Sunday, November 21, 2010

Considerate mayor spares taxpayers debt

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Living in a society where politicians first instinct is to precipitate financial crises by facilitating the mass expansion of debt or printing money; and then their 2nd instinct is to do more of the same, and then to blame the market or CEOs for reacting to the policies they adopted.
So it is refreshing when a politician does more than offer tax cuts which merely keep up with 'bracket creep', or who offers unsustainable tax cuts which will be removed after the next election, because they never made corresponding cuts to spending or reductions in debt.
There is a politician in San Diego County who is doing just that...mind you it has taken the financial crisis, and its probably because he is between a rock and another hard place. No, actually its not such a hard place....the long suffering taxpayer who carries all burdens. They cave like there is no tomorrow. So its refreshing that when there is a politician who does not take advantage of the apathetic passivity of taxpayers or there moral scepticism.
Jerry Sanders, the mayor of San Diego County, is proposing to end the pension for city workers in order to rein in the public financing burden of city workers. Instead these workers will be required to adopt the same 401(k) pension plan used by private pensioners. By removing public servants from public financing, the mayor is sparing city taxpayers from the prospect of an unfunded liability which could blow out in future years.
It is rare that we find such acts of accountability by politicians, which is good reason why they should not be trusted with unconditional access to public funds. The idea of politicians having unaccountable access to financing did not exist in the Dark Ages, why does it exist today? There is an expectation that infrequent elections provide adequate 'choice' and adequate accountability. The international experience suggests otherwise. The contemporary two party duopoly we see in Western democracies offers no effective choice. There is seldom any public accountability in democracies around the world. At the moment, the only govts with balanced budgets are the commodity producing nations like Australia, NZ, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Canada, which have experienced a rapid rise in commodity prices, and thus the public tax receipts have exploded. This has of course not stopped them from presiding over a blow-out in private household the same lack of prudence remains. Why did private sector debt blow out? Fed financial distortion...yes, it comes back to government.
It is always public sector enabling...even if materialistic private sector CEOs and aspirational homeowners have taken advantage of it. The system was designed by politicians. So when we have a politician who does not take the easy path of placing the public sector liabilities on the taxpayer-funded credit card, we ought to praise his consideration for the taxpayer. Where you are a local taxpayer, or a federal taxpayer, you will end up paying.
So...thanks to Jerry Sanders, the mayor of San Diego County...great guy...even if it took a financial crisis for him to execute...who knows it might lead to a spread of integrity. It is noteworthy that this greater accountability is happening on a country/local government level.
Andrew Sheldon

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