THCB

The Decline of the Public Good

Meryl Streep’s eery reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” brings to mind Thatcher’s most famous quip, “there is no such thing as ‘society.’” None of the dwindling herd of Republican candidates has quoted her yet but they might as well considering their unremitting bashing of everything public.

What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.

Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted from many of these same public institutions) help pay for everyone else.

“Privatize” means pay-for-it-yourself. The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than any time in 90 years is to make high-quality public goods available to fewer and fewer.

Much of what’s called “public” is increasingly a private good paid for by users — ever-higher tolls on public highways and public bridges, higher tuitions at so-called public universities, higher admission fees at public parks and public museums.

Much of the rest of what’s considered “public” has become so shoddy that those who can afford to find private alternatives. As public schools deteriorate, the upper-middle class and wealthy send their kids to private ones. As public pools and playgrounds decay, they buy memberships in private tennis and swimming clubs. As public hospitals decline, they pay premium rates for private care.

Gated communities and office parks now come with their own manicured lawns and walkways, security guards, and backup power systems.

Why the decline of public institutions? The financial squeeze on government at all levels since 2008 explains only part of it. The slide really started more than three decades ago with so-called “tax revolts” by a middle class whose earnings had stopped advancing even though the economy continued to grow. Most families still wanted good public services and institutions but could no longer afford the tab.

From that time onward, almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top. But as the upper middle class and the rich began shifting to private institutions, they withdrew political support for public ones. In consequence, their marginal tax rates dropped — setting off a vicious cycle of diminishing revenues and deteriorating quality, spurring more flight from public institutions. Tax revenues from corporations also dropped as big companies went global — keeping their profits overseas and their tax bills to a minimum.

But that’s not the whole story. America no longer values public goods as we did before.

The great expansion of public institutions in America began in the early years of 20th century when progressive reformers championed the idea that we all benefit from public goods. Excellent schools, roads, parks, playgrounds, and transit systems would knit the new industrial society together, create better citizens, and generate widespread prosperity. Education, for example, was less a personal investment than a public good — improving the entire community and ultimately the nation.

In subsequent decades — through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War — this logic was expanded upon. Strong public institutions were seen as bulwarks against, in turn, mass poverty, fascism, and then communism. The public good was palpable: We were very much a society bound together by mutual needs and common threats. (It was no coincidence that the greatest extensions of higher education after World War II were the GI Bill and the National Defense Education Act, and the largest public works project in history called the National Defense Interstate Highway Act.)

But in a post-Cold War America distended by global capital, distorted by concentrated income and wealth, undermined by unlimited campaign donations, and rocked by a wave of new immigrants easily cast by demagogues as “them,” the notion of the public good has faded. Not even Democrats any longer use the phrase “the public good.” Public goods are now, at best, “public investments.” Public institutions have morphed into “public-private partnerships;” or, for Republicans, simply “vouchers.”

Mitt Romney speaks derisively of what he terms the Democrats’ “entitlement” society in contrast to his “opportunity” society. At least he still envisions a society.  But he hasn’t explained how ordinary Americans will be able to take advantage of good opportunities without good public schools, affordable higher education, good roads, and adequate health care.

His “entitlements” are mostly a mirage anyway. Medicare is the only entitlement growing faster than the GDP but that’s because the costs of health care are growing faster than the economy, and any attempt to turn Medicare into a voucher — without either raising the voucher in tandem with those costs or somehow taming  them — will just reduce the elderly’s access to health care. Social Security, for its part, hasn’t contributed to the budget deficit; it’s had surpluses for years.

Other safety nets are in tatters. Unemployment insurance reaches just 40 percent of the jobless these days (largely because eligibility requires having had a steady full-time job for a number of years rather than, as with most people, a string of jobs or part-time work).

What could Mitt be talking about? Outside of defense, domestic discretionary spending is down sharply as a percent of the economy. Add in declines in state and local spending, and total public spending on education, infrastructure, and basic research has dropped from 12 percent of GDP in the 1970s to less than 3 percent by 2011.

Only in one respect is Romney right. America has created a whopping entitlement for the biggest Wall Street banks and their top executives — who, unlike most of the rest of us, are no longer allowed to fail. They can also borrow from the Fed at almost no cost, then lend the money out at 3 to 6 percent.

All told, Wall Street’s entitlement is the biggest offered by the federal government, even though it doesn’t show up in the budget. And it’s not even a public good. It’s just private gain.

We’re losing public goods available to all, supported by the tax payments of all and especially the better off. In its place we have private goods available to the very rich, supported by the rest of us.

Even Lady Thatcher would have been appalled.

Robert Reich served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Labor under President William Jefferson Clinton from 1992 to 1997. He shares many of his thoughts and columns at Robert Reich, where this post first appeared.

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chinapromdressmanufactBarry CarolMargalit Gur-ArieNate Ogdenbob hertz Recent comment authors
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chinapromdressmanufact
Guest

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Barry Carol
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Barry Carol

Margalit – We have a big diverse country, economy and population. We will always have a significant percentage of jobs that don’t require a college degree but rather specialized training in, say, welding, carpentry, plumbing, operating sophisticated machinery, etc. Many of these jobs can provide the holder with a very satisfactory standard of living for him or her and family. After a 40 year career dealing with companies in a wide variety of industries from an investor’s perspective, I can tell you that there are lots of jobs in corporate America that the human resources department determined requires a college… Read more »

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

Margalit doesn’t see college as a needed step to get a job, she wants everyone to go to college so they can be indoctrinated in liberal ideology. You can’t be a good citizen according to Margalit unless you have had liberal professors brainwashing you for four years.

BobbyG
Guest

Oh, Pul-EEEZE.

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

“When the issues on the table today in public politics are about complex monetary policy, complex scientific issues, global finances, global military strategy, etc., people must be educated enough so they themselves “may be relied on to set them right”.

I would argue that vocational training, although perhaps sufficient to provide you with well trained serfs, which could potentially be reduced to China level employment as quoted by Peter below, is not enough to allow the people to govern themselves.”

Problems reading Bobby? How can you take her statement any other way?

BobbyG
Guest

Spare me. “Problems reading Bobby?”

Right.

This whole thing is a fucking non-issue. One of many.

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

nice language

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

Barry,
Nothing is ever certain, but it is a percentage game, and educated people do better on average.
Every young person should have the same opportunity. Obviously, not all will achieve the same results, but the opportunities should be equal. They are not.

Nate, do you really think that you can settle disagreements in a definitive way by universally labeling whatever the other party suggests a liberal thing?

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

opportunity is not the same as bribery. Federal government gives college students 10s of thouands and loans them even more. Students forgoing college and entering the workforce to learn a skill or trade get nothing but the bill for those that went to college.

Exact same problem we ended up when the government bribed people to buy houses and gave them money to do so. Exact same result, people that should not take them up on the free handouts do and we all pay the price.

BobbyG
Guest

“nice language”

Spare me.

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

Yes, just like people who forgo having children don’t receive anything but bills for K-12 education, so I guess the government is bribing us into being fruitful and multiplying. Cool…. I have no clue what makes you get up every morning, or what your ultimate goal is, but allow me one more quote from a famous liberal, written in the midst of a revolution he helped lead, and these where his goals: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history… Read more »

Peter1
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Peter1

“Nate, do you really think that you can settle disagreements in a definitive way by universally labeling whatever the other party suggests a liberal thing?”

Margalit, it’s been a long time strategy of the radical right to demonize the word liberal, like pedophile. It means they need few factual points for their arguments as people just look at each and nod their heads in parrot like agreement – yes, liberal, it must be wrong.

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

long time being about 10 years after the liberals started doing it to conservatives. After a decade of hearing being conservative meant you were racist, sexist, uncompasionate, greedy, etc it finally sunk in that the only way to combat it is to give it right back.

saul alinsky knew how to fight dirty and do it well.

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

You mean this Saul Alinsky?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

“Many kids are just not college material and would be better served if they learned a trade.” I cannot agree with this statement. It belongs to another era. This sentence has been used historically to keep the children of laborers and other lowly groups from climbing out of their station in life. This country achieved greatness precisely the opposite way. We educated more children in larger amounts, and the economy grew as a result. We are now being passed by over half of OECD countries in higher education attainment because the U.S. rates are stagnating and so is our economy.… Read more »

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

do you really believe every kid would benefit from 4 years in college? That is one of the most aburd and clueless things I have ever heard in the education debate. Some people do not do well in a classroom or with book smarts, those people are wasting time and money in college. Being a liberal I’m sure you would have no problem ruining their lives and taking their money chasing your cause. People like you don’t care about individuals just your ideology. That is how you were able to come up with housing projects and still pat yourself on… Read more »

Barry Carol
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Barry Carol

Margalit – As a general statement, I think the concept of a four year college education has been oversold to a lot of young people and it costs way more than it should. When I went through the University of Pennsylvania from 1963-1967, my whole four years cost $14,000 all in – tuition, room, board, books, incidentals, travel home for holidays, etc. When my son went through the same school from 1995-1999, it was roundly $140,000. Now it’s about $220,000 or 15.7 times what it cost when I went. Over the same period, inflation as measured by the consumer price… Read more »

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

“there is no reason why education can’t be a part of one’s whole life that the whole of a part of their life. ”

I wish more people would think like this. I can’t think of a single employee that ever went back to school to freshen up and improve their skills.

Employees expect annual raises but seldom do anything to improve their value. Its doesn’t have to be getting a masters it would be nice if older employees would just invest the time to get better on computers for example.

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

“In fact we are almost on labor price pariety with China” “Nor do the data on international wage comparisons point to dramatic deterioration in China’s wage advantage. According to research published in the Monthly Labour Review of the US Bureau of Labour Statistics in April 2009, compensation of Chinese manufacturing workers was only $0.81 per hour in 2006—just 2.7% of comparable costs in the US, 3.4% of those in Japan, and 2.2% of compensation rates in Europe. While these figures are now out of date by nearly four years, they underscore the magnitude of the gap between China and the… Read more »

bob hertz
Guest

As of 2007, public records showed that over 17,000 employees in the University of California system earned over $100,000 a year.

One of this number was Prof Reich, who earned $205,000 and was #2444 from the top.

I realize that the cost of living is high in much of California, but this is still a reason for higher tuition.

In order to find ‘the top 1%’ some social critics can start by looking in the mirror.

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

Robert Reich is the equivalent of a free agent starting pitcher with a 5.74 ERA. How can you justify paying him 200K and not admit the system is broken. What has he ever produced in his life that would justify that level of compensation?

No wonder kids are graduating idiots, not only are they paying the high cost of tution but this is what they are getting for it, blow up the whole system and start over. The current one can’t and isn’t worth saving.

Nate Ogden
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Nate Ogden

can we really call them saftey nets when 20-40% of the population are using them and people spend their entire life collecting them? We need to be honest and admit they are no longer saftey nets but tralling nets like you catch fish to harvest. Our saftey net programs are nothing more then vote nets any more.

Barry Carol
Guest
Barry Carol

Peter1 – The attractiveness of a non-union environment to employers often has more to do with flexibility around work rules and the ability to cross train employees to do multiple jobs so they can fill in for each other and rotate work assignments. The hourly wage is less of an issue, especially in industries like autos, aerospace and steel. To the extent that wages are lower in the south than in the north is likely to reflect lower living costs in the south so the standard of living the wage can support is often comparable. New employers to the region… Read more »

Barry Carol
Guest
Barry Carol

“I have actuarial training, and the true cost of state pensions is 20% of payroll. And has been for a long time.” Bob – Thanks for that. For the last 18 years, I worked for a subsidiary of a large manufacturing company with a significant percentage of unionized employees. Employees hired after July 1, 2003 were put into a defined contribution pension plan while the traditional defined benefit pension remained in place for employees hired before that date. For the defined contribution participants in their mid-40’s or older, the company’s annual contribution to the DC plan is 8% of payroll… Read more »

Peter1
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Peter1

“I have actuarial training, and the true cost of state pensions is 20% of payroll. And has been for a long time.” Bob – Thanks for that. So, what should it be? “Misunderstandings Regarding State Debt, Pensions, and Retiree Health Costs Create Unnecessary Alarm Misconceptions Also Divert Attention from Needed Structural Reforms” http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3372 “There was a time 30 or 40 years ago when states like CA were investing significantly in infrastructure and higher education to support economic growth and build for the future.” Not sure I agree with your analysis Barry. “This commitment to infrastructure funding came to a stop… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

…and you may also want to check out how a great education system should be built
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

appears our worst schools spend almost three times as much as finland per student, what exactly are you liberals doing with all this money we give you and why do you keep demanding more? If this was healthcare you would say the government should take it over and spending reduced to their levels. Government already runs it and your spending 3 times as much, whats the liberal solution when government has failed Margalit? Ah thats right there is no such thing.

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

The liberal solution is to create one public school system for everybody, including the rich and famous, with no options to “separate but equal”, or “the best money can buy”.
And my liberal addendum #1 to that solution is to pay teachers enough to attract the best and brightest into that profession.
My liberal addendum #2 is to break down the segregated poor neighborhoods and offer folks housing solutions in better places.
Social engineering? You bet.

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

are you willing to send your kids to an inner city school where they could possibly be killed on any given day? By far its liberals in big cities who partake in the private schools, while you claim its a liberal solution its to a problem largely created by liberals. See Obama as a prime example, after all his talk about public schools when it came down to it where did he send his kids? What if a school is a failure, you would really require a kid to go there and receive an inadequate education just to support your… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

My kids went to public school. No, it was not in the inner city, but a good percentage of students is bused daily from the city to our public school district. The district, inclusive of bused kids, by itself scored better than all other countries in the PISA tests. http://bit.ly/Aicyhb Public education can work, if done well. My kids have been organizing volunteer work in inner city schools for five years now. Nobody gets killed there, except the hopes and dreams of innocent children. Education programs for teachers need to be as selective as those for engineering and lawyers, and… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

Nate,
I have a huge deadline coming up, so instead of typing my usual objections to your, black and white with no gray scale in between, remarks, I am just going to let Greg Mankiew speak for me on this one. I don’t agree with everything he says, but this is one true conservative, that actually makes some sense. Enjoy.
http://www.economics.harvard.edu/files/faculty/40_Spreading%20the%20Wealth%20Around.pdf

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

you link a 14 page document filled with dogma, what was the purpose of that? Yes like Peter you need a better base of reading material. Post deadline come back and make some specific points.

Did you really expect an academic to not argue we need more educaiton? Especially one from Harvard, imagine I typed that with that annoying accent filled with sarcasim and derision. Our poor don’t need to go to college, they need to learn to do entry level work.

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

I link a very pertinent document filled with conservative well reasoned ideology, including reference to Mr. Reich. Too bad 14 pages is too much to read nowadays.

Our poor need to not be poor. The only way out of poverty, other than luck and crime, is education.
I appreciate your desire to maintain a well stocked, well fed, arsenal of uneducated people to be exploited at will, but this is neither freedom nor democracy. Go read the over 14 pages where our founders address education.

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

I read the 14 pages and thus my comment it was drivel. How would I know it was filled with Dogma unless I read it? Where in education do we address comprehension? “conservative well reasoned ideology,” Conservative by who’s measure? I don’t know any conservatives who foolishly believe more indoctrination by universities would improve anyone’s life. Most agree we send to many people to college. “The only way out of poverty, other than luck and crime, is education.” Most sheep end up at slaughter not a life of roaming pastures Margalit. Education is not a solution to poverty, work is.… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

Nate, you seem to be oblivious to how economies have changed during the last few decades. Today well paying work requires education. College educated people experience much less unemployment and earn a lot more than their uneducated peers on average. An outlier here and there does not change these facts. Are those conservatives who believe that we send too many people to college inclined to send their own kids to the mines when they turn 16? or is this advice only applicable to “our poor”? Neither political party is acting in the best interest of the people today. The game… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

“When [my daughters are] 18 years old, just hand them $200,000 to go off and have a fun time for four years? Why would I want to do that?” To Altucher, higher education is nothing less than an institutionalized scam—college graduates hire only college graduates, creating a closed system that permits schools to charge exorbitant ­prices and forces students to take on crippling debt. “The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

In March, “Professor X,” an anonymous English instructor at two middling northeastern colleges, published In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, an expansion of an Atlantic essay arguing that college has been dangerously oversold and that it borders on immoral to ask America’s youth to incur heavy debt for an education for which millions are simply ill-equipped. Professor X’s book came out on the heels of a Harvard Graduate School of Education report that made much the same point. The old policy cri de coeur “college for all,” the report argues, has proved inadequate; rather than shunting everyone into four-year… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

well paying work does not require a college education. Plumbers make mopre then history majors or poly sci by a factor of 2-3 and there are actually plumbing jobs available. I know dozens of businesses desperate for skilled workers that can’t find any while at the same time we have millions of unemployed recents grads. Kids are going to college and getting worthless degrees, look at any of the post graduation employement numbers. There are only a handful of degrees, hard sciences, where gradautes are getting jobs in their field. This isn’t a new problem its been going on for… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest

Your insistence on equating people with jobs is unsettling to say the least. People in a democracy have responsibilities beyond their jobs. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson BTW, this one founder proposed an amendment to the constitution to allow federal government to finance education. He did so in an inaugural address in 1806, so he must have considered it important enough. During his times most jobs did not require reading or writing skills, so why would Jefferson want to… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

“So why on earth would someone so distrustful of government, as you seem to be, argue for the dumbing down of the electorate, in direct opposition to our founders vision?” So your saying only liberal indoctrination is education? If you don’t spend four years listening to professors that have never earned in a living in what they teach you can’t be educated? I’m saying we need to enlighten our electorate by not filling their head with crap like you have to go to college to make a good living and government loans and grants make college more affordable. If you… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

Here is the Truth of College ISI reports that the average score for college graduates with at least a bachelors degree is 57%, versus 44% of non-graduates. Of the 33 questions, college graduates answered 18.9 correctly, versus 14.4 correct answers for non-graduates. ISI claims that a college education adds little value to the civic literacy of Americans. Some of the more astonishing results include: (a) 36% of college grads can’t name all 3 branches of US government (b) Only 33% of college grads know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the establishment of an official religion in the US (c)… Read more »

bob hertz
Guest

It might be time to go back to Mickey Kaus. He wrote a terrific book in the 1980’s about civic liberalism. About two years ago he ran for Senator in Califiornia, and his main target was the very high compensation for public employees. When I attended college in 1970, tuition for a tull load of classes was $298 in Minnesota. If the comparable tuition for my son today is $9,000, is that because: a. Professors make more money for teaching fewer classes,and professors live longer on large pensions; or b. Stingy Republicans have slashed state aid to the University. Robert… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

I don’t think there would be any data to support b. First most funding comes from States for the State University and Colleges. Republicans dont have control over many of these when you look at enrollment. How do you blame Republican’s for the decline in CA schools, at any level. http://www.sheeo.org/about/paulpres/Baruch%20College.pdf Wont let me copy but page two starts that state funding has kept pace with not only inflation but enrollment. $7 billion 1970, $21 billion 1981, $42 Billion 1991 and $72 billion 2005. 2001 it was $7,121 per FTE adjusted for inflation. Highest ever. What’s interesting is they point… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/1202_jobs_greenstone_looney.aspx “Forty years ago, a high school education gave workers the skills they needed to hold down middle-class jobs and to participate in the gains of a growing economy. Virtually all men, from those with only a high school diploma to those with college degrees, were gainfully employed. the employment rates and median earnings of Americans with only a high school degree have declined considerably over the past 40 years, the earnings of the median high school graduate are lower today than they were in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. This trend is particularly evident over the last… Read more »

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

Nate, I like the link to the Brookings article, if you read the whole thing, but as usual you add rubbish; “We know without doubt what caused the wealth gap, ignorance and hubris of individuals like Robert Reich. A high school diploma today means nothing.” Do you think the loss of semi and low-skilled manufacturing jobs by companies who relocated operations overseas (tax payer funded) had anything to do with the decline in opportunities for high school grads? Was it “liberals” who made that transition? Clearly a high school education is not enough anymore, so how do you propose we… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

Wow you liberals really don’t connect the obvious unless someone hits you upside the head with it do you. Hey Peter, think the reason why those jobs might go overseas in the first place is because in the US they can’t find someone to do the job at a reasonable cost? If you can’t find a press operator in the us even paying $20 an hour you really have no choice but to go to Mexico or China and you get the added benefit of only paying $5 an hour. The job didn’t leave becuase they could save $15 an… Read more »

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

Capital always moves from higher costs to lower costs, usually subsidized by the taxpayer. Jobs moved south for non(anti)-union lower wage as well as for huge tax incentives (you know, that, government is an anchor comment). Nate, do you want U.S. workers to work for Asian wages and benefits? You’re the one defending health care wages here and about how they support the economy four times over as well as urging us to buy “American”. Do you really think jobs moved south because southerners stayed in school and did better math or that jobs moved to Asia because their high… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

when have i ever once defended healthcare wages? I would be the first in line to cut specialist and hospital administrator wages. I would cut academia out of it almost entirely. Hard to argue with you peter when you just start making things up. wage is one small piece of cost, you seem to forget ot don’t know this. We don’t need to make any where close to asian, I assume you mean china not japan, wages. In fact we are almost on labor price pariety with China, calcaulted at 5 times for most industries. That means you can pay… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-75973 And since wage rates account for 20 to 30 percent of a product’s total cost, manufacturing in China will be only 10 to 15 percent cheaper than in the U.S.—even before inventory and shipping costs are considered. After those costs are factored in, the total cost advantage will drop to single digits or be erased entirely, Sirkin said Shipping cost, Piraticy, poor quality, all are huge offsets to labor. As long as we get Obama and his job killing administration out of office a large portion of our lost jobs will come home. We drove these jobs way and… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

“What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.” Like the Ancient Greeks and Romans before them, Robert and his liberal cohorts won’t rest until they to stand above the ashes of a once great society congratulating each other on finally turning it into Utopia. Don’t measure them on the deaths they cause and generations they ruin, life is temporary, measure them instead on the intent and what should have been… Read more »

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

Thank you, Nate.

bob hertz
Guest

Two points about public services and institutions…………… a. There was always a big gap between blue and red states in this area. New York City had free public universities and free public hospitals as far back as 1940. The South never had this, to be sure that black people would not benefit.. The states that were settled by Germans and Scandinavians, like Miinnesota and Wisconsin, always had more public services than Western states. New England had good public services because in part they had tiny populations. And so on.The electoral ascendancy of the West and South under the Republican party… Read more »

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

“b. In some cases, public services have been undermined by the unending cost of unionized public employees. Between perpetual salary increases, expanding medical benefits, and generous pension plans, the cost of public services has in some cases increased far beyond what any group of taxpayers can support.” Wow, that’s a mouthful, and hard to discuss without links that will put me into the, “your comment is awaiting moderation” category. Just on pensions alone there are lots of countervailing views. Just Google, “US public employee pensions” and you’ll find a lot of discussion. ” The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Pulitzer Prize… Read more »

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

” The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.” Peter do you think for one second if their true compensation was calculated and future pension and health benefits monotized they would make half of what they make? Pension and health benefits are structured the way they are to hide how much these workers really make. If the public knew janitors were making $100 per hour this all would have ended decades… Read more »

Peter1
Guest
Peter1

Obviously you didn’t read my link Nate. Of course pensions are future obligations, that’s why they’re called pensions.

Nate Ogden
Guest
Nate Ogden

I did read the link and the comments dismissing it and laughing at the logic, or lack there of. The second link, hyperlinked one not the Wisconsin lie is just as bad and lacking in logic. Look how they parse their words. “However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances” “Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average” No dah, because States and Localities aren’t making the payments they are required and should. Thus… Read more »