Friday, May 9, 2008

It Pays to be a Firefighter in Vallejo, CA

First let me preface this entire entry by saying, I don't bemoan the type of work firefighters or police officers do - along with coal miners these are among the toughest jobs in America. That said, I wrote a piece on the bankruptcy in Vallejo [May 7: Vallejo California Votes for Bankruptcy]; Mish over at Mish's Global Economic Trend blog followed up Thursday with a look at the salaries of public workers in the city. He took a look at all the workers who made more than $100K - there were 292 city workers (I don't know out of how many) - but this is only a town of 100K people. Not New York City.

Below are charts of the $200-$299K and $180-$199K ranges. Dominated by firefighters (and some policemen). Again, I have no bones with these people being compensated for tough work but when private industry is being battered by falling wages, and low(er) paying jobs - how can our tax dollars continue to pay such wages? As I wrote in my earlier piece

What I've been amazed to watch locally is how local governments (in a 1 state recession we've had for about 4 years now) won't cut jobs or benefits (for themselves) while private enterprise is cutting jobs, benefits, wages left and right. I guess they will hold on - until they go BK. But we need to either see very sizeable tax increases and/or job cuts/services lost to pay for our excesses of the housing bubble.

Unfortunately this has to change in a downwardly mobile country such as ours; a country full of new Walmart shoppers. [Dec 26: Target Shoppers Turning into Walmart Shoppers] It is not fair for the private sector to take such hits, while public sector employees make wages completely out of whack with where they would be in "free markets"; and subsidized by those working in the private market. It sounds cruel but this is our reality - "shared sacrifice" is a necessity.

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