Sclerotic TO

A great little blast here by Marcus Gee in yesterday’s Globe (“City of Toronto is falling off the same cliff as General Motors”). Among the highlights, one business study estimates that the average Toronto municipal employee earned 11.6% more than workers in comparable private sector jobs; if the full value of benefits is counted the discrepancy rises to 36%. This drives home the point that unionized public sector employees are not the exploited proletariat of yore but a closed shop aristocracy leeching off the taxpayer. Those progressive types who proudly fly the logo “Afflict the comfortable” might want to take a closer look CUPE and its role in Toronto’s imminent budget crisis.

Meanwhile the Toronto Board of Trade estimates that city labour costs have been growing at over 6% per year since 2003; if they had just kept pace with inflation at 2% the city would have an extra $1.5 billion on hand. More broadly, the city, like the storied automaker, is drifting towards insolvency, without a clue as to what comes next. To quote:
Turning around big, bureaucratic, unaccountable organizations like GM and the City of Toronto is a challenge. They have layers of hierarchy, dug-in unions and semi-independent sub-organizations that act as independent principalities – think Pontiac in GM's case, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation in ours. Toronto is further hobbled by a political system stocked by independent councillors with no party allegiance and no common platform to campaign under.

Such organizations easily lose sight of their original purpose. Instead of serving customers or taxpayers, they serve themselves. They become like a bland version of an autocratic Third World regime whose only purpose is to stay in power. Clinging to a stagnant status quo, they rot from within.
Finally, a great line (also from the Globe) where former ambassador to the US, Alan Gotlieb, cites Lester Thurow: “The greatest challenge in public policy is dealing with incremental decline.” Somebody should put up a banner in the Metro Convention Centre, or whatever temporary venue Toronto City Council chooses to hold its meetings at.