Friday Rant: Taxpayer Spend Management: New York City — You'll pay me WHAT to Drive a Bus?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do believe that I'm going to move to New York to drive for the MTA. Spend Matters just ain't cutting it when I look at the alternatives to stop using my university degree and chosen industry skill set.

The impetus for my move is simple. A report came out last week that "reveals that 8,074 MTA employees earned $100,000 last year. Fifty MTA employees earned more than $200,000 last year. And salaries are rising." This is despite the fact that New York City and State are facing budget deficits and are in billions of dollars of debt.

I'm assuming that these are extremely wonderful people, and heaven knows what they must deal with on a day-to-day basis on the subway (there's a saying that goes you're really not a New Yorker until you've seen a particular occurrence happen at a station, but let's not get too scatological today). Still, this raises the question for me -- why should salaries be inflated based on the length of time an employee has been at a job, versus being merit-based on developed skills and proven, driven revenue and related services?

Here at Spend Matters, we believe that spend management matters as much in the public sector as the private. And the fact that $807,400,000 is being spent on just 8,074 people, many of whom don't begin to have the academic, trade or professional qualifications of private sector employees making a small percentage of their public sector compensation, makes us a bit dizzy, to be frank.

In our view, the only thing that will change New York is when more people vote with their feet -- and not their subway passes -- to move to states where the tax burden (and public transportation cost burden) is less. For further spend waste news in New York, listen to the first act of this episode of This American Life, as well -- teachers get paid to literally sit around and do nothing.

As PJ O'Rourke once proclaimed, "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." Or in the case of the Big Apple, bus keys and an unlimited labor budget.

-Sheena Moore

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