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Author of this essay:

Ven. Ming Zhen Shakya
August 8, 2011

By Ming Zhen Shakya

When you're a Hillbilly in Beverly Hills or wherever the rest of us live, life presents career choices. We all recall that Jethro, the scion of the Clampett family, could not decide whether he should become a fireman or a brain surgeon. It was a tough choice. It would have been easier if he had to decide between becoming a unionized government employed fireman or a private physician.

In these days in which persons on the government payroll talk about "entitlements" they invariably single out Social Security pension recipients for cutting. "Raise the age of retirement! Scale back those Medicare payments!"

You can bet your bippy they don't talk about the $75,000,000,000 of pension payments taxpayers pay each year to keep federal "retirees" (after twenty years of service) in the "style to which they have become accustomed."

Instead of Social Security deductions, civil servants contribute about 8% of their salaries to their pension plans. In Jethro's California, for example, the average San Franciscan firefighter receives $105,552 per year in pension payments. The average police officer receives a yearly pension of $95,016. The average public service pension is greater than the average working citizen's salary: $46,272. to $44,373.

As a fireman, Jethro could retire in healthy middle age. The new plan for U.S. senior citizens is to raise the retirement age to 67 or 68. There is no talk whatsoever of increasing the age of retirement for civil servants. Nobody sees it as a conflict of interest that the very people who receive these huge civil servant pensions are the ones who decide on the civil servants' union contract's largesse. Not only are they overpaid, but their benefits are beyond the reach of those whose taxes pay for them.

But ah... 49% of the households in the U.S. pay no income tax at all; and 30% of these actually receive money back, i.e., they make a profit on their non-payment of income tax. How do they manage to receive income tax? Consider "a family that has three children (and thus should receive $3,000 in tax credits), but only has a tax liability of $1,505. Under the rules of most tax credits, this family would only be allowed $1,505 in tax relief – an amount equal to their tax liability.

But a “refundable” tax credit gives this family the full amount they are eligible for -- $1,505 toward their tax liability, and the remaining $1,495 in the form of a refund check." These folks constitute a voting block. They like the system. Who wouldn't?

And we wonder why we're in 14.5 trillion dollars worth of debt?

The only city in the U.S. that isn't suffering through a home foreclosure crisis is Washington, D.C. There, thanks to the uncontrollable growth of big government, it is always a seller's market.

Big government means more people sitting in first class on the pension train. Jethro's indecision is more understandable than we used to think.

If he had chosen to become a fireman, then, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, he'd have to meet the following qualifications:

Applicants for fire fighting jobs usually are required to have at least a high school diploma, but candidates with some postsecondary education are increasingly being preferred. Most municipal jobs require passing written and physical tests. All fire fighters receive extensive training after being hired.

Specialized firefighters' schools and community colleges provide the "extra" advantageous post high school courses. Jethro, being a Californian, would probably know the advantages. A national description of the benefits are given in fireprep.com's article on the web:

"... Did you know that 99.7% of all firefighters ever hired are never laid off? ... how many jobs can boast that statistic? Once you have worked hard to [become a firefighter] this job is yours for a lifetime. You have financial security, medical benefits for you and your family, an early retirement plan - these are all benefits that not many jobs today can offer. The average firefighter salary range is $50,000-$65,000 with hospitalization and a retirement plan after 25 years of service or the age of 48. How many people do you know who can retire at the age of 48?"

"The work schedule of a firefighter consists of two 24-hour days per week, for an average of 8 days per month. With this schedule, a firefighter has an average of 5 days off per week... Normally every 3 weeks, a firefighter is given an additional day off."

Jethro, who likes to eat and sleep, would naturally do both during those 24 hour "work" days. When he considers the strain of getting a bachelor's degree in science, four years of medical school, years of internship and surgical residency, and years of further study in the specialized field of neurosurgery in order to be eligible to apply for board certification - not to mention purchasing humungous malpractice insurance thanks to the humungous awards tort lawyers obtain, he'd definitely be disinclined to invest his grey matter in any medical program.

A brief investigation might have led him to http://documents.latimes.com/sunshine/ the Los Angeles Times recap of the civil servant gravy train. The Bell California scandal of top town officials paying themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries that are annual, and benefits that are eternal, inspired the investigation. Citizens are awakening to the frauds perpetrated upon them.

Additionally, we will hear that "dangerous" civil servant positions warrant more money. Here is the most recent analysis of that propaganda baloney.

The current Fifteen Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S. are listed by "Fatalities per 100,000 workers":

1. Fishermen and related fishing workers: 111.8

2. Logging workers 86.4

3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers 70.7

4. Structural iron and steel workers 45.5

5. Farmers and ranchers 39.5

6. Roofers 29.4

7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers 29.1

8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 28.2

9. Refuse and recyclable material collectors 22.8

10. Police and sheriff's patrol officers 21.8

11. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 21.3

12. Construction laborers 19.5

13. Firefighters 17.4

14. Helpers, construction trades 13.7

15. Grounds maintenance workers 12.0

Meanwhile, since it is impossible to fire "tenured" union employees, we bear the additional burden of their incompetence. Where was the SEC when Bernie Madoff was fleecing billions from his clients? Why are the thugs of the Bureau of Land Management still killing wild horses? Their latest atrocity was revealed this week. A foal was found dead. He had apparently been lassoed around the legs and dragged and then shot in the belly. The public-relations geniuses at the BLM released this statement:

"The Bureau of Land Management is 'actively investigating,' but it hasn't determined the cause of death of the foal that a wildlife biologist from a horse protection group found Wednesday near the roundup, BLM officials said Friday."

How much investigation is necessary to find a bullet in the belly of a dead baby horse? A better investigation should be had as to why we need to pay these imbeciles at all. We could all live happier lives without the old corruptions of the EPA, the impotence and ignorance of the SEC, and the unrelenting brutal incompetence of the BLM.

In an essay regarding the spread of prion-related diseases, I included the paragraph:

"Consider the devastating presence of Asian carp (large, bony, voracious, fish) that were imported by fish breeders in 1970. The carp escaped into waterways that fed into Lake Michigan and because they eat the young of native fish, they threatened the entire fishing industry of the Great Lakes. Here is a recent pathetic - but happy - announcement by the EPA: "To prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. EPA, the State of Illinois, the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to install and maintain a permanent electric barrier between the fish and Lake Michigan." The snakehead is another fish problem that all these salaried employees will impotently ponder for another quarter century."

That "cooperative effort" was years ago. The carp are still there. All these civil servants - who make the Beverly Hillbillies look like inhabitants of Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study - and the Asian carp are still there!

Maybe Zen had a future for Jethro. He could take up the Cloth, vow himself to chastity, poverty, and a meatless diet, and listen to the man who claimed only to have "awakened."

Most of us need to hear that morning bugle. We have overslept.

Humming Bird
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