One of my “crossing the Rubicon” moments came upon me about twenty years ago, when I went to the main branch of the old San Francisco public library (before it moved to its snazzy, very expensive new digs), and tried to check out a book. I found myself standing in a line of about 60 people, all waiting to check out their books.
Standing on tip-toe (remember, I’m short), I was able to see that there were three active stations, each with a library employee checking out the books. Considering that checking out books isn’t “rocket surgery,” I was at a loss to figure out why it was taking so long. I discovered the problem when I got to the head of the line: the clerks weren’t trying very hard. To be honest, they weren’t trying at all. Watching molasses drip on a cold day would be a more scintillating experience than watching these public servants processing the public. To add insult to injury, they were rude too.
I walked out thinking this to myself: “I doubt anyone of those clerks is paid more than about $28,000 per year, plus benefits. That’s $84,000 cash per year, not including the benefits. Why don’t they just hire one good person for $50,000 (plus benefits, of course), and get the job done right at a savings to the City of $34,000 per year, plus two unused benefits packages? But of course, that couldn’t happen. The unions would never go for it. Their goal is to have as many employees as possible who, once they get their jobs, can never be fired, no matter how shoddy their work. This isn’t about serving San Franciscans, this is about maximum employment for union members.”
I walked out of that library much more conservative than when I walked into that library.
This memory came back to me courtesy of an Instapundit post (hat tip: Earl):
MORE ON THOSE UNDERFUNDED / OVERGENEROUS PUBLIC PENSIONS: Report: SF Pension Crisis Much Worse than City Claims: Adachi-commissioned analysis puts gap at $6.8 billion–not official figure of $1.6 billion. “The city’s pension fund is officially underfunded by $1.6 billion. Nation’s study argues that the pension fund is relying on a 7.75 percent annual rate of return that is unrealistic over the long term. The study argues for 6.2 percent, which it says was the average rate of return in the capital markets from 1900 through 1999.” Frankly, that “conservative” number looks overoptimistic to me. 4% is probably more realistic.