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... as entitlement attitude leads to job security fixation

As entrenched higher education interests ineffectively tried to turn a commission against needed reform, not too far away state employees, many who appear to want to cut their noses off despite their faces, gave another commission an earful about what it’s like to think you can have a taxpayer-funded job for life despite the actual needs of the state.

In Alexandria at a meeting of the Commission on Streamlining Government, civil servants, many in the area of health care and egged on by unions representing some of them, sounded off on plans to privatize some state functions. Among the epithetical phrases used was “streamlining is another term for downsizing,” and a union thug threatened the elected officials on the panel against those who desired reelection if state workers had to try to fight off attempts to eliminate jobs. One non-state worker who recently became unemployed complained he couldn’t find work and thus that would be the fate of laid-off state employees which would then cost the state in term of welfare benefits to be paid out.

The ignorance, vapidity, and lack of critical thinking behind these remarks appear overwhelming, but let’s take them in small doses. Initially, it must be noted that many of those present work in areas of government most vulnerable to the environment that spurred creation of the body, a looming budgetary crisis that could put the state in a hole as large as $2 billion or perhaps a fifth of its entire general fund. Unless savings are found across government such as by privatization of functions in many areas, the largest absolute hit would come in health care meaning lots of job losses. In other words, the choice may mean either managed cuts through things like privatization or indiscriminate cuts that probably would cause the loss of even more state jobs.

And if “streamlining” turns into “downsizing,” so what? What’s so sacred about state government performing all the things it has been doing using only state employees? If necessary service is equivalent or better and costs the same or less, the citizen and especially taxpayer is better off by shedding state jobs. Nobody has a right to keep doing the same job if the state saves money and/or gets better results by outsourcing it.

If so, the result will be temporary unemployment. But there are other jobs out there, and even if this negative economic climate over 90 percent of those who want to find work succeed in gaining employment. It may not be with government, it may not be as good or as well-paying … but then again, it might be better and higher-paying. Chances are if you can’t get a job it’s primarily because you don’t bring that much skill and desire to the marketplace in the first place. And even if the state then has to pay benefits for that portion that couldn’t get a job, those expenses probably would not be more than the savings from layoffs.

Actually, these whining government workers express so much dismay at the prospect of layoffs because they know they have it good. Insulated from market pressures where, in this state, you have to be noticeably deficient not to get a satisfactory or better rating and therefore (until this year) a nice annual raise (about one percent of them) and grossly incompetent to get discharged (averaging around 300 a year), so you can float along without a great deal of pressure to perform, with little incentive to do more than the minimum, and you can stay as long as the job is there if you get mostly satisfactory or better ratings – at a wage scale that, particularly at the lowest levels, is as good or better than what the market would pay for similar described work. “Streamlining” threatens that sense of entitlement, and that to take away this property right they call a job is offensive to them.

Thus, the union thug’s pronouncement expressed perfectly the attitude shared by these workers (which is by no means reflective of the attitude held by all state workers), that their needs are more important those of the people who hired them, Louisiana’s citizens. They proclaim it is more important that the state spend money inefficiently in order to transfer more of it to them than it is to serve the taxpayer by being a good steward of the people’s resources. Anybody who stands in their way in keeping the established order they try to bully with electoral threatened consequences.

Fortunately, the electorate is many more than this group of sheltered crybabies, and hopefully the Commission will have the fortitude to see past their antics and recommend what is necessary to improve government delivery of needed services with reduced costs, no matter what that might be. Political courage by policy-makers to follow would complete the successful reform, and the state as a whole will be winner even if it inconveniences a few spoiled people here and there.

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