Harold, I don't disagree that Canada's public debt is worrisome and we do have to look for public efficiencies. What I question is the assertion that we can solve our problems on the backs of public service workers.If we want lower taxes and balanced budgets, we need to equalize the benefits in the public sector to be similar to private sector, for similar jobs.
That is not all, of course, but a substantial portion of the issue.
Think about what's happened in the socialized economies of Europe, like Greece, Spain, UK, etc.
The public sector is out of control there.
Over generous vacation benefits, training benefits, paid sabbaticals, unemployment benefits, etc. essentially bankrupted the govt.
It is not fair to compare the Canadian public sector to the US one.
Theirs is no where near as generous as the Canadian one.
The Canadian one is closer to the European model.
My (admittedly anecdotal) experience is that public sector work was hardly as fantastic as public perception suggests. I left the public sector long ago. Here are some of the reasons.
- Pay scales that could easily be match in the private sector.
- No stock options, profit sharing or bonuses.
- A pension plan that nominally returned 4%. At that time you could easily beat that with GICs, bonds and stocks. (Now it doesn't seem so bad, but back then it was almost insulting).
- No basic perks like paid social functions and retreats. We even had to pay for our own coffee.
- Dingy windowless work areas with poor ergonomics and old furniture.
- A public that perceived us as overpaid, under-worked leeches.
There was waste and political manipulation, of course. Those happen in the private sector too. However, for me, the private sector has been far more lucrative than the public sector. I therefore question the assertion that cuts to public worker salaries, benefits and head counts will substantively solve our budget woes. I think we have to be prepared for the fact that we'll all need to chip in to solve Canada's fiscal woes. That may mean higher taxes or giving up entitlements.
[To argue against myself for a moment, I do admit to feeling occasional resentment towards public teacher's unions but that may reflect my own lack of understanding of what teacher's lives are really like.]
In some respects, I think the US may be in better shape than Canada or Europe because America will probably have a better ratio of workers to retirees. Programs such as OAS, GIS, universal health care and prescription drug benefits may become as unsustainable in Canada as they did in Europe. http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogsp...time-bomb.html