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Monday, March 7, 2011

Is a job in the public sector a "real" job?

With the attack on public unions in Wisconsin and Indiana the value of public sector jobs seems to be questioned. Is the private sector always more efficient at delivering need community services? Should the profit motive be the driving force in determining where a service should exist? Or was John Boehner devaluing federal workers when he remarked recently to federal job reductions as a result of Republican budget proposals, "So be it." Of course this comment is a little cavalier from someone who is a public official collecting a nice salary and having a lucrative pension as a public official.

I am not unbiased on this topic having worked for the Howard County government for over 26 years and worked with some great public servants. Yes we are fortunate to have a County workforce and public officials we should value and appreciate. This workforce and the numerous valuable non profits in Howard County do contribute to the County being recognized as a great place to live.

To demagogue public service workers may win you votes today in some parts of the country but we should recognize that the quality of life in Howard County is enhanced by our public sector workers. Would we really want to trade our quality of life with Mississippi or Alabama and their low tax rates and right to work laws?


5 comments:

Trevor said...

No one is devaluing the hard work and dedication of most public employees. I think you're missing the point that many private workers are making. We are tired of paying a large portion of our income to the government, while also paying for a relatively large portion of our health care, retirement savings, and pensions. We are upset that public workers, by comparison, often pay much less for health care, pensions, and other benefits.

The belief by many is that public employees have these fantastic benefits partially because of the power of the public unions. The public unions are so powerful because unlike private unions, that have no say in whom they negotiate with, the public unions have a large say in whom they negotiate with. It's as simple as a public union saying, "give us raises and improved benefits and you will get a large donation for your next campaign."

It is only fair that public employees have benefits similar to private employees of a similar job title, and that the power of public unions be curtailed.

Mediaprophet said...

Trevor-

You make an excellent argument for expanding and empowering private sector unions.

Trevor said...

Mediaprophet-

Explain how I made an argument for expanding and empowering private unions. I did not say that private employees need better benefits or pay... I said that the benefits of public employees should be similar to private employees.

Lisa said...

Trevor,

Public unions have a lot of influence in our government. I agree with you there. The web of influence over government functions and expenditures, over political campaigns and favors, well, it's gone wild. There are problems with it. The various incentives and deterrents that shape and influence politicians' decisions and actions are skewed towards those individuals keeping their jobs (i.e. winning reelection) for life.

What is not fair, in my opinion, is that the private industry influences over our government are not being as openly examined. If John Boehner or Chris Christie or Scott Walker were out there calling Wall Street out for their mistakes, insisting on improving the campaign finance system to make it more fair, and honestly talking about ways to increase revenue while cutting spending (because we need to do both) and to do those things without appearing to place all of the burden on those in this country who are already burdened due to the recession/near depression, then we'd ALL be better off.

Trevor said...

Lisa,

I absolutely agree 100% with you. I think you hit the nail on the head with the way you describe the problem with both political parties. The Democrats are funded and controlled by public (and private) unions. The Republicans, on the other hand are funded and controlled by private industry.

Unfortunately, there is massive corruption in our political system, and it has only gotten worse as politicians need millions of dollars to run for public office.

We need term limits. Let me repeat that. We need term limits. I do not believe that the Framers of our Constitution intended Senators and Congresspeople to be in office for decades or life. But, this is what's happened.

Politics is big business, and political favors make some people very, very wealthy.

For more about this check out my blog post here:
http://hocopolitico.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-usa-going-downhill.html