Nothing like spending 99% of your career siting around a firehouse playing cards and eating lobster and steak on the taxpayer, while getting paid $190,000 per year, retiring at 50 years old at full salary, and acting like you deserve it. This is the kind of shit that will not continue. There will be no tears shed when greedy government union drones lose their sweet salaries, benefits and pensions. The unsustainable will not be sustainable.

Via Public Sector Inc.

Firefighter pay shows why San Bernardino is bankrupt

San Bernardino is a poor city about 50 miles east of Los Angeles in the Inland Empire — a place where a $50,000 salary would be typical and where home prices are nowhere near what they are in fancier areas of coastal Southern California. Yet the bankrupt city is trying desperately to unload some of its outlandish contracts with public employees, especially with the firefighters’ union. “San Bernardino, California, said that to exit bankruptcy it must terminate a union contract that pays an average annual salary of $190,000 to each of its top 40 firefighters,” according to an article in Bloomberg. That’s just salary. Firefighters receive the generous “3 percent at 50″ retirement package that allows them to retire with 90 percent of their final years’ pay at age 50. And there are lots of pension-spiking gimmicks and other benefits on top of that.

As the article notes, because of a voter initiative it may not be legal to dump those contracts. And I’ve looked at a city salary schedule, and the salaries are almost unbelievable throughout the city. City officials blame the economic downturn and the popping real-estate bubble for their financial plight. But that’s like saying that a salary cutback is the cause of an individual’s personal bankruptcy — never mind the Maserati in the garage, the trips to Hawaii, the diamond rings and the $200 nightly bottles of wine.

San Bernardino is in a financial fix that other California cities have mostly avoided, but the level of public-employee enrichment there is typical. These cities are run for the benefit of those who work there. Public services are a side matter at best. Two-thirds of the nation’s firefighters do this job for free, as volunteers. In what world is making them millionaires (when you add in their retirement benefits) a sensible idea? As usual, the city’s residents will pay the price in the form of reduced services. In Stockton and Vallejo, where similar salaries are common, residents also got hit with increased taxes. There’s something vulgar about hitting poor residents with higher taxes to pay for the city’s wealthy elite. And I hear no progressive voices complaining.

About Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut is the California columnist for U-T San Diego. Greenhut formerly was vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he managed a team of 35 investigative reporters and editors who covered state capitols across the country. He founded CalWatchdog in 2009, which provided Sacramento-based investigative news coverage and he writes regularly for publications including Reason, Human Events, Bloomberg and City Journal. He is author of the 2009 book, “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives And Bankrupting the Nation” and the 2005 book, “Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.” View all posts by Steven Greenhut


  1. These fucking union drone clowns deserve to get ZERO, who the fuck do they think they are? Why do taxpayers put up with this shit? Oh yea, taxpayers have ZERO representation. The criminals running the government are owned by the unions, and their lawyers. I thought bankruptcy means everyone is broke, yet they continue to honor these bullshit union contracts? Fuck California, liberal progressive hellhole, they deserve every fucking they get, and from the sounds of things, there are many more coming, hopefully for the shithead unions and their retirement at 50. Fuck ’em in the ass with a massive chainsaw.


    Obama: ‘20,000 Government Workers Screw Up Daily’

    During a recent public lecture in Minneapolis, Minnesota, President Barack Obama was asked to speculate on the future of public sector workers in light of recent government scandals. Katie Peterson, a 29-year employee of the Defense Contract Management Agency, confronted the president asking:

    Katie Peterson: “There’s been a few rough patches with three years of pay freeze and sequestration and furloughs. And we’re just kind of wondering what you foresee for the next fiscal year for government workers.”

    Obama, clearly astonished at the impertinence of Katie’s challenge, smiled. Then calmly – as a father might to a child’s inquiry regarding the origin of babies – answered:

    Barack Obama: “Well, let me make a couple of points. First of all, folks in the federal
    government, the overwhelming majority, they work really hard doing really important stuff. And I don’t know why it is that—(applause)—I don’t know when it was that somehow working for government—whether the state or local or federal level—somehow became not a real job. When you listen to some of the Republican rhetoric sometimes you think, well, this is really important work that we depend on.”

    Katie Peterson: “But…the next fiscal year? What about the…”

    Barack Obama: “…historically, it’s been the private sector that drove the economy, but it was also a whole bunch of really great work done by agricultural extension workers and engineers at NASA and researchers at our labs that helped to create the platform and the wealth that we enjoy. And so this whole idea that somehow government is the enemy or the problem is just not true. Now, are there programs that the government does that are a waste of money or aren’t working as well as they should be? Of course. But I tell you, if you work in any company in America, big company, you’ll find some things that they’re doing that aren’t all that efficient either.”

    Katie Peterson: “I know, but…”

    Barack Obama:”Are there some federal workers who do bone-headed things? Absolutely. I remember the first week I was on the job I talked to my Defense Secretary, Bob Gates, who’s older and had been there a long time. I said, do you have advice for me, Bob? He says, one thing you should know, Mr. President, is that at any given moment, on any given day, somebody in the federal government is screwing up. (Laughter.) Which is true, because there are 2 million employees. Somebody out there—if 99 percent of the folks are doing the right thing and only 1 percent aren’t, that’s still a lot of people.” **

    Katie Peterson: “But…but…”

  2. What you are seeing is the unintended consequences of project RAPE (Retire All Personal Early). By retiring personal early you create job openings and statically help the unemployment rate illusion. The productive taxpayers are now paying twice for the same job, once for the person doing the job and again for the person retired to create the job opening. Is the taxpayer being raped or seduced?.

  3. My cousin retired from the SB fire department a decade or so ago at 50.

    He laughed and laughed and made fun of folks too stupid not to have gotten into a government job. He was a captain. He made enough from his job and in retirement to by a house on the beach in Malibu. I calculated at the time his retirement pay was worth around $5 million in cash. At todays interest rates it is probably worth something like $20 million.

    If the go broke/revoke his retirement he may not laugh quite so hard, but he has probably socked away enough just on his house to be a multi-millionaire. For mostly just sitting on his ass for around 25 years or so, he drew a huge salary and retired on something like $160k per year..

    Timing is everything. The world is doomed.

  4. llpoh says:

    I do not always agree with Economan, but when I do, I agree with Economan.

    There, I fixed it for you.

  5. the clowns in the city of bell and cudahy have a constituency that is mostly immigrants. poor fuckers were unaware the cops, firebugs and the city administration were nothing but a bunch of thugs collecting big bucks. the mayor hisself had a salary close to a million$.

  6. That’s why poor, ignorant people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. We should amend the constitution to require a poll tax. It should be equal to – and indexed to – the price of a Big Mac. If voting’s not worth the price of a hamburger, then you shouldn’t get to vote. He’ll, make it the price of a McChicken.

  7. if you are referring to the immigrant population, it’s possible they didn’t even vote. certainly, they did not question the gringos in charge, they just paid the exorbitant property taxes because they had to.

    lbj said, ignorance is no excuse. disenfranchising people because they don’t know who to vote for is not a good plan, we’d have to pull the voting card from a lot of folks who voted for obama, bush2, clinton…

  8. I’d be ok allowing anyone who paid property taxes to vote. I was trying to be lenient in suggesting a $1 poll tax – softie that I am .

  9. I would let them vote if they can just spell “property taxes”. I really am a softy. Or if they know the earth revolves around the sun.

    My dad was right – no govt employees should be allowed to vote, no one on government welfare should be allowed to vote, and no idiots should be allowed to vote.

  10. In the post-Revolutionary Constitutional Republic Era, only those with a business Or owned land Or had a L100 bank account could vote. After all, to vote for a Congressman, who was/is “responsible” for the gov’t finances, required a voter who had proved personal fiscal responsibility.

  11. WTF? is this TBP? LLPOH, ISKA (even Billy) all you guys are being too mellow. Have you been laying out in the sun?


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