Commentary by David Cantwell: Who will pay for all these worthy causes?

The Nevada Appeal recently published a column by Eugene Paslov. His main points, are in italics and my disagreement follows.

"Public employees don't make too much money and if they did, that would be relative to the private sector so the solution is for the private sector to pay more."

The author chides those that refer to him as elitist. What else would you call one who knows better than the markets and the people making decisions in them? What sort of person thinks that his educated opinion for increase wages can make for an increase in wages?

"Corporate profits are not a noble objective."

Thank God for profits. The profit motivation has created incredible products and services in the United States. Lest one think that the government has done so, I ask, where did the government get money to fund anything? I dare say from taxing evil profits!

Eliminating public employee bargaining/ job benefits, "women's health" and even PBS will drive good employees away from public sector.

Public employees have been successful at eliminating market forces which would produce fair wages and demand productivity. Yet public employees can go on strike but the taxpayer can't hire others to replace them. This is not fair. I am all for the right to unionize, and bargain any way that one person, or a group wishes. Adults should be free to choose what they do with their labor and how. But once you take away another's right to pursue alternative solutions, it becomes unfair. Would the author dare give me examples of great efficiency and productivity in the public sector? There are none and this is why.

Cutting university budgets prevents students from their shot at the American dream.

This is a non sequitur. So, the taxpayer should pay whatever is asked of them? Oops. That is why we are here. We have overpromised ourselves all sorts of goodies without the money to pay for it. And if you think we're short of money now, try destroying the incentive for profit through higher and higher taxes. If we do that we'll have even less money to redistribute.

Meritocracy means that better educated public employees should be paid more than those than the less educated in the private sector.

Only an elitist could conclude this. A free market, allowed to function through a group of adults (educated or not), all acting in their self interest will end up with wages and profits that are fair to everyone. This is because resources are allocated by choice, not mandate. Good things are rewarded, bad things are not. Even the smartest of all elitist can't control or even monitor market signals effectively.

In conclusion for as much as it's nice to want to mandate higher wages and distribute lots of money to various worthy causes, it doesn't work when you ask someone else to pay for it. If I understand the position of the author, it's a wicked irony that the very policies he espouses hurt those he wishes to help.

• David Y. Cantwell is an executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, an international commercial real estate firm. He lives in Genoa.


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