Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"For The People"

San Diego Unified School District just issued 600 “pink slips” and while some of the concern expressed has been about the effect on education, virtually all of the anguish expressed by those affected, by the media and by the school district has been over the effect on those who will lose their jobs.

The New York Times has a piece about a couple in Ohio. Both of them work for the city government and consider themselves fortunate to be doing so because the employment picture in their town consists of “…a thin crust of low-paying service work that makes public-sector jobs look great in comparison.” The whole piece is about everyone in town wanting to work for the city because the city has the only “middle class” jobs in town.

We seem to be losing sight of what government is supposed to do.

Government has, as its sole purpose, providing services to the public, to the people it serves. In order to do that it needs to hire some employees, but it is the public which is supposed to be the beneficiary of government.

We have turned that principle on its head. Government now exists to provide good jobs for its employees, and the taxpayers exist for the purpose of providing the money to support the government in paying for and maintaining the way of life of those employees. The public sector workers are now the beneficiaries of government and it is the taxpayers who work to support those public sector employees.

In making decisions on budgets and revenues, we no longer ask what the public is willing to pay, or what level of service the public needs, we ask what monetary pay and level of benefits the public sector employees demand and we attempt to raise taxes to meet that demand.

I have no problem with the idea that in times of economic stress the government may need to provide some temporary employment for stimulus, but this is not the issue when we are looking at teachers and a city which provides the only high paying jobs in an entire city. Government needs to pay competitive wages to attract competent workers, but why is a city paying significantly higher than prevailing wages, and why does any government allow employees to negotiate wages against the taxpayers’ interests?

We need to return to governing for the benefit of the taxpayer.

2 comments:

Bartender Cabbie said...

My current job (which funding expires at the end of the school year) is a result of a "stimulus" project. Doesn't pay much but it is pretty interesting.

bruce said...

This is a valid point.. a lot of protest are of government taking away things from government workers, but what about the rights of those that get government services? Trash, fire, health, safety, etc.

Services need to be provided even in dark times, scaled back perhaps, but still need to be done. If there is less money, then something has to give.

Promising big benefits (of any kind, not just salaries and pensions) in times of fiscal flushness with no evaluation of long term viability is stupid. Of course, the politicians that do this hope that they are long out of office before it happens.

And any group that favors itself over others, without looking the constuency that it supposedly serves and at the long term viability of the system as a whole should be neutered.

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