George Rebane: Dear government employees …
These are difficult times for all, times that now shine a bright and revealing light on things hidden and unmentioned in our communal life.
Governments at all levels are broke and broken. And they are not so because we taxpayers have failed to pay our due. Today, we know that governments are failing because they have grown too big, bewildering and expensive.
The major cost of government turns out to be you in your sheer numbers and the compensation packages that you command from us. Overall, you are a coddled and privileged class, buttressed between unscrupulous politicians and your public-be-damned union leaders. You are paid wages that no private employer could afford, and your benefits are a lavish scam that will soon reveal itself – a story of its own for another time.
We know all this because you are being fired and furloughed in unprecedented numbers by jurisdictions that can neither borrow nor print. The feckless feds who still can are increasing your numbers. When forced to balance accounts, our electeds know their budget busters – the salaries and benefit packages that you have quietly installed for yourselves with the help of your unions and spineless politicians.
You and your handlers (whom we also fund) frequently portray your labors as selfless sacrifices to the rest of us. We don’t see it that way. You provide expensive, often unwanted, “services.” And even in your most dangerous jobs, you do not match the risks to life and limb that more of us encounter daily in the private sector. (Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
There is no doubt that we need some of you to be there for us. The military, certain emergency services, and our border guards have an unquestioned role in keeping our country whole.
Proper government should enable and oil the machinery of civil society. Today, our governments have gone far beyond that, and have become the gear-grinding gravel that taxpayers must daily overcome. Whether you work in faraway offices or walk armed among us, today most of you are no longer “public servants,” but the instruments and apparatchiks of government that corral, control and coerce us.
We fear it will only take one “word” from our political leadership for you to become our immediate masters. This has happened elsewhere, and, sadly, it can happen here.
Most of you and many of us don’t understand the difference between wealth generation and its consumption. It is we in the private sector, paying the assessed taxes and levied fees, who generate the wealth. We do this through our work and investments while risking our own time, treasure and talents. The dual promise of reward and ever-present risk of failure keeps our productive edges keen.
You also claim to be taxpayers and investors. But it is hard for us to accept that, because every dollar you invest or pay in taxes was first taken from us. And these are our dollars that we cannot spend and invest ourselves.
Today’s economic realities have made it clear that most of you are a burden not only to us, but in the larger sense, even to yourselves – you are eating the geese that lay the golden eggs.
In the final analysis things are what they are. And at sunset, we citizen taxpayers have no one to blame but ourselves. For it was we who first elected the politicians who promised to do for us what we should do for ourselves. And then through our public-educated ignorance and indolence, we allowed government to fatten itself while we were too busy building businesses, buying toys and enjoying circuses.
So, now we ask those of you who still can, please join us in the private sector and help recreate the wealth that supports our common quality of life. It is a bit colder and unforgiving out here, but you will soon find that to be a refreshing and invigorating part of life. You will then know that your labors also contribute the wherewithal to fund properly run governments at all levels. The nobility of the self-reliant sustainer of society will be yours.
This has been a difficult letter to write – difficult because so many of you government employees are also our friends and neighbors. But today, things are changing as they must, because business as usual is no longer possible.
We want you to understand how it looks to those of us who compensate your labors and make your jobs possible. We believe that in the end, we all want a more prosperous and free America.
You faithful benefactor,
The American Taxpayer
George Rebane is a retired systems scientist and entrepreneur in Nevada County who regularly expands these and other themes on Rebane’s Ruminations (www.georgerebane.com).
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What must our middle school history teachers think of what’s happened to Christopher Columbus?