League of Women Voters of Palo Alto Candidates Forum - Statements
Following are the prepared text I used to give my opening and closing statements at the forum attended by Anna Eshoo, Dave Chapman, and myself today.
Thank you to The League of Women Voters of Palo Alto and other sponsors for providing this forum today.
While preparing for this event dozens of thoughts passed through my mind, but I realized that we could be here for days, so I refer anyone who is interested in more detail on my thoughts and positions on issues to refer to my website at www.paullazaga.org.
The main issue I wish to bring forward and one that is on all our minds is how do we regain our economic freedom and prosperity.
I would submit that neither major party has historically developed and followed through with a successful method. One party believes that government provides the answers through growth of bureaucracy and spending, the other says that it believes in the opposite, but historically either maintains the status quo or worse, grows bureaucracy and spending, just slower.
It is my position that we dramatically reduce the size of the Federal government by removing or reducing the duplicitous departments of government such as the Department of Education which has no viable reason for existing at the Federal level.
I also believe that we re-evaluate Federal employee compensation and pension plans and bring them inline with the private sector which in most cases, especially among small and independent businesses can not afford to offer pensions at all.
It has been said lately that the reason the Federal government average pay is higher is because these are the more skilled workers that manage contracts to private industry. Let us assume that is correct and the Federal government only provides mostly for an elite workforce while giving contracts for lesser functions.
When we look at how the Federal government pays subcontractors, especially in construction, we also find they pay premium prices, sometimes as much as 100% more than the equivalent private sector work using what is known as “prevailing wage” laws where a non-union private sector painter who makes typically $18.00 per hour on private work gets paid $35.00 per hour plus $15.00 per hour benefits or more depending on location when working for the government. I therefore call for the repeal of the Davis-Bacon act which is the Federal “prevailing wage” law. Others exist in State and local governments. How do you think LA ended up with a $500 million dollar school serving only 4200 students, that's around $2 million a classroom. “Prevailing wage” laws not only affect public projects, but many projects that receive any government funding.
So while it it my belief that government, while providing some essential services, needs to be reined in to what was Constitutionally intended. Through some simple steps we can significantly decrease the waste of taxpayer money while not impeding even currently provided services, thereby increasing resources in both the private and possibly the public sector to further investment, production, and jobs.
There are other important issues that affect us today but until we get our government in order fiscally and our economy at the very least stabilized these issues are being used by other candidates as merely deflection on what is our greatest concern; providing for ourselves and loved ones. Most of us have found that we need to put our credit cards and lines of credit away either by choice or force. I only ask that the government start following our lead. When faced with a personal fiscal crisis we worry about whether we have clothes, not whether we have designer label clothes. In the same way government needs to worry whether we have cars to get us to work and job interviews, not whether we all drive designer electric cars.
Curbing government spending and taxation will fuel the economy. The Federal government seems to forget that their income tax is not the only tax we pay. An individual making a modest lower middle class income, if you can call it that around here, of $50,000 per year can expect to pay close to 50% in cumulative taxes between Federal & State income tax, social security tax, medicare tax, property tax, sales tax, gas tax, utility tax, telecom tax, motor vehicle tax, excise taxes, etc. It is my belief that returning much of the money to the individuals that earned it would allow them to spend it in the economy without the expense of the government middleman and increasing their lifestyle, retirement savings, and charitable contributions while also creating employment for others, allowing them to also provide for themselves and their loved ones.
Please visit www.paullazaga.org for more detail. I invite comments on the website and will attempt to provide responses where requested.