A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trenton Attempts to Herd Cats; Amazed When They Do What They Want

Governor Christie's effort to use wage controls to manage administrative salaries in NJ schools looks to be causing an unanticipated spate of  personnel shifts among superintendents, principals, and other school administrators. APP quizzed a number of such personnel about their job moves and few of them thought the Governor's salary caps had prompted them to take their new job. But they're school administrators, not economists. What do they know about the underlying economic motivations for their job switch?

Maybe APP (and Christie) should consult an economist and become acquainted with what's going on? Or a historian? I'm old enough to remember when Nixon made a mess of the economy with his wage and price controls forty years ago. Just about everybody was up in arms -- more angry than they were about Vietnam, if you can believe it. You should read about the mess they were in back in 1971. They were blaming unions back then, too, and they did something about it, dammit. And things got really bad.

All in all, 1971 makes controlling superintendents' salaries through wage controls today seem like -- what's the expression I'm reaching for? Oh, yeah. Herding cats.


  1. You forgot to mention that the New York Times is reporting that Cuomo is intending to do exactly the same thing.

    Wage controls in the private sector is a very different thing from wage controls in the public sector.

    As for the APP, the writer admittedly only found one person who claimed the governor's policy influenced his decision to change positions. One person is hardly proof. The article even suggests that David Healy took the superintendent job because of the new regulation as if he wouldn't have taken a huge promotion and salary hike without it.

    I'm also surprised to see you oppose wage controls in the public sector considering that's exactly what public unions impose on the taxpayers. Are you only against wage controls when they force wages down, not up?

  2. My incredulity has to do with putting a cap on rising salaries -- public or private -- and expecting they will magically stabilize. A ceiling on wages might work in the short term, but eventually the pot will blow.

    The APP article presented quite a bit of evidence that something was going on. The testimony of those interviewed didn't prove anything. But like I said, they aren't economists.

    School board members do a great public service but are routinely subjected to crushing political pressures related to budgets and local property tax rates, so I support salary schedules that guarantee district employees a fair and predictable wage and transparent personnel procedures to protect them against unfair termination. That protection, such as it is, comes through unions. Those who labor in the district without union protected wages and benefits enjoy a precarious existence.

  3. Actually, it's the opposite. Those with union representation are more likely to lose their jobs.

    The protections you speak of don't come from the unions, they come from statutes regulating civil service - i.e. seniority, tenure, pension, etc. Because the teachers union refused to accept wage freezes, dozens of union members lost their jobs.

    In fact, the custodians were willing to take job cuts but their union reps refused to make the offer.

    Think of all the federal workers who have job security without union protection.

  4. I wouldn't compare the protections afforded to people laboring in NJ schools to those of the Federal Civil Service. Those teachers and janitors lost their positions because the Governor decided he needed to make abrupt cuts in state aid to education. The school district may have had to make the "tough call," but we all know who put the question on your desks. The cut in aid was precisely the same amount that he wanted in cuts from teachers, so any deviation from his prescription would result in lost jobs. Blame the unions, but the deck was stacked long before you or they put hands on the issue.