Other voices: Change you can count on
Fall is in the air, the nights are cooler and the beautiful shadows have come out of hiding for yet another season.
This year also comes with the dreaded campaign season when all the politicians are out in full regalia trying to convince you and I that they are the greatest. Each has a story to tell that the other folks got it wrong and they, of course, have all the right answers.
The truth lies with you and I as we are living not in a bubble but the real world. The world that has brought 12 percent unemployment to the great golden state. The world that has brought millions of home foreclosures, shuttered many small and large companies and lost 401K investments that in all likelihood will take another five years to make you and I whole again. We are and will recover and be stronger for the experience.
Our politicians in Sacramento seem to think it is business as usual. One side wants to raise taxes, while the other side wants to reduce services to the taxpayers. I don’t hear either side wanting to cut the cost of government by looking in their own closet.
We need wage and pension reform before we even think about cutting service or raising taxes. That where you and I come in, since Sacramento can’t cope, we need to have a voter initiative to curb wages and pension runaways. In a recent report we find that if a government employee makes $100K a year in salaries and benefits the average for the same job in the private sector is only $60K per year. When you look at those numbers you get the feeling that the tail is wagging the dog.
A voter initiative should include five-year wage freezes for all employees, including our elected officials who have neglected to do the job they are well paid to do. A 10 percent wage reduction for all. A 5 percent increase in employee contributions for their benefits package. Increase the retirement age to 62 just like the real world, instead of 50 for many who work for the state.
No more wage spiking during the last year so we can rip off the taxpayers yet again. No more filling the gap for the retirement systems such as CalPERS. This year alone it cost you and I $600 million because the retirement investments didn’t reach a normal rate of return. My 401K investments didn’t meet my normal rate of return and I am still waiting for the tooth fairy to make up the difference.
As you can see we have some real structural issues that our folks in Sacramento ignore while the deficit climbs to over $19 billion this year and our bond status is the lowest of all 50 states in our great country. Forty percent of our legislation is written by special interest folks and the unions pack the campaign coffers of our elected officials and then in public openly threaten to see that they are turned out in November if the unions don’t get what they want. It looks like and feels like our folks in Sacramento don’t have a clue.
You and I can provide the change needed in Sacramento by restoring a government of the people, by the people, and for the people instead of the mess we have now. Remember you make 60 cents and the government employee makes $1 and we wonder why we are $19 billion in the whole this year if we ever get a budget.
Jake Bronson lives in Nevada City.
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