Posted by | January 3, 2011 14:06 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The New York Times yesterday reported on rising anger against public employees as state and local budgets grow tighter and tighter.

Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy.

Politicians have perpetrated the myth that public employees are overpaid, but repeated studies have questioned that claim.

A raft of recent studies found that public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers. The Manhattan Institute, which is not terribly sympathetic to unions, studied New Jersey and concluded that teachers earned wages roughly comparable to people in the private sector with a similar education.

The result of these is growing public support for cutting public salaries and laying off public employees.  But this is as short sighted as cutting money on roads or education.  Lower salaries (or benefits) means a lower quality workforce.  And when your kid is in a class with 35 students or you call 911 and want a quick response, you want capable public servants handling your concerns.  Either we pay now or we pay later.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.