even have to find people interested in making the kinds of sacrifices demanded by the job. On both fronts: good luck with that.

Perhaps we should privatize all cops. You could pay per call. Those using lots of LE dollars on calls could be tossed into debtors' prisons because, of course, they're the ones producing the greatest amounts of problems. We could run a ticket, like a private box medic rig:

-First, taking the call: $190
-Processing and dispatching the call: $100
-Start Fee for responding vehicle: $50
-Plus mileage
-Plus idling/dwell time: $5 per minute (no charge if vehicle shut off)
-$250 per officer for first officer; subsequent officers @ $200 each for first hour
-Each additional hour, per officer, @$300
-Rounds fired from weapons, LTL weapons loads per unit, billed at replacement costs + 10%
-Injuries to officers billed at medical rates + time off + potential rehabilitation + 25%
-Damage to vehicles assessed at replacement/repair costs +10%

And so on.

All fees to be adjusted whenever necessary, so that the private provider doesn't bear the fiscal burden of additional taxes, fees, fines, and living costs by itself only. The private company will have a bottom line and stockholders to please, as you well know.

Private police should also logically be incentivized such as the private sector. More money for more citations, more money for greater number of arrests, bonuses for solving community problems, bonuses for reducing calls for service in given geographical areas.

This privatization thing for cops could work out well, it appears.

On the other hand, like everyone else, they could be RIF'd during tough times and, like the private sector, strike and walk out if they can get away with it.

They can also leave at any time and join another department at a moment's notice if it pays better and/or conditions are better.

Good luck getting people to work in high risk/low gain places like NY, LA, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, Chicago, etc. Private cops would, naturally, want to work for Honolulu or Capitola or New Bedford or Coronado or Beverly Hills -- or not work in the field at all. Let someone else make poor pay, few benefits and be shot at, stabbed, spit upon, etc.

I'm starting to like this private sector thing. Yes, high risk but, potentially high gain with bonuses, 401Ks, paid incentives, etc. Otherwise: leave the job and find another.

Absent any of that, me, you, dear citizens -- either way -- will get the kind of law enforcement we deserve -- which, of course, is the law enforcement we pay for.

I'd kind of like to try privatization, myself. With my "old school" attitude and efficacy, I'd clean up the floor with today's kids.

So, final question: if you eliminate collective bargaining for public sector emergency response (police and fire), what do you think the outcome will be? Or should we privatize this venue? Make the emergency response playing field more "incentivized" like the private sector?

I have my own very specific ideas.



Blogger Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

BZ, In the current debate it is about teachers unions but in the larger aspect you raise a good point.

At this juncture I would say if we eliminate the former which is after all about education, again IF, then that will solve the latter be it public or private.

Just sayin',,,,

Sun Feb 27, 12:22:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Christopher: please define the "former" and the "latter." I'm missing your meaning.

My point is this: the elimination of CB would be applied to all unions across the board and, as such, emergency response would be included. Selective exclusions will, I submit, not be tolerated. We can't have things both ways. Perhaps, then, it is time to privatize and delineate line items costs for emergency response and then bill the user of service.


Sun Feb 27, 12:35:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Further, this would reflect the REAL costs of law enforcement/fire response and relinquish the burden on the city or county to "eat" additional unbudgeted/unforeseen yet demanded costs not repaid by taxes, to include any number of critical incidents (daily), riots, parade/protest protection, etc.


Sun Feb 27, 12:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

'Former' I use in the context of teachers unions. The 'latter' is that of fire and police Unions.

So in context of my previous comment; If we eliminate the former we get education and as such we eliminate the latter bringing on privatization in fire and police.

I hope that clears it up?

Sun Feb 27, 01:20:00 PM PST  
Blogger Lyle said...

Christopher may say this is about teachers unions, but I would say whats the difference. If we are going to go down this road of denying some groups bargaining rights, why not just do so for all public service jobs and farm them out to the private sector? Its going to be no more easy to find teachers willing to work for marginal wages and benefits in cities or communities unwilling or unable to offer competitive compensation.

Sun Feb 27, 03:20:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

CC & Lyle: that would be my point as well; in for a penny, in for a pound, then let's see if the rest of the US likes it. If everyone is absolutely in love with the private sector then take it to its logical conclusion. In police services, let the most effective company win the best private contracts for police services. The most efficient, the most practical, will win and get, by extension, larger contracts therefore making the company(s) larger and more ubiquitous.

Those less effective and less willing/able to compete will be left by the wayside. Let's give cops the ability to win incentives, bonuses, better working conditions, better 401Ks, better benefits, just like the private sector, by their performances, merits, number of arrests, vehicle stops, citations written, problems solved, etc.


Sun Feb 27, 04:02:00 PM PST  
Blogger Well Seasoned Fool said...

Classroom teachers, street cops, and fire fighters; are they the problem? Or is it the bloated, inefficient, insulated overhead?

Sun Feb 27, 04:39:00 PM PST  
Blogger TexasFred said...

FDR was the founder of the feast, he taught America how to *feed at the public trough*...

Unions, ALL Unions, Police, Fire, Teachers, Labor, ALL Unions need to be outlawed in every state in the USA...

Unions had a place in America, but that place in time is long past, much like the Klan and other assorted groups...

Read the commentary of this post: Wis. Assembly passes bill taking away union rights

Sun Feb 27, 05:05:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Simone, you make an excellent point. I am simply responding to the current thrust, nationally, to minimize wages and benefits for public employees. You could, of course, still do all of that and not make much of a dent in the total deficit.

That, you see, is a post that is soon coming from me. I merely respond to the growing trend and attempt to point out some things that, to me, beg questions. I try to offer some alternatives. Some of which may actually work.


Sun Feb 27, 05:46:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And then, as I indicate TF, let us try privatization. It's clear that unionization dissatisfies and divides.


Sun Feb 27, 05:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger Lyle said...

I'm going to be very interested to see how this all plays out nationwide. It is interesting that prior to this recession one of the largest battles going on in many (if not most) states was to try and make public sector jobs competitive with the private sector to try and retain quality employees. While I don't have connections to law enforcement, I do have some in education and fire.

Prior to this recession, getting and retaining quality teachers at nearly all levels of education was tough because the cost/benefit analysis does not work for the years of education required for teaching vs. the pay scale provided when compared to another job requiring an equivalent degree. Many states tried to balance the situation by passing legislation to reduce class sizes, increase pay, benefits, etc., to reduce the net loss of qualified teachers to other more lucrative fields.

Similar issues existed for our local fire station, where several members of my family work, including my uncle that serves as the chief. Until recently, they have never had a full firehouse and were constantly advertising for new trainees. However, with the current economy, their most recent call received over 2,800 applicants...apparently the job that was viewed as not paying well before is now attractive. But it may not stay that way since according to my uncle, their union has received notice that the city may be looking to reduce their pay, medical benefits, and retirement. They have apparently even used the 2,800 applicants as supposed "evidence" that the firemen are over compensated!

Now in terms of unionization and collective bargaining, I am very torn on this issue. On one side, I feel like many of the reasons unions were originally needed (worker rights, safety, compensation, etc.) are now actually handled by government entities (OSHA and the like). So, if thats the case, just let the unions dissolve and let the open market job competition prevail. However, in the case of these public sector jobs, history has shown that they will be under-compensated even during the best of times, so what would make me think that eliminating their ability to collectively bargain would make things better? In fact, it makes it appear that it may make it even easier to use the funding for these positions for whim-based budget balancing...making these jobs unstable. Once they become unstable, you will not find anyone looking at them as "careers". Once that happens, good luck finding a good teacher for your child, a trained law enforment officer to protect your safety, or dedicated fireman to respond to your emergency.

At that point, might as well make the positions private to make them competitive...and at that point, heaven help those small and poor communities that can't afford adequate services.

Sun Feb 27, 05:50:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bushwack said...

I've always said PD needs UNION representation. The reason is simple. They have NO SUPPORT legally. Every time a cop shoots some asshole the city council gets all in a tizzy and the citizens blame the cop. Who represents them? the DA? sometimes but more often than not they are politicians first and looking to advance. Unions support the cops and that my friend is totally different than the reason Teachers and other public unions exist.

Sun Feb 27, 05:57:00 PM PST  
OpenID simonesaysgetalife said...

I find it interesting that we are eating our young. Instead of focusing our frustration and anger on the speculators, legislators, etc., that are doing the raping and pillaging of America, we attack ourselves and our future. Government By the People, FOR the People...that hasn't been true for quite awhile. Right now, Government is a tool that those in POWER use to Rule the rest of us; to tax us, charge us, remove our ability to choose.

In California, for example, Legislators STILL have cars, staff and expense accounts paid for by the public. Some of that public INCLUDES government employees. Government employees that DO NOT GET CARS to drive at the voters expense, government employees that DO NOT GET PAID the salaries that Legislators and their staff get paid; RAISES that legislators and their staff get paid, FREE parking that the State Legislators, why pick on collective bargaining? It's like the folks we voted into office have a bright yellow tennis ball, and we are all just a bunch of stupid dogs, lolling our tongues, our "eye on the ball"---it is all a distraction to keep us from seeing the raping and pillaging of ourselves, done by those we voted for. I, for one, am tired of being the dog chasing that ball. I say we should all focus our energies on exposing the $$waste taking place in the highest government, the "elected" government. The City of Bell finally woke up and smelled the coffee....when will the rest of us?

Sun Feb 27, 06:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Lyle and Bushwack: again, all excellent points. Perhaps not all jobs are the same. But if painted with the same brush, then the only thing to do is throw cops into the same conflagration and let them, and firefighters, struggle in the same fashion as the private sector. With that thought, I extend, perhaps it's time to flip the coin and let privately-run police protection and fire protection into the mainstream of private/corporate competition -- WITH the same chance for incentivization enjoyed by the private sector.

With minimized wages, benefits, pensions and no chance for sharing in the good times and incentivization and merit, then you'll acquire persons with the average IQ of houseplants who will expect, at their public job, to be able to only push the Cheeseburger Icon at Mickey D's.

I don't think that's necessarily what America wants in its emergency responders, but I've been wrong before.


Sun Feb 27, 06:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark said...

BZ, it is a shame a lot of people will suffer loss when the economy tanks, truth is, we will all lose. it will tank, and we all will lose. mainly because most people no longer see any benefit in civilization. anarchy is fun! and greed rules the day. why cry about a loss of retirement benefits when the dollars the state would pay you with will soon be worthless? and our money WILL soon be worthless. this train is too far down the track to recall it back to the station, almost nobody realizes that in any economy somebody has to produce something to create wealth. you cannot have a whole economy based entirely on service! if nobody produces anything and everyone is in service all people are doing is trading the same dollar back and forth between themselves! if I agree to pay you 100 bucks an hour for some service and you agree to pay me 100 bucks an hour for some service I provide you, hay! wouldn't that be great! we'd both have a 100 dollar an hour job! be great if that plan would work, but it wouldn't because service does not create any wealth! we'd just be trading the same 100 dollar bill back and forth. it's a simple truth nobody wants to think about. this country shipped most of it's wealth creation overseas years ago, we are in the process of filling up the credit limit and when that's reached, it's all over but the cryin.
what public service unions are formed against is the public at large, everyone has "collective bargaining rights" in a republic, it's called voting! if you have a union that holds a trump card over the head of the state legislature, who's in charge? not the public, but a union boss. it's a case of a minority holding sway over the public as a whole. explain how this benefits anyone? (but the union boss, that is)
as I'm now in a place where social security is going to be my main source of income I hate to see this happening too, but hey, there is only so many dollars in the pot, nobody likes to realize that, truth hurts, I know, I'm nervous about the future some too, but I'm not going to hang all my faith in government, I'm going to grow a big garden, do what I can, help out those near me when I can and trust God for the rest.

Sun Feb 27, 06:54:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Mark, yes, well, perhaps we all are simply whistling past the graveyard at that.


Sun Feb 27, 08:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark said...

Bz, you do have an interesting idea about privatization, it seems to be working really well in the field of education as many private and charter schools, and home-schools get much better results than public schools do. I have no problem with law-enforcement and emergency services getting even above average pay and benefits. most of the problem is in the sheer size and weight of government period. if government would keep to the basic needs like civil law enforcement, emergency services and infrastructure there would be enough money to pay you folks on the front lines. but how many bureaucracies are in California government now as opposed to 50 yrs ago? and how many of them are really necessary? and how much money goes out to new entitlements for this and that? and how many more bureaucracies are needed to oversee these new entitlements? how much of this is driven by greed? greed for power, greed for money. politicians promising the electorate more free shit from the government if you just vote for me! and the electorate being the chumps they are voting for the bastards to get the free shit (and the ever more restrictions of personal freedom). this society is selling it's soul for a dollar. and they are going to realize to late that it's their 100 dollars they paid for that buck.

Mon Feb 28, 06:15:00 AM PST  
Blogger Jenn of the Jungle said...

Ban all unions NOW!!!!!

Mon Feb 28, 11:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

That was indeed rather succinct.

Looks like privatization is playing well in the overall scheme of things.


Mon Feb 28, 12:25:00 PM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

I'm going to take a contrary position here... It is, in my opinion, more about the 'freebies' (e.g. pension with NO contributions, Free medical for life, High pension rates, etc.) than it is about collective bargaining per se. The plain fact is the States, municipalities and local jurisdictions can no longer afford (nor in most cases pay) these inflated benefits to selected union members. With the unions refusing to negotiate a reduction in costs to the various entities, I really don't see where these entities have much choice (other than going bankrupt). As for privitization, it has some good points and a whole lot of bad ones. I do agree with charging for services, because the entities can no longer afford to pick up the tab. If people that called the ambulance all the time had to actually PAY for that service, I'd bet we would see a lot fewer frequent fliers... In Texas, if your fire alarm goes off and it's a false alarm, after I believe the second occurance, you are charged the cost of the fire/police response...

Mon Feb 28, 02:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - I am against public sector unions for a variety of reasons, but the major concern is this concept of 'collective bargaining'.

That is already done via the franchise right and the right to petition government. Anyone working for government already has a say in their employment: they can vote. That is representative democracy at work.

All public sector employees already have their voices heard in the 'bargaining' via the legislature.

If you do not want your dues to go for the political part of a union, you can get your money back for that portion of your dues due to the Beck Decision. Even with that, on the public sector, a government can decide to de-certify a union on the public side. That is the power of the sovereign at work, which we get through representative democracy. That is the large risk taken up when working for the public sector: the public can and does change its mind.

There is a role for public sector policing so long as there is oversight from the legislative and executive branches, with recourse for problems via the judicial. That has been done, traditionally, by direct public employment. In the DoD we had rent-a-cops to help bring down costs for our security force as the cost for benefits was getting very high. Those forces were hired on by contract, had to meet stiff qualifications and could be terminated at any time by government via a Termination For Convenience of the Government exercise.

Yes, it is cheaper to do that.

Is it right?

Well that is why we have legislatures, and executives, after all... it is a public decision on how we run our affairs. Unions need not apply as we ALREADY have a union... and a quest to make it more perfect over time.

Mon Feb 28, 04:40:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

AJ: it's funny you mention that. I chose, some time ago, for my dues to be diverted to the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, instead of the association. When I worked in Homicide they were always there, helping the victims, the victims' families. They were, simply, wonderful.

My association works for those who get in trouble. My trouble isn't there. But I reserve my rights under Fornicalia's POBR.

But throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

It is THAT where I have a massive disagreement.


Tue Mar 01, 04:56:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Collective bargaining is a privelege granted by the State.

It is not bestowed upon you from the Creator: you are responsible for yourself, not a collective.

The Sovereignty of the people is guaranteed by the republican form of government run via a representative democracy. That is 'collective bargaining' for State employees. Anything other than that is the attempt by the few to hold the many hostage to their demands.

Right to Work States do not recognize the power of collective bargaining: thus it is a privelege, not a right. Yet even if it were a right, it would be amongst those delegated to the States and the people to figure out, thus no requirement that each State do it the same way. Some aren't doing so well with it... actually, most aren't.

It is good that you keep money out of the political arms of the union. That is an abuse of your freedom of speech when they use your money in ways you do not agree with. More employees, public and private, need to get their money back outside of that utilized 'just' for collective bargaining. Bankrupt the upper echelons and keep the union to its business of representing you... or the union will begin to think it owns and rules you.

Sun Mar 06, 08:32:00 AM PST  

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