Your ‘downturn,’ their ‘upturn’

Still foolish enough to be in the private sector paying for the benefits of the public sector?

Your ‘downturn,’ their ‘upturn’

Image by Everett Collection

I can’t remember exactly when I first encountered a pop-culture jetpack. Was it James Bond’s, courtesy of Q, in Thunderball? Or was it some comic book? At any rate, I no longer have to wait for mine. Martin Aircraft of Christchurch, New Zealand, have put one into production, for the cost of a top-of-the-line automobile—or about $100,000. It’s not clear to me where you’d be able to fly it, since government air-traffic agencies don’t seem eager to contemplate a world of individual human flight patterns. But still: the Bond jetpack is belatedly here.

Other than that, the future seems unlikely to be quite as futuristic as expected. The problem facing the developed world isn’t so very difficult to figure out. We’re living beyond not just our means but everybody’s means. You can strap on your jetpack, but where would you go? In the United States, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute calculates that if the federal government were to increase every single tax by 30 per cent it would be enough to balance the books—in 25 years. Except that it wouldn’t. Because if you raised taxes by 30 per cent, government would spend even more than it already does, on the grounds that the citizenry needed more social programs and entitlements to compensate for their sudden reduction in disposable income.

In Canada, the average household’s debt-to-income ratio reached an all-time high in 2009. Credit-card holders at least three months behind with their payments increased by 40 per cent.

In Greece, public sector workers are rioting over the right to continue retiring at age 58.

In Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, government spending accounts for between 73 and 78 per cent of the economy, which is about as high as you can get without embracing full-scale Sovietization. In the English city of Newcastle, three-quarters of the working population are employed by the government.

The state spends too much. The individual spends too much. The state hires too many people on whom it lavishes too many benefits. Those foolish enough to remain in the private sector have to pay for the benefits of the public sector, and thus fund both their basics (housing) and their baubles (plasma TVs) through debt.

Nobody is going to raise U.S. taxes by 30 per cent—or at least not in one fell swoop, not when American businesses already labour under the highest corporate tax rates in the OECD. Washington’s approach to the runaway train is to shovel more coal in, on the grounds that the precipice is most likely further away than it looks. In economic terms, I’m not sure you can even call this “Keynesian,” since John Maynard of that ilk would surely be surprised at the claims on the public purse in the name of “stimulus”: $71,623 of said stimulus went to pump monkeys in North Carolina full of cocaine. Don’t ask me why. Vital work, no doubt, and maybe even socially beneficial, in that every line of coke hoovered up some chimp’s schnozz is one less going up yours. Nonetheless, it’s not to be sneezed at. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. But, for coke-fiend monkeys, you need the best part of 72 grand.

Even if you’re not on federal cocaine, this is a grand time to be a government worker. You know that “economic downturn” you hear so much about? It goes away if you work for the government! Indeed, you get an economic upturn. USA Today reports that at the start of the “downturn” the U.S. Department of Transportation had just one employee earning more than $170,000 per year. Eighteen months later, it has 1,690. Another 1,690 federal orangutans with expensive drug habits would be a better deal for the taxpayer. A U.S. government employee gets an average $41,000—that’s not salary, that’s in additional benefits.

The new class war in the Western world is between “public servants” and the rest of us. In Greece, the bloated public service has leeched so much out of the economy that they’ve run out of Greeks to stick it to, and require an intervention by the European Union. Likewise, the debauched public sector of California is pinning its hopes on federal largesse. At a certain level, American public opinion understands this. It’s why Obama has fallen so far so fast. Fourteen months ago, it seemed like a smart move to make “trillion” a routine part of the Washington lexicon. Now all its many citations do is remind even the most innumerate that the Democrat project is a crock, and the word itself is merely shorthand for “money we don’t have and will never have.”

Your ‘downturn,’ their ‘upturn’

Photograph by Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters

This isn’t “climate change,” dependent on this or that predictive model. This is the certainty of disaster. And yet the only certainty is that Western governments will continue to grow the state at the expense of the market: they will create more regulations requiring more agencies with more expensively paid public-service union employees. Not all of this growth will be intentional; much of it will happen under various desultory hiring and wages “freezes.” But, because government is immune to normal pressures, unless you’re actively shrinking it it always grows.

Much of the above is about numbers, costs, and other economic indices. But at least as telling is the psychology. A couple of years ago in this space, I quoted a reader who thought I should lighten up: “We’re rich enough that we can afford to be stupid.” This is presumably the thinking behind California public education. Its teachers are the highest paid in the United States, and its schools are among the worst. Since my reader’s cheery assurance, we’re a lot less rich but seem determined to be even more stupid. Americans spend more on education than anyone but the Swiss, and have the least to show for it. In London, New Labour ministers still fall back on stillborn invocations of “the knowledge economy” that will always make Britain an attractive place to do business because of the “added value” of its educated workforce. Are you serious? Have you set foot in an English state school in the last 15 years?

In The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, a fellow in late Victorian England saddles up the eponymous contraption, propels himself forward and finds himself in a world where humanity has divided into a small, soft, passive, decadent elite, the Eloi, among whom one can barely tell the boys from the girls, and a dark, feral, subterranean underclass, the Morlocks. This is supposedly Britain in the year 802,701 AD. That’s the only thing Wells got wrong: the date. If he’d set his time machine to zip forward a mere hundred years or so to the early 21st century, he’d have been bang on target. The historian Victor Davis Hanson thinks Wells’s tale sums up his fellow Californians, too. The new Eloi expect to be able to enjoy all the benefits of an advanced prosperous society while erecting a regime of sentimentalized regulation that will make its continuation impossible. The new Morlocks demand iPods and video games and other diversions they regard as their birthright but are all but incapable of making any contribution to the kind of society required to produce them. As for Canada, though not yet in the advanced state of decay of the formerly Golden State, those debt-to-income figures are following the same path. At the dawn of the Reagan era, America was the world’s largest creditor nation and its citizens had a 10 per cent savings rate. Not today. To Lord Keynes, a government treasury was not a family purse: the state, unlike the household, could go into debt to “invest.” Now, the family purse has caught up: governments and individuals alike borrow extravagantly—and to consume rather than invest in any meaningful sense.

Swimming into view come rising powers—India, Brazil, China and others, all with problems of their own, but not wedded to the proposition that great nations can squander both their inheritance and their children’s future without cost. Decline is a choice. The selfish pampered profligates of the postwar West made theirs, and for good measure and to ward off the day of reckoning consigned their kids and grandkids to it, too. It would seem to me unlikely that the next generation will be willing or so easily diverted by electronic novelties to reduce themselves to serfs in a vain attempt to sustain an unsustainable system. So something will happen: Greek riots? Total societal collapse? Best to keep the jetpack fuelled and ready. If you can find somewhere to go.


Your ‘downturn,’ their ‘upturn’

  1. As far as the sexless youth go – instead of Eloi it's known as 'emo'.

    • Ha. Good one.

  2. My sister who is a 'tenured' teacher in Illinois just got laid off. After telling her how sorry I was to hear that, I couldn't help but be encouraged that their was a crack in the wall of this ridiculous idea of being tenured.

  3. The utter folly that mark describes is beyond foolish. Our societies are ruled by people liberals who manage to be arrogantly inept, self-deluded about their altruism, and also power hungry. What a balancing act!

  4. As Twain pointed out, people in democracies get the governments they deserve good and hard. Each time the public demands that politicians regulate someone else's behavior, they not only get petty and invasive idiocy but they also empower them to hire more…ahem…government workers, with tenure and indexed pensions…to make certain that everyone lives the right way.

    • Ah, yes….but as Voltaire stated……"the masses are asses"!

  5. Whilst others merely write about the pimple. Steyn goes for the whole pig's arse.

  6. We were recently treated to an example of this in Ontario, where provincial sales tax administrators received severance packages worth thousands of dollars, only to be immediately rehired by the federal government as HST administrators. Think of how many civil servants are required to administer our various tax regimes. In Quebec, for example, there are well over 50(!) corporate income tax credits. So here's a place to start: Simplify the tax system by charging a low flat rate and eliminating the various credits, exemptions etc. I'm guessing you'd need a lot fewer people to administer such a system.

    • A flat tax rate. Who ever proposed such a thing? Yes, the Reform Party. Funny that.

  7. "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
    – Alexis de Tocqueville

    They and (Canada as well) are at that point now. See the Cornhusker Kickback, the (recent) Louisiana Purchase, "stimulus money", the entire concept of taking taxes to provide services that individuals could provide for themselves, etc.

    "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
    – de Tocqueville again!

    When people are not even sure what "good" means, or whether it is even something worth striving for…. Houston we have a serious problem. See Rome, fall of. It takes a minimum critical mass of selflessness in a society for it to survive. Soldiers need to be willing to die for those at home, parents need to sacrifice their own pursuits and pleasures for the sake of their children, captains of industry need to consider the wellbeing of their workers, politicians need to be looking out for the common good, tradesmen and merchants need to operate with a certain modicum of honesty, etc. Freeloaders will be present, but the society can sustain this as long as they are in the minority.

    Once the majority seeks personal comfort regardless of anyone else, however, then the system totters. Indeed it's no longer a "system" – a cohesive unit of individuals cooperating as a team – but rather a collection of individuals each pulling in a different direction. Business, politics, and family life become hostile alliances of necessity, and most men can no longer be taken at their word or trusted to put the interests of the weak above their own – at that point (which we passed some time ago) trouble is on the horizon. But once these ideals are even mocked as worthless or meaningless, as they are today, trouble is imminent.

    • My props, Gaunilon.

    • "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
      – Frederic Bastiat

        • Truth is indeed timeless, its unfortunate that most American politicians (Ron Paul is the only consistent exception) regard the warnings of Jefferson, Paine, and even Eisenhower, as quaint histoircal notions. Cripes, they regard their own Constitution that way.

    • excellent analysis

    • very well written and i agree 100%

    • Politicians take money from the rich and votes from the poor
      with a false promise to protect each from the other. Some fairy tales
      do not begin with "Once upon a time…". Many begin with" If I am
      A newly elected politician settles into his office and finds
      three envelopes in his desk drawer. "Open me first" says one
      which contains the advice"Welcome to provincial government.
      After the honeymoon, and things get rough, try blaming the
      previous government. If that does not work, open the second envelope.
      Six months later he opens the second envelope which says:
      "Try blaming the federal government. If that fails, open the third
      envelope" Six months later he opens the third envelope which reads:
      "Prepare three envelopes"

  8. I live in the UK, have always been in the private sector and have been made redundant. I'm in my late 50's and face the prospect of working past retirement just to survive (the car will go soon). I have a brother who has worked for the public sector all his life. He will retire at 60 on the usual full index-linked pension. He has a non-working wife, two grown living-at-home, still student children and 4 cars. He sees this as normal – does not accept it as unusual or anomalous. Expects to continue this lifestyle when retired, sees it as a right. Private and public sector are not just different worlds, they are different species.

    • How old were you when you last punched him in the mouth?

      • Yes, relations are very strained. We did go for a drink at Christmas, sort of patch things up. Didn't exactly work out that way, after numerous pints of beer. I told him the present situation was unsustainable and his pension would dissappear. He got very "excited" about that.

        Pity is that probably is sustainable in the UK. Labour have enough "client" voters that public discourse seems to have changed forever – its what Mark Steyn warns against in the US. Its really gloomy to think that the only "hope" of reform in the UK is in total economic collapse

  9. I work as a state government employee in Massachusetts. We have had a lot of layoffs. Also, our annual cost-of-living increases have been frozen for three years. Also, we have increased the share of health insurance payments that we make. The News media focuses on the most generously-paid state employees- New York and California, and downplays the other states.

    • There is, these days, another name I'm quickly coming to realize is the better moniker for the private sector that has to get butt pumped for taxes on behalf of the dutiful millions of government employees at all levels, from the low to the high, from the low-level at merely 50k a year over at the DMV, to the bus drivers pulling in 160K a year. How nice.

      That name for those still feeling noble about not being on the public dime?


    • Yes, indeed. But even government work is not COMPLETELY immune to it's own power to milk the private sector for dough, and often must succomb to the realities that face us small businessmen every DAY. I'd love to be my nephew right about now, making 85 thousand a year for putting pieces of paper into mailboxes in addition to all manner of pensiona and health coverage and other benefits I'd have to plunk down myself should I ever be able to be in range of affording them. What a horror story the lad has. The public sector now makes about 70% more than comparable work in the private sector. That's what liberals like to call "entitlement" mentality, one guesses, and "angry white guys."

      Indeed, however, while I'm filling out paperwork late at night, those making twice what I make are home with their families of sucking down a beer and relaxing.

    • PS–I don't get the so-called COLA (Cost of Living Adjustements)

      Not in the automatic sense, in any case. I actually have to find creative ways to drum up more money, not get it automatically downloaded to an account. Government can do that. I can't. Sorry I don't feel the hunger pangs of the public sector just yet at a time when, as Steyn says, the recession that hits ME and most private workers is not hitting the guys and gals at the local DMV who make sure you don't smile when getting you mugshot for the DL.

      They don't have to worry. I'm not smiling that much these days.

      Let not their hearts be troubled on that minor quibble they get from some others.

      • you talk too much

        • You could stand to use a few more words yourself.

    • If I could have the same salary I had three years ago, plus the private health insurance I used to have, plus work for a company that has had "a lot of layoffs" instead of (as in my case) exporting all of the technical jobs to India because (as a resource manager told me) "we can hire 5 Indian graduates for what we pay you"), then I would be rolling about the floor in extacy.
      If you threw in an index linked pension, I'd die of happiness (I have various piddling private sector pensions from previous jobs – I had to change jobs / move to stay in work, not good for private sector pensions – currently worth roughly ziltch (I'm in the UK – Gordon Brown zapped the private sector pension funds about 10 years ago, when chancellor, while going on the biggest public sector expansion ever).
      All UK public sector pensions are unfunded. I will be cleaning toilets in my 70's if I live that long, to support public sector people retiring at 60.

  10. One other thing: Regarding those "Pumped Monkeys"–I think that'd be a great name for an "emo" band.

  11. Surely, these poor benefit-frozen unpayescalated Massachusets g-people are entitled to grief counsellors, at the very least? Did the Ontario tax collectors also have grief counselling when they got paid off? Or perhaps there wasn't time before they joined the Feds.

  12. The fact that our governments are fleecing us for our grandchildrens' dollars is just a symptom of the problem; our (take your pick)uncurious, gullible, lazy, selfish, cowardly populace that takes no action to change the situation is the real problem.

  13. As a fellow New Hampshire resident I am sure that Mr. Steyn is aware that the largest employer here in the "Live free or die" state IS the state.

    • What's your point? You think it's good or bad?

      • How could any sane person think that is good?

  14. Wait until Stockwell Day makes the cuts he needs to make to save us from Government employees…….

    Can you say "sabotage"…..you can bet the Union thugs and wannabees will be leaking info to the Globe, Star…and anyone esle who will listen. Try to embarass the Government and then ensure that everything grinds to a halt…..showing how badly we "need" beaurocrats to run things. (We could probably get by on half as many folks)

  15. You make some good points, Mark, but, to be frank, you’re not saying anything that someone with a calculator and grade five math couldn’t figure out for themselves.
    More to the point, you seem to be as unsure as everybody else about how to actually fix the problem. I’ve noticed this about your musings about Islam, as well; very succinct at putting your finger on the problem, but more than a little fuzzy about possible solutions.
    Take Ann Coulter for example … she advocates invading, conquering and occupying every Muslim nation on earth and forcibly converting the populations to Christianity. I don’t agree with her, but at least I know where she stands. With you, I’m not sure.

    • Downsize the state, John. That's where we start. Crimp social programs, privatize corps like CBC, open the flood gates on health care. To reduce the spending of the state, you have to reduce the state, for the state is not a producer of anything. It is a distributor of monies extracted from true production. There is no other way.

    • As to the "what"–a REALISTIC WHAT–to do about Islam? That is outlined in his book America Alone.

      Highly recommended reading for anyone born into the West's Waning Age.

    • Coulter's comment about forcibly converting an Islamic population to Christianity, if that's actually her comment, only proves that she knows nothing of what Christianity is. You cannot forcibly convert someone to true Christianity and if any Western state were foolish enough to try, the result would be a catastrophic failure both for the state dumb enough to try it and a huge black eye for the good news of Christ.

      • You know nothing of Ann Coulter. Her remark 'convert them to Christianity' is intended through missionaries not the sword. Her intent from the comment was for the U.S. to stop being apologetic for it's culture.

        • Don't missionaries do the same thing? "I'll give you food only if you convert". They don't work like Red Cross/Crescent or Medecins Sans Frontier … providing help without any strings attached. They indeed provide a very critical service to humanity, but there's a huge difference in feeding a hungry family without any strings attached and giving them some free food and medicine, and when the family is hooked, convert them. Oh by the way, those poor African countries are poor because slavery still exists, except the Masters are all the companies of the same countries which used to colonize those countries and now sends in missionaries, e.g. Shell (in Nigeria), BP, De Beers Diamond (most secure mine in the world, in Namibia), Garment companies (in South Asia) etc.

          • Christian missionaries give food to those who need it. You do not have to convert. Christian conversion begins with the heart. Missionaries can provide an opportunity of greater significance along with the free food and medical service but the change comes from the individual. Poverty is a result of the political system that runs a country. Vulnerability to slavery would be a result of that system.

      • She said this quote on September 13, 2001 after 9/11 and was meant as more irony than an actual solution because that is what Muslim extremists are attempting to do the Western world (and have throughout history accomplished). She was describing the people who had just attacked our nations as brutal radicals bent on destroying not our nation but our civilization and saying if thats what they do to us, we should hit right back. And I think, being a devout Christian for her whole life, Anne knows a thing or two about Christianity.

        • If that's how Islam spread in the Middle East; on the sword point, then, how does the largest Muslim nation on the Earth, Indonesia, got the message of Islam? As far as history book is concerned, no horsemen brandishing their swords and yelling gibberish went from Arabia to Persia to South East Asia to (may be build a bridge of sand between mainland Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia) reach Indonesia. Oh no, wait a minute, some Muslim traders took to the ships and went to Indonesia to trade spices. Just like British did with South Asia. Indonesians were impressed with the honesty of Muslim traders (in Islam, as a trader, one has to reveal all the good and the bad of the product being sold) and became Muslims. Compare and contrast that example with British. Well, we all know what they did in South Asia.

      • I am pretty sure that's what the Spanish Inquisition was, where millions of Jews and Muslims, in Spain, were forcibly converted to Christianity. King and Queen gave only 2 choices to all the non-Christians: Convert to Christianity or die. I also think it was done on the basis of sword, rape, mutilations, genocides etc. Christians think they are all good. Christianity is, but not the 95% of Christians. After all, these devout "Christians" were involved in the slavery, colonizing whole Africa, Crusades (against Jews and Muslims), Looting and still looting the rich resources of poor / developing countries. And yeah, just in case, if somebody wants to say that these deplorable actions are done by secular governments. So, Obama isn't religious (does he regularly attend the Sunday mass?). Western European leaders do not attend the Mass? They don't celebrate the Christmas or Easter?

  16. As someone who spent 24 of the best years of my life in the Armed Forces of our country, I was fortunate enough to never fire a shot in anger and never have a shot fired at me in anger. I suppose I should feel guilty about my pension, but somehow I don’t.

    • Every country needs a mil, John. No problem with that.

    • No one will slam you (if they have any common sense) for your service. Even if (like some family of mine, to be sure) the worst hazard of on-the-job in the armed forces was the chow line.

      You put yourself there, the situation is necessary, and your service is no doubt appreciated by most, inluding me.

      No more than my pension that is supposed to be on the way (albeit laughably PUNY) when I used to work for a large telecom. And I DON'T HAVE IT yet. That's for later when my hair is grayer than now. Rules of the house, bro. That's how they pulled people in.

      I think Steyn's larger point was that this shift of money from private to public under the illusion that the sky's the Keynesian limit and that the money will always be there and that we can milk the private sector like productive cattle for any project imaginable–will be our very downfall.

    • John:

      You're the portion of the Public Sector who needs more support, both financially and otherwise. We need a motivated, solvent, well-benefitted and well-pensioned armed forces. It's the over-paid, under-worked, redundant, bureaucrats who are keeping us from paying you and supporting you at the level you deserve.

  17. Stop obeying.

  18. Funny, that with all of Mark Steyn's usually excellent rehashes of those handy ideological moments from yesteryear's literary gold, he forgot to add that the downtrodden carnivorous Morlocks would–just occasionally–EAT one of the wine-sipping, grape gulping, effete vegetarian Eloi.

    Hmm. Lessons, anyone?

    Make of that what you will. I'll deny it all.

    It seems the People might have a food source after all, even if things deteriorate to subsistence levels due to this Statist spending orgy.

    I'll say no more.

    • Mmmm…good cracker.

  19. We have seen the enemy and it is us. The people of Ontario and Toronto who are so stupid as to elect governments that slowly spend the province and city into bankruptcy all the while demanding more "services" will soon get a reality check. The danger is a "saviour" in the form of dictator will convince the population only they can save them. Hitler, Stalin by any other name.

  20. Best to (jet)pack up and go to one of the countries Steyn mentions: Brazil, India, China etc.

  21. I'm not sure what world you guys are living in. Here in the states, every working is instantly replaceable and acts effeminate all the time to prevent angering anyone. There are no social services, severance packages, what have you. There is massive government spending, but it is all military, prison or law enforcement.
    As far as the examples made about the pathetically high level of government spending in parts of Britain, free trade destroyed most of the island's productive economy, and so the state has to bail out people by providing jobs. It's a failure of free markets (if such a thing can exist).

    • utter, utter bollocks. there has never been 'free trade' in the uk. you clearly don't know what the term means.

    • free trade destroyed most of the island's productive economy, and so the state has to bail out people by providing jobs. It's a failure of free markets

      Guess it wasn't so productive an economy if free trade "destroyed" it. And if it can't survive without tariffs and subsidies and whatnot, please explain how society benefits by having it around? And the state is running around "providing jobs" using what wealth, exactly? Free markets haven't failed us, prol. We have failed the free markets.

    • What states might you be chattering about? No social services? all military, prison or law enforcement? You must be trying to write satire. Have you heard of the U S Postal service: billions in the red – fat paychecks, full bennies, good pensions. All the bureaucrats employed by Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare which used to be one unit, now expanded into separate departments, only to mention a few and not even going to the 57 states yet – or was that 59? Never could get Zero's math on that one. The U S is headed toward having only government employees and people who provide services for those government employees, such as maids, pet care, hairdressers, gardeners. etc. I must conclude you are either trying to be funny or you are writing from a cell somewhere.

  22. I'm sick and tired of articles like this one. Yes, the ones that come with "youth with the sense of entitlement to iPhones".

    Damn, this is written by the people that grew up with the sense of entitlement of "a job out of college and a home at 25", the same freaking bunch that voted to lower their taxes to unsustainable level, the ones that paid pennies for the education, helped themselves to inflating out the debt and then decided to screw over the new guy. Yeah, these old farts can't make up their minds on anything. And, yes, blame it all on the new guy. Because the sense of "entitlement" to an iPhone (yes, telephone somehow is a luxury now, while car – the thing the current 50somethings masturbated over when they were younger – is a need), which really costs pennies compared to shit like mortgage and student loans, makes the likes of the author feel self righteous.

    Let me break the statistics for you:

    iPhone: $250 with contract
    Monthly phone bill: $80 with Rogers, I bet it can be cheaper
    Average Canadian college debt: $25 000
    Average Canadian home price: $300 000

    Graduating into this economy: priceless

    It's like Clint Eastwood's Grand Torino: an old idiot resenting those damn kids and praising the Chinese and being self-righteous, while in reality the Fords that he built in the 70 were mostly crap, while it is currently top-notch quality and yet the new guys have to pay his benefits. Pathetic.

  23. What a load of arrogant crap. What a concieted asshole Mark Steyn is.
    All the problems of Canada are caused by public sector workers. Mind boggling arrogant stupidity. So us working class people are nothing better than Morlocks in Steyns contemptuous view of the majority of Canadians. Thanks a lot for the insight pal.If canada is no longer creating wealth for its citizens, then that is the fault of Canadian capitalists and government economic policy. Fostering globalism ie exploitation of the cheapest labour in the most desprate and, or totalitarian countries in the world. Not the fault of Canadian workers, either private or government. The benefit packages paid to government workers are no better, and in many cases are inferior to, those paid to employees in the private sector. How do you think public sector workers pay for their essentials (houses) and baubles (plasma tv's) Through debt, that's how.

  24. When income taxes hit 60% in Sweden, the voters turfed the government. In France, a quarter or more of the economy has gone underground to avoid overtaxation and to deprive the bureaucracy of any more revenue. I only want to work for everybody else til June 30.
    From then til New Year's Eve, everybody else had better be working for me. Biblical wisdom says love your neighbour as yourself, not more than yourself, so as soon as the system demands more than it returns, it will eventually be broken. The reason a government worker does not look out the window in the morning? To save it for something to do in the afternoon. Although I must say, there are four deadlines the government always meets on time: Coffee, lunch, coffee, and 4:30.

  25. Whatever, working for the government is still much better than the private sector, and since I live in Ottawa, the best way to earn a living.
    Sucks to be you rest of Canada.

  26. This reminds me of Cuba where we passed huge arenas where Fidel had made his addresses..beautifully maintained. Our Russian-trained guide blahed, blahed about Fidel's "greatness" but I couldn't help noticing the Spanish-style architecture, rotting for the price of a can of primer/paint. I asked him why there were red licence plates on new cars and yellow on clunkers. He explained that red plates were for Government workers. I pointed out that a society led by privileged government/public workers that did not support/encourage entrepreneurial spirit was doomed to failure. Reminds me of Ottawa.

  27. An early pension is essential for government workers because by age 50 the emptiness of the work and mind numbing intellectual laziness of management promoting their corporate b/s starts to drive one round the twist and out of the place by 55 or soon after. The headline wording of 'Uptown GIRLS …' is apposite because 'government as husband' that has developed over the last 40 years has swamped the public sector workplace with women, particularly in central federal agencies. This has occurred to the degree that they now resemble harems with just one customer, the minister, and the women see their role as making the minister look good and smell sweet.

  28. I would be more inclined to pass this off if the province of Manitoba hadn't released the most depressing budget I've ever seen yesterday.

  29. The media likes to bash front line public employee's, but in reality the majority make less then the private sector. Most make around 60 thousand a year or less. Skilled trades in the construction sector can make over 100 thousand a year if they can got on a project running lots of overtime, 60-70 thousand working 40 hrs a week. This is a middle class income, where you can live a decent life, save for retirement, put your kids through college or university. Where government is wasting money is on consultants, and multiple levels of bureaucracy above the front line workers. We need more teachers, doctors, nurses people who provide excellent service for a fair level of compensation. We need get rid of countless layers of management, who get paid far to much, for doing far to little.

    The media never seems to see anything wrong about CEO's and executives making millions of dollars a years, living high on the hog like parasites off our pension plans, rrsp's and mutual funds, bank fee's. Macleans seems to think it's the middle class who should take the cut, and lower their standard of living.

  30. I'm happy that at least there's someone out there to denounce North American governments for what they are : self-serving vampires out to gulp down the last taxpayers' hardly earned cash. They have become such heavy/fat/money addicted regulatory machines that they turned into obstacles to development despite the usual bullshit their leaders say.

  31. How can my comment be deleted by the administrator without ever being there in the first place?

  32. Sorry for perhaps being too naive yet it seems to me that if modern society is focused on individual success instead of the general wellbeing, then the government acts according to this basic value : it cares about itself , screw the rest.
    Instant self-gratification instead of seeing the whole society and weighing the future repercussions of today's actions.
    It is always us or/against them. Why not really cooperate for a change : us AND them? Because in the end that's how it works. Haven't we had to face some hard times recently due to this fact?

  33. Great article you have here. Well written and said. Cheers to you Mark.

  34. What the labor market doesn't need are more well paid bureaucrats and no nothing managers. What it does need are more teachers, doctors, and workers who earn a fair wage and are appreciated for it. We spend too much time and money lauding the accomplishments of the ones at the top, and not nearly enough time praising and supporting the ones that hold them up.

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