Last year, Greg Brockhouse ran for the San Antonio City Council in District 6. I was unfamiliar with him until our paths crossed at a Chamber of Commerce forum. After hearing his stump speech, with its strongly conservative perspective and highly articulate delivery, I told him that he spoke like I wished I could.
Although Greg had solid political and business credentials and ran a professional campaign, he was soundly defeated by the incumbent establishment candidate. Another factor – he was an Anglo running in a district that was predominantly Hispanic.
Since his losing campaign, Greg has been co-writing a blog with a well-known local liberal pundit Randy Bear. They call their blog Bexar Left and Right. Think of it like the San Antonio version of Hannity & Colmes except that neither Greg nor Randy is as predictable as the TV guys. For example, Randy recently has become one of the most vocal critics of San Antonio’s liberal boondoggle – its downtown streetcar project.
Last week, Greg decided to return the favor by another of San Antonio’s liberal boondoggles – extravagant compensation to members of the police and fire unions. According to Greg, the city needs to continue its commitment to public safety, although he agrees with the unions that the commitment shouldn’t be allowed to bankrupt the city into Detroit-like status. They suggest that perhaps the city should cut other services or increase revenues.
I have suggested to Greg that the city’s commitment to public safety and its compensation for police/fire are two separate issues. He disagrees and believes that compensation is critical to recruitment and retention of personnel.
Huh? When was the last time you heard of a shortage of police/fire applicants? When have you ever heard of a mass exodus from the police/fire profession, except when their incredibly generous retirement benefits become available to people who are barely middle-aged?
Greg compares police/fire service to military service. I disagree. The military often has recruitment problems that result in hiring people who don’t even have a high school diploma. By contrast, more favorable police/fire compensation and working conditions result in so many candidates that cities could require at least a college degree, but that would exclude less-deserving candidates that the political establishment wants to give these lucrative jobs to.
Teaching is probably a better comparison than military service. Although teachers don’t risk their lives, they have a calling to serve the public. And because of this calling, they are willing to do difficult, stressful work without generous compensation. Teacher compensation is set by the market, and that means America sometimes has too many teachers and sometimes not enough, and compensation is adjusted accordingly. That’s the market working like it is supposed to.
So, getting back to my original point, when was the last time San Antonio or any other city wasn’t paying enough to recruit or retain police/fire.