Wayne Root: Comparing the Life of a Government Employee with the Private Sector

By Wayne Allyn Root, Former Libertarian Vice Presidential Nominee and Best-Selling Author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian

The world is backwards. It should be the taxpayers striking in the streets of Wisconsin. But, private sector taxpayers can’t afford to take a day off, let alone a week. Doesn’t that say everything? Only government employees with their powerful unions, lifetime job security, short work-weeks, loads of sick days, nonstop holidays, early retirement, and bloated pensions, can afford to stand in the street protesting. Common sense tells us anyone with this much time to protest and the ability to abandon their work duties, is greatly overpaid.

It’s time for a reality check. These $100,000 per year teachers keep talking about “the kids.” Exactly who is teaching those kids while their teachers abandon their jobs and commit fraud with fake doctor’s notes? If they cared about the kids, they’d be in the classroom. They’d leave the striking and lobbying to their union leaders and lobbyists. It’s the students (and their parents) who should be on strike. Wisconsin teachers are the highest paid in the Midwest, but their students’ performance hasn’t improved. Where’s the taxpayer’s union? Where’s the students’ union? Are students and taxpayers getting their money’s worth? Perhaps they should be on strike.

I’m a small businessman. Like all private sector workers, I have no time to protest or strike. Take a day off? How could I do that? I run a business. People depend on me. I’m on call 24/7/365, weekends, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. Vacations are “working vacations.” The phones never stop ringing, the emails never slow down. I have to work 16-hour days just to pay my taxes. Who benefits? Those government employees protesting in the streets of Wisconsin.

Is it fair that government employees can be paid as much as 70% more than the same jobs in the private sector? Is it fair that private sector taxpayers work to age 65, 75, or even longer, to pay obscene taxes, so government employees can retire at age 50, with bloated pensions? Does any of this make sense?

These public “servants” claim this is a battle for “the middle class.” Let me assure you, in the private sector a $100,000 per year job with paid medical, early retirement, and thirty (or more) years of pension is:

A) As far from “middle class” as you can get…

B) Very rare, if not non-existent.

Call me old fashioned, but the system has been rigged. Here in Las Vegas firefighters average $199,000 per year in compensation. Yes, you heard correctly. Quite a few have income of over $300,000. One fireman took 48 sick days, and still took home $232,187. Another is headed to prison for trying to have sex with underage girls. He’ll get his $200,000 pension while in prison. It’s happening all over the country. This isn’t “middle class,” it’s a privileged class. This is no more about “middle class rights” than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett fighting over caviar.

My father in law, Ralph Parks, was a hospital CEO for 30+ years. He managed a hundred million dollar institution with hundreds of employees. He was on emergency call at all hours of the day or night, holidays, weekends, birthdays, vacations. Ralph rarely enjoyed a real day off. In his best years, he was paid just over $100,000. He received no pension or lifetime healthcare. He saved money for his own retirement. He had no tenure and could be fired at any time. At age 59, he lost his CEO job. Soon thereafter he had a stroke and heart problems. He never worked again. That’s the way it works in the private sector. There are no guarantees. Why are these government employees guaranteed a job for life? Are they better, or more deserving than Ralph Parks? Why don’t they keep, or lose their jobs, based on performance?

More importantly, please explain to me how millions of government employees on the local, state, and federal level; who get holidays, weekends, and in some cases the entire summer off; without CEO job responsibilities; take no midnight phone calls; never have to risk their own money (as entrepreneurs in the private sector do); and have a guaranteed lifetime job; deserve $100,000 compensation, plus early retirement, and free medical care and pension for life – all on the back of true working class taxpayers? How is that possible? How does it make fiscal or moral sense for an average government employee to be paid more than a CEO? The answer is, of course, it doesn’t make sense. It’s “government logic.” You see it’s your money, not theirs. So the politicians don’t care.

It’s the taxpayers and business owners who should be in the streets protesting, shouting, pumping fists, screaming “SHAME.” But, of course, we’re not in the streets protesting. We have no time for strikes. We’re too busy working for a living, paying the taxes that fund the bloated salaries and pensions of government employees.

This sad story is at the heart of what has damaged the U.S. economy, created a national debt of $100 trillion (counting unfunded liabilities), and has cities, counties, and states on the verge of economic Armageddon.

Please understand that if we don’t get government employee unions under control, we face disaster. All of us lose. And good luck with those $100,000 pensions. Soon $100,000 may buy you a loaf of bread.

Wayne Allyn Root is a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. He now serves as Chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee. He is the best-selling author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gold & Tax Cuts.” His web site: www.ROOTforAmerica.com

131 thoughts on “Wayne Root: Comparing the Life of a Government Employee with the Private Sector

  1. Dennis

    It seems that everyday, WAR pens a new column. Perhaps IPR should exercise some discretion as to whether or not ALL his columns should be featured, or if perhaps only those that directly mention third parties need to be published?

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    Dennis @2,

    All of Root’s columns do directly mention third parties, as they tout his 2008 LP vice-presidential candidacy.

    Additionally, Root is a de facto announced candidate for the LP’s 2012 presidential nomination, which makes his public statements inherently of interest to third party politics newshounds.

  3. LibertarianGirl

    Dennis // Feb 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    “It seems that everyday, WAR pens a new column.”

    me_ perhaps other people should too. There’s a definite lesson of tenacity to be gained from Wayne.

  4. Brian

    Anecdotes and platitudes. That’s all these columns are.

    1. What does the criminal record of a Las Vegas firefighter have to do with public employee compensation or bargaining rights? Did he commit acts of sexual violence because he was a public employee? Did collective bargaining lead him to have sex with an underage girl? This is a TERRIBLE argument. Imagine me saying “I want to raise taxes on the rich. Charlie Sheen is rich and went apeshit on a hooker, therefore taxes on the rich should be raised.” What is wrong with you?

    2. Many of the protesters in Madison are private sector workers (Many of whom are non-union).

  5. Robert Capozzi

    Yes, collective guilt is poor argumentation. “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl…”

  6. paulie Post author

    “It seems that everyday, WAR pens a new column.” perhaps other people should too. There’s a definite lesson of tenacity to be gained from Wayne.

    Yes.

    That.

  7. paulie Post author

    Brian,

    There’s much more to the article than one anecdote. Anecdotes are a good way to spice up an article.

    I’m not sure how you read this into it: “Did he commit acts of sexual violence because he was a public employee?” The point of the story was He’ll get his $200,000 pension while in prison. It’s happening all over the country. This isn’t “middle class,” it’s a privileged class.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    One thing I find of interest is Wayne’s definition of $100k per year with benefits as “as far from ‘middle class’ as you can get.”

    That’s definitely a departure from the line of Root’s previous political party — when Democrats propose to raise taxes on “the rich,” Republicans insist that $100k, and even more, is “middle class.”

    Is this departure a change for Root, or was it a difference he had with his previous party even when he was in that party?

    I don’t particularly care which, btw — I just find that construction surprising, in neither a “good” nor “bad” way.

  9. paulie Post author

    TLK, interesting point. Middle class has been defined in different ways. Nowadays a lot of Americans think it means roughly around the middle or average of income distribution. As I understand it, historically the term encompassed a class of burgeoisie that was still a relatively small portion of the population near the top in income, but less wealthy than the rich. The vast majority of the population was below middle class.

  10. Porn Again Christian

    ” Did he commit acts of sexual violence because he was a public employee?”

    You never know. After all, they are the new American priesthood, in a manner of speaking.

  11. Wayne Root

    Hi guys. Of course the point of the Las Vegas sex offender wasn’t that he was a public employee. It’s that a public employee gets paid a $200K pension while in prison. So he’ll collect $2,000,000 from taxpayers while in prison.

    But when a small business owners fails…forget about goes to prison…just goes BK…he loses EVERYTHING. He had his life savings in his business. He probably signed personally for the lease. He is sued personally by creditors. Disaster. There is no $200K pension. You’ve lost everything.

    The difference is truly amazing. Why do public employees get treated so different? Because the system is rigged.

  12. Wayne Root

    Tom,

    As to your question…I have not changed at all on the topic of what is rich. $100K is not rich in private sector. But $100K with a $80K to $90K pension…plus all healthcare paid for life is doing SPECTACULAR.

    That sure isn’t “middle class.” I made the point clearly (I thought) that my wonderful father in law made $100K per year for being CEO of hospital. He was not rich. Especially when he lost his job at age 59 and had no pension or free healthcare.

    I can see paying the police chief $100K…the fire chief $100K…the head of Bd of Education $100K. They are CEO’s managing hundreds or thousands of employees. You get paid 6 figures to be a CEO.

    But not all employees can get $100K. That leads to Bankruptcy. End of USA.

    Yet in public sector nowadays, “average” employees are getting $100K compensation packages. Every one of them. Like a CEO. Buy they are not CEO’s.

    If you pay everyone like a CEO you eventually lose your country.

    $100K to work is alot of money for an average employee. But $100K to NOT work, in retirement.

    Insanity. Unaffordable.

    Answer is to make public employees pay their own pension. Change from defined benefit to defined contribution…or

    Ban double dipping…

    and raise retirement age to 65 like rest of us.

  13. Michael H. Wilson

    Wayne I have to question you comment on their income. You wrote “These $100,000 per year teachers keep talking about “the kids.”

    The best numbers I’ve seen suggest a teacher receives about 50K in wages plus at the best about 30K in benefits.

    And it appears that the Wisconsin schools have one of the better graduation rates in the nation.

  14. Michael H. Wilson

    And for the record I am not commenting to point fingers. I am bring this up because if you get on the tube or the radio and someone asks about the number you will have had a chance to correct any errors. I can be ass but not always do I intend to be one.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    wr15, yes, the system is rigged. OTOH, some might say that golden parachutes amount to a rigging of the system. There are several top execs who could be said to’ve gotten a LOT of money based on an employment contract who were rewarded — in effect — for poor performance. So, it happens in the private sector, too. Personally, I’d draw a distinction between taxpayers paying for malfeasance and shareholders, but it does seem rather stunning in either case.

    I’d certainly agree that in some cases, total comp for government workers has gotten way out of balance. If the pension contract enables a sex offender to get paid $200K a year, that does seem shocking. Yet, if the contract itself should be null and void, then that’s a legal matter.

    In your father-in-law’s case, he apparently didn’t negotiate for a big golden parachute. Those who have have at times violated their contracts and yet they GET their parachute, anyway, as the corporation wants to avoid litigation. What we don’t know is whether the LV firefighter contract had a similar “morals clause” that the city might have chosen not to exercise for litigation-avoidance reasons.

    So, yes, things in the public sector are way out of balance. Short of abolishing the public sector, the question is: what to do about it?

    You point to the excesses, and that seems helpful, although citing the sex charge seems to lay it on a bit too heavy handed to me. I guess you may be striking while the iron is hot…

    I do doubt whether one instance of paying off a pension breaks the LV city bank. The point is not, IMO, the one pensioner getting $200K a year. The point is that a lot of government retirees are receiving lavish deferred compensation as well as lavish pay. I’m not sure what the optimal way is to reverse this sorry situation, other than shrinking government.

  16. AroundtheblockAFT

    I’ve adminsitered a number of private pension plans and never heard of one that allowed a vested participant to be stiffed of his or her pension because of conviction for a crime.
    I doubt ERISA laws would even permit it as it would be subject to abuse. (e.g. – accuse an about to retire employee of stealing company property , plant evidence in his car, and prosecute.) But I never heard of anyone getting a $200,000 yr. private pension either unless it was the CEO or other high ranking officer of a very large corporation.

  17. Brian

    @ 17 & 18

    The 100k teacher story is a myth that has been circling around for the last couple of weeks. Right-wingers love to wield stories like that. Truth is, and I don’t expect them to admit it, is that this is not representative of public employees as a whole. I live in the highest paid school district in my state and teacher wages are abhorrent. I work at a restaurant on weekends with teachers working two jobs to make ends meet. They are hardly the evil, greedy monsters that Glenn Beck and Root (Glenn Beck-lite) But who am I to argue? Holy Chris Christie Batman! Wayne Root knows of some guy somewhere making too much money while working for the government.

  18. Wayne Root

    Sorry guys…I argue with facts, not guesses. 1 in 5 federal employees makes over $100K. Worse, the numbers making over $100K rose dramatically during a Great Depression. This is insanity.

  19. Michael H. Wilson

    Here’s one source for my numbers

    http://teacherportal.com/salary/Wisconsin-teacher-salary

    and here’s another

    http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/politifact_shows_a_fox_host_is.php

    Here’s info on the graduation rates
    http://www.all4ed.org/files/Wisconsin_wc.pdf

    A lot of this is debatable. No one seems to have any exact figures and that is to be expected. And there are more links with similar numbers.

    Still the issue should be that we need to separate the government from the schools.

  20. Steven R Linnabary

    2. Many of the protesters in Madison are private sector workers (Many of whom are non-union).

    Yes, there have been numerous reports of unions paying homeless people minimum wage to be there.

    And who can forget the reports of students taking school time off to attend…for extra credit, of course.

    PEACE

  21. Brian

    My point is that I think the Las Vegas firefighter is the exception and not the norm. I know the top salary of firefighters in my current city. It is 66k. I think that is reasonable. Cops make at 58k. Teachers are even less. Rather than handpicking statistics that allow you to make egregious claims, I suggest you educated yourself. Go to bls.gov and look at government positions nationwide, in your state, and your city. Look at teacher salaries. I think that if you were to do this it would be very clear that your claims are disingenuous and misleading. I’m not saying that there is not abuse, but I am saying that it is not as widespread as you are suggesting. Perhaps this is a Las Vegas problem rather than a nationwide problem.

  22. Steven R Linnabary

    Probably Root’s best effort to date. And he doesn’t mention Obama or democrats.

    And Root touches on a subject in the second paragraph that needs to be expanded upon. He is absolutely correct that it is the parents that should be on strike.

    Indeed, I think that an overall taxpayers strike could catch some traction at this time. I’d love to see Wayne and the LP instigate it and lead it.

    PEACE

    BTW, IMHO this essay is still too long for the average attention span…but that seems to be only my bias.

  23. Erik G.

    The number I’ve been seeing for salary+benefits is around $80K, not $100K. I also don’t like the hyperbolic nature of saying we have a $100T (including unfunded liabilities) national debt, given that the government can decide at any moment to end the programs that are unfunded liabilities. These are minor complaints, however.

    This is easily Wayne’s best post yet, and one I plan on sharing with friends.

    Other interesting figures (with sources):

    The average median income for Americans is $32,140.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

    The average teacher salary in Wisconsin is $52,644, not including benefits. This is over 3x the salary produced by the minimum wage, and twice the HHS poverty level guideline for a family of 4 ($22,350).
    http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/average-teacher-salary-wisconsin.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

    “The average Milwaukee Public School teacher will be receiving $100,005 in compensation this year – $56,500 of that is in salary, and a whopping $43,505 is in benefits.”
    http://maciverinstitute.com/2010/03/average-mps-teacher-compensation-tops-100kyear/

    People also like to whine about police officer salaries, but nationally the average police officer salary (not including benefits) is $51,410.
    http://www.policeofficersalary.com/

    The 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines state that a poverty level income for a family of 4 is $22,350. So, essentially, the average teacher in WI is making twice that, may have a partner also bringing in an income, and said average teacher also makes another $30,000 or so a year in benefits. Police compensation figures are roughly similar, though possibly higher (cops generally have better benefits than teachers due to the dangerous nature of their work). Right. “Barely above poverty level,” as some say.

    There could be 8 people in a teacher’s family, with no partner’s income, and no benefits, and the average WI teacher would still be well above the poverty level (for a family unit of 8, the number is $37,630).

    http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml

  24. Erik G.

    Brian @27:

    What are their salaries + benefits, however? I’m willing to wager they get some pretty sweet benefits. Also, the numbers you are citing are still *well* above both the national median income and far beyond the poverty level (I’ve noticed that many govt. lovers tend to claim that public workers are barely above poverty).

  25. Wayne Root

    Someone says these are taken out of context…that they are exceptions. No the average government employees TOTAL compensation package is up to 70% higher than a private sector worker with a similar job. 70% higher.

    Just like my Father in Law…he was paid $100K as CEO of private hospital with no pension. He told me many times that if he took exact same job for public or VA hospital, he’d earn $200K plus gigantic pension.

    This is the debate. Got to compare apples to oranges. I’ve seen the charts comparing specific govt jobs to exact same jobs in private sector. Government jobs pay far more…plus you get job security. You can never be fired. What is that worth?

  26. Wayne Root

    But let me be clear…I’d make special case for police and fire. I’d give them equivalent of “combat pay” for risking their lives in the streets. I think public safety receives a higher pay scale than ordinary government jobs.

    Still not the pensions we have now…has to be based on sanity, not rigged system.

    No one can get pension based on overtime, or on 3 highest paid years of your career (at end).

    Pensions should still be changed from defined benefit to defined contribution.

    But pay scale for cops and fire should be higher than someone who sits behind a desk, and doesn’t risk his or her life. Let’s call it a “heroes bonus.”

    I’d stop all pay raises during a recession- except police and fire.

    Some exceptions need to be made to compensate the heroes who risk their lives for all of us.

    But still no collective bargaining. That’s how system is rigged.

  27. paulie Post author

    http://cashmoneylife.com/most-dangerous-jobs/

    America’s 10 Most Dangerous Jobs

    1. Fisherman: Fatality rate: 200 per 100,000 – Median wages: $23,600. I was surprised to see fishermen top the list of the most dangerous professions in the US, but then I remembered watching a few episodes of Deadliest Catch. Fishermen are routinely exposed to the elements and heavy equipment, all of which can be dangerous. The recent oil spill in the gulf exposed thousands of fishermen to oil and other chemical pollutants, so we may see the effects from that in the near future. Is it worth it? Some Alaskan fishermen have earned up to $100,000 for only a couple days work. But as you can see, most fishermen only scrape by, earning median wages of $23,600.

    2. Logger: Fatality rate: 61.8 per 100,000 – Median wages: $34,440. Logging is the number two most dangerous job on the list, but a quick look at the numbers shows over 3 times as many fishermen die from work related injuries than the number two item on the list. Loggers work with heavy equipment and often in remote locations; the location and lack of full medical facilities often increasing the risk of injury related deaths.

    3. Airline Pilots: Fatality rate: 57.1 per 100,000 – Median wages: $106,240. This statistic might be a little misleading as there aren’t many commercial airline crashes in the US in any given year. Most pilot deaths come from small one and two engine aircraft. The salary might be slightly misleading as well – it seems to be skewed toward higher paid commercial airline pilots, who generally have a safer job than other pilots. Still, piloting is a dangerous profession, even with new technology and arguably the safest aircraft and procedures in the history of man.

    4. Farmers and ranchers: Fatality rate: 35.8 per 100,000 – Median wages: $32,350. Farmers are exposed to the elements, heavy machinery, large animals, and many other dangerous activities. Many farmers also work under pressure. For example, growing crops takes all season, but harvesting usually needs to be completed as quickly as possible because the machinery often needs to be used at other locations.

    5. Roofers: Fatality rate: 34.7 per 100,000 – Median wages: $33,970. Roofing is a difficult and dangerous profession with injuries related to falls, tools and equipment, hot tar, exposure to the elements and more.

    6. Ironworkers: Fatality rate: 30.3 per 100,000 – Median wages: $44,500. Have you ever seen a skyscraper being built? It’s amazing to watch those guys walking across a couple inch piece of steel several hundred feet above the street. It’s also incredibly dangerous. Safety measures and regulations have come a long way in the last few decades, but this is still one of the most dangerous professions.

    7. Sanitation Worker: Fatality rate: 25.2 per 100,000 – Median wages: $32,070. Large equipment, and exposure to chemicals and the elements make this a more dangerous profession than many would assume.

    8. Industrial machinist: Fatality rate: 18.5 per 100,000 – Median wages: $39,600. Accidents with heavy machinery are the most common cause of death for this career field.

    9. Truckers and drivers/sales delivery workers: Fatality rate: 18.3 per 100,000 – Median wages: $37,730. Truck drivers don’t lead the list the list in terms of deaths per 100,000 workers, but they actually lead the list when it comes to total numbers of deaths because there are more truckers and deliverymen than the other professions. Accidents and weather are the main causes of death on the job.

    10. Construction laborer: Fatality rate: 18.3 per 100,000 – Median wages: $29,150. Heavy machinery and accidents with construction equipment lead the way.

  28. paulie Post author

    Out of the 10 most dangerous professions on the list above, most don’t make a lot of money.

    Pilots are the only ones with a well above average income, but if you take out the large aircraft, it’s a lot more dangerous and they make a lot less.

    Most of these jobs are private sector except sanitation workers, many of which are private sector also (but usually with a government contract) but many are government employees.

    Surprisingly to many, cops are not on this list.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    Wayne @16,

    Thanks for the explanation!

    I’ve personally always distrusted the term “middle class” anyway.

    My family always thought of ourselves as “middle class,” not “poor,” even when my dad went from managing a factory to working a minimum wage job when I was a child (because we moved back to our ancestral home are to be near my grandparents, and he took the first job he could find — then kept looking for something better).

    There were people we knew who made more money than he did and seemed to think of themselves as “poor.” As far as I could tell, the difference was entirely attitude.

    And I agree with you — a government employee with a $100k salary/bennie package and a fat retirement setup doesn’t have any grounds to bitch, or at least none to play the “oppressed middle class” card.

  30. Brian

    Teachers have bachelors degrees or higher. As such, comparisons to the national poverty line or a minimum wage salary are disingenuous.

    Gotta love the hypocrisy of the right-wing public safety obsession. I’ve met a lot of cops who are horrible at their jobs. Being a cop doesn’t make one a hero. Being a hero makes one a hero. Why are right-wingers so obsessed with being able to fire bad teachers? What about firing bad cops? Why isn’t Chris Christie taking up this mantle? What about cops who sit at a desk all day? Do they get “combat pay?” If not, good luck trying to get that one past the cop unions. This is hypocrisy at it’s finest. To a right-winger, there is no such thing as a bad cop.

  31. Fozzy Bear

    Anyone who wants to give cops a “heroes bonus” has clearly never read anything by Radley Balko.

  32. Erik G.

    Brian @ 38:

    *Median personal income by educational attainment*
    Persons, age 25+ w/ earnings,
    Bachelor’s degree: $43,143

    Persons, age 25+, employed full-time,
    Bachelor’s degree: $50,944

    And, once again, few private-sector employees are getting the kind of benefits that public-sector union employees receive. Not only are teachers *not* “underpaid,” when you include their benefits, they’re doing better than average.

    Try again.

  33. Steven R Linnabary

    But pay scale for cops and fire should be higher than someone who sits behind a desk, and doesn’t risk his or her life. Let’s call it a “heroes bonus.”

    How about we hire twice as many at half their exorbitant salaries? I understand that it costs each locale between 135k & 200K for each cop (including their pensions & other benefits).

    And what is heroic about being slower than a pizza delivery person or too fearful to go into some neighborhoods without backup? Taxi drivers are FAR braver than any cop I’ve met.

    PEACE

  34. Fed Up

    I dislike WAR a great deal, but this had me reaching for my pitchfork ready to storm the CalPERS office down the street. Here in my (predominately lower middle class) Southern California city, firefighters make $144K on average, and police officers $102k; the overall average city worker salary is $80k. Teachers for the local high school district make something like $75k (which is really more like $100k when you consider that they only work 9 months per year). My business failed in 2009, I had to give all my employees a 100% pay cut, I’m making just enough to keep a roof over my head doing piecework that pays a fraction of what it did a few years ago, and the IRS is starting to pound on my door for taxes I can’t afford to pay. I’ve had to learn to cook because even Carl’s Jr. or Subway is too expensive for me these days, and man can only live off the $.49 cent tacos at Del Taco for so long. My story is not an unusual one – I know several people in similar situations. Meanwhile, in government worker land, the county employees are ticked off and threatening to go on strike because they’re not getting their raises this year. But everyone I know in the productive sector who has managed to hold onto a job has taken a massive pay cut. A former employer of mine, a mid-sized manufacturing company that does mid-eight figures annually of business, has had to lay off 50% of their workforce over the last two years. The official government unemployment rate in my county has been 14-15% for about two years now; the real rate is probably 20-25%. The unemployment rate for government workers, however, is MAYBE 2%. Yet somehow, they still manage to complain about their ‘hardships’ constantly on the front page of the local daily rag, while taxpayers in the productive sector losing their homes to foreclosure after losing their job(s) isn’t even considered newsworthy anymore.

    These leeches need a reality check. Hearing them whine about ‘poverty wages’, ‘dangerous jobs’, and the ‘lucrative private sector’ just makes me sick. What I wouldn’t give to see one of these pampered and overpaid bums put in a hard day’s work at an honest wage.

  35. Brian

    @38

    41% of teachers at public schools hold masters degrees. Again, the statistics you cited are misleading.

  36. Jerry S.

    p@34 thx for this list. I’m currently in the top 5 on this list. Cops and firemen no where on the list. Let me SHOCK some of you! Police and firemen in most cases are the sorriest low life scumbag whorehoppers in a community!

    Gov’t employees should never make more than the medium salary of the private sector. Especially federal ones. The POTUS shouldn’t be making more than that $32+K figure listed above. They (gov’t employees) are leeches and a major strain on the private sector. Notice the socialist coming from all directions to defend these teachers in WI. Until all people understand the taxpayers DO NOT owe the socialist leeches a living we will remain in a depression, PRIVITIZE all of it! Let the families, churches, synagoges aad mosques educate their children. Separate education and state for the good of all!

    Keep using the facts W.A.R. and keep giving them HELL ! Oh yeah, sixty-five is too young for them to retire with benefits make it 85! Some teachers in Bama and FL can retire with as little as five years in the system and receive benefits after a certain age for life. I know because sadly, one of my sisters is attempting to “double dip”. It’s a rackett that’s about to go under however. Atlas is about to shrug…

  37. paulie Post author

    Teachers have bachelors degrees or higher. As such, comparisons to the national poverty line or a minimum wage salary are disingenuous.

    How about just a comparison with teachers in private schools – you can take degrees earned into account if you want?

    fire bad teachers? What about firing bad cops?

    Yes to both, please. How can that not be obvious? Why would you want either bad cops or bad teachers on the job? How can that possibly be a good thing?

    What about cops who sit at a desk all day? Do they get “combat pay?”

    Have you ever had to get a splinter removed from your ass? It’s a very dangerous job, being a desk officer.

  38. Erik G.

    Brian @44:

    /facepalm

    *Median personal income by educational attainment*
    Persons, age 25+ w/ earnings,
    Master’s degree: $52,390

    Huuuuuuge difference, eh?

    And, once again, you’re not touching on the fact that public-sector teachers get wayyyy better benefits than private-sector employees.

    We could also do the ‘apples to apples’ game and talk about how a master’s in engineering and a master’s in education are two vastly different ballgames (comparing teachers’ skills to the skills of others with masters degrees isn’t an inherently level field; works in some areas, doesn’t in others).

  39. paulie Post author

    Let me SHOCK some of you!

    I grew up in NYC’s infamous 34th precinct during the 1980s. It’s not very shocking, lol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Heights,_Manhattan#Crime_epidemic

    “Homelessness was rampant. Washington Heights had become the largest drug distribution center in the Northeastern United States during that time.”

    http://www.wellesley.edu/Chemistry/Chem101/war/html%20pages/ny-heights-crime.html

    “In Washington Heights, until recently one of New York’s most murderous communities, [..]

    The gunfire may recede into memory, but the fear hangs on.

    In 1991, there were 119 killings north of 155th Street in Manhattan.”

    ..

    “after a decade and a half in a war zone, the survivors are beginning to emerge from their bunkers”

    ..

    “Police officers, once feared almost as much as the drug dealers themselves…”

    “A Drug Capital Where Gunmen Ruled

    The shooting started in the mid-1980s, when crack cocaine took hold in Washington Heights and gangs of recent Dominican immigrants established the area as the nation’s largest wholesale drug market. Other neighborhoods, especially in Brooklyn and the Bronx, also had a strong local customer base for drugs, but Washington Heights was special. ”

    “Soon, the neighborhood was to drug dealers throughout the Northeast what the Hunts Point market in the Bronx is to the region’s grocery stores”

  40. Erik G.

    Brian @44:

    Even if you took in the highest estimate that I could find ($61,273) for those with a masters level education, you still have to average back in the 59% of teachers who *don’t* have a masters degree *and* still find a way to talk about comparative benefits – where, really, there isn’t much of a comparison.

    And, as Paulie noted, try comparing public-sector teachers to private-sector ones. A 35% pay differential? Wow.

  41. Bryan

    Why does root keep posting this crap. He uses what he is claiming as “total compensation packages” as their salary. Wis. teachers are only getting ~50k in salary the rest in benefits. But by hammering away at 100k, he is able to get most of the people reading his drivel to think these teachers get a pay check of 2k a week.

    And the Wis. teachers already agreed to the concessions he demanded. But that is not enough, he wants to rid the state of the union.

    Why doesn’t he just get honest? He hates unions, and wants them gone, whether they are government or private, he wants them gone…period.

    I live in a “right to work state”. Public service workers (teachers, police officers, and other gov workers) earn far less than their private sector peers. If it weren’t for the benefits, which are higher than the private sector, (benefits in “right to work states” SUCK) we would be left with the least qualified, bottom of the barrel employees taking these gov. jobs. As it stands we have qualified and dedicated people in these jobs…getting the shaft on base pay, but getting a little something on the backside.

  42. paulie Post author

    I live in a “right to work state”. Public service workers (teachers, police officers, and other gov workers) earn far less than their private sector peers.

    Do you have actual stats on that?

  43. Robert Capozzi

    bryan 52: If it weren’t for the benefits, which are higher than the private sector, (benefits in “right to work states” SUCK) we would be left with the least qualified, bottom of the barrel employees taking these gov. jobs.

    me: Of course, the “bottom of the barrel” is a matter of subjective assessment. “Bottom” according to whom? Still, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Government bureaucrats pushing paper uncreatively and inartfully might just be a better outcome, all things considered. They trade off (in some places) income upside for relative job security and beefed up benefits…sounds OK to me.

  44. Bryan

    Paulie….

    I was an employee at a non-profit as a vet tech, earning about the average in any of the private sector (around here). Someone suggested that I apply for a job as a gov. employee. Depending on the job applied for, or accepted, I was going to take a 10-30% paycut, be on 2nd or 3rd shifts, with a reduction in health care bennies (my non profit had a better plan) and be subject to last hired first fired until i got senority.

    My “big boss” earned nearly twice as much as the director of the gov. office. Their jobs were nearly identical, again, the only advantage was secruity and the knowledge there would be a little more on the backside.

    The average police officer in this area starts around 20-25k. A security guard starts out at this same pay, maybe a little more if there is any experience at all, or if they are “armed”.

  45. Erik G.

    And yet, the average police officer nationally makes over $50,000/year, with awesome benefits.

    Just because your town (supposedly) sucks, it doesn’t provide evidence of a trend.

  46. Brian

    Paulie

    No, firing bad cops is apparently not obvious. Public school teachers have been the punching bag of the right for the past decade. No similar attacks have been leveled against cops. I think it has to do with the ideological constituencies that each groups tends to represent.

  47. paulie Post author

    firing bad cops is apparently not obvious.

    It should be. Same with teachers. If you have ever dealt with a bad cop or a bad teacher, why would you want anyone else to have to go through that?

    No similar attacks have been leveled against cops.

    If you ask some of them, they’ll say they are constantly attacked. I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

    I don’t really see either one as somehow above reproach at all.

    There are good and bad in both professions, just as in all others, and it should not be overly difficult to fire the bad ones.

    That should be obvious…I really don’t see why it isn’t.

    Again: Why would you want either bad cops or bad teachers on the job? How can that possibly be a good thing?

  48. Michael H. Wilson

    Bill Gate speaking to the state governors.

    “In speaking to the governors, Gates noted that the number of teachers and support personnel has increased from about 40 adults per 1,000 students in 1960 to about 125 adults per 1,000 students today. His point was that states have made costly changes that have not led to higher student achievement. High school scores in math and reading have been flat since the 1970s.”

    Read more: http://www.theolympian.com/2011/02/28/1560454/gates-spending-cuts-dont-have.html#ixzz1FJOKOvyb

  49. Brian

    I don’t want bad people on the job in any capacity. My point is that cops and teachers are oft manipulated political constituencies. I think Root’s comments in this thread serve to reinforce this.

    That being said, I am a fairly recent product of the public school system. I got a terrific education and had very little exposure to bad teachers. My teachers were not paid well. Almost every teacher I got to know personally worked a second job or worked in an additional capacity for the district in order to make ends meet. Whether this is bartending on the weekends, selling beer at the stadium, or supervising after school programs, I do not know a single teacher that was out the door with the students at 3 pm. Perhaps this personal experience clouds my judgment on this subject.

  50. paulie Post author

    I grew up in a slum (see #49), so as you can imagine I had plenty of experiences with not so good government employees of various kinds.

  51. John C Jackson

    I agree that public employee compensation, especially the benefits and pension portion, is out of control.

    However, I really disagree with the strategy of deomonizing teachers while upholding police as some heroic examples who deserve more.

    Like some other libertarians here, I have read a lot of Balko’s work and much more on that subject.

    Personally, when I say I want a small government, it also means a much smaller prison system and much less spending on law enforcement. I think we need FEWER police officers. I remember when there was some “crisis” that needed a “stimulus.” It was all over my news- Oh No!- it is possible that < 100% of police academy graduates will be given full time jobs immediately upon graduation. Is there another college major that is guaranteed employment by the public?

    Also, when things don't go well for police unions, they do a lot more fucked up shit than teacher's unions. Say all you want about teachers, but police unions and their media/PR teams go on the local news and tell people that they will refuse to respond to violent crimes if they don't get the money they ask for. They also show up with guns at public hearings and intimidate people with a "show of force," especially when they do something wrong and hurt someone and a few "civilians" have balls enough to stand up to them.

    Why is it OK ( "PC"?) to attack teachers, but piece of filth cops are untouchable?

    I understand there are many problems with our educational system, including the quality of teaching and the teacher's union, but I can guaranfuckingtee you that the worst teacher cause way less harm to society than a mediocre cop.

    This reminds me of "small government" types who attack people on food stamps, but support massive corporate welfare and military waste. It's fucked up. Stop protecting the slimeballs who are causing the most harm to our society.

  52. Bryan

    Places like NY where UNIONS have increased the starting police pay to ~35-45k, throw off the pure “statistics”. But even this case, an employee with a BA, MS, etc… kinda low pay, especially in a city as expensive to live in as NYC.

    People who live in largely non-union states get less compensation…this is a fact. Why else do you think Boeing, Amazon, among others will come to SC? Just look at the textile industry, for years the south ruled because of cheap labor, then the rules were changed making it easier to go “off-shore”…there isn’t a significant textile employer left in a town named Fort Mill….

  53. Bryan

    Jackson @63….

    Government unions are government unions, whether they be teachers, police, firemen, or clerks. They should have the right to come together as a group and bargain for better working conditions, wages, benefits, etc…

    The people who are trying the hardest to shut down teachers unions in Wis. are attempting to use this as a way to shut down all unions. Remove one of the primary sources of support for Democrats, and the Republicans get an easier ride.

    Ironically, police and fire unions are exempted from the Wis. union busting…..but yet they are on record and LOUD in their support of the teachers.

  54. paulie Post author

    JCJ 63….totally agreed about police unions.

    Bryan 64…many cops do not have college degrees. Look at police hiring recruitment offers.

    Bryan 65…they shouldn’t have the right to automatically withdraw taxpayers’ money from government employees’ pay who may not want it taken out, to lobby for even more tax money, and politicians make a bad proxy for taxpayers in such negotiations.

    The “customer” gets no choice.

  55. Matt Cholko

    This is a very good article by Root.

    Is it perfect? No.

    Is it better than the articles written by me (and probably damn near everyone else on here) lately? Damn right!

  56. Brian

    To the taxpayer, how is the deduction of union dues from the paycheck of a public employee different than the use of taxpayer dollars for corporate subsidies? I fail to see a distinction. i am curious as to learn whether or not you all would make such a distinction.

  57. paulie Post author

    Is it better than the articles written by me (and probably damn near everyone else on here) lately? Damn right!

    I haven’t really written many articles lately (mostly just cut and pasted), however, I think some of my longer comments would probably make good articles if any of our other writers want to post them as such. I’m not supposed to do that under IPR rules.

  58. Matt Cholko

    Paulie (and other who write, here and elsewhere) – I made sure to day “….damn near…” because I know some people here DO write stuff, and some of it IS very good.

  59. Steven Wilson

    1. A taxpayer is a customer who is forced to purchase a set product for a unknown period of time.

    2. Public schools are based on taxable revenue.

    3. If the parent wants change, then let them change it themselves.

    4. The work environment for the body politic is identical to the one for the union worker. If a politician can put cash in a freezer, then a teacher can cook after hours.

    5. Get rid of the original force, and the subsequent force will lose interest. Especially if you remove the reward.

  60. paulie Post author

    Matt – not criticizing your comment actually, I agree with it…I was just using it as an excuse to drop another hint about that.

    Anyone feel like doing that for me that doesn’t write here yet, I can sign you up…

  61. WAR is wrong - Workers Are Right

    Stop all war, stop all W.A.R. Strike the ROOT!

    As Thoreau said, stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    When the ROOT is ROTTen the Tree of Liberty WEAKENS FROM WITHIN.

    Money is not the ROOT of all evil
    WAR is!

    Stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    WAR is the ROTTen ROOT of all EVIL that ROTs the Tree of Liberty.

    Stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    W.A.R. = War Monger
    Strike The Root
    War is wrong
    W.A.R. is wrong
    Right the wrongs
    WRIGHTS strike the ROOT fix the WRONGS in LP
    Stop All Wars
    Stop all W.A.R.
    ROTT is ROOTed out LP Tree of Liberty Grows wRIGHTs again AMEN!

    Stop all war, stop all W.A.R. Strike the ROOT!

    As Thoreau said, stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    When the ROOT is ROTTen the Tree of Liberty WEAKENS FROM WITHIN.

    Money is not the ROOT of all evil
    WAR is!

    Stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    WAR is the ROTTen ROOT of all EVIL that ROTs the Tree of Liberty.

    Stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    WAR is wrong – W.A.R. Is Wrong – Workers Are Right – W.A.R. is EVIL stop EVIL stop W.A.R.!

  62. Tom Blanton

    Ostracize government workers. Curse at them. Give them menacing looks that will make them think they may be attacked. Don’t serve them in your place of business. Don’t invite your stinking relatives and friends that are government workers into your home. I’ve been suggesting this for years, but people don’t like this idea.

    Don’t be like right-wingers that think as soon as an incompetent over-paid government lackey is given a gun, they morph into heroes that deserve big money and worship.

    Or, continue pretending that bitching on a blog, reading Wayne Root articles, listening to talk radio, and voting is going to change things.

    I wonder how many tax-feeders are reading this Wayne Root article and laughing. They will suck every last dollar they can out of the system until the system collapses. They know the feds will bail out cities and states. They know that ultimately the politicians will keep the gravy train running. All while a small number of people complain – and CONTINUE TO PAY their taxes.

    I know, I know – we must get organized, work our precincts, elect moderate dog catchers, act like mainstream Republicans, spend endless hours at meetups, go to Tea Party events and pass out brochures – and then, one day, the assholes that govern us will restrain themselves a little more than they have been.

  63. Racine, Wisconsin Tea Party Activist

    Wayne Root is 100% correct! We need to treat these union vermin like what they are and call the exterminator!

    Imagine setting up a Zyklon-B “food pantry” for union scum at a protest in Madison….teachers walk in, but they don’t walk out!

    Or, how about a mustard gas attack on the protesters?

    Imagine what 50,000 or 100,000 dead labor union rodents would mean for our great state. Governor Walker would be swept in as America’s next President, sending the Lyin’ African packing!

    Tax parasites in every other state would think twice before making any demands….they will be happy with their bowl of porridge a day and park bench to sleep on…

    Keep kickin’ ass Wayne Root and Gov. Walker!
    Show no mercy to the union slime – treat them like the terrorists they are! Throw them in gitmo and throw away the keys! Gas them! Beat them with trucheons! Call out the dogs and the firehoses….together we can WIN!

  64. Teabaggin' in Sheboygan

    I say we crucify the laborist whiners. Yes, nail them to the cross, just like in Roman times.

    That’ll teach the teachers.

  65. Robert Capozzi

    brian68: To the taxpayer, how is the deduction of union dues from the paycheck of a public employee different than the use of taxpayer dollars for corporate subsidies? I fail to see a distinction. i am curious as to learn whether or not you all would make such a distinction.

    me: Most Ls would agree that corporate subsidies should be eliminated. Union dues are only a problem to the extent that total government spending is 2 damn high, including government ee wages, both in the absolute numbers and often for specific jobs. Union dues do add to the anti-peace-and-liberty kitty of the political operations of unions, so in that sense those tax dollars are leveraged by unions to agitate for more government coercion. Corporate subsidies are similarly leveraged to agitate for special favors.

    If we want to increase the peace, defund all special pleaders.

  66. Robert Capozzi

    tb77: Or, continue pretending that bitching on a blog, reading Wayne Root articles, listening to talk radio, and voting is going to change things.

    me: If you’re going to make this charge, at least offer us an alternative. Blanton Brigades, perhaps?

    “Bitching,” btw, I’d agree, is not especially helpful, or even “venting.” Regardless of one reads, listens, views, or votes, it all depends on one’s motivation. What happens in the world outside our own self-imposed prisons might be of some interest, and perhaps we can play a tiny part in increasing the peace. Or we can watch the insubstantial pageant glide by, noting the eye candy and feverish drama.

  67. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi: If you’re going to make this charge, at least offer us an alternative. Blanton Brigades, perhaps?

    Direct action. Civil disobedience. Strikes. Protests. Non-compliance. Political street theater. Direct action is only limited by the imagination, but it involves risk – and I know how most suburban middle-class middle-age libertarians desperately seeking approval by their peers feel about risk. Any risk is unacceptable in the pursuit of freedom.

    In Capozzi-speak, this would translate into absolutist atomistic individual anarchy as it requires rejecting the mainstream collective and moving in a revolutionary direction.

    Perhaps the time isn’t right for Capozzi, though. It might make more sense for some to wait until taxes reach the 90% threshold and a loaf of bread costs $15. It might be prudent for a moderate to wait until a significant percentage of citizens are monitored by the government or are in detention. Some may wish to wait until close friends or family members are shot down in the street by overpaid government employees before choosing to act beyond bitching and voting.

    Your rulers love it when you bitch and vote – just as long as you don’t do anything but bitch and vote. They don’t like dramas, feverish or otherwise, unless they create them.

    I suspect tyrants have a special place in their hearts for moderate extremists who are complicit by their compliance with the dictates of their rulers. Your rulers don’t care if you don’t like what is done to you as long as you don’t protest too loudly or refuse to comply.

    But, again, risks are unacceptable to the vast majority of those flag-waving constitution-clutching patriots who fight for freedom within the system their rulers have designed for them.

    The rallying cry of many these days seems to be “give me moderation or give me death, but don’t give me too much freedom.”

  68. Robert Capozzi

    tb82: Direct action. Civil disobedience. Strikes. Protests. Non-compliance. Political street theater. Direct action is only limited by the imagination, but it involves risk – and I know how most suburban middle-class middle-age libertarians desperately seeking approval by their peers feel about risk. Any risk is unacceptable in the pursuit of freedom.

    me: We’d all love to see the plan, Brother. If it makes sense, I just might sign up. If not, then I won’t. I can’t speak for others, but I would suggest that risk-taking is something we should do. Whether we should self-immolate like the dude in Tunisia, I can’t say. I’m not feeling called to do so.

    tb: I suspect tyrants have a special place in their hearts for moderate extremists who are complicit by their compliance with the dictates of their rulers. Your rulers don’t care if you don’t like what is done to you as long as you don’t protest too loudly or refuse to comply.

    me: Interesting perspective, as always, Brother. Are you suggesting that those who don’t take “direct action” are ALL complicit with the current configuration? How do YOU escape your own charge of complicity?

    It strikes me that Ls should respect others who are just trying to live their lives the best they can. Not everyone is called to be an activist. Most don’t have the time to sort the wheat from the chaff as you perhaps think you have.

  69. Andy

    “Direct action is only limited by the imagination, but it involves risk – and I know how most suburban middle-class middle-age libertarians desperately seeking approval by their peers feel about risk. Any risk is unacceptable in the pursuit of freedom.”

    There does seem to be a culture of inactivity among a lot of Libertarian Party members, and I think that that is one of the reasons why the Libertarian Party hasn’t gotten further ahead.

    Here’s an example. Back in November of 2008 there were protests being held in front of every branch of the Federal Reserve System in this country. I attended the one in Los Angeles. I happened to have some World’s Smallest Political Quiz flyers (which included the Libertarian Party’s http://www.LP.org website and the 800-ElectUs phone number) in my car so I used this as an opportunity to get rid of them by handing them out to people who were at the protest. I had around 100-200 of these flyers. I went through the crowd and handed all of them out and out of all of the people at this protest, I only ran into one person who told me that they had been a Libertarian Party member. I said “had been” because they told me they had let there membership expire several years before this. The reason that this person told me that they let their membership expire is because they got frustrated with the lack of activity of the party. They felt that the party wasn’t going anywhere because too many of its members didn’t do anything!

    Most of the people who were at this protest were there because of Ron Paul’s campaign. Some of the people that I ran into were already familiar with the Libertarian Party, but others that I ran into said that they’d never heard of it.

    I was quite disappointed that I did not run into one person that I knew from the Libertarian Party of California at this protest. The Libertarian Party should have been leading this protest, yet nobody besides myself even bothered to show up.

  70. Robert Capozzi

    Protesting seems best done with a specific, compelling issue in mind. Vietnam and civil rights tended to be protest-worthy. More abstract things, like the Fed IMO, don’t lend themselves as well to productive protest. I wonder how many protested the Fed.

    But, OK, Ls are not protesting types, generally. There’s probably a lot of reasons why that’s so. Perhaps the many years of Tax Day protests not leading to much traction and certainly no results have suggested another tack….

  71. Michael H. Wilson

    We had some great results with the tax day protest a number of years ago where I was at. Of Course it was done by the local group and the state party had little or nothing to do with it. It has died off since e-filing came in.

  72. paulie Post author

    TB

    Ostracize government workers. Curse at them. Give them menacing looks that will make them think they may be attacked. Don’t serve them in your place of business. Don’t invite your stinking relatives and friends that are government workers into your home. I’ve been suggesting this for years, but people don’t like this idea.

    Have you actually been doing this? If so, how well has it worked?

  73. paulie Post author

    TB

    Don’t be like right-wingers that think as soon as an incompetent over-paid government lackey is given a gun, they morph into heroes that deserve big money and worship.

    Good point.

  74. paulie Post author

    Protesting seems best done with a specific, compelling issue in mind. Vietnam and civil rights tended to be protest-worthy. More abstract things, like the Fed IMO, don’t lend themselves as well to productive protest

    How is the Federal reserve any less compelling and specific than war or civil rights?

    If anything, civil rights is less specific. The federal reserve is a concrete system. Civil rights are much more of an abstract concept.

  75. Robert Capozzi

    p, good question. The money supply and fractional reserve banking is abstract.

    Denying descendants of slaves the right to vote and relegating them to substandard accommodations by law is concrete. Lynching people is concrete. Burning crosses and white-hooded cowards are concrete.

  76. paulie Post author

    Teabaggin’ in Sheboygan

    I say we crucify the laborist whiners. Yes, nail them to the cross, just like in Roman times.

    That’ll teach the teachers.

    Agent provocateur fail 🙂

  77. paulie Post author

    The money supply and fractional reserve banking is abstract.

    Manipulating the money supply and engineering economic collapse and debt slavery is concrete.

    A quasi-secret, quasi-private, quasi-public banking cartel is concrete.

    It’s also becoming a bigger and bigger political issue lately, with the potential of drawing large crowds.

    I hear many people bring it up on their own during brief political conversations with regular people I run into at random, which was not the case a few years ago.

  78. paulie Post author

    Most Ls would agree that corporate subsidies should be eliminated. Union dues are only a problem to the extent that total government spending is 2 damn high, including government ee wages, both in the absolute numbers and often for specific jobs. Union dues do add to the anti-peace-and-liberty kitty of the political operations of unions, so in that sense those tax dollars are leveraged by unions to agitate for more government coercion. Corporate subsidies are similarly leveraged to agitate for special favors.

    If we want to increase the peace, defund all special pleaders.

    Agreed….

  79. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi // Mar 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Protesting seems best done with a specific, compelling issue in mind. Vietnam and civil rights tended to be protest-worthy. More abstract things, like the Fed IMO, don’t lend themselves as well to productive protest. I wonder how many protested the Fed.”

    I disagree with this line of thinking. There were several hundred people at this protest against the Federal Reserve System that I attended in Los Angeles. And as I said above, there were protests going on that same day at every Federal Reserve branch in the country (I think that there’s 33 of them). If you add up the number of people at each of these protests, it adds up to a heck of a lot of people.

    I’ve been saying for years that Libertarians ought to talk more about why the Federal Reserve System ought to be abolished and for years I got responses from other Libertarian Party members that it was too obscure a subject and that Libertarians should fucus more on things that people can understand.

    Well, thanks to people like Ron Paul and Aaron Russo, the Federal Reserve is now a much bigger issue than it has ever been. I’ve run into a lot more people over the past 3 or 4 years who have talked about ending the Federal Reserve than I used to encounter. I’ve been on college campuses and run into 18 & 19 year olds who were talking about ending the Federal Reserve. I attended 4 Ron Paul speeches and some of the biggest “pops” from the crowds came when Ron was talking about ending the Federal Reserve.

    Sure, it is an issue that a lot of people still don’t understand, but considering that it is such an important issue, that is all the more reason why Libertarians ought to educate people about it.

    When most people find out what the Federal Reserve really does they are opposed to it. Ending the Federal Reserve is actually a pretty popular issue once people are informed about it.

  80. Robert Capozzi

    p, I guess we differ on what “concrete” is, then. There were also fairly obvious remedies for Vietnam and Jim Crow…end them.

    Ending the Fed is harder to grasp, even for me.

    Yes, starting a conversation on a new monetary system IS becoming more of an issue in the public square, as it should be. Notice that you use the qualifies “quasi,” which puts understanding it into a more abstraction category for most, I suspect. My assessment is that it’s not as tangible as ending a war, though.

    I never say never…my assessment may well prove incorrect. Nor do I think protesting is the only way to increase the peace. Indeed, I’d say it’s probably a trailing edge communications tool.

  81. paulie Post author

    Andy @ 95 Correct.

    Also, a lot of people from different political perspectives are talking about it as well, such as Cynthia McKinney.

    She has a different solution in mind – direct federal government ownership of a national bank – but at least she and others who agree with her are talking about the problems of the current system.

  82. paulie Post author

    @96 I think it will become a really big issue if the economy gets dramatically worse, which could easily happen.

  83. Robert Capozzi

    a95:There were several hundred people at this protest against the Federal Reserve System that I attended in Los Angeles. And as I said above, there were protests going on that same day at every Federal Reserve branch in the country (I think that there’s 33 of them).

    me: These numbers get nowhere near the anti-Vietnam War levels. Could they? Possibly. I doubt they will, in all candor.

  84. This is becoming a spam.

    Can you do something about 5, a very annoying spam. I think Id rather deal with Milnes annoyance rather than 75.

  85. paulie Post author

    Andy

    There does seem to be a culture of inactivity among a lot of Libertarian Party members, and I think that that is one of the reasons why the Libertarian Party hasn’t gotten further ahead.

    [..]

    I was quite disappointed that I did not run into one person that I knew from the Libertarian Party of California at this protest. The Libertarian Party should have been leading this protest, yet nobody besides myself even bothered to show up.

    Good points….

  86. paulie Post author

    These numbers get nowhere near the anti-Vietnam War levels. Could they? Possibly. I doubt they will, in all candor.

    IMO it will depend on what happens with the economy.

  87. Fun K. Chicken

    Are the employees of the federal reserve going on strike? What is the relevance here?

  88. Workers Strike Against War - Workers Strike Against W.A.R. - Strike the Root, Stop Evil, Stop War, Stop W.A.R.

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    W.A.R. Is Against Workers – W.AR. wants WAR with Workers – EVIL ROOT EVIL!

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    Workers Strike Against Rotten Evil War
    Workers Strike Against Rotten Evil W.A.R.

    When the ROOT is ROTTen the Tree of Liberty WEAKENS FROM WITHIN.

    Money is not the ROOT of all evil
    WAR is!

    Stop striking at the branches, STRIKE THE ROOT!

    W.A.R. = War Monger
    Strike The Root
    War is wrong
    W.A.R. is wrong
    Right the wrongs
    WRIGHTS strike the ROOT fix the WRONGS in LP
    Stop All Wars
    Stop all W.A.R.
    ROTT is ROOTed out LP Tree of Liberty Grows wRIGHTs again AMEN!

    WAR is wrong – W.A.R. Is Wrong – Workers Are Right – W.A.R. is EVIL stop EVIL stop W.A.R.!

    Workers are working for their rights. Striking for their rights. Liberty Tree.

    Workers for Wrights – Work for Wrights – STOP ALL W.A.R.!

  89. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi: We’d all love to see the plan, Brother. If it makes sense, I just might sign up. If not, then I won’t. I can’t speak for others, but I would suggest that risk-taking is something we should do.

    You want me to make a plan for you, Capozzi? Make your own plan.

    What is it with “libertarians” who babble about self-governance but then look for a leader they can put on a pedestal who will guide them to the promised land?

    Whether it is Rand, Rothbard, Ron Paul or W.A.R., too many libertarians sit around waiting for somebody to lead them. Like a cult of zombies, they follow the leader until they become aware that their leader does not possess super-human powers, then they turn on their cult leaders – all the while babbling about personal responsibility and self-governance.

    Look within yourself to make a plan of civil disobedience and direct action. You decide what you want and act accordingly. Instead of demanding governance by leaders, lead yourself.

    If you are satisfied with stumbling about in a zombie cult babbling platitudes about liberty and freedom, and if it makes you secure to belong to a collective that is governed by leaders, and if it fulfills your need for self-determination to bitch about what the government does to you while you take no real action to change things, then by all means, continue down the course of moderate acquiescence to the injustices committed against you and others.

    But, all the bitching starts to ring hollow after a few decades.

    Note to Paulie: I don’t think many government employees enjoy their encounters with me when I am forced to deal with them. Otherwise, I don’t deal with them and I certainly don’t associate with them voluntarily.

  90. paulie Post author

    I don’t think many government employees enjoy their encounters with me when I am forced to deal with them.

    Some anecdotes along those lines may be entertaining, at this juncture 🙂

  91. Robert Capozzi

    tb107: You want me to make a plan for you, Capozzi? Make your own plan.

    me: Hmm, I don’t think “direct action” is the path, so any plan I’d draw up would not have my heart in it. With my severely limited bandwidth, my only political contribution is to offer a different model of L-ism in its most basic outlines. As a movement, we IMO self-sabotage ourselves by employing highly theoretical constructs, which is a foundation of sand, paradoxically enough. My contention is that the material world and all thought systems are fluid and malleable, depending more on context and less on a priori “truths.”

    I may well be a caucus of one. The Randian/Rothbardian atomistic absolutism runs very deep in L DNA. And, of course, I certainly make no claims about being “correct”; I just speak my truth as clearly as I can.

  92. Andy

    “p, I guess we differ on what ‘concrete’ is, then. There were also fairly obvious remedies for Vietnam and Jim Crow…end them.”

    Ending the Vietnam War and ending the Jim Crow laws were important issues, but I’d say that ending the Federal Reserve System is just as important even though a lot of people may not understand why (yet).

    “Ending the Fed is harder to grasp, even for me.”

    This is all the more reason to educate people about it. Like I said above, when the majority of people find out what the Federal Reserve is and what it does they are opposed to it. It is not something that very many people will defend once they become informed about it.

    “Yes, starting a conversation on a new monetary system IS becoming more of an issue in the public square, as it should be. Notice that you use the qualifies ‘quasi,’ which puts understanding it into a more abstraction category for most, I suspect. My assessment is that it’s not as tangible as ending a war, though. ”

    It is kind of a confusing issue and it is meant to be that way. The people who run and/or benifit from the Federal Reserve System don’t want the public to know about it or understand it. However, it is a huge issue which effects everybody, whether they understand anything about it or not.

    I really think abolishing the Federal Reserve System is a winning issue for the Libertarian Party. You won’t find many people among the general public who are staunch defenders of the Federal Reserve. The majority of people know little or nothing about it, and the majority of people who do know about it favor abolishing it.

    “I never say never…my assessment may well prove incorrect.”

    My assessment is based on having talking to thousands and thousands of people, both in person and on-line.

    “Nor do I think protesting is the only way to increase the peace. Indeed, I’d say it’s probably a trailing edge communications tool.”

    Protests are good places for Libertarian Party members to do outreach. The people who attend protests are already angry about something that the government is doing, and assuming that it is a pro-freedom protest, these events are fertile ground for Libertarian Party activism.

    Since you brought up war protests, there were massive protests just a few years ago over the war in Iraq. From what I’ve heard, the Libertarian Party had little or no presense at these protests. This is a shame because these were excellent opportunities to spread the word about the Libertarian Party.

    I wanted to go to these protests and do Libertarian Party outreach myself, but I was unable to due to my work scedule at the time. I understand that sometimes people just can’t make it to events, but it seems to me that with all of the Libertarian Party members out there that more of them could have made it to things like this.

    Some other events where I’ve done Libertarian Party outreach:

    A gun rights protest (as well as numerous gun shows).

    A protest against the War on Drugs.

    A protest for 9/11 Truth.

    Tax Day protests.

  93. Robert Capozzi

    a: …it seems to me that with all of the Libertarian Party members out there that more of them could have made it to things like this.

    me: All? We’re tiny by any standard, such as natl membership or state-registration lists.

    I’d say we’re tiny for a reason — several, actually. Obviously, one would be election laws. Another would be absolutism, which is a turn-off for the vast majority of people.

    Ending the Fed may well be a winning issue, but unless that can be wrapped in a credible narrative for reform, I think it riles up a victim mentality — deep-seated, often irrational, angst against the “monied class” and “banksters.” Making a populist-sounding pivot toward an indictment of crony capitalism vs. free markets is challenging, possibly an insurmountable one.

    End the Fed…and then what? Much would need to be worked out for plausible, sound-biteable alternatives.

    I think we have lower-hanging fruit, ripe for the picking. Fed-bashing is probably a secondary or tertiary issue for the LP as an instrument of positive change. IMO.

  94. Robert Capozzi

    apropos this thread:

    Walter Block on LRC: “Response 5. I actually oppose both the government and the unions. I only “support” them in the sense that I’m rooting for them to fight each other, so that both may be undermined. The government, I fear, violates rights on a far more massive scale than do the unions. It is not for nothing that the latter are merely the junior partners in this illicit conspiracy.”

    All here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block173.html

    Block makes an assessment that the “heat” may generate light…in this case, an “undermining” of the State. Maybe. That doesn’t make me agree with his pronouncement: “What is the proper free enterprise or libertarian position? I attempted to answer that question in this blog. My answer in a nutshell was, Both. Let them have at each other, each of them weakening the other. A pox on both houses, was how I put it.”

    Of course, I completely disagree that there is such a thing as a “proper” position, and I find it incredibly arrogant to make such a pronouncement, especially in such a murky matter.

  95. Gains

    TB @107: “Like a cult of zombies, they follow the leader…”

    Any endeavor that seeks social engagement, including politics, is a team sport. While people do need to buck up and take responsibility for themselves and their direction, leadership itself is not a sin, nor is joining a team wherein someone has been chosen to call the shots for group action.

    So I guess what I am asking, is where is the line between the person who arranges the meeting place, and these mythical cult leaders you speak of? What is the definition of cult, and by what authority do you identify it as a danger?

    I ask because the circumstances you describe sound more like the effect of extremism than teamwork in general. Am I supposed to pre judge my fellows because they are on some such team? I am not sure that is what you meant to communicate.

    RC@111: “Another would be absolutism”

    This is beginning to sound like an ideological war on your side as well.

    You critique absolutists because they don’t agree with you. You are critiqued by others because they also have other understandings than you. Frankly, I identify critiquing each others internal processes is the very narcissistic trait you claim is harmful. The only exception being that you do not see it in yourself or more compatibly oriented people. Seems natural enough in itself, and would not be MY business outside of this conversation.

    We all have a human desire for domination. Lacking discipline in competition with allies can result in antisocial behavior such as unfair criticism, overreaching interference in other peoples affairs, bullying and even rape or murder. I am not calling you any of these things (in any way shape or form!!!) but pointing out the pathway that such indulgences take without having embraced healthy social mores, practiced interpersonal ethics and ingrained personal morals.

    There is not one ideological faction responsible for the party’s lackluster performance. It is not the state of being of any person or faction either. Person X being an absolutist, is not enough in itself to drive people away. Person X pissing on newcomers however, no matter their ideological premises, is a problem for the community that they should find a reasonable and just solution for.

    What I hear about all the time from your complaints has more to do with behavior than it does inner processes. Concentrating on handy factional labels, identifying groups for behavior problems within (behavior that is natural and found in all groups) is almost delusional. Sure the delusion is another natural human effect, but it is another indulgence that skews things into comfort zones at the cost of perception and can easily lead to fraud socially as you desperately try and maintain your own social fiction.

    My advice is to concentrate on behavior. You have authority there. Outside of that, you are likely engaging in just as fully, the folly you seek to foil.

  96. Robert Capozzi

    g115: You critique absolutists because they don’t agree with you.

    me: Perhaps this is true unconsciously. Consciously, however, my primary critique of absolutists is they seem to believe they have a monopoly on truth. Ex.: Block’s belief that there is a “proper” L position. I certainly respect a wide variety of opinions, including non-L positions. I resent being told what to think, frankly, implicitly or explicitly. And such arrogance and dogmatism is IMO poor marketing.

  97. paulie Post author

    a: …it seems to me that with all of the Libertarian Party members out there that more of them could have made it to things like this.

    rc: All? We’re tiny by any standard, such as natl membership or state-registration lists.

    That’s still a lot of people who could be showing up at this or other public events of a similar nature which represent recruiting opportunities.

    Ending the Fed may well be a winning issue, but unless that can be wrapped in a credible narrative for reform, I think it riles up a victim mentality — deep-seated, often irrational, angst against the “monied class” and “banksters.” Making a populist-sounding pivot toward an indictment of crony capitalism vs. free markets is challenging, possibly an insurmountable one.

    I’d say Ron Paul manages to do it.

    End the Fed…and then what? Much would need to be worked out for plausible, sound-biteable alternatives.

    And then what? Personally, I would say a free market in money and banking. Others urge a gold or bimetal standard. Many people are aware of this issue already, and regard it as important; it would be good if they saw the LP as an ally. Many others don’t know about it at all; it would be good if at least some of them began to explore the question, and if we could facilitate this in some cases, directly or indirectly.

    I think we have lower-hanging fruit, ripe for the picking. Fed-bashing is probably a secondary or tertiary issue for the LP as an instrument of positive change. IMO.

    Notwithstanding that I believe Andy only brought up the anti-fed demonstrations as one example out of many possible examples, fed-bashing is a primary issue for the Campaign for Liberty (10x the size of the LP) and of the “We Agree” statement of Nader, McKinney, Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin, to which Barr said he agreed (but could not be seen on the same stage with “people like” McKinney).

  98. Thomas L. Knapp

    As of a few years ago, I considered the Federal Reserve a politically useless issue that a small fraction of one percent of the public cared about or was likely to care about.

    Maybe I was just flat wrong then, or maybe the situation changed, or maybe some of both, but these days monetary policy and the role of the Fed are mainstream issues, and substantial change isn’t at all out of the question.

    It may even be overdue, as American monetary policy controversies — First Bank of the US to Second Bank of the US to Lincoln’s greenback scheme to the free silver movement to the Fed to Bretton Woods to “full fiat” under Nixon — seem to come to a head every 20-30 years, and it’s 40 years this year since that last one.

    Bob, your “little baby steps going according to a natural flow, gently guided by wise Brahmins” theory of politics may be personally comforting, but it’s completely ahistorical. In real life, issues come to a head and big changes transpire.

  99. Andy

    “Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    As of a few years ago, I considered the Federal Reserve a politically useless issue that a small fraction of one percent of the public cared about or was likely to care about.”

    I debated you on this very issue, Tom. I’m not sure if it was on IPR or not, I think it was Third Party Watch, and/or perhaps Last Free Voice or Hammer of Truth. Maybe it was more than one site.

    “Maybe I was just flat wrong then, or maybe the situation changed, or maybe some of both, but these days monetary policy and the role of the Fed are mainstream issues, and substantial change isn’t at all out of the question.”

    I think you were flat out wrong. It sounds cliche and kind of obnoxious to say, “I told ya so,” but I told ya so.

    I KNEW that libertarians could gain a lot of ground by making elimination of the Federal Reserve System a bigger issue, and it looks like I was right.

    I think that the two main people we can thank for making this a big issue are Ron Paul and Aaron Russo (RIP).

    The Federal Reserve System is a confusing issue that most people know little or nothing about, however, once most people become more informed about it almost all of them end up on the on the pro-liberty side of the issue.

    I really think that ending the Fed is a winning issue for libertarians, and the Libertarian Party ought to be leading the charge on this issue.

  100. Robert Capozzi

    tk, actually, my theory of politics accommodates and takes account of issues coming to a head. The idea is to ride the flow, pressing toward virtue as the default position. When the opportunity for a step-function change reveals itself as ripe, go for it.

    As for “big changes” being the norm, I can’t think of any I’d consider “big” since 1865, when the Insurrection was put down and chattel slavery was ended. Since then, most changes have been measured. The biggest changes since then have been coming from the Supremes, in Brown v. Board and Roe v. Wade. Economic changes have been incremental steps toward increased socialization. And perhaps the Manhattan Project, although that step function was going to happen in some nation in that timeframe, so I’m not sure that counts.

    The monetary system doesn’t seem ripe for a step function to me. That could change. Whether 15K Ls and Ron Paul are going to force the issue any time soon, color me skeptical.

    Historical monetary regime changes were done in MUCH simpler times. The average person probably conducts more transactions in a week now than the average person in 1850 did in a year. Money flows constantly and globally.

    For a sound money system to be instituted, there were have to be a LOT of Ls in office with their hands on the levers. Soil and Water Commission board members aren’t in a position to enact such sweeping legislative measures.

    Getting Ls or L-leaners in federal office strikes me as the more immediate consideration. If monetary themes help that to happen, I’m all for that approach.

  101. Robert Capozzi

    a119: The Federal Reserve System is a confusing issue that most people know little or nothing about, however, once most people become more informed about it almost all of them end up on the on the pro-liberty side of the issue.

    me: When you say the “Federal Reserve System” is an “issue,” I think it’s important to be clear on what this means. IF you’re saying that there’s a sense that the Fed is unfair and dysfunctional, I agree that COULD BECOME an issue; in my judgment, it’s NOT a major issue in the public square now. I see no evidence that average folks care about the Fed as an institution.

    They may well care about TARP, bail-outs, and possibly food and energy price inflation. A very tiny minority of Paulistas and Ls may actually find it a major issue as an institution, but given its “confusing” nature, the Fed as institution simply hasn’t risen to the level of, say, the budget deficit or even abortion. Bailouts are a major issue. The price of gas is a major issue. Heck, how Sarah Palin is wearing her hair this week is a major issue!

    For the Fed as an institution to become a major issue, a plausible path to change would need to presented. Auditing the Fed is one thing. Ending it another. There would need to be the beginnings of major adoption of a plan to end the Fed that was receiving widespread acceptance in both the intellectual class and in the general population. I see no evidence that either audience wants to end the Fed except for very tiny minorities.

    Could that change? Yes, but it would take a coalescing event, like, say, a collapse of the dollar. Carter-style stagflation, 2x. Wheelbarrows for a loaf of bread. Food lines. Depression-era UE. Short of those sorts of developments, end the Fed is unlikely to gain widespread traction.

    My estimation is that, yes, there has been a tiny bit of movement of the “Fed issue”…it was a way-out fringe issue, now it’s just a fringe issue. If you have proof that it’s more than that, present it, and not just your anecdotes of people you meet. People have short attention spans has been my experience, and they will often nod in agreement with a fringe zealot in order to get away from them. They may even somewhat agree with the zealot, but that doesn’t mean that the zealot has gained another member of the cadre. It’s more likely people will go on about their lives than to become super-charged activitists for the fringe position. Surely you see that?

  102. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob @ 121,

    “For the Fed as an institution to become a major issue, a plausible path to change would need to presented.”

    Really? What makes you think that?

  103. Fun K. Chicken

    Going back to 84…

    “Direct action is only limited by the imagination, but it involves risk – and I know how most suburban middle-class middle-age libertarians desperately seeking approval by their peers feel about risk. Any risk is unacceptable in the pursuit of freedom.”

    There does seem to be a culture of inactivity among a lot of Libertarian Party members, and I think that that is one of the reasons why the Libertarian Party hasn’t gotten further ahead.

    Here’s an example……….

    Everyone seems to have been caught up in the example rather than the larger issue.

  104. Robert Capozzi

    tk122, in my experience, no one likes a whiner. If someone whines, saying, X is unfair or X is dysfunctional, the obvious response is: OK, I hear you, what do you propose to do about it?

    Purposeless whining for whining’s sake with no plausible agenda is unsolvable.

  105. paulie Post author

    So, we can’t whine about ending the war or the drug war or social (in)security or whatever, we have to come up with what will replace those too, yes?

  106. Robert Capozzi

    126, ending a war seems straightforward, so, no, not IMO. Ending the drug war seems a less discrete problem, as it’s a matter that involves a number of issues, like public safety and ringfencing children to the extent possible. Similarly, ending SS and replacing it with nothing — going cold turkey — seems unlikely to gain many adherents.

    So, one CAN whine about whatever one wants to! I’m in favor of free speech!

    The question for me is: Are we interested in achieving results, or do we just want to whine because it makes us feel good (temporarily)?

    If we want to be effective, some evaluation is required.

  107. paulie Post author

    The short term goal we are going for are connecting with issues that connect us with other people that care about those issues. That has potential here.

    The long term result – actual policy change, in any area – becomes plausible only when we have made a great deal of progress in the short term goal.

    Thus, it’s a good issue to focus on more. The larger point about the culture of inactivity is a very good one as well. It seems that anxiety about what actions to take ties us in knots way too much. Do a few things, see what works, do more of it.

  108. Robert Capozzi

    p128: The short term goal we are going for are connecting with issues that connect us with other people that care about those issues. That has potential here.

    me: I’m down with connecting with people. If the connection becomes too hyperbolic, e.g., legalize heroin vs. legalize/decriminalize herb, the hyperbole might work with one narrow constituency but alienate another constituency. This is why politics and politicians are generally a moderating force. It’s exasperating, I know, for one wants to shout from the rooftops about the full implications of a free society. Paradoxically, perhaps, passionately exclaiming these full-blown virtues could well sabotage steps in the direction of a more peaceful configuration.

  109. paulie Post author

    I don’t think “end the fed” alienates too many people anymore, and we are a long way from where such concerns become a problem. Job one is to rise above background noise level.

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