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January 01, 2006

Comments

Tom Logan

Hey,

Why did you remove that last post by Blog Watcher?

That was a good point he made?

Are you that thin skinned?

gus gomez

This is the same challenged mayor and city attorney who tried to close the center without properly noticing it on the agenda. It's time to replace both, especially the lame city attorney who can't even provide adequate counsel to the City Council.

Gustavo Arellano Groupie

But the Times did include Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano in their "Outside the Tent" 2006 wish list for the Times feature. Specifically, "To begin covering Orange County like the 21st century Ellis Island it is and not like Cudahy."

Tom Logan

Since Lurk deleted his comments I will repost.

The premise of BW's comments on today's OCR o(wh)pining page is the sudden concern for public employee compensation. When everyone was making overnight fortunes in IPO's or just general stock performance no one cared. In fact, civil servants were held with disdain.

Now that 20+% ROI on portfolios isn't the norm Greenhut and others get all huffy about how much people make in the public sector. Instead of believing the private sector should be raised, he believes the other side should be brought down.

And like was pointed out. The $100k civil servant might have been a big deal when Greenhut came here from the midwest. But in OC, that sum barely qualifies you buy a fixer upper. And that is why no one gets too worked up about it.

Tom Logan

And here was a good story missed in today's Roundup.

Taxes Off Target

Miriam Bertram

Tom Logan: "Civil servants" can't be fired, get raises regardless of quality of work and have unbelievable benefits and retirement. Ghee, life is tough for them. Regular folks like the rest of us, don't have that.

Tom, I don't know who you associate with, but we aren't in the 100k salaried category. These folks are way overpaid. And if they don't like their work or compensation, leave and get a real job or start a business. See what it is like to really have to work for your income and try to keep a business afloat. Try to make a payroll.

Tom Logan

I do own a business. And I guess I hang out with people who are doing better than just 'regular' folks.

Miriam Bertram

Tom, good for you on your business and the folks you hang out with, and I do mean that.

But my point was civil servants and their cushy jobs. 100k a year for a job from which one can't be fired.

'Regular' employees have to work to prove they have earned their salaries and business folks, like you, have to work to keep the business going. There is a big difference.

Tom Logan

Well Miriam.

I can only tell you my experiences with civil servants has mostly been very positive. I went to the DMV last year to get my license renewed and take a new picture etc. I made an appointment and was on my way home a 15 min. later. When I hear people bashing a proposed program using the DMV as an example it has the opposite effect on me.

I have had to call both the police (a city PD), and fire (OCFA). And both times I had very prompt courteous and professional service.

I keep reading about the slovenly hostile civil servant and I just haven't had the misfortune of experiencing that aspect.

I sometimes think this is a self fulfilling prophecy by those want to see something regardless of the reality.

And the public sector is soooo appealing, none of my employees who could cross over are leaving. I don't ask why, but working for the govt. must not be all its cracked up to be as depicted in the more hostile writings I peruse from time to time.

Miriam Bertram

Tom: There are people of quality in civil service and low lifes in private sector. I have had bad service from private sector companies and good service from the public.

However, unlike the public sector, I can choose a different entity if I am not satisfied. I have no choice in the public sector and they can't be fired. Their pensions are going to bankrupt us and they still complain. That is my beef with them.

Lurk

The point's to be made also that government workers are in a recession-proof business (perhaps excepting those in defense-related activities). No one at Treasurer-Tax, for example, is worried about private sector competition -- even though the entire Department could EASILY be outsourced and operated by any bank, or title firm, or insurance operation with experience in automation and running backoffice clerical operations.

In fact, the entire operation COULD be outsourced overseas -- is it any more than just a collection of (well-paid, pension-secure) clerical workers sitting in front of computer screens? The same can be asked of other County departments -- excepting the Assessor's hit squad which is searching your backyard for your new pool, isn't this just another collection of clerks pushing paper and pounding keyboards?

I've lost count of the acquisitions, business shutdowns and downturns I've gone through -- government workers don't face the same risks -- their jobs are not only secure, so are the bureaucracies in which they work.

Tom Logan

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

What you view as a gravy train, I view as an entity with limited opportunity.

I look at the quality of life we enjoy in OC, CA, and the US and I don't view govt. with nearly the same enmity as the two of you. Whatever extremes you believe exist will eventually correct themselves. That is the great thing about the marketplace. It will eventually find equilibrium.

Lurk sorry if you have been involved in an unstable working environment. It is the 'free' market after all. It is a dynamic world we now live in. If stability is what you crave, maybe a job in the public sector is what you need.

And I don't worry about assessors snooping into my backyard to search for my new pool. I pulled the proper permits during its construction so they already know about it.

Tom Logan

Apparently there is one new member of government who believes he is underpaid.

New Chief Justice wants a raise.

calwatch

Lurk, do you really want your personal financial and tax information, including your bank account number (on your check), going overseas, beyond the reach of the United States government? Come on.

Lurk

Cal: Personal financial information has been handled by offshore processors for years (I'm in IT for a huge financial services concern-- believe me, I see it daily). Other information is similarly handled -- e.g. X-rays are read in India for cheaper, sometimes speedier diagnoses. There's a firm right in Irvine named Equinox that has over 500 employees in India processing mortgage applications which will contain everything piece of data you'd even need to know about one's personal financial and credit background.

There's nothing new here -- it happens, it's gone on for years, and it will continue (especially when China begins to challenge India for this business).

I'd also NOT presume that your personal data is any safer if it's handled domestically. A Google search will, I believe, find as many or more examples of information mishandling and fraud that's occurred within our boundaries than outside. Outsourcers are more than sensitive to the charge and it's been my experience that security is therefore tighter.

I'm also concerned that government has less fear of security breaches and divulging of sensitive information than the private sector simply because it's harder to investigate, to prosecute and to terminate people. The bureaucracy obscures the risk. Watch what WON'T happen to whoever's found to have leaked the CIA info that Bush is taking heat for now. How many years is Sandy Berger serving for stuffing sensitive documents in his shorts? How much did Hillary suffer for taking FBI files into the White House?

Miriam Bertram

TOM said: "I look at the quality of life we enjoy in OC, CA, and the US and I don't view govt. with nearly the same enmity as the two of you."

I don't attribute the quality of our life to government beneficence. It is indeed the relative freedom from government interference that has allowed our country to be what it is.

Tom Logan

Here is a letter in today's OCR that refutes some of Greenhut's conclusion. Not surprising there were some items missing.

Stats used to reach an incorrect conclusion

Steven Greenhut rails against public-sector employees and their unions, using Bureau of Labor statistics to compare their compensation costs with those in the private sector ["Unspin," Commentary, Jan. 1]. Specifically, he notes that private employers paid workers an average $17.23 per hour in wages, while government workers averaged $24.52. Quite a disparity, until we "unspin" the unspinner.

The explanatory notes included in the BLS report specifically warn that "[a]ggregate compensation cost levels in state and local government should not be directly compared with those in private industry. Differences between these sectors stem from factors such as variation in work activities and occupational structures." As an example of why a direct comparison is not valid, the BLS points out that professional and administrative support occupations (the highest-paid category of worker) account for two-thirds of the state and local government work force, compared with only one-half of private industry.

Comparing similar categories, wages in the professional/administrative category average $42.34 per hour in private industry, against $31.37 in government; private industry sales/office workers average $19.65 an hour, compared with $15.49 for similar government workers.

Joseph Stankowich
Brea

Miriam. I agree that sometimes regulations seem onerous. I don't complying with them in my company at times. But I have travelled around the world and seen what happens in places where there is virtually no govt. or it is corrupt and I don't see any of them as any place I would want to live.

As an example. I grew up in LA during the 60's and remember the frequent smog alerts. Those don't happen as often. And that is because govt. (via the people) pushed for emission controls. Business will not take the lead on something like that. I believe in the free market, but pollution is an example of 'market failure'. There are others I could expound upon, but I have a company to run and have to get back to the business of exploiting the proletariat.

Have a good day.

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