Given the sad state of economic illiteracy in the US, it is not surprising to find many supporters of union parasites even among non-union workers. However, I am surprised to find rampant inability to think clearly even from long-time readers of this blog.

Here are a few comments all in response to 4-Day School Weeks Coming To Illinois.

Boss: Why should teachers make less than bankers or traders?

Eric
: What does “should” have to do with anything? Why “should” a day-care worker make less than a teacher? Why “should” public workers have guaranteed raises when no one else does? Why “should” a teacher’s salary be above the median for a city when it’s those median workers who have to pay it?

Mish: Eric has it correct. People should get paid what the free market is willing to pay. No more no less. This inevitably brings up ridiculous comments about bank bailouts and CEO pay. Well in a free market banks would not have been bailed out, and in a free market interest rates would be set by the market, not by a group of clowns acting on behalf of the already wealthy.

A free market and corporate fascism are not the same thing. No one has railed against bailouts more than I.

More importantly, two wrongs do not make a right. It is idiotic to claim that teachers deserve this or that because CEOs are ridiculously overpaid or firemen make more. I am sick of such logic and I am also sick of statements about tinytown USA as if unions are not a problem because they are not a problem “everywhere”.

Yes, I know there are good teachers. In fact I am sure the majority of them are. Yet, people have a career choice and they should make it and they should live within their means. If that means they cannot afford 4 kids and a dog in suburbia, then that is their choice. Taxpayers should not have to pony up the difference.

Moreover, and as I have said many times, it is not what one makes it is how far the dollar goes. I have repeatedly attacked government waste, military spending at insane levels (I would slash $500 billion off military spending in a heartbeat if it was up to me). The US dollar would soar if we cut out waste, and the best way to cut out waste is to get rid of union parasites and ridiculous government overhead. Entire departments can be discarded and among them are HUD, Fannie Mae, the department of education, the department of energy, and the department of agriculture, including agricultural subsidies.

Black Swan: Good grief, Mish. All of the US is not New Jersey or Illinois. In fact, most of America is not like the very rich town you live in. Teachers don’t make squat here in North Carolina. Many teachers have to take second jobs just to survive. I know of no teachers who can support a family of three without a working spouse. My wife makes less as a NC elementary school principal, with 25 yrs and an MA, than she did as a teacher in Colorado. She makes 50% less as an elementary school principal here than she did in Colorado. The average teacher in NJ and Illinois makes 35% more than the average NC teacher. All states are not created equal. I doubt you could survive on the average NC teacher’s pension.

Your generalizations are borderline canards. Your disdain for for the people who work in public service has killed any semblance of what once may have passed for objectivity and replaced it with propaganda. Your blanket statements smother the truth.

Mish: Good grief indeed. Public unions are a problem everywhere. That is a simple statement of fact. Unions prevent dismissal of inept workers, base pay on seniority rather than skills, and in general public union pay and benefits far exceeds that of the private sector. It is virtually impossible to get rid of horrendous teachers if they have tenure.

It is a statement of fact, not conjecture that public unions have bankrupt cities, counties, municipalities and states.

Black Swan makes case that this problem is not big “everywhere”. So what? The problem big or small is everywhere and the result is bankrupt cities.

No one owes teachers a living anymore than java programmers are owed a living or trinket sellers on Ebay are owed a living. In a free market system I can guarantee you the best teachers would get hired and have a job. If your wife is skilled and motivated, I bet she would make more with private eduction.

Moreover, if government would stop wasting money on administration and absurd programs like “No Child Left Behind”, dollars would go father.

Finally, public servants are supposed to serve. I am damn sick and tired of public servants begging to be served by higher taxes from taxpayers. That statement applies equally to both the union and to the school administrators.

Black Swan it is you, not me that needs to understand the real world. In the real world public unions are an enormous problem no matter how much you want to bury your head in the sand blaming bank CEOs for every problem.

Bank risk taking was a problem but the bigger problem looking ahead is a $3 trillion problem of pension promises that cannot possibly be paid thanks to corrupt politicians buying union votes. You are biased by the fact your wife is a teacher in a public union. Get a grip on reality please. Assuming she is dedicated and skilled, she would be better off outside the grips of union parasites you defend.

Hari Seldon: The average NC teachers salary of $43,000 a year would allow you to live a modest life here is the rural south. In fact, I have spent some time on business in Western North Carolina over the years, Hickory & Valdese, and from what I have seen there, you could own a home and raise 2 kids as a single parent on $43,000 per year. If your spouse worked, you would be in the top 10% of incomes in the area. In addition to their pay, I suspect public school teachers have medical insurance, some retirement, and much better job security than the textile workers who once made up those towns. Now if you are talking Winston – Salem or the outer banks, obviously not so much.

Mish: Hmmm. It seems that one person at least thinks teacher pay in NC is not a serious problem.

Evad: There is a lot of talk of privatization as a means to reduce cost. I really would like to see actual examples of success that span more than 5 years. Make a believer out of me. I’m an engineer, I will listen to reason.

Hari Seldon: I am certainly for smaller and limited government, but even I blanch at the idea of privatizing prisons.

Tin Hat: The calls to mass privatization is indeed a call for more Crony Capitalism. It give the corporatists more power and more control. Lovely. Privatized war isn’t so cost effective, I can’t see how a privatized penal system would be any different. The US rates #1 in numbers of incarcerated persons per 100,000. Is growth for profit here a good thing?

Mish: Of all the poorly thought out comments, the one from Tin Hat, normally a clear thinker is the one that is most bothersome.

It is crony capitalism that sponsors unions. Unions are in bed with politicians who buy votes. Other politicians are afraid to stand up to union thugs. Union thugs pad nearly every school board in the country, all whining for higher taxes for the kids.

Instead the higher taxes go into public paid union dues, and new administration buildings. The union dues are used in election rigging to buy votes for those politicians who will support the union. Thus, public unions are the very height of crony capitalism.

Tin Hat (with similar support from Harry and Evad) says “The US rates #1 in numbers of incarcerated persons per 100,000. Is growth for profit here a good thing?

Tin Hat, do you know who the biggest campaigner for the 3 strikes rule in California was? Take a guess. It should not take too much thinking to figure it out.

Here’s the answer: The prison union. Indeed the prison union poured millions into the campaign for the three strikes law. So in spite of all this absurd talk that privatizing prisons would increase incarceration, in actual practice public unions are responsible for increasing incarceration.

Teachers Unions: The Child Molester’s Best Friend

L.A. Unified pays teachers not to teach

Every school day, Kim’s shift begins at 7:50 a.m., with 30 minutes for lunch, and ends when the bell at his old campus rings at 3:20 p.m. He is to take off all breaks, school vacations and holidays, per a district agreement with the teacher’s union. At no time is he to be given any work by the district or show up at school.

He has never missed a paycheck.

In the jargon of the school district, Kim is being “housed” while his fitness to teach is under review. A special education teacher, he was removed from Grant High School in Van Nuys and assigned to a district office in 2002 after the school board voted to fire him for allegedly harassing teenage students and colleagues. In the meantime, the district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs.

Last week, Kim was ordered to continue this daily routine at home. District officials said the offices for “housed” employees were becoming too crowded.

About 160 teachers and other staff sit idly in buildings scattered around the sprawling district, waiting for allegations of misconduct to be resolved.

The housed are accused, among other things, of sexual contact with students, harassment, theft or drug possession. Nearly all are being paid. All told, they collect about $10 million in salaries per year — even as the district is contemplating widespread layoffs of teachers because of a financial shortfall.

“It’s a glaring example of how hard it is to remove someone from the classroom and how the process is tilted toward teachers,” said school board member Marlene Canter, who recently proposed — unsuccessfully — to revamp the disciplinary process.

Exiled Queens teacher on payroll despite knocking up student

At the beginning of his 32-year career as a math teacher in Queens, Francisco Olivares allegedly im pregnated and married a 16-year-old girl he had met when she was a 13-year-old student at his Corona junior high, IS 61, The Post learned.

He sexually molested two 12-year-old pupils a decade later and another student four years after that, the city Department of Education charged.

But none of it kept Olivares, 60, from collecting his $94,154 salary.

He hasn’t set foot in a classroom in seven years since beating criminal and disciplinary charges. Chancellor Joel Klein keeps Olivares in a “rubber room,” a district office where teachers accused of misconduct sit all day with nothing to do.

Last week, The Post reported that typing teacher Alan Rosenfeld, 64, was banned from the classroom in 2001 for allegedly making lewd comments to and leering at girls at IS 347 in Queens. Raking in $100,049 a year, he has spent time in a Brooklyn rubber room working on his law practice and overseeing more than $7 million in real-estate investments.

Olivares has an even worse record. The Queens district attorney charged him with abusing two 12-year-old students in school, one in December 1988 and the other a month later.

He showed one girl porn pictures and photographed her in suggestive poses with her pants down, the DA charged. Another accused him of rubbing against her from behind.

A jury found him guilty, but his conviction was reversed on appeal on technicalities. The DOE held an administrative trial on the charges, but a panel of arbitrators voted 2-1 in favor of Olivares. They sent him back to IS 61.

The above links courtesy of Teachers Unions: The Child Molester’s Best Friend

While many pubic sector jobs have some intrinsic value, such as police, firemen, public works, and yes, teachers, the unions have created a system in which those who should be terminated can’t be. Not with increasingly absurd legal hoops to be jumped through that the unions keep demanding and effecting. This leads to the worst kind of corruption and waste at a time when the nation’s states and federal government are drowning in unsustainable debts and a coming tidal wave of unfunded mandates.

When the government protects and pays criminals with our tax dollars, it’s time for some real change.

Enlightened Comments

KC: $41k isn’t bad considering teachers days off. summer vacation, holidays, etc. $41k is equivalent to about $52k if they worked 240 days a year. Then add full pension and healthcare. Sounds like teachers are doing OK to me.

FatBeard: Mish is correct with regard to administrators. What need is there for a huge number of administrators in a school? When I went to school, the number of teachers was several times the size of the number of administrators.

Out society has become one of busy workers who make “work” for each other. A free society would engage in only profitable work of which there is an endless supply.

Unit472: I’m hoping some school district will just dissolve themselves. We can apportion the revenues to parents as education vouchers and lease out or sell their buildings and grounds. Let’s face it, the public schools in far too many places have become mediocrities at best or, in the worst cases, cauldrons of social decay and academic failure. They should be privatized.

A Practical Example

Evad says “There is a lot of talk of privatization as a means to reduce cost. I really would like to see actual examples of success that span more than 5 years. Make a believer out of me. I’m an engineer, I will listen to reason.

Fair enough. The Private sector already handles over 75 percent of nation’s garbage collection.

Over the first 15 years of Phoenix’s competition program, the inflation-adjusted costs of solid waste collection declined by 38 percent citywide. Charlotte realized savings of $14 million over the first five years of its program, and a 2007 study of 15 North Carolina cities found that Charlotte’s collection costs per ton of garbage were 35 percent less than the statewide average. A large body of research has revealed that such savings figures are typical, with savings ranging from 20 to 60 percent.

A 2007 Ontario Waste Management Association study estimated that the city of Toronto could save at least $10 million a year by contracting out residential waste and recycling collection. The report also notes that private sector waste companies in the area provide the same service for about 20 percent less than the public sector, and that the average private sector waste collection worker is more than twice as productive as the average city of Toronto worker.

There is every reason to believe we would see similar cost reduction by privatizing prison guards and fire departments. In regards to teaching, poor teachers would be weeded out and the quality of education rise if we went on a voucher system where parents could shop alternatives instead of being stuck with whatever garbage the public union system throws at us.

Tin Hat, Evad, Boss, Black Swan, Hari: It should not take a genius to figure this out.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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