Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Question Of Balance

One tends to think of Forbes magazine as a fairly staid publication, devoted to capitalism and those who practice same. Hardly the place for fiery statements about the public sector, other than decrying tax increases. This makes an article by John Tamny presently running in the publication something of an eyebrow-raiser.

Tamny, whose credentials include senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics and senior economic advisor to Toreador Research and Trading, sharply criticizes the present levels of compensation for civil servants as compared to those privately employed, which averages out to $123,000 annually for government employees as compared to $61,000 for their citizen counterparts. He hammers away at how the public sector now drains both the necessary funds for private business development through excessive taxes and the manpower that otherwise would be engaged in private enterprise:
We must always consider the "unseen," and in this case it's the wealth we won't create and the companies that will not materialize thanks to the greedy hand of the federal government.

Not exactly a fan of the present situation, what say?

Tamny is hardly alone in his opinion. There is an ever-growing resentment among the general public toward public employees. The tea party phenomenon isn't strictly about lower taxes, although that certainly plays a part. At its core is a belief in limited government, with the people free to conduct their business and affairs unfettered by excessive taxation, regulation and bureaucratic impediment. Every story of abuse within government employment, such as the revelation last week that in Norfolk, Virginia an individual had drawn a paycheck for twelve years with a taxpayer-funded agency without once actually showing up for work, adds to the palpable anger.

This creates a challenge for CSE. On one hand, we were founded by civil servants. We are dedicated to serving the needs of civil servants and their families. We applaud and honor the devotion and sacrifice of firefighters, law enforcement professionals and educators among other public employees. Yet at the same time, we work with an independent agent force who face the difficulties outlined in Tamny's article, namely high taxes and personnel drain. We ourselves at CSE are private citizens. If there is excess and waste in government, we too pay the price.

So what can we do?

It's easy to define what we can't do. We can neither provide a blanket, blind endorsement of all public employees, nor can we condemn the foundation of our company with a similar broad brush. We, too, are in a very real sense victimized by both failures by civil servants and unfair generalizations against them.

It is a difficult balance to strike, clinging to what is good while abhorring what is evil. Yet this is our only option.

Balance is a most difficult proposition at times.

P.S. Off-topic, but speaking of a question of balance, remember this one?

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