I hear oh so often that government workers aren't giving their fair share, aren't making the sacrifices that private businesses must. That they are the coddled class. That they exist apart.
It's a repulsive, and sadly fatal lie.
I'll admit readily that I am indeed a government worker. I am a fiscal analyst within the state of Washington. We're usually the last ones in and the last ones out of a recession in this country, so it's been an interesting wave for us. But either way: I didn't want my allegiances to be a mystery. But it's important to hear our take too.
I came to work the other day hearing that someone in our agency had passed away. We needed to catch their paycheck, send condolences, otherwise reflect. It was morbid business as usual made worse when you checked the local paper and saw they danced around the cause of death. Speaking as a journalism major; there's only a few reasons they do that. It didn't take truth long to catch up to rumors.
My level in my agency made me privy to the knowledge that this state worker was joining many, many, many others in getting layoff notices. His came about a week and a half ago, if I remember right. He was sentenced.
I worked with this guy before. He was a righteous jerk. Sufferable enough. A 48 year-old grouch so ingrained in his business that he resisted all change and suggestion. Generally annoying. But no one deserves this.
We are as progressive a state as you're likely to find without a Kennedy, but even we aren't invulnerable to the blind dervish that is the hatred for state workers. I got hit by it a couple years ago and laid off but was lucky enough to bounce back.
There's this sadly misinformed idea that if we cut government workers they'll end up at our local hardware store. There's the idea that if we cut budget deficits it magically makes private sector jobs.
Our agency had to cut 9 more jobs, after the 100 we've cut over the past 2 years. My agency handles the posting and mailing of unemployment checks so we've actually even benefited from the economic downturn, in some sad way. But the other day we had to pull a check because there's some legal requirements for how to handle the final paycheck of a deceased employee.
We mailed this person their layoff notice, and then we had to pull their last paycheck out of the stack.
We cut another few jobs in the state, and then Brad killed himself.
All workers are people. All paychecks go somewhere. All cuts have cost.