Keating fails to make honest comparisons

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Raymond Keating’s Sept. 24 column, headlined “U.S. needs less government to thrive,” showed he’s not much of a myth-buster.

His first myth: Government spending will boost — or “stimulate” — the economy. He destroys this with the hard evidence of opinion polls. By his fallacious logic, government spending doesn’t work because a July 2010 Rasmussen poll showed that 52 percent of voters viewed increased government spending as bad for the economy. His next column will likely be busting the myth of evolution by natural selection because a February 2009 Gallup Poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say “they believe in the theory of evolution.” For as we all know, objective truth can be found in the results of opinion polls.

His second myth: Government workers are paid less than their private sector counterparts. Here he distorts and just blatantly lies. The definition of counterpart is a person or thing that closely resembles another. But he uses average private-sector compensation and average state and local government worker compensation. The largest segments of private-sector employee are low-paid retail salespeople, cashiers, food prepares and servers.

These combine for over 12 million jobs which represent over 11 percent of private-sector employment. Using May 2009 figures, these low-paying jobs average less than $10 per hour in mean pay. They greatly skew the average private-sector employment compensation downward as the government does not employ many people in these low-skill, low-pay sectors.

An honest comparison, which Mr. Keating is apparently incapable of, would have to look at true counterparts. But there really are not a lot of counterparts because governments employ a lot of correctional officers, teachers, police officers and firefighters. The best comparisons are likely made between privately owned hospitals and hospitals owned by state and local governments. Registered nurses in privately owned hospitals (the largest sector at nearly 30 percent of employment) earn a mean annual wage of $67,960. Their government-employed counterparts at local- and state-owned hospitals earn $66,280 and $66,990, respectively. Physicians and surgeons in privately owned hospitals earn a mean average wage of $129,540. Their government-employed counterparts at local and state owned hospitals earn $109,730 and $98,680, respectively. In fact, of the top 20 job classifications in hospitals, privately owned hospitals pay a higher annual mean wage in 18 of the 20 when compared to their counterparts at hospitals owned by local governments.

Nearly every argument Mr. Keating makes in the columns which I have read are disingenuous or outright dishonest.

Jonathan Williams, Colorado Springs