The Richmond Register


December 10, 2012

When the takers outnumber makers, you’d best take notice

You’re either a maker or a taker.

A free marketplace – which used to operate with much less government interference – allows makers to turn rocks into roads, crops into meals and ideas into patents.

Without makers, takers don’t have a paycheck, pension or food stamp. With fewer takers, makers could keep more of the fruits of their labor, which would greatly benefit our commonwealth and our whole country – especially about now.

So, which are you?

Not all takers are “bad;” neither are all makers “good.” But this is not about assigning moral value to the two groups. Rather, it’s simply acknowledging that anyone who receives a political perk requires someone in the private sector to produce and pay taxes so there’s enough money in government’s coffers to pay for it.

While the federal government can crank its presses and print money like the paper it is, no such option exists in Frankfort. Our state government cannot give absolutely anything to anybody without first taking from someone else.

What’s worse, the more takers take, the fewer resources makers have to invest in private sector activity like capital development and job creation that fuel economic growth.

This is what makes Kentucky’s politicians mooching at the public pension trough so intolerable.

State senators like the retiring Tim Shaughnessy of Louisville is the latest in a growing line of politicians to become eligible for a big pension boost he supported in a 2005 bill.

House Bill 299 allows Shaughnessy, who made less than $50,000 as a state legislator, to apply the $160,000 salary he received with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to his legislative pension – even though his salary as a lawmaker was nowhere close to that amount.

A conservative estimate reveals that Shaughnessy’s legislative pension will be nearly $75,000 more per year for an annual total of $103,400.

With cost of living increases and up to five years of “air time,” Shaughnessy’s legislative pension could, because of HB 299, be $90,000 higher and total more than $125,000 annually.

Shaughnessy joins former senators Charlie Borders and Dan Kelley, along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Circuit Judge David Williams, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and recent Labor Cabinet Secretary J.R. Gray as some of Kentucky’s biggest takers.

Ironically, many of these same politicians hypocritically claim to be committed defenders of taxpayers and the free market even while stuffing cash into every pocket they can find with every single dollar they can take – money that’s removed from the productive sector.

Because of such hypocrisy, Kentucky’s private sector could be in even more danger than present-day numbers suggest. recently reported that Kentucky is one of 11 states qualifying for its “death spiral list” because it has a taker-to-maker ration of 1.05 to 1, and is in the bottom half of states when it comes to “large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment.”

According to the report, Kentucky has a higher taker-to-maker ratio than even Illinois, a state especially known for its corruption, excessive taxation and under-accounting for promises to government employees.

When takers outnumber makers, taxes go up and employers leave.

After all, employers with a payroll of 100 people would likely much rather have to only support, say, 82 takers in Texas than 105 in Kentucky.

The report notes that when employers and prosperous citizens – who also don’t want to support such a large cache of takers – leave, it “just makes matters worse for the taxpayers left behind.”

Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

Text Only
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

     View Results