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Shrinking Government and Seeing a Shrink

August 18th, 2014 - 3:38 pm

The National Treasury Employees Union has a PDF document on its website which shows why any attempt to shrink the government is foredoomed.  ”The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) is an independent labor union representing approximately 150,000 employees of 30 agencies of the United States government. The union specializes in representation of non-supervisory federal employees in every classification and pay level in civilian agencies.”

The document urges NTEU members to oppose a list of “bad bills” now before congress. Here is the list of “bad bills” verbatim.

LEGISLATION PROPOSING REDUCTIONS IN PAY, BENEFITS AND THE SIZE OF THE WORKFORCE

  • H.R. 243 (Ross, R-Fla.) would extend the freeze on federal employee pay through the end of calendar year 2015 and  would require deep cuts in the federal workforce.
  • H.Con. Res. 96 (Ryan, R-Wis.) The House Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2015 contains $125 billion in cuts to federal retirement programs. It would require federal employees to contribute close to 6% more toward their retirement, would limit agencies to hiring only one employee for every three that leave, end the FERS supplement and phase out the defined benefit annuity portion of the federal retirement system, leaving only TSP. Would eliminate repayment by government of student loans for federal employees.
  • H.R. 1780 (Camp, R-Mich.) would require most federal employees to leave the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and instead join health plans established under the Affordable Care Act.
  • H.R. 237 (Marino, R-Pa.) would impose a hiring freeze on the federal government until the budget deficit has been eliminated.
  • H.R. 824 (Lummis, R-Wyo.) would require that the total number of federal employees does not exceed a maximum number spelled out in the legislation for each quarter of each calendar year. Reductions in the number of federal employees, if required, would be made through attrition and a freeze on hiring.
  • H.R. 1541 (Meadows, R-N.C.) would place limitations on the amount of awards or other discretionary monetary payments that can be paid to federal employees.

LEGISLATION ON OTHER KEY TOPICS

  • H.R. 107 and S. 785 (Gingrey, R-Ga. and Paul, R-Ky.) would repeal provisions of law that authorize the use of official time for union activity.
  • H.R. 249 and S. 1045 (Chaffetz, R-Utah and Coburn, R-Okla) would require the federal government to fire federal workers who fall behind in paying their taxes.
  • H.R. 2679 (Gardner, R-Colo.) would prohibit collective bargaining at the IRS.
  • H.R. 2557 (Johnson, R-Texas) would make imprisonment mandatory for unauthorized inspection or disclosure of tax return information.
  • H.R. 3139 (Duffy, R-Wis.) would abolish the NTEU-represented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and replace it with an agency with inferior pay and benefits.

As can be seen, the “bad bills” are exclusive authored by the Republicans, who are causing gridlock in Washington.

Clearly reformers can reduce the size of Washington to any degree they like provided that they don’t. This is what is called the “ratchet”.  Spending goes only one way– up. And votes from the NTEU probably go only one way as well.  It doesn’t matter how much the administration messes up the world or the economy. It doesnt matter how often Kareem Jabbar notes that the real issue facing black America is the lack of money.  They’ll vote for the “good guys” and never the bad guys.

Avik Roy at Forbes describes why he feels that Obamacare is unrepealable. Once a government program starts sending out tax credits or welfare checks it is more firmly enshrined than the US constitution.

Imagine this scenario: The Republican presidential contenders spend 2015 and 2016 competing with each other to see who can denounce Obamacare—and pledge to repeal it—in the most full-throated terms. If you thought Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment was bad in 2012, wait until Hillary runs ads aimed at the tens of millions of voters whose health coverage would be disrupted by repeal.

Once the gravy train gets rolling you can’t stop it. You can try to get out of the way. Recently, Martha Rosenberg at BillMoyers.com denounced the unpatriotic flight of medical innovation and pharmaceutical companies from the US.

It’s called “inversion” — US corporations reincorporating in countries like Britain, Ireland or the Netherlands to duck US taxes, often by merging with a European entity. …

As safety questions about medical devices continue to surface — and some are replaced and withdrawn from the market — “Big Device” companies are starting to look a lot like Big Pharma. So, it is no surprise that along with AbbVie — and the drug companies Mylan, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Actavis and Endo – the device maker Medtronic is enacting a tax inversion and fleeing to Europe.

This summer, the Minneapolis-based medical device-manufacturer announced it was buying device-maker Covidien PLC which is “headquartered” in Massachusetts but is “domiciled” in Ireland.

It never occurs to Rosenberg that they’re running away from people like her and Bill Moyers.

Perhaps this explains where there is so much antipathy towards the Ferguson police force in public opinion. With the police in cammies and riding armored vehicles, they look a little too much like an occupying army for comfort. In too many people’s minds the government has turned from being the servant to the master. It’s understandable to see why some might think that.

The only thing that will stop the NTEU is what stopped Detroit. Running out of money. And maybe not even then.


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Top Rated Comments   
Ah! Yes the ratchet. Something all too familiar to those of us on the other side of the Atlantic. The entire Leftist agenda is the protection and operation of this mechanism of control of the incremental extension of state power into ever more areas of human life. The centralizing fetishists dream of micromanaging every facet of the life of complete strangers in a way they would never tolerate if they thought it would be equally applied to themselves.

The powerhouse for this is the toxic combination of public sector unions and the politicians they fund and support using the taxpayers money to do it. Top cover is provided by a broadcast media that is not only selectively blind but actively deceiving. Fodder is provided by a school system that churns out a steady stream of young people indoctrinated in green tinged leftist ideology and bereft of the ability to think in a logical, critical or independent fashion. For those not content with a life full of 9 to 5, Kardashians, Playstation and getting wrecked over the weekend there is higher education. An exorbitantly priced chance to be even further mired in both debt and leftist ideology and come out at the end of it with a credential that entitles you to a position flipping burgers if you can beat out the other 3000 applicants for the post. For a select few with the right political or better yet family connections there is the chance to join the elite caste of the clerisy, those who will get rich by sucking the lifeblood from the rest of us.

A sort of political Mr Creosote if you will, stuffed full of evermore morsels, tit bits and wafers till it can hold no more. Let that picture sit in your mind for a while.

The thing about ratchets though is the tension and stress that builds up, not only at the primary area the ratchet is working but elsewhere in the system. Every additional turn and bite of the tooth takes extra effort. We tend to think that those teeth are both indestructible and inevitable. They are not. The left knows this, hence the narrative, the fiction that must be maintained at all costs. The gap between reality and this fiction grows ever wider with time.

What happens when a tooth breaks or the gear wheel slips and results in a spectacular failure that cannot be hidden, covered up or ignored. You have a whole raft of examples before you. As the good Professor Reynolds is forever saying "Something that cannot go on forever, wont!".

Do not despair, it might seem that Obama and his evil minions (or puppeteers depending on your theory de jour) are coated in teflon and that they are immune from both criticism and the consequences of their actions. They are not. God is not mocked, that which ye sow, so shall ye reap. The truth will out....eventually, pigeons come home to roost and even the most devoted leftist acolyte surveying the wreckage wrought by this ship of fools will become discouraged.

Remember that you go into battle with the army you have, not the one you wish for. Your weak kneed Republican reps and senators can be cajoled and bullied into doing the right thing if enough pressure is applied to them. Something you cannot do to the Dems. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Get out and vote, get your friends, neighbours and relatives to vote. Volunteer to be a poll watcher, especially if you are 250lb linebacker, lumberjack or trucker.

I want my old friend back, the proud, exuberant, friendly, fun, adventurous, generous and optimistic friend that worked hard and played hard. The one that stood firm with his friends and was unflinching in the face of those who would be foes. Not the brow beaten, depressed, confused, sluggish and deeply unhappy friend that now pertains.

I talk to enough of you on a daily basis to know that you are all still there. Time to get off your knees! The whole planet needs you back.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charles, with all due respect.....

Fracking will save us?

Nope. This is a great theory, and I would love to believe in that theory but in the end it won't work. Because of math.

While energy is the most important commodity, it isn't the only one which makes up he economy, or even a plurality of the various commodities which make up the economy. No one thing by itself is capable of bringing cleaning up the economic mess we are in. Fracking isn't, no matter how much we wish it were so, the "next thing" in the fashion of cars in the '20's or '50's, WWII defense buildup,or the defense buildup in the '80's, or computers/software in the '90's. Merely an expensive way of doing an old thing that makes sense at the moment, and which would evaporate if US offshore drilling, the Saudis opening the floodgates and lowering prices, or some massive new discovery were to occur. We all have to get it through our heads that there IS NO NEXT NEW THING and there probably won't be for a long while.

Secondly, any additional tax revenues that come in will not be used for debt/deficit reduction. They will be used, as was the so-called stimulus, to maintain and enhance the material lifestyle of the public workforce, grant and subsidy recipients, and the welfare class, in order to bribe them (once again) into voting for Democrats (the only math that matters right now electorally, that being Romney's 47%).

We are just about at the point when the private sector is ready to take to the streets, angry that public school teachers, cops, public workers, and paper-shuffling bureaucrats make nearly twice as much, in real terms and relative to private workers, what their counterparts did two generations ago. A society which pays its public functionaries that much relative to the private sector is not only doomed mathematically, being an economic ourobouros, it is immoral, oppressive, and ultimately destined to end in civil unrest. The 47% plus urban NPR-listening liberals in private work who are scared to death of what will happen if the EBT cards stop working have only one goal, and that is to soak private industry to prop up the failed blue state model for as long as they can, hoping that it doesn't collapse until after they have died. That may sound extreme but it is the damned truth.

The proof? When two public sector workers meet each other for the first time, within two minutes they have each related the exact amount of time they have - down to the day, usually - before the magic pension kicks in. I have observed this 100% of the time I have seen them interact in that situation - no exceptions. That by itself is the reason that fracking and the money it generates won’t do what needs to be done in terms of rescuing our society.


We can either acknowledge the FACT that

a) the overall cost of the public sector work force in all its forms needs to be cut by 60-70% forthwith and do so....

.... or b) the country collapses utterly.

There is no option "c". There NEVER will be an option "c". The current size of the public work force is not sustainable under ANY circumstances and in a down private economy less so. Ourobouros.

Given the irrefutable truth of this, how do we deal with it without disturbing or offending the delicate sensitivities of those who are upset at publicizing the truth regarding their motivations for government employment and their relative economic worth, or are frightened by the prospect of their magic checks going away?

The grownup answer is that if the result of fixing this problem is civil disorder and urban rioting ensuing, then we have to put that unrest down by whatever means are necessary and work through it and damn the consequences to those foolish enough to engage in it.

If we ultimately cannot deal with it because the public sector gangs up and votes against it and wins repeatedly without possibility of us changing anything, then there is no hope at all and we collapse into Mad Max times.

Unless the plan is to find a great politician to convincingly lie to the publicly funded and say that he'll never touch their checks who then gets into office and guts them anyways and puts down any riots with swiftness and firmness (immoral, but it would have the benefit of saving the country), then at some point we have to address the vast oversize of the public sector honestly and head-on. I say no time like the present.

Remember, most public employees would kill however many private sector types they felt they needed to in order to keep those magic checks (an absolutely accurate and appropriate term, BTW) coming. Do not feel sorry for them, they will never spare a moment’s thought or mercy for us.

You really need to understand that fear of, or anger about, telling the truth regarding the whole sorry mess of the "magic check" dynamic is what has helped get us Barak Obama. Twice.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>>Perhaps this explains where there is so much antipathy towards the Ferguson police force in public opinion. With the police in cammies and riding armored vehicles, they look a little too much like an occupying army for comfort. In too many people’s minds the government has turned from being the servant to the master. It’s understandable to see why some might think that.<<<<

This, in the end, is a key point. I recently attended a program on an Article V convention to amend the Constitution, and one of the presenters came up with a line that I told him I was stealing.

"WHEN YOU DEAL WITH THE GOVERNMENT, DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE BEING SERVED, OR BEING RULED?"

And that is what it comes down to. The NTEU is representative of the bureaucratic jackboot in the face of all Americans, grinding in the service of the Governing Class politicians. And the militarized "civilian" Executive Branch dressed and equipped as soldiers but used exclusively on the American citizenry is the last gasp attempt to hold the Mandate of Heaven by brute force.

At the risk of resorting to pop culture:

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers." ―Princess Leia ...

It scales down readily from "star systems" to free men and women. One does wonder who Obama's "Tarkin" is.

Subotai Bahadur
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (69)
All Comments   (69)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
It's NOT public unions who prevent the shrinking of government, it's a public unwilling to live within our collective means. It's a public indoctrinated by academia and the media into Marxist memes regarding Capitalism. There is not the collective public political will to address the issue so 'the can will be kicked down the road' until they run out of road and it all collapses. Qualitative easing is a temporary palliative. Russia and China are moving to end the US dollar's status as the world's default currency and that is what is supporting qualitative easing.

When it collapses, leftist demagogues will seek to gain extra-constitutional power. The MSM will support the left's charge that it is all the evil, greedy republican's fault and a low-info public will vote for the relief promised by the democrats. Nationalization of entire industries will follow with the seizure of private assets and the mob will support it, just as they did in France during the reign of terror. Then, an American Bonaparte will arise. Dictatorship always follows the collapse of a democracy. And a 'popular democracy' is what the left is busily turning America's representative republic into.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi Geoffrey. Good post. However forgive me for saying that I think it the counsel of despair.
I had typed out a big three paragraph reply but it got lost in the aether of PJ Media's comments software. I will try again tomorrow to formulate a coherent reply. A Gin Sea Breeze does not make for the most lucid of thoughts but it does give you a warm glow!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
No one, no welfare recipient, no politician, no soldier, no bureaucrat, no judge who takes the government’s dime should be allowed to vote. Too great a conflict of interest.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can't agree as to the soldier. They more than any other profession, demonstrate a willingness to if necessary, give that "last full measure of devotion". The great scifi author Heinlein proposed that military service should be a mandatory requirement for the granting of the voting franchise. The older I get, the more I think he may have been on to something.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you put your life on the line for your country you had better D***d well get the vote because no other citizen will have earned it like you have.

Police and Fire service is open to honest debate.

Public sector employees, those on tax credits or welfare.....H**l no. It becomes a scheme to vote yourself richer at the expense of all those hard working, tax paying and law abiding schmucks who for some reason seek to be self sufficient and not be a burden to anyone else. You only have to look at the books of a few democrat controlled cities to see the damage done by the public sector to the whole city. Pensions that cannot ever be paid for at levels that those in the private sector could never hope to achieve to name but one example.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
(had trouble posting my comment, so will try it again)

ClearAirTurbulence (top rated comment) - As others have noted, thanks for an excellent post.

A few related comments:

For a visual treatment of the "ratchet", check out this (low budget) video I put together some years ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgj8Cen4UtA

The need to confront the public sector union problem was behind that big kerfuffle in Wisc. several years ago. Gov. Walker did what had to be done (damn the torpedoes!) The one item that unions could never accept was ending automatic paycheck deduction of union dues. The union bosses were willing to sell out their members in any number of ways, so long as those millions of dollars in dues continued to flow like clockwork...and then be "re-invested" in political campaigns. It was the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that we are likely to witness in this world.

A positive development worth noting; Paul Ryan is trying to give the GOP something to stand for - perhaps an atonement for his participation in Mitt Romney's 2012 "campaign about nothing". Here are a few excerpts from Ryan's Wall St. Journal op-ed of Aug. 15-16.

“The problem… [is] a philosophy of government that erodes the American Idea...a liberal progressive mindset that seeks a larger, more active government and lets bureaucrats decide what's best for everyone instead of allowing citizens to govern themselves. Its response to every social problem is more government, more bureaucracy and more taxpayer money.”

“Fortunately, there is an alternative: the Founders' vision, which puts individuals, their families and their communities—not government—at the center of American life.”

“...promote pro-market policies that benefit consumers instead of pro-business policies that favor the wealthy and well connected.”

"Instead of growing government, [my proposals] grow the economy and offer everyone greater opportunity and prosperity… perhaps most important, it protects our rights while offering a real safety net for those in need—without overpowering the private economy or our private lives.”
(show less)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your kind comment. I sweated blood over that this morning whilst sipping a cup of strong coffee and it is still full of other peoples quotes and hard won thought. Never the less it was heartfelt. Quite how Mr Fernandez keeps up the level of quality and quantity simultaneously is quite beyond me.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yahbut Ryan is going to have to prove to me he's not another teleprompter dummy.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
For now, I choose to be grateful for the narrative that Ryan is putting out there. Step 2 - get the GOP to pick up this narrative and run with it.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
ClearAirTurbulence (top rated comment) - As others have noted, thanks for an excellent post.

A few related comments:

For a visual treatment of the "ratchet", check out a (low budget) video I put together some years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgj8Cen4UtA

The necessity of confronting the public sector union problem was behind that big kerfuffle in Wisc. several years ago. Gov. Walker did what needed to be done (damn the torpedoes!) The one item that unions could never accept was ending automatic paycheck deduction of union dues. The union bosses were willing to sell out their members in any number of ways so long as those millions of
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the NTEU says that reducing the size of gov't is a bad thing. A bad thing for who?? Like scientists who receive funding from the EPA, Sierra Club and the other greenies who say man-made climate change is real. Considering the source, this is just as meaningful as Bill Gates issuing a strong buy recommendation on Microsoft.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
OT, sorry. Anyone else now unable to get past the first set of comments? None of the comment options (Sort, All, Next or a specific page number) work anymore, even though the cursor changes to a hand when floated over any of the options...
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the world is a bachelor's apartment, then America is the cleanest dirty shirt.

"The U.S. has never defaulted," explained Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald. "The world may hate our guts, but when all hell breaks loose, they all love our dollar... The dollar is the best-looking horse in the glue factory."
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I prefer Spengler's "leper with the most fingers"!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ah! Yes the ratchet. Something all too familiar to those of us on the other side of the Atlantic. The entire Leftist agenda is the protection and operation of this mechanism of control of the incremental extension of state power into ever more areas of human life. The centralizing fetishists dream of micromanaging every facet of the life of complete strangers in a way they would never tolerate if they thought it would be equally applied to themselves.

The powerhouse for this is the toxic combination of public sector unions and the politicians they fund and support using the taxpayers money to do it. Top cover is provided by a broadcast media that is not only selectively blind but actively deceiving. Fodder is provided by a school system that churns out a steady stream of young people indoctrinated in green tinged leftist ideology and bereft of the ability to think in a logical, critical or independent fashion. For those not content with a life full of 9 to 5, Kardashians, Playstation and getting wrecked over the weekend there is higher education. An exorbitantly priced chance to be even further mired in both debt and leftist ideology and come out at the end of it with a credential that entitles you to a position flipping burgers if you can beat out the other 3000 applicants for the post. For a select few with the right political or better yet family connections there is the chance to join the elite caste of the clerisy, those who will get rich by sucking the lifeblood from the rest of us.

A sort of political Mr Creosote if you will, stuffed full of evermore morsels, tit bits and wafers till it can hold no more. Let that picture sit in your mind for a while.

The thing about ratchets though is the tension and stress that builds up, not only at the primary area the ratchet is working but elsewhere in the system. Every additional turn and bite of the tooth takes extra effort. We tend to think that those teeth are both indestructible and inevitable. They are not. The left knows this, hence the narrative, the fiction that must be maintained at all costs. The gap between reality and this fiction grows ever wider with time.

What happens when a tooth breaks or the gear wheel slips and results in a spectacular failure that cannot be hidden, covered up or ignored. You have a whole raft of examples before you. As the good Professor Reynolds is forever saying "Something that cannot go on forever, wont!".

Do not despair, it might seem that Obama and his evil minions (or puppeteers depending on your theory de jour) are coated in teflon and that they are immune from both criticism and the consequences of their actions. They are not. God is not mocked, that which ye sow, so shall ye reap. The truth will out....eventually, pigeons come home to roost and even the most devoted leftist acolyte surveying the wreckage wrought by this ship of fools will become discouraged.

Remember that you go into battle with the army you have, not the one you wish for. Your weak kneed Republican reps and senators can be cajoled and bullied into doing the right thing if enough pressure is applied to them. Something you cannot do to the Dems. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Get out and vote, get your friends, neighbours and relatives to vote. Volunteer to be a poll watcher, especially if you are 250lb linebacker, lumberjack or trucker.

I want my old friend back, the proud, exuberant, friendly, fun, adventurous, generous and optimistic friend that worked hard and played hard. The one that stood firm with his friends and was unflinching in the face of those who would be foes. Not the brow beaten, depressed, confused, sluggish and deeply unhappy friend that now pertains.

I talk to enough of you on a daily basis to know that you are all still there. Time to get off your knees! The whole planet needs you back.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
yes, excellent
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you. Yes we are still here. Abused, vilified, Taxed Enough Already ... but still here. And not planning on going anywhere else at present. Like some ex-actor once said, "This is the last stand on earth."

Reading Victor Davis Hanson's writing gave me a lot of steady comfort in the days after 9/11. I think often of his characterization of people slow to anger, who are not by nature stink-stirrers but instead mind-your-own-biz types. These types of people are frequently underestimated by the stink-stirrers. The stink-stirrers count on the hand that is on the plow remaining on the plow ad infinitem.

I don't think this is what could be called a safe bet. I guess we'll see, huh?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Going Galt............
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. Nicely done. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. The likelihood of a chimney fire seems much greater than that of cleaning out all that creosote.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for this. Excellent post.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The need to make money delayed my participation in this thread.

Would that I could just send this page to DC in April.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The need to make money delayed my participation in this thread.

Good luck with that! :)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment

nutherguy


Provided that no black swan gets here first. ISIS? Ebola? You sure?
............
The one thing I'm not sure about is border policy. There Obama could really destabilize the country there.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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