Sunday, April 02, 2017

Cut Teachers Pay To Preserve Their Peers' Jobs?

There were a number of noteworthy (which literally means worthy of noting) clusters of words in today's Alaska Dispatch News.

Here's the letter that triggered this post's title:
"Teachers should work for less
To go along with the article "Senate education plan could cut hundreds more jobs statewide" by Dermot Cole, teachers statewide should consider taking a reduction in pay during this state of Alaska budget crisis to help save some of their peers' jobs!
— Richard N. Ramirez
What sort of pay cuts is Mr. Ramirez suggesting?  Why should teachers alone take a cut in pay for the benefit of everyone else's children?   Why, "during this state of Alaska budget crisis" shouldn't all Alaskans take a cut in pay to help save some jobs?  And to help keep the student/teacher ratio a little lower so each kid gets more attention?

But why stop at teaching jobs?
If everyone who works in Alaska (including non-residents) took a cut in pay, no one would have to take too big a cut.  There is a way to, in effect, have all working Alaskans take a cut in pay to share the burden.  Now that oil isn't paying all our bills, shouldn't all of us pay equitably for the roads and  the bridges,  for our state parks, for keeping our water clean, for use of the airports, for disease prevention, and all the other, sometimes, invisible, benefits of having a state government?  All these things we use and like a lot that we don't notice until they stop working.  Shouldn't Alaskans take a little pay cut for what we get, like the people in other states and in the rest of the world?

There's a system already set up to do that.  It's called an income tax.

It does exactly what you are saying teachers should do - take a cut in pay.  We'll still get our PFD's. Come on all my mighty fellow Alaskans who get all these state benefits for free.  Let's stop whining and grow up and pay our fair share.  But, let the legislators know, you want them to design a tax that is as easy as filling out a PFD application.

Another opinion that caught my attention was Suzie Smith's 'aw shucks' defense of keeping our taxi regulations the way they are by voting yes on proposition 8.
"If having 300 cabs available on the streets to take us from A to B whenever we wanted them actually didn't cost us any more money than having 188, then why stop there? Can we have 1,000? 10,000?  Hey, can we have, like, a cab each? Parked outside our houses, with a private driver wearing a chauffeur's hat? He can take us wherever we need to go for the same rates … in fact, it should cost us less, because competition, right?"
Cute, but no one is asking for a cab for everyone.

Let's stick with 300 cabs for a minute.  Give us the numbers to show us how many hours cabs have fares and how many hours a day the average cab is riding empty.  Or which hours no cabs are available.  Show us how much income you get by owning a cab permit, the hours you work on cab stuff, and what that comes to as an hourly wage.  Maybe you have numbers that prove your point, but you didn't offer them here.  And you didn't mention things like access for handicapped passengers which was improved by the ordinance you want to repeal, or how Uber and Lyft are going to impact the taxi business.  Or is this really about how much you stand to lose if your permit loses its value?

There's also a great story in We Alaskans about an Indonesian 17 year old who is an exchange student in Kasilof told from the perspective of the student and her American temporary father.  I've spent ten minutes trying to find a way to link to the story for people who aren't ADN subscribers, but I can't.  Here's a link to We Alaskans with the other stories in today's edition, maybe it will show up eventually.

Finally, I'd note that Nathaniel Herz' brief interviews with new legislators gives us a chance to see these people as, well, people.  Nat got glimpses that add a little bit to our understanding of individual legislators and the legislature as a whole.  Rep. Jason Gren has a son named Atticus who's not pleased that his daddy isn't always home to tuck him into bed. Rep. Dean Westlake is part of the R.J. Reynolds Caucus which meets for smoke breaks and gives him a chance to spend time with Republicans.  Gary Knopp gets to ride excavators and road graders when he's not in the legislature. Rep. George Rauscher drove about 7000 miles in his Jeep campaigning in his huge Southcentral district.  Wasilla's Rep. David Wilson doesn't seem to like talking to the media.  Nothing huge here, but reminders that our legislators are not cartoon stereotypes, but real human beings trying to make a difference.

Yes, there should be more in depth articles about legislation that help spell it out for average folks, but I'm guessing far more readers will read this piece than more penetrating news on what they are and aren't doing in Juneau.


  1. Hi Steve. ADN is doing a block every once and a while with me. It's not consistent nor long-lasting when it does occur. When they first announced, "No paper for you" several months ago, I just felt it was over for checking stories from the old country.

    Turns out I can get pretty much anything, with the exception of obituaries -- which, for us, was something we checked to know goings of people we once lived among.

  2. Any tax is going to hurt people who make the least so I am not going to argue that. But, an income tax would apply to working Alaskans, about 350,000 or so from what I understand. The current population is 740,000 or so. What about the other 350,000, certainly some are children or people who are too young to be in the work force. Your argument is should just the teachers take a pay cut. Then why should only people who work and have income pay a tax. We all know that there will be generous exemptions for those that make less than a certain amount what I have read was anyone making less that $14,300 would not pay any tax, so that 350,000 total will be reduced even more so fewer people end up paying. Not what I would call fair or everyone paying their fair share. Your poll of ‘people’ paying a fair share gets smaller and smaller.
    So I would vote for a sales tax, exempt food, clothing and medical costs. Have a maximum amount for people who are buying a car, house or a big ticket item. I would also tax professional services lawyers, architects ect.
    Either way it’s going to hurt. Especially for those who have never paid any real taxes. I was looking at one of my old pay stubs, I paid the usual federal taxes, as well as a school tax, and a county tax, a tax to the town I lived in, and an occupation tax the city I worked in as well as a state income tax.
    (I noticed the AND has not been blocking people who do not have a subscription for the past week or so. You could always go the AND’s Facebook page and read the stories without a subscription)

  3. Jacob and Oliver - Usually I can get a non-subcriber link to the ADN, but I couldn't find one to that We Alaskans article yesterday, but I got it today. Also not sure why you can't get obituaries. And, as Oliver's comment demonstrates, auto-correct doesn't like ADN. Oliver, I'll get back here on your tax comments later.

  4. My response to Oliver's comments was too long to fit here, so there's a new post: What Does "Pay Their Fair Share" Mean?


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