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A quit rate is the percentage of people who quit their jobs per year. There is a normal quit rate. The normal quit rate varies by age group. Younger people quit more often than older people. Why? They are learning who they are and what the various jobs involve. in other words, younger people tend to pick the wrong job more often because they lack knowledge of themselves and/or knowledge about various jobs.

The problem is it ought not vary by other variables.

If the quit rate in a particular organization is lower than normal, it means the combination of the job and the pay and/or benefits are too generous.

If the quit rate is too high, it means the opposite.

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Who is overpaid?

I was an Army officer from 1968 to 1972—during the Vietnam war. Military personnel back then were spit at, spit on, and accused of being baby killer and all that. Our troops were using drugs a lot. Black troops felt entitled to be openly anti-white including toward their superiors.

So what quit rates did I see?

The majority of my fellow West Point graduates and I told the Army to shove that lousy job up their asses. We did not bust our asses getting through West Point then ranger school and Vietnam to be spit at. We quit. The Army formed commissions where they wrung their hands about, “How can we keep junior officers in the Army.”

How about replacing the incompetent, dishonest people at the top of the Army?

That would require them to admit they have such people at the top of the Army. So they increased the hours of the officers club and put more trash cans in the hallways of the Bachelor Officers Quarters instead. It didn’t work.

On the other hand, I noticed a distinctly low quit rate in the Army at the same time. Among which group? Lifers.

You can see it in the pay table. There are big raises for young officers and enlisted men. But when you get out to about eight years, the pay raises (not counting promotions) drop to very little. Why?

At that point, the overly generous retirement benefits are only 12 years away. They figure they gotcha.

Risk their lives

People immediately say, “The military risk their lives. They are entitled to whatever they get and more.” No, they are not.

We should pay the military, police, and firemen the amount it takes to keep the quit rate at the normal level for the age group in question, no more.

The quit rate is a mirror image of another number: the number of applicants for vacancies in the job in question.

Suppose someone in the military, police, fire actually does quit. How long will the line be to apply for that job?

Real long. You see it occasionally on TV when there are openings.

How long should the line to apply for the vacancy be? Long enough to get qualified applicants and no longer.

Military, police, fire, prison guards are generally overpaid and bankrupting American cities, counties, states, and the federal government.

If the quit rate is below normal, the job/pay/benefits package is too generous.

If the number who apply for new vacancies is above normal, the job/pay/benefits package is too generous.

When we have a military, police, fire, prison guard opening and no qualified applicants apply, we need to improve the job/pay/benefits package.

When we have a military, police, fire, prison guard opening and dozens or more qualified applicants apply, we need to reduce the job/pay/benefits package.


What we have been doing instead, is sweetening the military, police, fire, prison guard job/pay/benefits package more and more and more in response to the political power of their unions. They claim these sweeteners are essential and necessary. They lie.

Call their bluff. They say proposed pay/benefit cuts are too big or that any pay cut is out of the question. Go ahead with the cut and see what happens. If the military, police, fire, prison guards are telling the truth, many of their numbers will quit and no one, or too few qualified applicants, will apply for the jobs.

In fact, the job/pay/benefits package for these jobs is so outrageously out of whack that everyone knows there is not a snowball’s chance in La Jolla of those jobs going unfilled.

People who were adults in 1981 remember the federal air-traffic controllers. The two candidates for president of their union competed on who would be tougher in the next contract negotiations. The guy who talked toughest won. Then he kept his campaign promises of toughness. Unfortunately for the union members, he called an illegal strike when former union leader Ronald Reagan was president. Reagan fired them. The whole world sucked in its breath. Indications were that all the countries of the world, as well as all the unions of the U.S. adjusted their get-tough-with-the-U.S.-federal-government attitudes after that.

The controllers union ultimately ended their strike after proving their manhood and without getting a dime. They hoped they would be taken back. They were not. One of the big issues in the strike was they were already very highly paid and most were just high school graduates. Tens of thousands of people wanted those jobs.


Where else is there a low quit rate other than jobs where you risk your life or someone else’s.

Unions. Teachers. Auto workers. Non-law-enforcement government employees. These people are bankrupting America. Some of them bankrupted GM and Chrysler.

Teachers are being laid off, not because there is not enough money to pay them but because teachers with seniority are taking too much pay away from the new teachers to the point where the new ones have to be laid off.

Police officers now generally get paid for getting dressed. In some cases, they got raises for getting dressed. In others, their work day was reduced for the amonut of time it took them to get dressed and get undressed. In much of what they do, policemen are their city’s “finest” and all that. But not when they are ripping off the people they claim to “protect and serve.”

Do you see anyone quitting their UAW jobs? Any teaching positions going begging?

Obama bad-mouthed people who cling to their guns and religion. It is the people who cling to their overly generous pay/benefits jobs who are the enemy. When a person gets paid adequately, not overpaid, he or she freely changes jobs to improve their situation. When they do not freely change jobs like normal people do, it is because they cannot improve their situation because they are already riding an unbelievable gravy train.

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Non-union, for-profit, private sector jobs are the real world. When the quit rate and/or number of applicants for openings are abnormally low, lower than in the non-union, for-profit, private sector; the pay/benefits package needs to be made less costly.

The American people have been too long intimidated by unions and military/police/fire/prison guard job hazards. All of that is quite adequately taken into account by quit rate and the number of applicants for those jobs.

Lower these pay/benefit packages until the quit rate and applicant rate are in the same balance as in non-union, for-profit, private-sector jobs.

John T. Reed