Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. – Thomas Paine, Common Sense
I keep hearing how we are “all in this together.” Are we? The folks in Madison who are making the decisions to destroy our businesses, obliterate our savings, and take away our jobs seem to be doing just fine. They are all still employed with full pay. The government employees at the state and local levels are all still working. They still have their guaranteed pensions and great benefits. Evers is still enjoying the mansion that we provide for him and a full staff of people to do his thinking.
The Coronavirus response is really highlighting the Two Americas. On the one hand we have government employees, who are being insulated from the full impact of the lock down orders. On the other hand, we have the private sector employees, who are feeling the full brunt while also paying for the government employees. Where are the furloughs in government? Where are the pay cuts? Where are the cut backs on benefits? Evers is issuing edicts and just telling private employers and employees to “deal with it.” Why isn’t our government sharing the pain?
Take a look at the list of State of Wisconsin agencies. How many of those could be shuttered right now and furlough or lay off the entire staff? We could live without the Historical Society for now, right? What about the Arts Board? Surely the Department of Tourism is pretty useless right now. State Fair Park? Women’s Council? Trials and prosecutions are being postponed, so can we furlough all of the expensive lawyers and investigators at the Department of Justice? What about judges? Are they being paid when there aren’t any trials happening? Legislative staffs? Legislators? Several agencies could be closed immediately and indefinitely – just like they are forcing many private businesses to do.
For those agencies that do need to remain open, how many employees are non-essential and could be let go? Why can’t we implement an immediate 25% across-the-board pay cut for all government employees right now – even if they are essential? Why can’t we pull back on some of the benefits? Many private employers are being forced to cut back on pay and benefits to stay alive during the government-forced lock down. Where is our government sharing the pain?
This goes for local governments too. Nobody wishes ill on our neighbors and friends, but it’s frustrating to be lectured by a government teacher or police officer about the need to lock down when they are enjoying their full compensation and benefits. The rest of us are suffering major cutbacks and job losses. If we are all in this together, then let’s actually be in ALL of it together.
Remember, too, that with all of the job losses and shut down of the economy, government revenues are WAY down. We can’t afford all of this government anymore. And even if they come back and seek to jack up taxes to pay for everything, who is going to pay it? The 20%-30% of Wisconsinites who are on unemployment?
We need our government at all levels to immediately make substantial spending cuts in line with what is being asked of the private sector. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, government employees will have to work harder and make do with less. Yes, government employees’ may have to work later in life before retiring. That is what is being asked of the private sector. We should expect nothing less from our government.