Do people in government live in a science fictional alternative world, where up is down, where a reduction in an increase is a decrease, where manna falls from heaven, where the cash cow never dries up, where Robin Hood robs from the poor and gives to the rich?
While private sector employees are being laid off, hours are being cut, tips jingle instead of crinkle, company health insurance is being dropped, home values are halved, 401(k) funds and stock market portfolios are evaporating, taxable sales are off 21.9 percent, gasoline and utility costs are rising — our public servants are applauding proposed city and county firefighter union contracts that they say “save” millions of dollars because they don’t increase as much as in the past.
In their alternative universe, we could all save ourselves out of debt by going on a shopping spree because the store is having a sale. Just look at the money we saved!
The city of Las Vegas next week will consider a new firefighter contract, one ratified by 97 percent of the union members, that does not contain a cost of living increase in wages in its first year. City Manager Betsy Fretwell boasted that this “saves” the city $1.5 million, because in the past the city has given COLAs amounting to 3.5 percent a year. This is not, like other union contracts in the news of late, a renegotiation of an existing contract. No one is giving back something already won. It is a new contract. Cutting wages would be a savings, not increasing wages is a wash.
In fact the firefighters, since they were so magnanimous on COLAs, have agreed to be forced to accept an increase in the amount taxpayers pay toward their retirements and increase payments into their medical trust fund — to the tune of $1.75 million.
Councilman Steve Ross said, "I’m just thrilled to death that they’ve reached an agreement." Others would not talk. You taxpayers need not know what your representatives are doing with your money.
The city will take up this contract proposal on Aug. 5. The county will take up its firefighter contract on Aug. 4. Both probably will be in secret. None of your business.
The county’s proposal would extend the current contract for two years and reduce the annual COLA from 3 percent to a paltry 2 percent, “saving” $1.2 million in exchange for two extra days off a year, which would only cost taxpayers $1.3 million.
What do you think will happen?
In the alternative universe, firefighters retire in their 50s, some at more than 100 percent of base pay, some in excess of $100,000 a year, while in the real world people look at that Social Security letter they get each year and calculate that if they retire at age 70 they might collect almost enough to cover the mortgage and part of the power bill.
In the real world, when the guy comes into your store demanding vigorish so the windows don’t get broken, it is called a protection racket.