WUNC radio put together a rather eye-opening report last week about the importance of teacher pay. The purpose of the article — in the minds of the reporters and their editors, I’m sure — was to explain why legislators are falling all over themselves to enact a teacher pay raise. It also shed some light on just how pervasive an impact government has on our state’s economy:
[...] In 64 of North Carolina’s 100 counties (dark blue), a local school system is the largest single employer. A local school system is the second-largest employer in 24 other counties (light blue). In only 12 counties (white) is a school system not in the top two. (Click on the county to see the top two employers.)
A few interesting notes: in counties where the school system is not the top employer, it’s usually due to the military (Craven, Cumberland, Onslow), a large university (Orange, Durham, Watauga, Pitt, Jackson), a prison (Granville, Hyde), or a large-scale hog/chicken processing plant (Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen). Note the absence of manufacturing.
In only one county in the state – Granville – is the school system not in the top three largest employers. The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services, Revlon, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice all employ more people. [...]
Wow. In only FOUR counties is there a private company ranked among the top three employers. MORE:
[...] But a raise for teachers also has a longer-lasting impact beyond November.
If you think of a raise as an economic stimulus, more money in the pay checks of 95,000 teachers (spread out from Manteo to Murphy) will mean more middle-class people buying groceries, going on vacations, etc. And that will have a real, immediate economic impact on the state as a whole.
That is worth your attention. [...]
An economic stimulus? Seriously ??? That ”stimulus” is created by bleeding hard-earned tax money from producers to transfer to the wallets of people dependent on government paychecks. As more and more people go on to the government payroll, what happens to the population of taxpayers needed to fund this hiring spree?
My home county of Robeson USED to be a manufacturing powerhouse. When NAFTA rolled around, the plants ran for the border and didn’t look back. The county government, city governments, the school system, and the local hospital (basically a government entity, considering all of the medicaid revenue it takes in) are now the top employers. The poverty level for the county is near double that of the state as a whole. With all of those people on social services, and / or working for government entities, the government leviathan is requiring more and more tax revenue. Robeson County now has one of the highest tax rates in the state. The stifling tax rate forces producers and their money outside of the county — putting more of a strain on local government budgets. The options? Dig into the state or federal revenue trough, or find new creative ways to squeeze more money out of the producers you have left within the county limits.
The statists have grown government and found a number of ways to create dependence on it by individuals and their families. Asking a politician to cut government spending has become like asking him to put his friends and neighbors out of work.
How long can this shell game — taking money from producers to give to an ever-growing number of government employees who give it back to government which then gives it back to the government employees — continue?
If we’re going to save North Carolina, we need some new thinking — from Murphy to Manteo and ESPECIALLY in Raleigh — that changes the mindset from looking to The State for salvation to venturing out on your own to take care of yourself and your family.