Monday, January 13, 2003

TOUCHING A NERVE AMONG THE INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED: The response (via e-mail and fax) to my column and the paper's coverage of the budget crunch was mildly favorable, with a couple of exceptions, including this one from a reader who shall remain anonymous:

Mr. Henderson,

Your story has some glaring errors in it that are a common thread in [Publisher] Sherman Frederick's rambling raves about state employees and the Public Employees Retirement System. Taxpayers; state employees are taxpayers. City and county employees are taxpayers. State employees have money deducted from every pay check, or are paid at a lower rate (the so called employer paid scheme) to subsidise contributions to the PERS system. City and County employees, do not. I have pointed out these errors to Sherman Frederick on two occasions and obviously I am being ignored. Print the truth, its [sic] going to come to public notice eventually as the truth always does.

I replied:

Thanks for your response. The column said, "the lion's share of public employees in Nevada ... don't pay a dime out of pocket for PERS." That is accurate. Approximately 10 percent of PERS' funding comes from employee payroll deductions, yes, from those employed by state government. But most Nevada public employees are teachers and public-safety personnel, who get a free ride. The rest comes from the treasury, plain and simple. Every other state requires employees -- including teachers and cops -- to take a payroll deduction to cover a part of the retirement system's costs. Nevada doesn't. Again, that is in the column.

As for the fact that public employees pay taxes, so what? They take more from the treasury than they put in. Here's a proposition: Exempt public employees from all state taxes if they agree to work without salaries or retirement benefits. How many would accept that offer?

He soon fired this back:

BULLSHIT, you should be ashamed of your self. You echo the statements of your boss. The only way to have equity in taxation in Nevada is to tax corporations (including casinos) on the gross profits. You take the weak way out and go after the pay and benefits of people who risk their lives to protect the people of Nevada. Shame on you.

Not much more to be said there, other than I hope this guy isn't teaching economics or political science in the public schools.

It reminds me of the e-mail letter to the editor we got a week or so ago (which I unfortunately trashed) from someone who has a state government address suffix which said something to the effect of:

You are evil and your newspaper should burn in hell.

Well, thanks for contributing to the civility of the debate.

More from that other paper: The Sun's stumping for tax increases was so relentless that I passed right by this encomium for legalized theft by Sun columnist Erin Neff. This excerpt is a gem:

When Gov. Kenny Guinn issues his State of the State address next week, it should not just be about why more than $1 billion in new taxes are needed, it should be proof irrefutable that failing to grow up will have a bigger price tag.

Lawmakers, not lobbyists and not anti-tax Libertarians hiding behind an editorial page, should make the choices for Nevada. That's why they were elected, and that's why we entrust them with the state's future.

Clearly, the state's political establishment is shaking in its boots, fearful that "anti-tax Libertarians hiding behind an editorial page" (the cowardly bastards!), not to mention those residents (and lawmakers) who retain a bit of fiscal sanity, will deny the welfare state its tribute.

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