Thursday, March 07, 2013

Police, Fire Fighters, and Teachers

Whenever budget negotiations happen on the state or local level, especially when the subject of whether or not taxes should go up, the first thing threatened is the employment of the police, the fire fighters, and the teachers. Every time spending increases or tax increases are at risk, those who advocate increases insist that failure to raise taxes or spending means that those three are threatened. On the federal level, meat inspectors, roads, and the military are threatened instead, as well as Social Security checks for seniors.

Based on the rhetoric, it seems as if the only people hired by the state and local governments are police, fire fighters, and teachers. All the tax assessors, all the code enforcers, all the inspectors and auditors are never placed at risk.

It is probably a case of offering the most valuable services up first in negotiations, the ones that would be most difficult to cut because of the repercussions of doing so. Cutting the fire fighters does put people at risk. Cutting the police endangers their ability to act as a criminal gang, as well as preventing them from occasionally catching a criminal. Cutting teachers means that parents will be responsible for their own children.

Cutting auditors and assessors simply means people will be left alone to go about their business. If police, fire fighters, and teachers were retained while all the code enforcers were furloughed or fired, it would greatly reduce the burden of government in noticeable ways.

As much as it may be the case that the most "important" services are offered up for sacrifice, on the understanding that people won't dare cut those services, the auditors and assessors will not be cut because that would allow people to find out just how much the government weighs on their daily life. People would get the temporary experience of being free, and they might decide they actually like it. As such the rhetoric must continue to be as if the only government employees are those that are considered to actually have a positive impact on people.

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