We received this letter from the following individual, and felt it was such a well rounded and wonderful perspective, that with the author’s permission, we have copied it verbatim. I urge you ALL to read it, absorb it, and take action accordingly! Thank you Paul!
Subject: Concern over Legislative Season
By way of introduction, I am a retired Martin County deputy. Politically I am libertarian…
As I read the various posts on Facebook and elsewhere by public sector employees, I am struck with a fear that the attitude being conveyed by far too many public employees is playing directly into the aims of the political structure and their media supporters. The actions in Wisconsin are especially troubling. The political power structure wants to be able to paint the public employees as merely union followers using a pink brush, recognizing that the American voter, suffering under the current economic situation, can be easily led to consider public employees as the problem.
Instead, my take is multi-faceted:
Show factually that public employees are no better off than the general population.
Express and support reasonable changes in the system – times do change, and we must be responsive – establishing contributory programs for NEW hires which do not harm existing personnel is one way to show how the politicians are perverting data and issuing disinformation – that the Florida Legislature, while technically correct to use three year old data, is ignoring more current data showing how FRS is now as strong as ever.
Show how impossible it is to try to compare public service jobs such as teachers, fire, and law enforcement to the private sector, where there really are no equivalent positions.
Do cut the role of tenure in teaching, and the ability of a union to throw its support behind any employee accused of wrong doing. We all know and have seen far too many incompetent or immoral folks remain on the job because the administration gave up in the face of union money and PR, to the detriment of the community and our professions.
Hold the legislators feet to the fire to do what the voters expected them to do – examine government operations across the board, prioritize, and wield a machete to cut the size of government. While personnel are usually the single greatest expense in an agency, it is the agencies themselves that should come under scrutiny – why does government support the arts, where are the benefits from many social welfare programs, etc. Hell, why do public agencies maintain marketing, vis a vis “public education” programs? It isn’t like they need to compete when they maintain a monopoly. Yes, people will lose jobs – but these are make work jobs that provide no benefit to the tax payer, but appeal to some special interest. Show how the politicians wish to look productive by cutting employee benefits, when the greatest waste in government is due to unnecessary programs.
Remind the people that the employees and their unions do not set benefits or any other aspects of compensation or work rules – the agencies and the legislative bodies do, and that employees only negotiate. Further, remind the citizens that public employee unions, unlike those in the private sector, can not strike, and in many communities have worked for years on old contracts while negotiation has been an ongoing process.
NEVER come across as negative, conflict oriented, or otherwise play into the hands of the politicians, who want pictures of workers with pitchforks massing as the gates. I know many want to go face to face in this. It is not the way to go, it will turn the public more into the fold of the politicians. Instead, the public employees must be seen as being one with the citizen, and the politicians as being the self centered sloths who wish to be seen as saving the economy by harming THEIR employees, all the time not acting to make hard cuts that would return significant funding to the people.
If we fail to approach this correctly, they will win. What they will do after they win and can not show a continuing benefit to the public, who knows – but for public employees, the damage will have been done.
Paul R. Laska
This mail is sent via contact form on Florida Retirement System http://frsoptions.info