“Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.” — Margaret Thatcher, May 4, 1979.
Multiple reports suggest Andy Stern will be leaving his job as head of the politically powerful SEIU. The union, which represents healthcare and public employees, was instrumental in passing healthcare reform. In other words, he has contributed in two ways to America’s fiscal woes. First, health reform may prove a budget fiasco since its tax hikes and spending cuts were used to expand coverage rather than cut the budget deficit. Second, fat pay and benefit packages for public sector unions are a big reason so many states like California have long-term fiscal woes. As this David Feddoso story found:
Wow (from the Boston Globe):
Iraq is now considered a safer bet than Argentina, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Dubai — and is nearly on par with the State of California, according to Bloomberg statistics on credit default swaps, which are considered a raw indicator of default risk.
Looks like British civil servants are striking over budget plans to cap severance pay (via Clusterstock). A sign of things to come in the United States, where tight government budgets are going to force spending cuts and layoffs. The dissatisfaction over American education plays into this, too. The political impact of this will be fascinating since the public employee unions may be the most important Democratic interest group.
As welfare was for Bill Clinton, education could be for Barack Obama — an issue that shows independence from his liberal base and allows for compromise with Republicans. Obama’s decision to support the authorities at the poorly performing Rhode Island school that fired its entire faculty has enraged teachers unions, as this NYTimes story documents. But it is hard to argue with the president’s reasoning: “If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn’t show signs of improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of accountability.”
This USA Today story has the kind of numbers that stick with people:
Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist in both government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available. These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.