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Richard Rider

The public employee aristocracy profits from the coronavirus

During this coronavirus emergency, we frequently hear the cliché that “we are all in this together.”  No, we’re not.

Yes, we all risk catching the disease.  Especially public and private first responders and medical workers.

But from a financial sacrifice standpoint, most public employees (not police and firefighters) can expect to actually profit from this trying time, while most private employees will indeed suffer.

The ongoing advantages that public employees already enjoy are numerous.  Compared to most equivalent private sector jobs, public employees receive higher pay (especially government blue collar workers), MUCH more lucrative benefits (especially pensions), rock-solid job security, more vacation time, have little or no performance standards and retire at a younger age.

But now with the helicopter money raining down from DC, it’s gotten even better for the majority of public employees.  Everyone in America will receive a one-time $1,200 federal check. This windfall scales down from 100% for incomes up to $75K to zero at $100K.

BTW, combined with the business subsidies and the $600 a week extra for the unemployed, this federal blunderbuss spraying of money in every direction had NOTHING to do with being an election year. Right?  Don’t be surprised if there is soon a bipartisan push to EXTEND this federal unemployment windfall past the current July deadline (you heard it here first!).

This hastily assembled bill turned into a gigantic giveaway for all.  A giveaway for everyone except for the people who eventually will pay most of the bill — those making over $100,000.

Soooo, how does this benefit favor public employees more than private sector employees?

It’s simple.  Public employees keep getting a full paycheck plus all benefits.  A huge percent of private sector employees are getting laid off, released, hours reduced, or whatever.  But apparently all public employees are still on the payroll.

Note that I said that public employees will “keep getting a paycheck” and that they are “still on the payroll.”  That’s NOT the same as continuing to work.

Those private sector workers still employed are WORKING.  Not so for most government employees. Most “public servants” are putting in perhaps a few hours a week — if that.  Police and firefighters ARE still working full hours — but most of the rest of any government’s workforce is at home doing little or nothing — except cashing paychecks.

Few governments attempt to lay anyone off. My city of San Diego DID try. With a workforce of 11,000, In early April the mayor grandly announced that “hundreds” would be furloughed — perhaps a paltry 5% of the city’s workforce.

Within a week, the mayor had been roundly bitch-slapped by the city labor union bosses, and his order was hastily rescinded (with back pay).  The mayor lamely explained that “we’ll find work for them to do.”  High-priced leaf raking, by any other name.

Like all government agencies, the paychecks will keep rolling out as all employees enjoy full benefits while earning pension credits, sick leave and vacation time.  Life is good for our government employees.

But that’s not all!

All investment accounts have taken quite a hit in the stock market drop.  Most IRA’s and 401k plans have lost 20% or more of their value. Public pension plans have suffered similar losses. But the government pension plan losses will have to be paid for by the taxpayers — NOT by the public employees.  And no retired public employee need seriously worry about his or her pension being scaled back.

So when it comes to retirement, private sector folks will have smaller retirement funds, while they may well be tasked with “helping to pay” for the grossly underfunded but guaranteed public employee pensions.

Sounds fair — IF you are a public employee.  Our new CA aristocracy.