|An LA news station ran a pretty titillating and damaging story about CalTrans employees driving expensive trucks, buying booze, running personal errands, etc. The usual civil service fatcat expose'.|
This at a time when the state is constantly poor-mouthing, "we don't have enough money, we need to raise taxes," etc.
Seems like the civil service has morphed from a modestly compensated but secure and meaningful job, to secure and lavishly compensated job with little or no accountability.
Here's the story, and my letter to the governor:
Dear Governor Brown:
CBS2 news in Los Angeles recently ran an “expose’-style” story on CalTrans, citing certain well-paid employees who were allowed to use state vehicles for personal business, and who were evidently conducting personal errands on state time, etc. You must realize how damaging this sort of story is to the public perceptions of state government.
On a daily basis, it seems, the State is bemoaning their poverty and budgetary woes, and pleading with the citizenry for more taxpayer funding. When a story airs about state employees drawing six-figure salaries, driving expensive vehicles, and spending their working hours on shopping binges, we might say that voters begin to doubt the sincerity of the government’s case. We might more accurately say that many voters feel a sickening sense of disgust and betrayal.
Obviously the behaviors reflected in the news story are not that egregious, and we know that the same conditions, or better, obtain in much of the private sector. But one must realize that for most people – for MOST PEOPLE – six-figure salaries, health insurance, benefits, brand-new company vehicles, pensions, and so forth, are lavish indulgences of which they can only dream. For people who are underpaid or unemployed, who have no health insurance, who have no benefits, who have no pension or savings, witnessing this lavishness is humiliation enough. Having that lavishness funded by coerced taxation compounds that humiliation.
Dispensing the largesse, while simultaneously moaning and protesting that “the government just doesn’t have enough money,” fuels that humiliation with indignant rage.
Having this sort of story air precisely at a time when we have measures on the ballot asking for more funding is unfortunate timing indeed.
My question is: what are your ideas for restoring a government culture of modest, dedicated service? Civil service used to be a modestly compensated, but secure and meaningful career path. It has morphed into a career path that is secure and lavishly compensated, but often with little or no substance or accountability. I blame much of this on the recent “hero culture” which tends to glorify and hold few standards for many government workers simply because they wear a uniform. Regardless: I would think the current economic environment would both provide basis and be conducive to reaffirming a more dedicated, deliberate culture in the civil service.
5 months ago