I am a Civil Servant

I keep hearing from various media outlets and bloggers how much money is wasted on the Government and such, and inevitably out of these discussions comes statements about the typical Civil Servant, and I now feel that I have the right to comment on this stuff (having worked in both the Private (for 25 years) and now the Public Sector (almost 10 years)).

Let’s go over a few of the more interesting points that some folks seem to have an opinion about:

  • I am  paid by your taxes, but I also pay taxes. One media outlet seemed to be implying that a Civil Servant doesn’t pay taxes, but I can assure you, I pay taxes just like everyone. No free ride here.
  • Pretty much everybody can easily figure out from information readily available how much I make. This is disconcerting, since when I worked for Nortel, people could guess but they couldn’t be sure they knew how much I made.
  • Someone does drive me into work in the morning (these days). However, he or she works for OC Transpo. I don’t get limousine rides to work every day (yes, someone asked me that exact question when they heard I worked in the government). Never mention parking to a Civil Servant though (that is a mess at all levels of government).
  • Are all Civil Servants lazy? Let’s not go there on this one, let’s just say I have seen good and bad in both the Public and Private sector, and leave it at that. Some might argue I am a Lazy Sod, so maybe you shouldn’t ask me?

From what I can tell, a lot of misconceptions folks have about Civil Servants (or Public Servants) seems to come from the perks that Members of Parliament get.

The major issue I keep hearing is that I have a “gold-plated free pension”, which is an interesting fallacy, that again comes from the MP side of things. Yes, I have a very nice pension (that many people do not have, so I do realize having a pension is a huge benefit). The pension was negotiated with an elected government, but is in no way “free” to me. I pay a great deal of money into the Pension Plan, and will more likely have to pay more soon, to keep this privilege, but I did have this same privilege when I was at Nortel (until it all fell apart).

Yes, the taxpayer pays for part of my pension, but that is because they are the folks bankrolling my employer (i.e. the Federal Government), so again, I am kind of paying into that too.

Unlike Members of Parliament, Civil Servants take 35 years to get a “full” pension. Members of Parliament get a FULL pension after 6 years (oh and I don’t think they put much money in on their side either).

A Civil Servants “full” pension can be calculated as (assuming they work for 35 years in the Civil Service).

70% of an average of your 5 best years salary, which is then discounted by how much CPP you will get paid (once you are CPP eligible)  {simple isn’t it ?}

Big Deal You Are Still Better Off Than Most Canadians!

What’s the point of all of this? Just me venting at some of the more asinine commentaries I have seen on the Media and in the Blogosphere lately. I am ready to discuss whatever points you like on the topic of the Civil Service and it’s Pension system.

As an addendum a very well written article which helps clarify things is Michael James The Consequences of Keeping Bad Employees which talks about the biggest issue in the Public Service (IMHO).

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Good on ya Jim

So Jim Flaherty has had to retreat from his aggressive debt payment plans, due to the Canadian economy being sluggish (OK downright comatose). The goal of a balanced budget by 2014 is now not possible in Minister Flaherty’s point of view,  and he now thinks that 2015 may be a more achievable goal.

Financial pundits are lampooning this statement, and of course the Political Wags are all having a field day claiming the Tories are not keeping their promises (as the Tories would do if the Liberals were in power, and the reverse was true).

The Canadian Economy is in a shambles? The Government’s programs are driving the country into the ground? Canada is teetering on an economic precipice? None of that is likely (although who knows these days), it is the entire global economy that is causing markets worldwide to be ludicrously unstable, and thus causing all economies to be in a right mucked up state (that is an actual economic term that John Kenneth Galbraith used to use).

All this instability is causing companies to cut back on spending, and folks are starting to lose jobs (again), which of course is cutting the government’s income base (unemployed people pay a lot less (if not no) taxes, the major income base for the governments). Less folks working, less income, less income, fewer programs, without spending cuts, deficit financing must come into place, and we are back where we were in 2008. Yes, a hugely over simplified explanation, but it does sum it up (in my opinion).

I actually respect Mr. Flaherty for being honest enough to say that the Government was being too aggressive in their goals and they must rethink and change their plans (like we all should do, should problems arise, we must sometime change our plans to reflect the new reality we live in). Am I disappointed that the Government can’t get back to a balanced budget, yes, but there is really not much to be done about it (other than shutting down a lot of government programs, which sounds like a great idea, until you see who might be affected (or is it effected) by these cuts).

Is Mr. Flaherty to blame here? I don’t think so, but what do you think?

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Financial Armageddon ?

 

Defaulting Means something Really Bad

CNN Money posted a very interesting set of discussions with former treasury secretary Summers (and also former Harvard President, his views on the Winklevoss twins is, interesting).

In this video excerpt he gives his point of view on what the U.S. defaulting on their credit might actually mean, and while he does use a fair amount of dramatic adjectives, the point made is correct, this is gonna be really, really bad, and it should not be allowed to happen.

Will this happen? I really, really hope not, because at the end of it, all of this is just political nonsense posturing on all sides of the argument, trying to prove a point, instead of a group of elected officials trying to do the best for their country (admittedly an incredibly naive view of what politicians are actually elected to do).

If you have time, check out the Winklevoss short video as well, quite entertaining (if you haven’t already seen Social Media, that is).

 

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Budget 2011 Redux

Didn’t we already have a budget? Oh yes, the Budget to Nowhere which effectively triggered the election, which brought the Conservatives a Majority, guess the Liberals wished they voted FOR that one, but hindsight is 20/20.

Now we have a new/old Budget for 2011, which brings us much of what was before, some new things, and some other stuff, all very exciting (OK, the stories Larry MacDonald may have from the Budget Lock Up might be more exciting, but that is for Larry to write about).

So what is so new and exciting?

  • $2.2 Billion to Quebec for them harmonizing their sales tax with the GST, creating an HST.
  • A phase out of quarterly allowances to political parties.
  • The Budget deficit is $4.5 Billion lower than forecast in March

That’s it, pretty much everything from the old budget is coming back, too! The forecast is that the Government will be in a surplus state by 2015-16, which is encouraging, but then again, that assumes economic growth and no more Economic Tsunamis, wiping out portions of the economy.

I do like some of the interesting side note programs:

  • Ban on unsolicited credit card cheques, I like this, I have to keep shredding these ticking time bombs to make sure they don’t get used fraudulently.
  • Renewal of Own the Podium program, good I like watching the Olympics and seeing our athletes excel.
  • Two-year extension of accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment, means I can write off another computer on this blog (I think) so good on  you Mr. Harper!
  • Helmets to Hardhats program to help veterans get work in construction industry, I like this one too, good idea to get our veterans jobs (although I think we need to get more than just the veterans jobs).

If you want the rest of the gory details, read my original post (linked to at the start of this article), a very ho hum, not much new Budget, why did they lock poor Larry up for 6 hours because of this?!? Note the picture is simply the same one from March, I figured if the Government can’t be bothered to put anything new in there, neither will I!

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U.S. National Debt: Video

Again, PBS puts up an other interesting video to watch, and this time it is the President and Congress discussing how they are going to deal with the National Debt, which may be the one thing that might cause the U.S. to decline badly in the future (the Debt, not reducing it).

Canada’s Debt is real, but the American Debt is beyond enormous, it is the band of 800 lb gorillas that are not just in the corner of the room, they have taken up the room (and you don’t want to know what they are doing in there). Governmental debt in Europe is what is causing a lot of the current monetary issues, but the U.S. must get their Debt under control and soon, or the worldwide economic system will be in for a very bumpy ride.

Either spend less, increase income (i.e. raise taxes) or do both, but something needs to be done very soon.

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