The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 2, 2009
Blog Back: Pay comparisons, pay cuts and Patton

Patton.jpgBlog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Dec 24 More about Sutter County pensions ...

I keep hearing that state workers make less than their counterparts in the real world, but nobody offers anything to back up that claim. If the pay in the private sector is really higher than in the public sector, why don't state workers take those higher-paying jobs?

The state Department of Personnel Administration since 2006 has commissioned a dozen studies on this issue. You can click here to find links to all of them.

Making public-to-private comparisons across job classes is difficult, since many government jobs have no private sector counterpart. Government-to-government comparisons have dubious value because they fail to reflect cost-of-living factors that vary by geography.

Still, the surveys that have tackled California state worker pay indicate that some state employees often earn less, even with benefits considered, than workers performing comparable duties in other governments or the private sector. Some earn more.

Dec. 25 The State Worker: Furlough scenario may come with steep price

Dear Jon Ortiz: The Senate Republicans are in favor of furloughs for state workers AND legislative staff, and a pay cut for the legislators. Please feel free to call ANY of the Sen Reps for a comment regarding this topic. And then you will be practicing balanced journalism! A Leg staffer

The Republican and Democratic positions on the budget are well-known. We're less interested in relaying the usual soundbites from elected state workers than chronicling the impact of their actions (or inactions) on California's unelected state workers. Legislators should feel free to call us ANY time regarding that topic.

And we've noted several times that elected state workers in either party can individually cut their pay at any time. To our knowledge, neither party has stepped forward to collectively lead by example.

Moving on ...

We enjoyed this amusing mini-thread that mixed humor, analysis and ... Patton?

This first comment responded to a user calling for a political "Patton" to "whack some big chunks out of the budget." User rwneill offered this "speech" by about the hard-charging WWII general, played in the movie by George C. Scott , to workers at the Franchise Tax Board.

If you've seen the movie, you can practically hear the gravel-voiced general exhorting the troops:

(Bugle plays) Patton: All this stuff you've heard about Californians not wanting to be taxed is a lot of horse manure. Californians love to be taxed. All real Americans love the sting of taxes.

Now we have the finest tax collectors and the best Blackberries in the world. We're not just going to audit the taxpayers, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our Hummers. Wade into them! Spill their wallets & purses! When you put your hand into a bunch of gooey revenue, that a moment before was in your best friend's wallet, you'll know what to do.

I don't want to get any messages saying we're "holding our position." We aren't holding anything except the taxpayer by the nose while we kick them in the butt. We're going to go through their wallets & purses like crap through a goose!

All right, now, you know how I feel.
(Limousines rumble away)
(Dog barks)

User BobbyBaker continued the Patton theme (with the governor now playing Patton) to riff on state employee labor unions:

Reply to rwneill: Governor walks through the California Chamber of Commerce ICU. He is surrounded by bleeding bodies. Here is HiTech, bleeding terribly, he pins a purple heart on the pillow next to his good ear.

He moves to the next bed, where the Hollywood Film Industry lies legless and bound from butt to head. So wrecked, he can only be fed by an IV. He kisses him on the forehead, and prays over him.

(whimper, whimper, sniff, sniff) "What's wrong with you?"

The state labor union lays comfortably in a California King Size Posturepedic bed with Memory Foam, clutching the remote control to the only TV in the room. His bed tray is being cleared of the fine china and Filet Mignon he sent back for being too well done. His silk pajamas are freshly pressed.

"It's all this talk of budget cuts, sir." (whimper sniff whimper) "I can't take it anymore."


"Why your nothing but Yellow-Bellied Coward!! Why I oughta..."

The nurses union cuts the video feed.

High marks to both for creativity. Click here to see a "Patton" movie trailer. (At the 2:17 mark you'll see a scene from the film that inspired BobbyBaker's post.)

IMAGE: George C. Scott as Gen. Patton slaps a soldier. /

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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