The Wall of Great Distraction

The Greeks are rioting because of government austerity.  They’re tearing up public projects and equipment over cuts in government services. California seeks to avoid similar scenes. But there’s a difference in California, here the most likely rioters are not among people receiving government services but those who are paid to deliver them.

Jerry Brown is set to lay out his “all cuts” budget today.  The word on the street is that this radical budget will slash and burn services.  The Governor is really just trying to rile up the public. He wants to see if he can get the public upset about cuts to government, upset enough to vote for higher taxes.

The GREAT DISTRACTION is this, by selling a cut in services, he hopes to avoid the reality that the union-driven, public employee wages and benefits are the cause of the problem.  The crisis is being billed as too much government when it’s really “too-expensive” employees that are the trouble.  Unions are pushing hard to create a sense of panic around pictures of school children left without teachers, on dirt floors scribbling their times-tables in the dust.

Services are not the issue, nobody I knows feels they are over-served by a state agency. The cost of employees is the issue.  We don’t need fewer teachers, firefighters, or police: we need less expensive teachers, firefighters, and police. We need costs that reflect current economic realities.

The public should not be distracted into agreeing to higher taxes.  Not before salaries and benefits of public employees resemble those of employees in the private sector.

Ultimately the public will make the decision on higher taxes and wages and benefits will be maintained at the cost of thousands of jobs because the weak-kneed politicians do not have the stomach for battling the unions.

The question is will the unions be able to foist the Great Distraction on the general public in a slick ad campaign and thereby convince all us couch potatoes to vote for higher taxes? Perhaps so, we can be cajoled by the media into even talking about providing a new stadium for a pro basketball team at a time when we’re laying off teachers. We’re a stupid lot sometimes.

But I won’t be distracted, will you?  I want cuts, I will not be convinced to vote for taxes or kicking this can down the road one more time.