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Fort Worth council must stop putting off the inevitable

March 20, 2010

I thought this was a nicely written editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fort Worth council must stop putting off the inevitable

Average Fort Worth police base pay for all ranks is $64,374. The average rises to $71,073 when including other compensation such as overtime and educational incentives. The annual police turnover rate, excluding retirements, is only 2.7 percent for a good reason.

I’d like to highlight the 2.7 percent turnover rate as this is the most important piece of data in the larger debate.  Comparisons of public and private salaries is not important.  The important question is whether the salary, benefits, job duties, and work environment of the public sector jobs are such that people choose to stay or leave.  A 2.7 percent turnover rate is VERY low.  If public sector jobs were so awful, the turnover would be higher.

Another good point, and my main theme with this blog.

But public servants should not be disproportionately rewarded at the expense of harming the overall financial health of the city they serve.

Over-rewarding any subgroup does not balance out some other injustice.  It seems that many of my more liberal friends immediately start talking about bailouts of banks or some other corporatist action by the government as a reason to support the pensions of public workers.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Public sector employees should be fairly paid.  Paying them more than what they deserve (which should be based on the overall labor market) is simply a transfer of wealth from the citizens as a whole to a small subset of “lucky” job lottery winners who happened to have gotten one of these public sector jobs.  This transfer of wealth takes away from our ability to pay for good teachers, keep our libraries open, and invest in other important resources.

If employees are not treated well at a job, they should leave.  It is that simple.  From my perspective and my personal experience, public sector employees don’t have great jobs, they don’t get paid all that well, but they also have it very, very easy with the expectation of a gravy train at the end.  This is why they don’t leave for the private sector.

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