I rarely write to the author of an opinion piece. This time is an exception. As a former Wisconsin government professional, I take extreme exception to your article.
Most people know little to nothing about the personal and professional sacrifices that highly educated government employees make to serve people like you. Most Wisconsin government professionals work in crappy office cubes with bad air and lighting. They work for hacks the like of which you cannot imagine. They are rarely given advanced training to keep them current in their professions and their pay and benefits are a joke compared to their private sector counterparts. Their pay rarely keeps up with inflation and increased costs of benefits. Many government employees have, for the past two decades, had to reduce their spending by 1-3% per year because of a lack of an effective COLA formula. I seem to have missed these aspects of the issue in your column.
We used to joke that we were treated like pond scum until our services were needed by the public. At that point there were not enough of us doing what was needed fast enough to take care of the demands of the public for services. You cannot get water out of rock. No employees, limited employees or poorly trained employees give you inferior services or none at all. This is the paradigm that has been created by demonizing government professionals. The other joke was that the public could not afford our services if we were in the private sector. What I was paid $20/hour as a government employee to perform for the public cost the same public $150/hour when I returned as a consultant. I’d say that I was a real bargain for the citizen’s of Wisconsin.
So, the next time you have an environmental emergency, food borne outbreak of some microbe, vector borne disease outbreak, chemical contamination of your water supply or your air is so filthy that your child’s asthma is out of control, think about how you and your colleagues set the tone for government getting out of your lives.
This constant trashing drum beat of overpaid government employees has led to the best of the professionals leaving government. What you have left, in most cases, is of lesser quality and, in many cases, a waste of money. This fact is not inherently the fault of government or its employees. It is the result of thoughtless writers like yourself and the politician’s and citizens who have created government agencies whose prime mission is not supporting the public welfare. You have succeeded in creating the monster that you now want destroyed.
A little more thought in your writings might help to set the tone to reform government. Setting a tone that public service is a societal good rather than a burden might get back the quality people that were in Wisconsin State Government before you and your ilk pushed the best and the brightest out. Do you really think that dumping on professional government employees will get you the services and protections you need when things go south? You get what you deserve.
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