(Lynn Muzzy) – Readers following the Nevada budget gap debate have seen the argument that Nevada’s taxes and spending are lower, per capita, than other states, implying Nevada should tax and spend more. The corollary to this is that the budget for county or city “A” is proper because it’s in line with what county or city “B” is spending. So, you know, Billie gets a BB gun because the neighbor kid got one.
The fact is, public budgets are artificial political constructs, completely divorced from real world economics. Comparing one to another is a fraud.
The labor market tells us that, even with furloughs and benefit cuts, public employee compensation packages are still very rich compared to the private sector. A contributor to the letters page recently argued that many government workers earn more than private sector employees because they’re highly educated.
Yes, but not just the highly educated. Folks who have lost their private sector jobs, or are afraid they might lose them, apply for public sector jobs because they may enjoy a lifetime salary and benefit differential of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Political analyst Chuck Muth reports that public employee lobbying groups have been flooding Nevada’s special legislative session called by Gov. Gibbons to address the budget shortfall. These groups exist to cozy up with legislators who resist budget cuts and favor tax increases, obtaining political insulation for public sector jobs and compensation packages from the rough and tumble world of free market economics. They’re pouring on the coal right now to protect their lifetime job entitlements.
But, the laws of economics are as immutable as the laws of gravity. Raising taxes on a shrinking tax base is like filling a leaky swimming pool by moving water from the shallow end to the deep end.
This road terminates in California, where they’ve discovered that tax-and-spend isn’t a perpetual motion machine. There is also the issue of economic justice; taxes always trickle down to those without the economic power to avoid them, and there’s the rub. The small business owners and individual taxpayers don’t have a pressure group running political interference for them.
Hard working public sector employees who resent the PR splashback from the politics being committed in their names should blame their lobbyists. Private sector taxpayers resent being treated like worker bees whose confiscated earnings exist to service the public hive. You may be giving the public a lot of value for what you’re being paid, but your customers are being forced to do business with you.
Speaking of which, as Obama’s chief of staff once said, “let’s not waste this budget crisis.”
As of 2008, Douglas County was paying a recreation manager $86,000. It’s time taxpayers quit paying for recreation and other frivolous services. And which smart politician will step up and ask why Minden suddenly needs a six-figure town manager? So far, Gov. Gibbons seems to be the only one sticking up for the little guys that pay the freight.
(Lynn Muzzy lives in Minden, Nevada)