Senator Introduces Pete-O-Nomics to Solve Budget Crisis

Government To Go On Flat-Rate System


Coarse Grind -- Satire and Humor

Sen. Pete Kelly’s (R-Fairbanks) dad was a flat-rate mechanic. It must be true because Kelly never misses a chance to put that odd factoid on the legislative record. “If you don’t think guns belong on university campuses,” Kelly might say, “let me remind you that my dad was a flat-rate mechanic. Think about that for a minute. No. Really. Think about it.” On another occasion Kelly might say, “Oh, so you think putting pregnancy tests in bar ladies’ rooms is weird? Well, I’ll tell you this, it’s not as weird as putting pregnancy tests in bar men’s rooms, and my dad was a flat-rate mechanic.” His dad’s method of compensation has played a central role in Kelly’s life, and in the formation of his philosophical underpinnings.

It was only a matter of time before that philosophy bore real fruit, and the current fiscal dilemma in Alaska has provided fertile soil for the senator to deliver what he is calling either the Kelly Green Plan or Pete-O-Nomics. At a thirty-thousand foot level the plan simply puts government on a flat-rate system, and also incorporates a pay-as-you go feature for certain government services. “Basically, you decide how long it should take to do a certain government job, and you set a standard hourly wage,” Kelly said. “So, let’s say a job should take two hours and the government wage is $15 per hour, that’d be ... well, you do the math, but it’s pretty darned reasonable.”

Kelly has worked out a table of government worker tasks, and has, in fact, set the government wage at $15 per hour, with step raises of fifteen cents per hour every ten years. After twenty years a dedicated government worker could be earning a full $15.30 per rated hour, as long as he or she hadn’t earned a bunch of demerits along the way. A couple of examples of flat-rate government work include:

Investigate and resolve a child abuse report: two hours, thirty minutes (or $37.50). Kelly said, “This isn’t rocket surgery. I understand that while God doesn’t want you to spare the rod, sometimes it’s a matter of the size of the rod and how many times the kid gets whacked with it. Anyway, a couple hours, tops, and let’s keep families together the way God intended.”

Fill a pothole: Five minutes (or 12 per hour, so 12 potholes gets you $15). “The idea is about averaging things out. Some potholes are really big and deep, but others are really small. It averages out, but twelve an hour is a reasonable number. Every twelve potholes you get $15 ... divided among the crew.” Kelly said this flat-rate system will discourage goldbricking, and it also will encourage competition between workers. “Competition is a good thing, and if some guy isn’t filling his share of the holes the other guys can give him a little ‘shovel party’ to encourage better productivity.”

Subdue a bad guy: Between 15 seconds and four minutes. “The point of this calculation is to discourage troopers from wasting time negotiating with bad guys. If it looks like the bad guy isn’t going to cooperate, plug ‘em or zap ‘em. If you can get them in the car within four minutes, or you coddle them and take like 10 minutes, you still get paid the flat rate. Of course, troopers don’t just nab bad guys all day, so they get two hours worth of pay for completing a shift. They also get five percent commission on every ticket they write. We have to support these brave heroes.” Government workers would also get five days unpaid vacation and health care coverage, but not for dental, vision or abortions.

With rough calculations and after paring down government departments to what Kelly calls reasonable sizes, the senator estimates he could fund government under his plan with about $450,000 per year. “That leaves a ton for dividends and stuff. Of course that doesn’t include the legislature, which would operate under the current system and is calculated separately. Just because Pops was a flat-rate mechanic doesn’t mean I want to be one.”

The pay-as-you-go feature was the brain child of Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) who is carrying the bill in the House. Wilson has long wondered, often on the record, who the moochers are in Alaska. How much are regular, working Alaskans paying in taxes (almost zero) just so the moochers could take advantage of free snow plowing and ambulance rides and such?

“It seems to me that there’s a large group of Alaskans out there who aren’t contributing much, but who still get to use the landfill and go to the hospital and all that,” Wilson said. Her idea is to establish a user’s fee system for most government services. “Let’s say a woman mouths off to her husband and he slugs her,” Wilson said. “Now you could call your brother or your boyfriend and they’ll come over and fix his wagon pretty much for free, but most people will call the troopers. The rest of us are paying for that. So, I think a trooper call should be like $100. If someone gets arrested you can pay for the processing fees, and a daily rent charge for the cell. Trust me, DV calls will go down, and the troopers will spend more time responding to hard working people.”

Other government services on the fee schedule would include libraries, most school functions, fire suppression and legislation. “That way Alaskans could simply pay for the services they want ... and that they can actually afford.”