Good analysis. I'm a federal worker (and a veteran) as are about 25% of the 2.2 million federal workers. Just to state it up front so you know I have a selfish interest in this...
I am not familiar with how each state is doing their plans but in Louisiana 80% sounds about right. However the salaries are considerably lower than the federal rates. For example a teacher who works 30 years in Louisiana collects about 25K a year for life and the average annual pay for teachers is 40K.
To try to answer a couple of your questions I'd say more is bad - from the federal side we need badly to go back to numbers of the 1980's. There are a couple of ways to do this: (1) first cut the Senior Executive Service in half (political appts with no union protection) (2) change regulations so that required grade for levels of responsibility is lowered by one grade (3) Put a five year plan (sounds communist I know) in place that reduces the number of federal positions by at least a third across all departments (4) plan for a second five year look that cuts another 25% of positions
This could be done through attrition and some reorganizations and would force the politicians to decide which departments were more necessary if the cuts were too much.
There is a fifth step which although I wouldn't like it might be helpful and that would be to cap ALL federal/state entitlements for five years with no Cost of living increases. But not pay cuts - over five years the private sector averages would rise and govt wages stay static. But I would only advocate this one if all entitlements (social security, medicare, welfare, etc.) were frozen for the same five year period.
No good answer as to how to stop the unions from doing what they do but if the number of workers is reduced the amount of money they have to peddle influence would drop.
"Are these hugely expensive pension plans necessary to get and keep good employees?" I would say they are not needed but think those are more at the state levels (have seen some in Ca mentioned in other stories). The fed pension bases its retirement on the average of the last three years of service. Someone who does 30 years federal civil service and makes 65K the last three years (which is usually the same unless they promote to a different grade) will get roughly 25K a year the rest of their life. They do match up to 5% for 401K plans which is not counted in the retirement equation. But 80% for federal? just cannot find an example and that is why I think that is for some states.
The politician.. check that... leader who can successfully get the majority of Americans on board that some shared sacrifices are needed to get the deficit and entitlement spending and future growth under control will be the one who can get us out of the mess we are in. Sacrifice is a dirty word and needs to be explained in terms such as you talked about with Rep Ryan's suggestions about some entitlement reform.
To control the state levels we need leadership that refuses to bail out any states -- let the state citizens make the choices of what should and should not be budgeted for.Comment Posted By Brad On 23.02.2010 @ 17:20
Good points all. In my opinion one of the regrettable things about the internet and 24 hour news cycle is that it has made us a nation of shallow people making decisions on terribly thin information.Comment Posted By Brad On 19.02.2010 @ 17:25
I am only 50 but grew up in a time when we would spend many of our summer vacation days going to the library, checking out a bunch of books and then hanging out reading them all.
In the past year I've made a conscious change in that I force myself to read a book a week as well as subscribe to Foreign Affairs just to get serious background on weighty topics.
As for which books the President has I agree that there is no need for hysterics. I can remember my brother and I in college when we discovered Ayn Rand. I spent a full week day and night tearing through that book. At the time we were sold on the ideas she had. 30 years later his experiences have led him to be fairly liberal as far as social ideas but he still is as conservative as it gets in his day to day lifestyle. Me, I went to a pretty conservative bent on all issues until after the 2000 election. At that point I began to reassess what my sources of information were and why I couldn't question some aspects of conservatives. It caused me to get back into reading diverse works and I think I am better for it. Guess I'd call myself a full fledged moderate.
"I wish people would stop even joking about Romney or Plain in 2012."
I think Palin will run out of steam by 2012 as well as the realization she cannot get the big money backing she will need for a serious campaign.
Romney may run but at least he brings a good voice to the primaries about economic matters which is good for all the aspiring nominees.Comment Posted By Brad On 15.02.2010 @ 18:15
He did do well with the interview. If he is seriously considering a run he is doing it the smart way; set up a PAC, stay low key, accept tough interviews, and quietly build up his network and big money sponsors.Comment Posted By Brad On 15.02.2010 @ 18:11
Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Strange evolution in the comments relative to the subject. Ryan's idea is a good one - the problem is that it requires all Americans to be willing to sacrifice a bit. But everyone will come up with a reason that they have sacrificed enough and someone else (evil republicans or evil democrats) needs to give more.Comment Posted By Brad On 13.02.2010 @ 08:21
Richard, I am sorry that 50 years after being called a name it still makes you feel aggrieved. My kids have been called plenty of names due to their mixed race but I tell them that (a) one person does not represent an entire race, party or community (b) get over it because if they let someone's words define them as a person they have ceded the battle and the name caller wins in defining who my kids are
And Richard some of your kin find perfect harmony with whites here in the south when it comes to how they view races that are not black or white. Quite a few democrats as well as republicans in that mix.
The problem with this whole "No your party is more racist than our party" garbage is that if one makes the assumption that each race has roughly its own fair share of bigots (say 5%) then simple math will show the white bigots clearly outnumber black bigots because there are more whites NOT because any race is more or less than the next. But to acknowledge this causes the ones making ridiculous points to cede that (a) there are racist people in their party of choice (b) the taunts about one party being the party of racists doesn't meet the laugh test
Nice analysis. Palin is a difficult person to discuss with her admirers. To me the bottom line is why replace one amateur with another. It is her lack of depth that turns me off.Comment Posted By brad On 10.02.2010 @ 20:24
I think in the end she will choose not to run. Primarily because I think the people with the money to back a presidential run won't see her as a good bet.
I've given up on trying to discuss her on some sites. Hotair in particular and Patterico to some degree have too many posters who meet legitimate criticism with "As compared to Obama you libtard" or other such meaningful retorts....
The RNC desperately needs someone who can lay it out like you Rick. Once again another excellent analysis.Comment Posted By Brad On 30.01.2010 @ 13:25
Keep on writing Rick. Thoroughly enjoy your writings because I do have to think to get through them. You can separate the different elements of an issue very well and make your case. Wish there were more people interested in spending more than 30 seconds perusing something and claiming they have a sound opinion on the latest subject.Comment Posted By Brad On 22.11.2009 @ 18:56
"Why don’t you give credit where credit is due?"
I agree with you about Noonan. The bitter hard partisans on the left and right just can't tolerate dissent in any form unless it is in lockstep with their dissent.
Noonan, George Will, Rick and others who have some very good insights are labeled Rino, Cino, and irrelevant. This is too bad and indicates their critics are probably reading the headline/op-ed title and little more.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Rick mention Hayek. More people should read his book. Liberals are not evil, the problem is that liberal ideas eventually need people in power to impose their view on a society. Hayek lays out a nice case without painting liberals as traitors or worse.Comment Posted By Brad On 18.10.2009 @ 06:10
If I was a hard, play to win by any means leftist, Rick Moran would be just the kind of guy I could really get behind and encourage while my group seized control of every institution we could get our hands on. Self censuring, why can’t we all get along opposition is the flip side of the useful idiot coin.Comment Posted By Brad On 5.10.2009 @ 14:22