Much of the cost of supporting government is supporting government employee's salaries and pensions most feel are much too generous, while services traditionally the first responsibility of government, such as public safety—including in the American River Parkway—are being reduced.
An article in the Wall Street Journal gives a good basic history of the development of public employee unions who have driven the salary and benefits increase.
“This weekend we celebrate Labor Day in a country divided between two kinds of workers. The first is the private-sector worker, the vulnerable one who rides the business cycle without shock absorbers. The second worker, who works for the government, lives a cushioned existence in which terminations take years, pension amounts are often guaranteed, and recessions are only thunder in the distance. Yet worse than this division is the knowledge that the private-sector worker will pay for public-sector comfort with ever higher taxes.
“How did we get here? Over the course of the past century, officials and politicians of both parties have sought to shut unions out of government or, when that failed, constrain their power within government. Early 20th-century strikes by police and other public employees were effective but proved politically damaging. Over time, the unions opted for a more quiet form of coercion—what might be called compensation coercion. Their success in this area brought them to the privileged ground they hold today.
“The origins of our current predicament began back in 1912. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft placed gag orders on postal employees to prevent them from communicating with Congress on any matter, including wages. The gag offended many members of Congress, who then supported a bill sponsored by the progressive Robert La Follette that aimed to curtail presidential authority by making it harder to fire public employees.
“The Lloyd-LaFollette Act of 1912 gave federal workers the formal right to organize. What that might portend did enter the minds of the bill supporters. But many thought wholesale unionization too remote for possibility. Others saw Lloyd-Lafollette as a relatively tame statute, a lesser evil that might stall the progressive movement. Unions took Lloyd-LaFollette as the base for a movement.
“Many people assumed that public unionism was emasculated for good by the city of Boston's refusal to rehire striking police officers after the Boston Police Strike of 1919. The circumstances of the strike were such that it was nearly impossible not to side with the patrolmen. Police wages were not keeping up with inflation. Their working conditions were appalling. When the police went on strike, the city and state delayed before calling in outside help and the city descended into riots and chaos.
“Calvin Coolidge, then Massachusetts governor, saw the strike as inexcusable and rejected the idea that any blame be assigned to authorities. Any failure to adequately respond, he said, "cannot justify the wrong of leaving the city unguarded," which furnished the opportunity for riots. He then made it clear the policemen would not get their jobs back. "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time," he said.”