Earthquakes: A reminder of a deadly question ...

There is a mathematical certainty to the outcomes of unionized governments ...

It was a routine and random conversation about politics. One of my friends, a well-respected engineer who hates politics, challenged my assertions that public employee unions were bad for government. He demanded that I produce more than anecdotal (and possibly apocryphal) stories and suggested a rigorous mathematical test.

Being familiar with computer modeling, I proposed that I develop a simple computer model of a unionized city government.

Since all computer models are based on assumptions, I  was somewhat  stumped on how to code the union function until I realized that unions meant that more employees were always needed to accomplish the same amount of work per unit of time. 

So I handed him a single piece of paper before I started to enter the computer code necessary to implement the computer model.

Pseudo-code for the union performance model

Vary employees available emp(available) from the initial number emp(init) to the maximum number of employees emp(max)  and divide the available work  work(available) by the number available employees emp(available)  until you reach the maximum number of employees emp(max) allowed by the salary dollars available available_salary_dollars divided by the average salary cost average_employee_salary of a worker.

The source of salary funds from local tax revenues, bonds, state contributions, federal contributions and additional borrowing was treated as a single number.

Since most programmers do a “back of the envelope” estimate of the proposed calculation, I did a little work in my head.

After considering the model for four iterations, I noticed that their was a natural limit to the work/employee equation.

Basically stated: more and more workers did less and less work until all of the available employees appear to do absolutely nothing.

work/employees = work per employee

1/1 = 1

1/10 = .1

1/100 = .01

1/1000 = .001

As you can plainly see: as one unit of work was divided by more and more employees, the actual work performed per employee approaches zero.

When I handed him the piece of paper, he shook his head and has refused to discuss politics. We now talk about his favorite modeling subject: MTBF – Mean Time Before Failure!

I offered to compute the MTBF for unionized governments and he threw a donut at me. I consider this to be the equivalent of throwing in the towel.

-- steve

P.S. We all know the work is actually done by one really talented employee and everyone else takes the credit. That is often the case when you see six city workers watching one sweating “low seniority” worker filling the pothole in the middle of the street.

And we all know that the work will expand to fill the time available as new rules and regulations are implemented -- all of which require people to monitor and prepare the reports. Another example of nonsensical work rules impeding progress. 

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS