It’s hardly news that in the throes of the current economic downturn, the Naples News Media Group has eliminated jobs.
It has also reduced the pay of many still working,
At the same time it’s lowered some advertising rates and held others steady.
Those might be characterized as difficult but prudent steps to cope with the weak economy.
Unless you’re a leader of a public sector union.
Then such actions amount to making up a budget shortfall on the backs of the workers.
In announcing a lawsuit over changes to the state retirement system filed against Gov. Rick Scott and other top officials, Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, said, “This pay cut was used by legislative leadership to make up a budget shortfall on the backs of teachers, law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other state workers.”
For any enterprise that employees people, salary and benefits are the biggest expense. Budget shortfalls are almost certain to be made up there. Ford doesn’t say where, exactly, the state should make up its budget shortfall if not through cutting personnel costs, but Mark Castellano, president of the Teachers Association of Lee County, made a point to say that the amount the state is saving by making public employees contribute 3 percent of their salary to their retirement system is about the same amount the state is supposedly “giving” companies in the way of corporate tax breaks.
The lawsuit may or may not prove successful for state employees. It claims the employees’ participation in the state retirement system amounts to a contractual relationship and the change violates that contract. A judge can sort out that legal question and others raised in the suit.
But it is a dangerous tendency of the political left to characterize business as the enemy.
If a newspaper lowers an advertising rate in a tough economy, it isn’t to enrich those advertisers while employees bear the brunt of the reduced revenue. It is to try to attract more advertisers and to entice existing ones to advertise more. It might just be the difference between an advertiser staying or leaving the paper to seek alternatives. It may be the difference between an advertiser staying in business, surviving to advertise another day. The ultimate goal is to maximize ad revenue.
Advertisers, after all, pay the bills.
In the state of Florida, businesses pay the bills. They sell the goods and services that are subject to the sales tax, the state’s primary source of income. They employ people who in turn have money to spend. The use of that money generates revenue for the state. Without business there wouldn’t be jobs. Without jobs, there wouldn’t be economic activity. Without economic activity, there would be a budget shortfall bigger than the one we’re facing now.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, tax breaks are a means of maximizing tax revenue.
Even now, Collier County is considering giving medical device manufacturer Arthrex incentives worth millions of dollars to expand in Collier County. This after years in which county employee numbers have been cut and salaries reduced. Is it fair to say Collier County balanced its budget shortfall on the backs of its workers so it could give money to Arthrex?
Businesses can locate wherever they want. Incentives are a way to attract them and the economic activity they generate.
All sorts have people have had to cope with reduced income in the current recession.
No one is happy to see state employees placed in that same predicament, but let’s not make business the villain.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten