Progressive government has become unprogressive QUOTABLE
by New York deep mayor Stephen Goldsmith, WALL STREET JOURNAL 2011-03-18
"Across the country, the interests of organized labor, elected officials and taxpayers are colliding over wages, work rules and the astronomical costs of retiree pensions and health care. As important as these specific issues are to resolve, there is another, more fundamental problem causing so many Americans to lose faith in their government: It is not government unions per se but progressive government itself—long celebrated in Wisconsin, New York and elsewhere—that no longer produces progressive results…
Performance and qualifications cannot be considered in hiring
"New York City has more than 300,000 employees who work under more than 100 collective-bargaining agreements, along with layers of bureaucratic state civil-service laws. State law mandates that over 1,500 job titles must be filled… specifically ignoring an employee's actual performance or qualifications.
"Seniority rules require that layoffs are based on date of hire, not merit. These rules also prevent any significant rewards for outstanding performance and make dismissing bad apples in the Big Apple all but impossible. Even asking employees for their ideas can be against the rules…there are far too many (rules), and they hurt the very people progressive reformers cared most about: the least fortunate members of society who depend the most on effective support services…
Special interests within
"A hundred years ago, progressives envisioned a highly professional public-sector work force reining in exploitative corporate interests.…today we find that in many cases special interests are working in the bureaucracy, using Progressive Era rules to protect the status quo and themselves….
these special- interest interventions ultimately lead to socially regressive results… A system that hires without discretion, promotes without considering performance, and lays off teachers without regard to merit cannot truly serve its citizens.
Excruciating contracting rules
"Today…excruciating contracting rules produce unintended results. Antiquated and overly complex procurement rules lead to year-long delays and waste millions of taxpayer dollars. These complex bureaucratic processes lock out small businesses and lock in existing contractors.
Pensions an unsustainable burden
"The current systems punish taxpayers in other ways too. Unaffordable pensions imposed by state legislators on unsuspecting citizens have created an unsustainable burden…(This) leads directly to budget cuts for social programs and education, and to higher taxes that squeeze working families' budgets and kill jobs.
"Few would dispute the fairness of a progressive tax system—but there are limits. In New York City, the highest-earning 1% of tax filers pay approximately 50% of the city's income taxes. Those paying the most are also best-positioned to relocate.
"We need a new approach to governance that includes more respect not only for students in need of high-quality education but also for taxpayers, that has less job-killing red tape, and that fosters a more productive work force. The first rule of city government should be an unwavering commitment to delivering real value to the public with every tax dollar. That would be real progress."