Saving the State vs. Saving the State Government


Oregon’s economic crises is so severe that over 160,000 Oregonians have lost their jobs and another 40,000 Oregonians entering the workforce eligible ranks are unable to find any form of employment. And yet, Oregon’s opinion leaders, starting with the Oregonian tend to ignore the plight of the unemployed and under employed and characterize this as a crises for government – there isn’t enough money to fund current levels of spending by the government.

In Sunday’s Oregonian, Steve Duin begins a promising column by quoting from a 1995 movie entitled “The American President”:

“’We have serious problems and we need serious people to solve them.’

“Because that sentiment never took hold in Oregon, we elected Ted Kulongoski governor not once but twice and lived with his bloodless, bewildered indifference for eight years.”


And just when I thought that Duin was going to tackle the very real problem of Oregon’s failing economy, he reverted to type (unrepentant liberal type) and described Oregon’s problems in the context of the major party candidates for governor:

“They both seem to understand there are serious issues with a state economy that just tripped over another $577 million budget shortfall.”


And then continued:

“We have serious problems to solve. I’m not asking Dudley or Kitzhaber to tackle tax reform, but they must define the cost of state programs, the value of sustaining them and their ability to deliver them much more efficiently.”


Quite frankly, if you are one of the 200,000 Oregonians seeking work, my guess is that the last thing on your mind is the health of Oregon’s state budget. At this point in time, the only relevant question for Oregon voters should be, “What is the next administration going to do about improving the economic conditions so that every willing worker can find a job?”

Solving the state’s budget crises is not all that difficult. Most of the budget problems are found in too many public employees earning wages in excess of their private sector counterparts and receiving benefits (healthcare and pensions) that are not sustainable by any measure of economic sanity. Three fundamental tenets are required to make the reductions in spending:

1. Direct payments (benefits) to those in need should not be touched.
2. Benefits (welfare, healthcare and education) should be denied those not lawfully in the United States.
3. Law enforcement (including incarceration costs) should not be reduced if it results in fewer law enforcement officers or prisoner releases.

After that, it is a matter of reducing the number of employees to a level commensurate with the beginning of Gov. Kulongoski’s term, reducing wages to levels commensurate with those paid in the private sector, and imposing a portion of the cost of healthcare and pensions on the public employees who benefit from them. Oh, and if the public employee unions refuse, then reduce the number of public employees to compensate. Apparently that’s all right with the union leadership as noted in the Oregonian:

“The unions refusal to accept more cuts will lead to more layoffs in state government, a spokeswoman for Kulongoski said. The response from [Oregon’s AFSCME direction Ken] Allen and other union officials. So be it.”


It is the revitalization of Oregon’s economy to allow private sector job growth that is the more difficult problem and the one that needs “serious people to solve them.” Let’s not kid ourselves. Actions taken by Oregon cannot overcome a national recession; however, actions taken by Oregon can prevent a repeat of the Kitzhaber/Kulongoski debacle from the previous recession.

You can forget about John Kitzhaber being one of those “serious people.” Kitzhaber was governor at the beginning of the last recession and his refusal to directly confront Oregon’s economic downturn led to Oregon being one of the first states to enter the recession and one of the last to recover from it. Gov. Kulongoski followed Kitzhaber’s lead and spent his time trying to raise taxes rather than confront Oregon’s economic problems. It’s not that Oregon is “ungovernable” as asserted by Kitzhaber, it is simply that he, like Kulongoski is clueless about what to do.

By all accounts Chris Dudley is a smart guy with an Ivy League pedigree and degrees in political science and economics. Unlike the three previous Oregon governors, economics is not a foreign language to Dudley. The big question for him will be whether he gets distracted by the health of state government instead of focusing on the health of Oregon’s economy. It is the latter that drives the former – not vice-versa.

Like fixing the budget crisis, there are a few fundamentals that should guide a new governor’s policies:

1. Capital creation is the key to job creation. Policies encouraging investment in Oregon should lead policy initiatives:
? Reduce capital gains taxes on new investments in Oregon by one-half.
? Increase capital recovery by tying depreciation schedules to federal rates.
? Exempt the transfer of family farms and small businesses in Oregon from Oregon’s burdensome inheritance tax.
2. The competitive market place is the most efficient engine for success – the government should stop picking the winners and losers:
? Eliminate the multi-million dollar tax credit for wind generators and the requirements that a percentage of power generated be produced by uneconomic renewable resources.
? Eliminate state participation in projects like the newly announced cellulose biofuel in Boardman. The cost of this plant is $73 million for the first phase. Even assuming a twenty year capital recovery, at 250,000 gallons of biofuel per year, the cost per gallon is $14.60 per gallon and that doesn’t include the costs of the crops or recurring labor and maintenance costs. Pure idiocy.
3. Create policy stability and predictability. Business requires a degree of predictability in order to justify capital investment.
? Make a “no new tax” pledge for the entirety of the governor’s term. Oregon has demonstrated that government’s needs are, in reality, public employee unions’ needs. Those needs should be, at best, secondary to job creation for the 200,000 Oregonians currently out of work.
? Review land use policies and reduce both the burden and time requirements for location and expansion of business initiatives.
? Imbue an attitude in department administrators which ensures that government can find a way to make enterprise initiatives work rather than prevent them – think the LNG proposal now opposed by state government.

Twenty years of Democrat administrations are ample proof that policies that promote the growth of government at the expense of private sector employment have failed. Pushing the crisis out for a few more years with additional borrowing or federal government subsidies will inevitably lead to a larger crisis down the road. Oregon needs “hope and change” – just not the kind delivered by a succession of Democrat governors.

Share
  • Steve Alviene

    Your facts are wrong and fixes flawed. First, Private Sector workers earn much more than public sector workers when you compare apples to apples. Public Sector workers are more highly educated generally than private sector workers and when comparing what a public sector worker with a graduate degree would make in the private sector it is nearly 20% more.
    Second, we don’t need more money heaped on the already wealthy so a few crumbs are left for workers. We need money put in the hands of people who will buy cars and washing machines and other every day products that make our economy move.
    Third, the unregulated, free market is what got us into this mess. You want more unchecked BP type operations out there and then cry for the government to fix it? Get real! Corporate America will lie and cheat its way out of any responsibility – how many times do we have to see this happen? I’ll take my chances with those who make this country work by working hard at public service jobs with pride and dignity.
    Taxes are the lowest they have been since Truman was President. Suck it up if you want things to turn around then invest in the future of your country. If everyone pays their share it is not as painful.
    Finally, get your facts right before you start throwing stones at one little corner of the working world. Public employees deserve the respect and admiration of Oregonians for delivering important services in a terrible economy and an atmosphere of hostiliity that your propaganda creates.

    • Steve Plunk

      Most Oregonians don’t care if that state worker has graduate degree or not. They work too little and earn too much for what work they do. Apples to apples should be a measure of how hard a person works as much as what degree they may possess. Performance is what counts not how many years a person spent in college.

      The wealthy are the investor class. They have invested in property, plant and equipment so productivity and our standard of living has risen. Workers will earn more because of the wealth of the rich being put to good use. The politics of envy is a dead end street.

      Government interference got us into this mess while the free market will get us out. Government lies and cheats it’s own citizens in a worse way than corporation ever could since we have no alternative. We can buy from others but our government is a monopoly with the force of law to compel us to do business.

      Lastly I find it difficult to show respect to a group that has nearly bankrupted the entire country, public employees and their unions. The services they deliver and substandard and usually over budget. Their attitude is often one of the entitled and privileged. The very worst part of them as a group is their inability to accept criticism and respond in a civil manner.

      • a student

        Speaking just to my experience in the Oregon public university system — graduating from UO next week! — I don’t see things as you do. It has been a good deal financially for me and my family. Even though tuition pays most of the costs now! The state saw to that with its cutbacks, maybe that makes you happy. Have you looked at private college tuition lately? If you don’t get a full ride at Harvard and the like, it’s hard to beat a public university. I was very happy, for the most part, with the education I got at UO. If you think the professors don’t work hard, you’re nuts. Again, this is for the most part. Am I glad they mostly have Ph.Ds? Yeah, they know more than high school teachers, especially in the upper level classes. By the way, salaries for professors are rock bottom in Oregon.

        The support staff is pretty helpful too. I can’t tell you how many times I went to the department office of my major, seeking assistance of various kinds. The person at the front desk — undoubtedly a SEIU member — was always helpful and friendly, and usually pretty busy, or more. Does it bother me that she had health insurance and a pension plan? Not really, I hope to have the same some day.

        I suppose as a fairly conservative student with SOME libertarian leanings I could take advantage of this and then, degree in hand, go off and complain the rest of my life, like some people do on national websites. But I’ll pass that up.

        • Steve Plunk

          I appreciate your views and reasonable demeanor. When I left college my views were very similar. However after years of working and working with the government I have changed those views based upon my experiences over the years.

          It could have been the school superintendent who refused my request for public documents forcing me to go before the school board. The city finance clerk who, when asked about charging a storm drain fee when there are no storm drains, replied, “because we can”. The planning department that said there would be no problem subdividing a piece of property but changed their minds later costing me $13,000 in legal fees and no property division. The parks worker who threatened me and allowed his convict crew to do the same left a sour taste in my mouth. The fiasco of a highway project estimated to cost $35 million but later ballooned to over $70 million. I recall the fire department personnel who threatened delayed response times when criticized in public. Most importantly my change in opinion is a result of expanding wages and benefits while average Oregonians struggle to get by. PERS is killing budgets and hurting service delivery (especially schools). It seems they care little for the next generation and the unfunded pension liabilities.

          It’s not the workers health care or pension that’s the problem. It’s the public workers gold plated health plan with little or no deductible and the super pension called PERS that I gripe about. It’s a legitimate complaint and talking about it is the first step to fixing it.

          Good luck post graduation.

          • valley p

            “The city finance clerk who, when asked about charging a storm drain fee when there are no storm drains, replied, “because we can”.”

            That was an unfortunately flippant reply probably made to someone who perhaps takes up a lot of time demanding this or that from staff. Whether there are storm drains or not, there is storm water, and if it goes into a community conveyance system, even a ditch or swale that leads to a culvert under a road you drive your car or trucks over, it becomes the community responsibility to manage and that costs money and results in fees. Unless you are like Rupert and think all this can and should be done by volunteers or perhaps nuns with time on their hands.

            “The planning department that said there would be no problem subdividing a piece of property but changed their minds later ”

            Subdividing a piece of property is done according to laws and codes, not the whim of planners. What you probably experienced was an original misinterpretation of the law followed by a correct interpretation. And if they were right the 1st time and wrong the 2nd then you could apeal to the planning commission and city council or county commission. But apparently they were not wrong or you would have won your case.

            “The parks worker who threatened me and allowed his convict crew to do the same left a sour taste in my mouth. ”

            Out of the blue they threatened you? You should have called a cop. But then again, that would be just another overpaid bureaucrat to deal with.

            “I recall the fire department personnel who threatened delayed response times when criticized in public. ”

            Was he reacting to proposed budget cuts perhaps?

            Steve, you have a huge chip on your shoulder about government. It sounds like every now and then a public employee gets exasperated with you and knocks it off. Then you whine about it. If these are the sum total of your complaints, your life is not so difficult. Lighten up and maybe people will treat you better.

          • Steve Plunk

            You’ve made assumption about each of the instances and then provided an excuse. The problem is you’re wrong.

            My run off goes into the county system not the city even though I’m in the city limits. I am not anymore demanding with staff than you might be with a waiter and I don’t often take up their time.

            According to my lawyer the city misinterpreted a rather vague code. I could have appealed for an additional $10,000. They made the mistake and changed their minds after money had been invested into the process.

            The worker has parked his community service van blocking a bike path. I told him he couldn’t block the path and he responded we would park where ever he wanted. It went downhill from there. I did call the police, public works, and my councilman. Short story, I was right, he was wrong, I got an apology.

            The fire department personnel were responding to an online discussion about something else and referred specifically to only some people getting slower responses. It was a threat.

            So my chip is there with good reason. In fact there are other tales I didn’t include. I don’t whine but rationally discuss these things and use them as examples to support my positions. I get along quite well with most people and have a great sense of humor.

            Once again your assumptions have failed to materialize into any sort of reasonable argument. Making excuses for the public sector will only work when you have facts, not assumed facts. When will you realize some of this stuff is real and inexcusable?

    • Harry

      “Public Sector workers are more highly educated generally than private sector workers and when comparing what a public sector worker with a graduate degree would make in the private sector it is nearly 20% more.”

      Source please? I have studied this claim and found that is false.

      But even if it is true (totally false, but humor me here) so what? Do we really care how much education people have? Think about the absurdity of that claim.

      Did Steve Balmer get paid more than Bill Gates? Both spent 90 days at Harvard College, but Balmer spent 3.75 years more there, and then went and got a Stanford MBA. Who got paid more?

      Does a MA of Liberal Studies get paid more than a BA of Liberal Studies? Even if the MA sits on her butt and does 50% of the work of the BA?

      Do you pay more for the PhD in Slavic Studies, who has been unemployed for 4 years and now cooks your breakfast at the Ihop than the BA in Womens Studies who cooks alongside her? Or does the illegal 3rd cook earn exactly the same wage for exactly the same work?

      “Performance is what counts not how many years a person spent in college.”
      ===
      Ouch!!! Slam that union teacher mentality down. So much for Step increases! Performance is what is being paid for, not how many years you can fog a mirror to prove that you deserve an increase in your paycheck.

  • Ron Marquez

    …..”there are a few fundamentals that should guide a new governor’s policies:”…..

    All good ideas that the business community would like to see our new governor embrace. Economics not withstanding, the elimination of the renewable energy incentives will drive the greenies crazy. And anything that jeopardizes public employee union compensation packages won’t fly unless there is a sea change in Oregon government.

    Dudley talks a good game (https://www.chrisdudley.com/jobs-first-oregons-recovery-plan/) but he would need help from the legislature and, unless the mid term produce a surprise, that help would be hard to get.

  • valley p

    “Quite frankly, if you are one of the 200,000 Oregonians seeking work, my guess is that the last thing on your mind is the health of Oregon’s state budget. At this point in time, the only relevant question for Oregon voters should be, “What is the next administration going to do about improving the economic conditions so that every willing worker can find a job?””

    Oh I don’t know about that Larry. I would think presently unemployed people are more dependent on government services than those that are employed. Unemployment checks are not written by the private sector, food stamps are not distributed by them, nor do they offer free or subsidized medical care.

    “Solving the state’s budget crises is not all that difficult.”

    Not if Larry were king and could decree a solution. But he isn’t and can’t. The state budget is not simply a math problem, it is a political problem.

    “reducing wages to levels commensurate with those paid in the private sector”

    Apples to apples? We would probably end up paying more, not less. Using Rupertnomics, which compares vow of poverty nun teacher salaries with secular professionals, we could save money.

    “By all accounts Chris Dudley is a smart guy with an Ivy League pedigree and degrees in political science and economics”

    Sounds like a pointy headed, arugula eating elitist out of touch with the real people. You guys need to be more consistent. Why are Ivy leaguers presumed smart when they are Republicans, and smart is good, yet when they are Democrats (Obama) this is suspect?

    “The big question for him will be whether he gets distracted by the health of state government instead of focusing on the health of Oregon’s economy.”

    The bigger question for him (and the voter) is whether he has the first clue about state government beyond what he reads in the papers.

    “You can forget about John Kitzhaber being one of those “serious people.”

    Oh okay. A doctor, multi year state legislator, and popular 2 term governor who ran the state during our best economic times in decades is not considered “serious” by Mr Huss? But a former basketball player who has never been elected to anything and did not even bother to vote is?

    How do “policy stability” and “review land use policies” mesh exactly? Doesn’t the 2nd negate the first? Not to mention cutting capital gains taxes by half, eliminating energy tax credits, and so forth. You canceled out your own advice.

    Your prescriptions amount to conservative economic boiler plate. It did not work for George Bush, has not worked for any of the southern states who follow it religiously (and I do mean religiously,) and will not work any better for Oregon.

  • Britt Storkson

    How about ending public-private partnerships? All public-private partnerships do is privatize profits and socialize (taxpayer subsidize) losses.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >reducing wages to levels commensurate with those paid in the private sector, and imposing a portion of the cost of healthcare and pensions on the public employees who benefit from them.

    I couldn’t agree more – Wage reductions as well as job cuts should be priority one considering our economic situation. You don’t hand out raises during a recession as Ted did – people arent exactly looking to quite their jobs these days, a raise is hardly needed to retain them.

    Step one is to educate the public that when they hear from those who say such broad comparisons are invalid, they need to know that is really a trick to move off the subject.

    By and large public sector employees are more heavily compensated than their private sector counterparts. We know this both from studies that have been done and our own experience.

    In thinking about this people need to remember that the contention that public sector employees make less is probably at wide variance with their own experience, their own knowledge and the research of our own government.

    *The research supporting the contention public sector employees make more.*

    As just one example, the largest item in the state budget is education. When the Bureau of Labour Statistics compared private school teacher pay to public school teacher pay they found private school teachers make 60% of their public counterparts.

    Thats a huge chunk of government employees right there.

    *The Law that maintains public sector employees making more*

    If we look at other jobs we will see similer results – Building and maintenance jobs in the public sector are going to be higher than private because they are largely subject to Davis Bacon act wage laws which inflate wages.

    *The union contracts that would indicate high public sector pay rates*

    In addition public sector workers often have benifits that far out strip what private sector workers get. For example most private sector workers contribute to their 501k plan or whatever retirement their company offers. State workers, at least in Oregon, often have deals where the state pays that contribution. That is part of compensation so it has to be taken into account.

    Then there are the retirement plans themselves. In Oregon we have the PERS system which is legendary for golden parachutes. Few would maintain that that system is at all congruous to that which we see in the private sector. In some cases it might be on par with private sector retirement, but all too often there are cases of absurd levels of benefits being paid out.

    What else do public sector employees get? How about automatic pay raises? Cost of living raises. Step raises, tier raises and everything under the sun. Instances of that sort of thing are rare in the private sector.

    *Our own experience that could indicate high public sector pay rates*

    What other indicators might there be that public sector employees make more than they would in the private sector?

    Well, how about the retention rate. If public sector work paid lower than private sector work then would expect to see low retention rates and constant turn over of employees as they left for the higher paying private sector work.

    Do we see such a thing?

    Of course not. Is it our experience public high school teachers often quit to go work at a private high school? Not really. When we go to the post office, do we tend to see the same people behind the counter year to year. You bet we do. Why would a person work behind a counter for years and years in an environment that is so legendary for its working conditions we have the expression “going postal”? Does he just like how stamps look or is a more likely suspect that the pay is pretty damn good compared to other jobs he could get?

    *Do public sector emplyees sometimes make less? Yes, but rarely*

    Are their instances of public sector workers making less than their private counter parts?

    Yes, I would say so, but they are not the majority and the studies, such as the BLS report I mentioned above and our own experience, such as the post office case above, tend to confirm that. The only place I have found regular underpayment by comparison would be UO. I am reasonably familiar with the pay system of universities and yes, I would say that compared to private universities, or even other public ones, UO does pay lower on a job for job basis when it comes to tenured or tenure track positions.

    • a retired professor

      For once, Rupert, I find myself agog, because I agree with you. UO faculty salaries are on the low end of low, even compared with other public universities, even restricting to those that are comparable.

      And it is very likely true that Oregon public workers are compensated more highly than those in other states, again making reasonable comparisons. Example: public school teachers.

      There have been studies — years back — that show these things pretty clearly. They might form the basis for a rational statewide discussion.

      It’s the trash talk — like saying school teachers are no more valuable as educators than hot dog vendors — that poisons things.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        I have absolutely no difficulty calling out public school teachers in a way that might seem, and in fact is, disrespectful.

        I can understand your disagreement with that, and thats fine. However I feel I have a logical reason for my lack of respect and that is why I have no issue with the hot dog vendor comparison.

        The reason – Public school teachers trash talk others on a far more wide spread basis than anyone trash talks them.

        The evidence for the reason – One piece I would give for that reason would be the recent measure 66/67 campaign by the OEA.

        In their adds they trash talked business to no end, saying they weren’t paying their fair share. As a business owner I resent that and consider their claim, that I only paid $10 a year in taxes, to be complete and utter trash talk on a level equal with my hot dog vendor remark.

        I also resent their claim that if you made less than $125k you wouldn’t pay a penny more. That was a lie, they knew it was a lie and they were willing to say that lie in order to achieve their objective. Passage of the measures.

        Thus my conclusion – I see no moral level of difference between the OEA outright lying and insinuating that business owners are scamming the system, and me ridiculing such teachers as achieving not much better results in the class room than I expect a hot dog vendor would.

        You will remember that just recently you considered it outrageous to ask public school teachers to ask what they had demanded of every small business – to take a pay cut to perform the same duties for less money. Well, thats what they did with measure 66/67. Are school teacher always to be able to ask of others what they will not ask of themselves?

        I’m a reasonable person and am willing to give respects where it is due. That is why I acknowledged you had a Phd right from the get go. I would never question the level of work and commitment it takes to become a university professor. I would question the tenure system, as I simply disagree with it as a concept. I would also question some of the levels of retirement benefits as well.

        You will remember that not once did I ever question your commitment to attaining the level of education it takes to become a university professor. I have great respect for that and I did so despite your repeated implications that mine is a low education level field.

        I give respect where respect is due. I will do so to a certain point. After that point, I feel under no compulsion to do so.

        You might be able to render endless respect for those that show you none. I am not able to do so, thus hot dog vendors.

        • a retired professor

          I’m not going to discuss this much further except to make two points:

          1) Both sides in the recent election said some pretty hot-headed things. If you and people like you insist on comparing teachers to hot dog vendors, you are going to lose with the vast majority of the public. Big time.

          2) Re the tenure system: Whatever its merits or faults (and there are plenty of each, but on the whole, I have no hesitation in coming down in favor of the system), if you want to have professors of the caliber who are hired for tenure-track jobs at major universities (and here I include UO and OSU), but you don’t want to have a tenure track for them, you (meaning the people who run or finance universities) had better be prepared to pay them industrial-level salaries. Look at what a partner in a law or medical firm makes, or an executive in a high-tech or science firm, and you’ll get an idea.

          You might also consider that the tenure system is what has protected the relatively few conservative professors in academia, while still allowing them to speak out on controversial academic issues, as they have at times, especially at UO in Oregon.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Both sides in the recent election said some pretty hot-headed things.

            I wouldn’t agree with that at all.

            Can you give me an example?

            Can you give me an instance where the other side said anything approaching the level of dishonesty that the claim that through mere incorporation one would only pay $10? Or that if you make less than $125k you wont pay a penny more?

            I can’t think of any.

            Therefore I cannot condone the behaviour of the OEA and am happy to slander them in no less a fashion than they have slandered me.

            The reason why I think it is important encourage disrespect for teachers unions is due to their actions. Through encouraging disrespect of business by claiming they only paid $10 they won their issue. Therefore I feel by encouraging disrespect for teachers unions, our school costs can be brought under control through making people look twice at what they are paying for failing schools.

            >If you and people like you insist on comparing teachers to hot dog vendors, you are going to lose with the vast majority of the public. Big time.

            “people like me” comment aside, I would not agree with your contention that we will lose big time.

            I would argue that we have not won the war, but we are on the way to winning the battle.

            Here are my reasons:

            Some years ago people were very receptive to the argument that teachers were underpaid. If you said they were not, then you were immediately frowned upon. That has not been the case for several years now. In the past few years fewer people have the knee jerk reaction that we are spending too little on education and that more money to teachers will solve the problem.

            School levies do pass more often than other forms of taxation, that is true. However the battles over them and the margins by which they pass strike me as indicating less enthrallment for paying teachers ever more money than once had been the case.

            Things change over time. I doubt very much, especially in the current climate, that demands for teacher raises are met with anywhere near the sympathy they once were. I say this as someone whose vast majority of friends are both very liberal and a few of which are school teachers.

            >Re the tenure system

            You and I just have a difference of opinion on this. Everything has some good sides and some bad ones. Tenure is no different. I just simply think it is a system that probably has had its day. You think differently, thats fine.

            >You might also consider that the tenure system is what has protected the relatively few conservative

            I’m not sure why you would think I haven’t considered that, I have. Does it protect some conservative professors? Sure, I wouldn’t argue that.

            Look – I just simply think it would be hard to argue that most universities do tend to be monolithic in thought. Therefore the reason for tenures existence – protection of contrary opinions so as to encourage free and divergent thinking, can hardly be said to be flourishing under its practice. Given that, I see no need for it and think the grounds for its existence are flawed from the outset for the following reason:

            The tenure track process is an arduous one. I have been through it with two partners. Were the aim of an institution to stifle dissenting opinions, then tenure would provide very little dissuasion from that path. With the years of graduate and post doc work, combined with several years of assistant professorship to be totaled, it seems absurd to argue that discovery of the dissenting individual could not be made long before tenure was granted.

            Given that the general zeitgeist of almost any university one cares to name can be predicted upon naming the place, I would say that my assessment of the inefficacy of the tenure system is reinforced rather than countered.

            Again, you have your opinion and I have mine. Both come from a place of direct experience. I would do away with the system and you would keep it.

            I am glad that this conversation has been able to be held in a tone of more civility than our previous one, and for your efforts in that regard I am appreciative.

          • Harry

            the good professor writes: “Look at what a partner in a law or medical firm makes, or an executive in a high-tech or science firm, and you’ll get an idea.”
            ===

            Comparing (if you take away tenure and replace it with ‘industrial’ levels salaries) a professor to a partner in a law or medical firm, or an executive in a high-tech or science firm. LOL!!

            Here is a test for the retired prof: What false comparison did you make here? What is the apples to your oranges did you make? I am willing to bet that you have no idea the huge difference and false comparison you made.

            Hint: I agree with you as to the level of importance of the two, I’ll grant you that. So that is not the difference that is the huge disconnect.

            Please reply with the answer, because if you don’t people will think you don’t know the answer.

          • the good professor

            I have no idea what the question is in your incoherent post — so why not tell us the answer?

          • Harry

            the good professor writes: “Look at what a partner in a law or medical firm makes, or an executive in a high-tech or science firm, and you’ll get an idea.”
            ===

            Comparing (if you take away tenure and replace it with ‘industrial’ levels salaries) a professor to a partner in a law or medical firm, or an executive in a high-tech or science firm. LOL!!
            =======

            I thought you might have no idea, hence the jab (but that is okay, my father suffered from the same ailment, also a life long tenured prof)…

            Come on… comparing a tenured prof to a lawyer of a firm (who puts up his own risk capital), or a doctor of a firm (who puts up his own risk capital), or an executive of a firm (who puts up his own risk capital), what could possibly be the false comparison? Maybe one has real skin in the game via risk capital and will win or lose everything based upon only their success or failure in the free enterprise market, and the other has tenure, Gold Plated Healthcare, Guaranteed PERS, zero capital of their own put at risk. That would be like comparing the founders of CH2M Hill to a tenured prof at that other University.

            Sorry, but I just found the comparison a bit funny. Profs think they should be compared to business executives (lawyers, DRs, high tech execs), but I don’t think the reverse is very true.

          • current UO student

            What are you talking about, buddy?

            Of the last four professors I had:

            1. A former financial executive at Intel.

            2. A current high-ranking employee of Nike.

            3. A scientist formerly employed with NASA/JPL.

            4. The only academic of the bunch, and a truly brilliant guy whose classroom I felt fortunate to be in, a PhD from the University of Chicago.

            Every single one of these men either has, could if they chose to, or is currently making a good living in the private sector. They choose, for a variety of reasons, to share their knowledge and experience with young people. And I for one am grateful that they do.

          • the good professor

            Sounds like you have issues with your father.

            Life-long tenured professor? There is no such thing! (There is tenure but this is usually earned after a certain age, generally between the early thirties and forties. But I digress.

            The lawyer, physician, executive generally works for pay or sometimes receives equity in the firm in return for service. (Sometimes physicians set up their own labs out of their earnings.)

            What “skin” does the professor have in the game? What risk? I’ll tell you:

            The risk of joining a Ph.D. program (where the failure/non-completion rate is considerable, perhaps 50% in some fields).

            The risk of working for low wages for an extended time (include academic postdocs) and not getting a tenure-track job.

            The risk of being denied tenure. By the way, this is an opportunity to cull the faculty at a certain point, dispensing with people whose performance is by no means unsatisfactory, but who just aren’t making a certain grade. (Kind of like making partner in a law firm.)

            Of course, in the sciences, there’s the need to raise research funds (which, generally, is much less of an issue for industrial scientists, by the way).

            All of this is not to complain, but to point out that tenure is a form of compensation — a form of equity, if you will — that allows universities to compete for the available talent pool while paying much lower financial compensation. Without that, realistically, universities would have to pay much more for faculty, at least the kind of faculty they hire for tenure-track jobs.

            By the way, at UO I personally know a half dozen or so tenured professors who left to run science-based firms, permanently or for a couple of years, or after they retired as professors. Believe me, they were making very good money out of this, much more than their academic salaries.

            A good many others make money as part-time consultants. Believe me, the pay is good.

          • valley p

            Harry, I think the apt comparison is between private sector salaries and professors. Entrepeneurs risk capital. Private sector employees do not. My experience in my field is that the private sector pays much higher salaries than professors of comparable experience get. It isn’t even close.

          • a student

            I guess I hope to be a “partner in a medical firm” some day, so let me say that the comparison seems pretty valid. (By the way, if I’m at all successful, I’ll be making more than all but a handful of professors at UO that I’ve had, maybe more than any of them.) I’ve been to several faculty candidate interviews at UO (public events) and I can tell you that even to get interviewed, you have to be top of the line from a top graduate school. (I’m talking about the science field I’m graduating in.)

            There have also been several professors at UO (tenured) who left for jobs in industry. Word is at several times their university salary. These were not exceptionally successful or unsuccessful people, as far as I could tell.

            Here’s another indicator: it’s common knowledge that graduate students who go on to postdoctoral positions after their Ph.D. studies earn about double the postdoctoral salaries of those who hope to go on tenure-track academic positions.

            So it’s kind of evident that “tenure-track” is sort of a premium that in part compensates for more lucrative opportunities in the world outside academia.

          • Harry

            I agree with most everything you say above. The big difference between the positions is the amount of risk taken on. In academia, you are sheltered (by design) so you can do the research without the risk, for the benefit of the public sector (mostly). In the private sector (“partner in a medical firm”), you ‘partner’ in both the expense side and the profit side. If your medical firm goes under, it is your (and your investor’s) money that is lost. But you also partner in the rewards side of additional profits as well.

            So, if you want tenure and it’s securities, by all means, stay in academia and flourish, bringing new discoveries for the benefit your University. Since you seem to want to risk more, go into the private sector with your medical firm and bring new discoveries to market, put your self at risk and gain much higher rewards if you are successful. Best of luck to you. Create jobs and stay in Oregon!

            My only issue was I wanted to highlight for the prof the huge differences that exist between a tenured prof with little to no personal capital at risk, and the lawyers, doctors and execs who put up risk capital, and therefore get much higher monetary rewards for the risk capital. Hence the false comparison the prof made.

            No pain, no gain, oh tenured prof.
            Risk much, gain much, oh medical firm exec.
            That explains much of the monetary difference between the two.

          • current UO student

            “The big difference between the positions is the amount of risk taken on. In academia, you are sheltered (by design) so you can do the research without the risk, for the benefit of the public sector (mostly).”

            Once again, I believe your perception of what is going on at large university campuses is askew. Certainly an entrepreneur in any industry is taking risks that a tenured professor is not, but it’s not as though the private sector doesn’t t benefit from the research and education that happens as a direct result of the processes of higher education.

          • a retired professor

            Boy, do you have it backward. Most students in science stay away from the academic rat race precisely because they don’t want the risk (of failure), the stress, the (relatively) low pay. Believe me, I should know, having counseled a good many of them, encouraging them to try the academic route. Mostly to no avail. They probably know what’s best for themselves, so I generally didn’t try to give them too much of the hard sale.

          • a student

            The main “risk capital” I will have to put up, compared to the person who goes the Ph.D. — academic route, is the tuition for medical school. I will probably come out with a couple hundred thousand in debt. The Ph.D. student with little or none, because in a Ph.D. program in science, you generally trade service — as a teaching assistant and or research assistant — for a stipend and free tuition. That’s one reason M.D.’s make more and why medical care costs what it does.

            I have little doubt I’ll be pursuing a higher-income path than the academic (except for the med school professor, very different case). Especially if I go into a specialty like cardiology, dermatology, etc.

            The Ph.D. student pursuing the academic track, at least at the top 100 or so American universities — UO and OSU (even) included — is putting a lot at risk. The chances of success — ending up with tenure — are not terribly high, unless you are really good and really determined. Fortunately, science/engineering Ph.D.’s are in demand in the outside world. So too are M.D.s!

            I’m not really doing it for the money, though I’d like to make my share. I think the same is true of the academic science types — the pay is not bad, if you succeed; you (supposedly) have the option to work on research of your choosing; you get to teach, including having Ph.D. students and postdocs, for better or worse. And if you have tenure, the job security is hard to beat. (But being in a medical firm is not too far behind, I hope!) You also get to work your butt off, at least when you’re young. I’m told when you get older, getting research funding becomes very stressful.

            Everything is a tradeoff, I guess.

          • a retired professor

            A tradeoff, right, exactly!

            You might consider the MD/PhD route if you’re interested in the medical research route.

            Then you get to be called Dr. Dr.!

  • Rupert in Springfield

    501k plan = 401k plan

    • valley p

      “they found private school teachers make 60% of their public counterparts. ”

      Right. And once again, how many of those private school teachers were religious zealot semi-volunteers who made vows of poverty

      (OK, I’ve given you an opening to call me a religious bigot and try and win your argument that way. Go for it).

      “Building and maintenance *jobs in the public sector* are going to be higher than private because they are largely subject to Davis Bacon act wage laws which inflate wages.”

      I do not believe that the Davis Bacon act establishes salaries for public sector workers. It establishes wages for *contract* workers on public projects.

      “In addition public sector workers often have benifits that far out strip what private sector workers get.”

      This is no doubt true. However, those benefits are negotiated by unions, and very few private sector workers are in unions. And in many cases public sector workers have accepted lower wages in return for higher pensions and benefits, which is how we got into trouble with PERS. It created a time bomb for state financing. You want public sector workers to accept both low pay AND low benefits. Good luck in your negotiations.

      “How about automatic pay raises? ”

      Step increases are usually tied to performance. They are not automatic. They and COLA increases were suspended in Oregon.

      “Is it our experience public high school teachers often quit to go work at a private high school? Not really.”

      No? It is “our experience” (as in reality based on data) that 50% of teachers quit the profession within their first 5 years. If half of the teachers give up and walk away, citing low pay and impossible job demands, what does that suggest? That we are over paying?

      “When we go to the post office, do we tend to see the same people behind the counter year to year. ”

      Well, the same is true for UPS. Less so for Fed ex because it isn’t unionized and the pay is much less. Do you view high turnover as some sort of goal? An aspiration? Few employers would agree with you. Particularly in jobs that require skill, education or training.

      “Yes, I would say so, but they are not the majority and the studies, such as the BLS report I mentioned above and our own experience, such as the post office case above, tend to confirm that. ”

      I don’t know how to express this in a way that would break through to the bubble land you seem to inhabit. “Our” experience” has no bearing on whether public workers make more or less than private sector workers with similar education, skill, and training. “Our experience” is fraught with our bias and the chip certain people carry around on their shoulders. And for reasons I have repeated too many times to matter, BLS data on private school teacher salaries mean nothing unless they factored out people who teach at religious institutions as part of their service to a church, mosque, or temple. Did they or didn’t they?

      “I am reasonably familiar with the pay system of universities and yes, I would say that compared to private universities, or even other public ones, UO does pay lower on a job for job basis when it comes to tenured or tenure track positions. ”

      It doesn’t matter what you are “reasonably familiar with.” What matters are facts. UO and every other public university in Oregon pays far less than other state universities. Period. Its a fact. it has nothing to do with what you personally know or do not know or say. Get it?

      What you do Rupert, time and again, is form an opinion, then on occasion seek a bit of data that supports what you already think. Then you present this as some sort of aha moment objectively arrived at. You may be deluding yourself, but others see right through you.

      Correct that, you ARE deluding yourself. And given how often and completely you do it, it must be enjoyable.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Right. And once again, how many of those private school teachers were religious zealot semi-volunteers who made vows of poverty

        Sorry Dean – You are the one making the point that there is some offset of religious zealots who work for free. It is incumbent upon you to make the case for it since it is not met by anyone’s objective reality.

        I went to private school and never saw these zealots who taught for free

        I had friends at other private schools and never saw these zealots who taught for free.

        My kids went to private school – again, no zealots teaching for free.

        If you make up a contention out of thin air – it is incumbent upon you to provide the proof of it.

        Since you cannot, the point stands – private school teachers on average make 60% of what public school teachers make.

        Live with it or find some solid basis for your contention.

        • vaalley p

          “I had friends at other private schools and never saw these zealots who taught for free.”

          OK Rupert, since you insist on making this about personal anecdotes, I grew up in Chicago, which has the largest private school system in the nation run by the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese. I had not one, not 2, but dozens of friends who did K-8 in that system, and others who did K-12. Guess who their teachers were. Nuns. Nuns who took vows of poverty, were given housing, food, and a small personal allowance by the Church. They prayed at night and wrapped the knuckles of my Irish, Italian, and Polish comrades by day. If they are part of your data set then your data comparing public and private teacher salaries is worse than meaningless, it is misleading.

          You Rupert, from everything you have posted about your youth, lived a comfy existence. I’m sure you had great teachers and perhaps 15 students to a classroom. I’m happy for you.

          “If you make up a contention out of thin air ”

          Yes…if. Only I didn’t. 80% of private school students in the US attend religious schools. Catholics accounting for over half of that. And many if not most Catholic teachers are nuns, God Bless em (as Joe Biden might say). So you do the math. Your Friends school experience by the way, is shared by 0.4% of all private school students. So the sweeping conclusions you draw from it are, how can I say this politely, not statistically valid.

          “the point stands – private school teachers on average make 60% of what public school teachers make.”

          And the point remains worthless unless you can show that statistic as factoring out teachers who accept low or no wages out of religious conviction. If you can’t, then I’ll just keep reminding you.

          And by the way, I take notice that you ignored the issue of a 50% loss rate of public school teachers from the profession within 5 years. That piece of data completely contradicts your personal experience that teachers all or even mostly hang onto their jobs for dear life.

          But why worry? They can always hire hot dog vendors as replacements.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >If they are part of your data set then your data comparing public and private teacher salaries is worse than meaningless, it is misleading.

            I never said I had a data set. I gave examples from my youth to buttress that my direct experience confirmed what the data set of the Bureau of Labour Statistics report concluded.

            You gave examples from friends of your youth. I gave my direct experience.

            Other than your friends experience with Nuns, and my direct experience contradicting it you haven’t brought anything new here.

            You insisted that somehow a majority of private schools were run by religious zealots.

            First of all, you have not proven that, as a nun does not a religious zealot make.

            Second of all you have failed to demonstrate how even if nuns were religious zealots, and they clearly are not, how that would obviate the fact that private school teachers get paid at a rate of 60% compared to public school teachers and get the job done better.

            You are doing a lot of flailing here but not really doing much to argue my point.

            You are simply trying to misdirect by arguing that religious zealotry exists, you haven’t shown that as nun and religious zealot are not synonyms.

            You are trying to misdirect tha religious zealotry would somehow obviate the direct apples to apples comparison that BLS did. Zealotry, whether or not it existed, obviously would not obviate that direct apples to apples comparison that BLS did.

            So lets go over it again because you need to address the point, not wander into discussion over whether or not religious zealotry exists:

            Private school teachers get paid 60% of what public school teachers do and produce better results.

            The point, which both I and the BLS make, remains – Public school teachers, which are a substantial part of state workers, are paid substantially more than their private sector counterparts and return results that are not as good.

            You guys always demand apples to apples comparisons – this is it. You need to accept it, or find some sort of evidence that private school teachers make more than their public counterparts. Discussions of religious zealotry will not counter that central fact.

          • Rob DeHarpport

            Rupert,
            Once again I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and those of the retired Prof. As we ALL know, our Federal, State and local Governments must live within thier means. That will very soon mean drastic measures all across the public sector. The solution is not printing more $$ or so called stimulus deals and bailouts, it’s making America strong and competitive. We have allowed the Unions to price America right out of work. (I was a Teamster for nearly 30 yrs.) The process will be very painfull for everyone. Reality sucks.

          • valley p

            “I gave examples from my youth to buttress that my direct experience confirmed what the data set of the Bureau of Labour Statistics report concluded. ”

            Your example from attending a Quaker school? OK. Assuming your experience is well representative of all Quaker schools then you fully understand what .04% of all private schools are like. And in the future I promise I will defer to your knowledge on all things related to Quaker schools and only Quaker schools. (Too bad you missed the nun as teacher experience though. By all appearances you could have used a few knuckle raps when you were younger).

            “You insisted that somehow a majority of private schools were run by religious zealots.”

            Uh…no. Try re-reading more slowly. I stated that about 80% of all private K-12 schools in the US are run by religious organizations, easy to fact check. I added that about half of those schools are run under the loving umbrella of one particular religious organization, the Catholic Church, also easy to fact check. And that *my personal experience through tales told by friends of mine* is that a large number of the teachers at those schools are committed enough to their religion to wear special clothes, live communally, forgo sexual relations, give up all personal possessions, and live under a vow of poverty, all because they firmly believe in the existence of a dude with infinite powers and wisdom who has not made any obvious physical appearances in a couple of thousand years. Maybe this behavior crosses the line from faith to zealotry and maybe it doesn’t, who am I to judge? I have never met a nun I didn’t like and admire. I use the term zealotry (and the above description) merely to inject a bit of humor into the conversation. You, being trained as an engineer, have a difficult time with humor other than slapstick I suppose. I can’t do slapstick on these posts, so I apologize.

            But….and *this is the clincher* so pay real close attention this time, because this is the single take home point I actually do INSIST upon, *typed below in all caps* just for you:

            IF THE BLS DATA ON TEACHER SALARIES FAILS TO ACCOUNT FOR THOSE WHO ACCEPT LOW OR NO PAY OUT OF RELIGIOUS CONVICTION, THEN THEIR DATA HAS NO RELEVANCE AS A COMPARISON TO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER SALARIES.

            “So *lets go over it again* because you need to address the point, not wander into discussion over whether or not religious zealotry exists:”

            Lets not and say we did. I more than made my point about your core contention, and you have certainly repeated it enough times by now. Any attempts to pound it further into your skull that your comparison is useless for reasons stated would clearly be futile. So you can cling to your blankie of data until it is threadbare.

            You can thank me for correcting you on Davis Bacon some other time.