Spending out of hand
This is the second time I find myself indebted to letter-writer Bill Hamilton. A couple of weeks ago in this space I criticized Douglas County’s economic vitality project – an elaborate, partially tax-funded undertaking to identify future economic opportunities for the county. My concern was that the project’s splashy kickoff might be a pre-election distraction from a lack of more immediate measures that would get government out of the way of private sector prosperity growth.
In his letter challenging my analysis of Douglas County’s non-essential service sector compensation, Mr. Hamilton mentioned that the law mandates some recreation services. This is the political version of Stockholm syndrome in which politicians pass laws and ordinances that protect the jobs of the public sector employees who work with and lobby them. This, and the overall growth of government salary levels, leads us down the road California has been following to financial ruin.
Today’s (Oct. 19) Wall Street Journal identifies spiraling public sector salaries being fed by unsustainable tax increases as a problem California’s next governor will inherit. The tea party movement gives taxpayers an organizational counterweight that has proven effective in getting politicians’ attention.
Log onto the Douglas County jobs site on TransparentNevada and scroll through the seven pages of 600 plus job listings. You’ll see for yourself the sheer size of Douglas County’s public salary superstructure. The top jobs pay just below $200,000 per year and don’t drop below $50,000 until the top of page five. Most of this cost is born by taxes and fees extracted from a dwindling number of county job creators.
A series of stories about outsized local government salaries, most recently one by Geoff Dornan in the September Nevada Appeal citing US Census data, shows where the next political hunting ground for taxpayer hearts and minds will tale place. Feisty tea partiers are about to collect some tax-and-spend politicians’ scalps this election, not a few of them RINOs. Mr. Hamilton’s plucky ciphering is likely to be swamped as the grassroots fiscal revolt rolls down-ticket.