Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Brits Are Doing What?

This subject deserves much more discussion than I can provide here and now, but I have to call the reader’s attention to what the new British government is doing.

It’s outrageous! They are cutting public spending and laying off government workers!

This, as I have been suggesting for years, is what is going to happen, and what must happen, here. I do realize that many government employees are very competent and hard-working, sincerely trying to do their best for the public they serve. But, in recent, years, the rolls of bureaucratic jobs, especially in Washington, DC, and many state governments, have become bloated, while at the same time salaries and benefits (especially pensions) for these employees have often greatly exceeded what they could be justified to be.

Politicians who enabled this exaggerated growth and bloating have been notoriously cowardly, and this includes politicians in both major parties, about reigning in this unnecessary and destructive growth. In Europe, this trend has been going on longer and to a greater degree. But the current economic crisis, there and around the world, has brought the self-delusion of the welfare state into immediate view, and with all its consequences. Not just Greece, but Great Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Benelux, Portugal, and other European Union members now must pay their piper.

So must we in the United States. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, an upset winner in last year’s election, has been showing the way. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has tried to do so, against an entrenched liberal legislature. Former Congressman Tim Penny and a number of his centrist allies have warned us about deficits. Newt Gingrich and many other conservatives have been warning us about the price of delay in dealing with Medicare, Social Security, public and private pension funds, and unchecked deficit spending.

There used to be more choices, but delay has reduced this flexibility. I predict the imminent raising of the Social Security retirement age, introduction of at least some private investment in Social Security accounts, dramatic new market choices in Medicare, the loss of more than one million public sector bureaucratic jobs, and a transformation of the unfunded liabilitiy pensions funds now in effect.

For years, I and many others have said, “Do something now before it becomes more expensive and more disruptive.” But the politicians of both parties put off their responsibility, doing little or nothing. Now the piper has showed up at the American door, too.

It’s not going to be pretty. There will be a lot of yelling and shouting, threats of strikes and actual strikes, emotional appeals, court cases, and so on. It does not matter. It’s time to pay.

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