So you just came home after a long day at the office. At some point you, or a family member, agreed to trade hours of your time in exchange for money, which will allow you to live your beautiful life in Santa Monica, where your vote still counts for something, and your voice can be heard.

The trade is based on your time, and the amount of money you get for your time is based on how much they need your time. Right now, I don’t need a brain surgeon, but my car needs the heater and air conditioning repaired. So I go to Chuck at Santa Monica Radiator, and agree to give him money to fix my car. Chuck figures the amount of his employees’ time, the cost of parts, and the taxes and fees he pays the government, along with the price of keeping the shop open and then charges me for that service.

Some people in the world are more special than others. Those people may have spent a great deal of time, or had someone like their parents invest money into their abilities, which allows them to do something that you find valuable.

Take Santa Monica High alum Charlie Sheen for example. He charges $1 million per episode to show up and act like himself. What makes him worth $1 million? Scarcity is the reason. You see, the world only has one Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen has proven that you’ll tune in every week to watch him tell you a story. It’s because so many of you watch that show that advertisers are willing to pay a great deal of money to run an advertisement during his show.

That’s how they pay Sheen. I can assure you if the producers of that show thought they could replace Mr. Sheen for half that amount of money, they’d do it in a heart beat. The problem is, would you still watch that show? Would the advertisers continue to pay as much as they do to watch someone else get drunk and chase women? If the producers could replace Sheen and still get you to watch the show, they’d replace him in a second.

This is why other people make more money then we do. Someone in the world has to pay them because they cannot replace them with a cheaper person. This is one of the reasons why so many jobs such as doing housekeeping and cleaning toilets in Santa Monica have been lost to foreign workers. If you go to Detroit, however, you’ll actually see the indigenous white people working on farms, teenagers mowing lawns, and non-Latinos parking cars and cleaning houses.

The same is true for manufacturing jobs. If you can be replaced by a robot, or by a cheaper person in, say China, you will be. The reason why corporate leaders are getting big paychecks is they’re producing the same amount of profit they produced in 2007, but with less workers. The question we have to all face everyday is can and will we be replaced, and if so what are we doing about that?

Now the city, state and federal employees are a totally different story. You see, the taxpayers guarantee to pay our employees a fixed amount of money when they retire. This is how your grandparents borrowed from you without your permission. They hired all these people, and agreed to have you pay them. You can thank “the greatest generation” for paying less taxes, and benefiting the most from the services. Most of our unions pay 100 percent of the average of the last two years of an employee’s pay for as long as they live after they work for 20 years.

The pensions paid have little to do with what the workers contributed to the program. We, the taxpayers, cover that shortfall instead of spending more money on a student. This is the primary problem with our state budget, and it will only get worse until we solve this problem. Unfortunately, the unions are against paying new workers’ benefits that match the private sector because it takes away their power in the long run.

Jerry Brown knows this is the problem, and already warned the unions he’s coming after them. You see, Gov. Moonbeam is most likely serving in the last office he will hold, and deep down he’s so far left that he is almost a conservative. He will cut services if we don’t pay for them. He said: “No new taxes unless the people vote for them. Return, as much as possible, decisions and authority to the cities and schools closer to the people.”

That almost sounds like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. What I think we’ll see is the state will close down departments left and right, and leave it to the cities to make the decision to raise taxes for the services the local voters want, as opposed to some far away group of people making those decisions for us. That will win the Republican votes he is looking for. This way we vote for where our money goes the same way we vote to pay Charlie Sheen. I like that.

David Alsabery believes we just might have a chance to untangle this mess. He can be reached at alsabery@gmail.com.

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