You Are an Extortionist … By Caleb Stegall - October 13, 2010 15 Facebook Twitter Email Print David Brooks youtube-ized. Perfect, though mild language warning. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR The Wittenberg Door The Theological Need for Mediation: Considerations from Alexis de Tocqueville The Nightstand Learning How to Think with Alan Jacobs The Barbershop In Praise of the Children’s Choir Accompanist 15 COMMENTS I have heard Firemen are like prostitutes, they make money lying on their backs…….. -J That was cute? So I’m supposed to be outraged because the firefighter: 1) belongs to an organization that looks out for his interests, 2) makes a living wage, 3) works so few hours that he actually has a family life, and 4) has a retirement package. Good lord, I can’t believe we let this guy get away with this. “To the gallows with thee. Off with thy head.” If one does five minutes worth of research you quickly learn that approximately two percent of firefighters in the nation made in excess of $100,000 dollars last year. According to the numbers I found, the average pay was around $55,000. I I think it is also useful to put things in perspective. A firefigher spends his or her days sitting around waiting on something to catch on fire. In the event something does catch on fire, he or she might be asked to risk life and limb rescuing a complete stranger. Call me stupid, but there has to be at least some utility in such actions. On the other hand, the CEOs at many major corporations spend their days figuring out ways to reduce head count (aka as firing people), exploit the remaining workers (aka improving productivity), move jobs to countries with labor conditions approaching slavery, and ensure his or her company’s place at the corporate welfare trough. For these actions they are paid handsomely, given awards, and called titans of industry. Again, maybe I’m stupid, but I fail see how society benefits from any of these actions. Oh, and let us not forget the retirement packages of said CEOs, which, if you consider the fact that many of the major corporations would not exist were it not for corporate welfare, are financed by tax payers. Is it possible that many public sector employees are overpaid and underworked? Perhpaps. Might it also be the case that many private sector employees are underpaid and overworked? Perhaps. I have to agree with Robert–the video made me laugh, sure, and of course there is a lot of abuse in public sector unions. But a few more facts might help people see the bigger picture. Of course I’m with Richard Weaver in making the more radically conservative critique of labor unions as a particularly pernicious example of the co-opting of sturdy freemen by the liberal corporate state wherein “workers” accept the basic premises, ethos, and habits of the machine and the mechanized worker-unit and their essential status as wage servants in a system of constant grubbing at a trough controlled by others (which applies doubly to public service unions!) whether for jobs (or “jobs, jobs, jobs”) or for salad shooters. Incredible. That is California in the video, however. I bet the unfunded pension obligations differ significantly by state. Even if every fact and insinuation in this video is correct, the firemen are not thugs. At worst, they are parasites who have learned how the play the game (like many others, including the nominally “private” sector). The only thugs are the guys who grab your wealth, or throw you in jail for hiding it…the politicians and police. About the only thing I got to say about the thing is the ending promo that asserts “If you can type, you can make movies”. Why yes, movies just like the one shown, with stilted cartoon characters and monotone dialogue, perfect for the automatons of the High-Tech Peasantry we have going. With the Glorious Internets, Everyone is a Cornpone Auteur. With the pleading sore winners of the day, I’d just love to see a volunteer fire dept in a big city. There would be a lot of new open land in our urban areas. Excesses leading to clusterboinks all around, private to public sector but the great part is the only thing being done about it is some posturing followed by more hair of the dog that bit ye.But , we can all become Directors, full employment. Thanks Youtube. I agree with Robert too. My socialist friend would say the fact that public sector employees are unionized at a far greater percentage than private sector employees are simply points out how messed up our society is when it comes to labor policy — if there’s one place unions ought NOT be needed, it is the public sector. That said, if a city made such a deal as is described here with a union, they deserve what they get. And finally, “mild language”? That was incredibly offensive language. If that is what passes for mild these days then it’s just another nail in the coffin of “civil”-ization… Albert, The numbers referenced in the video are not even representative of California as a whole. Rather, the videos’ creator took one fire district in San Francisco and tried to make it seem as every firefighter in the nation makes that sort of money and has those sort of benefits. I can’t comment on the validity of the benefits package mentioned in the video, but the $125,000 salary figure was an anomaly caused by an unusual number of vacancies in the district, which drastically increased the number of overtime hours the remaining firefighters worked in one calendar year. And no, I’m not a firefighter, or a union representative. Furthermore, I tend to think perhaps many cops and firefighters do have some sort of hero complex that leads them to believe they are “special.” Good catch Sabin! You are correct of course. For further discussion on that topic, I refer readers here. Let me start out by saying I work for a municipality, in a very entrenched bureaucratic, but necessary (to an extent) arm of said municipality. I am not a fireman, but I often work very closely with them. Do they serve a purpose? Yes, they keep insurance premiums low. Insurance companies provide cheaper coverage in areas well covered by firefighters. Thus, municipalities continue to build lavish firehouses, fully included are game rooms, video game/entertainment rooms, gym (inside basketball court, work out center, cardio center). They build them to keep the insurance costs low for their citizens. The fire lobby promotes this in similar ways the Cali jailers union prevented the housing of illegal inmates in Mexico. Do firefighters actually put out fires and save people. Hardly. It is my experience they do no such thing. In a career, I have never seen a fireman save anyone from a fire. Never. I have seen PD save a few. I can attest to the “Giant 1.4 million dollar ladder truck” showing up to the call where small boy sprains his ankles. I have had conversations with upper management about this. I have been told they keep statistics on the number of calls run for each truck. This is how they justify getting more trucks for their fire department, by number of service calls per truck. Never mind what kind of call it is. So, they use these million dollar vehicles to go on calls where they are not needed so they can get even more of these million dollar vehicles and justify hiring more firemen they do not need. Racketeering. Let me clarify. The medics are working their asses off. They are the true heroes, they save lives. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a medic save a life. Now, consider how buildings are constructed in present day USA. Fire retardant materials. It is in the code in any major city. Sprinklers? Yes. Alarms? Yes. Now I know, fires do occur, but not to the extent they did in the past, nor are they as devastating. I would suggest a much more scaled down version of a fire department is in order. However, we all know how hard it is to change the way people think. Racketeering. Lastly, most firemen I know are great guys. They are just leeches. They don’t view themselves in this way, but they are. I don’t blame them a bit. I wish I was one of these guys. Most all of them have secondary jobs they work on their off days. The fire budget is around 23% of the total budget for the municipality. The frequency of an actual structure fire is almost non existent. On these rare occasions, it would be far cheaper to let the structure burn to the ground and disband the fire department entirely. Robert, are you seriously comparing retirement packages of CEO’s to firemen? I don’t blame these men, again, I would take it if I could get it as well. But looking at the big picture, fire departments are just an organ of the giant bureaucratic organism sucking the soul out of the private sector. Robert, where the hell do you think all that money comes from? -J Robert, I don’t know where you are getting your numbers. Regardless, the video creator seems to be commenting on the situation in Bell, CA and not San Francisco. So, it doesn’t seem that six figure compensations in California are limited to “one fire district in San Francisco with “an unusual number of vacancies in the district.” Moreover, a quick Google search shows that Sacramento also gives compensation packages averaging more than $125,000 to their fire fighters, not even including top management. So, it seems this kind of compensation package is not an isolated anomaly in CA as you believe. It seems the video creator is actually correct about this particular issue being more widespread in California. Meanwhile back in the real world, last Sunday, firefighters saved 9 people from a burning apartment building in Lowell, Mass., but failed to rescue two others, who perished. Speaking to the Lowell City Council on Tuesday, Fire Lt. David Keene, the head of the local firefighters union, called the life-saving feat even more impressive, because, had three fire stations not been closed to save money, nine more firefighters would have been on duty that night. “We worked that fire with a reduction of personnel of 24 percent, one-fourth less manpower to take on the numerous tasks encountered simultaneously at this fire,” he said. Two people are dead because folks like David Brooks. How much are their lives worth? Maybe you would like to be one to tell their family that they simply cost the city too much to live. Apparently, wages simply matching the average increase of productivity of American workers is too much for conservatives to ask. Prior to 1973 and globalization, wages and productivity growth followed each other and after 1973 they decoupled. Public employees aren’t overpaid they are simply the only sector not trashed by globalism and labor arbitrage other than propagandist. David Brooks is a tool being used to pit peasants against each other much like Vladimir Lenin called the kulaks “bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who batten on famine.” In Third World American 2010, under the corporate Leninists like David Brooks are calling public employees instead kulaks “bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who batten on famine.” The reality is it the folks who own the platforms that constantly project imaginary this lower-middle class conflict who are the “bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who batten on famine.” See the article by Johann Hari: “How Goldman Sachs Caused a ‘Silent Mass Murder,’ Gambling on Starvation in the Developing World” Septeus7’s “Leninism” remark reminds me of an ironic impression I got from that video. Apparently the “anti-firefighter” character feels entitled to declare what each person’s labor is worth. He essentially wants to be a central planner, of the Leninist mold. That issue is only relevant if the firefighter’s union engage in political campaigns saying “we don’t get paid enough” (which I’m sure they do, but that isn’t how this video presents it). As for Brooks, he is terribly mistaken to say that the unions are responsible for the state’s financial situation. There are two parties to every contract, and the state should not have made a contract that they couldn’t pay (same with GM). It’s the politician’s responsibility to manage state finances. Workers should try to get as much as they can out of their salary negotiations, just like their employers do. Every economy is is centrally planned and not at the same time. All societies have political structures that determine what kinds of economic activity will most profitable and at the same time subsets of economic activity arise that are organic responses to the superstructure. The only question is whether or not the political legal structure that determines the organization of resources meet minimal production and service standards physically. Economics is the human response to changes in the ecological environment including it’s own formation of the environment not abstract concepts like markets. We have to live according God’s rules in the world not our made-up market rules. The success of economy has to how much are our ideas line up with the reality of God’s rules for physical development and human relations not market exchanges. You can’t make a contract with God or the laws of nature. Capitalism has overturned the ecological paradigm resulting in post-industrial urbanization which cannot produce the demand needed to support the food production as profitable. The result will be as the number of people in the farming category closes in on zero and the consumer economy which cannot create any more jobs will ultimately result in increasing unemployment with people unable to buy anything as currency values collapse. Billions of top predators will be left searching for the only valuable commodity of which there are no producers in crowded cities and therefore will start hunting each other causing exponential declines in population until extinction. So like the every species before where the predators out number primary producers extinction follows. Unless Capitalism is rejected the terminal phase of Capitalism i.e. the post industrial economy will be the terminal phase of human existence. External factors like Global Warming never cause selective extinction but economic collapse of the production pyramid does. Since we are culturally unable to shift economic structures backwards toward lower efficiency i.e. higher number of producers relative to consumers it is almost certain human extinction will happen by the end of century. Unlike economics this argument is scientific and based on the most basic facts of ecology and cannot be refuted. The only way I see to avoid this literally move massive amount of human beings to hostile regions where production would have to localized such as mars we could start again. Unfortunately, we may already be too late. Richard Nixon killed humanity by ending protection for local production and the Apollo project. Producerism or Die! Comments are closed.