Comparison not unfair
“Government is the people’s business and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid,” Ronald Wilson Reagan once said.
Shock gave way to disbelief and laughter as I read your April Fool’s Day editorial. It isn’t fair to compare courthouse workers with those who work in private industry? Why in the world not? You misrepresent what the Morgan County Commissioners said. Nobody said any county worker has a cushy job or is overpaid. Nobody said they are not tired at the end of the day — private industry workers are, too. Of course they have stress — everyone does, that is why you get paid for working. Private industry workers deal with unhappy customers every day, too.
Morgan County government employees have gotten a 3% raise every year for the last 12 years —over 42% in total. We are in the middle of the worst recession of our lives, and we are moving into an expensive new courthouse necessitated by the underinsured loss of our old courthouse.
Our taxpayers are facing pay cuts and job losses in their own private-industry jobs. The ability of county workers to get pay raises depends on the ability of private industry taxpayers to pay for them. That is inescapable, no?
When the county hires a worker it competes with private industry for that worker. It is pretty clear that the pay and benefits are competitive — a recent opening in the Circuit Clerk’s office, when advertised in the paper, drew over 50 applications. Fifty.
The most ludicrous of your claims is that county government has “nothing to sell.” The county sells services. When someone buys real estate, they record their deed in the County Clerk’s office. The clerk charges a fee for the service of recording the document. The Circuit Clerk charges me a filing fee every time I file a lawsuit. It is a fee for the service of filing the documents. If you are not buying services with your tax dollars, what are you paying for?
I want my commissioners to make comparisons and keep in mind what the people who put them in office want. “Government as business” comparisons can be overdose, especially in the social services arena. Let us be clear like Ronald Reagan was: a government job is not a social-service entitlement.
It is stunning to see a pro-Republican newspaper ignore the bedrock principles of Reagan conservatism this way.