The next time you have an emergency and require public services, I recommend that you spend the time waiting for help calling President Obama, your Senators and House Representatives in Washington D.C., and your state representatives to demand increased funding for public employees. Since the beginning of the most recent depression, the public sector has lost over 600,000 jobs while both Democrats and Republicans stood by and did nothing. Granted, Democrats have offered up plans to aid the states in meeting payroll obligations in order to keep public sector employees on the job. However, these proposals have been plowed under by Republicans. In giving the Democratic Party credit for attempting to offer assistance, it is also important to note that the White House has also gone out of its way to brag about job cuts, hiring and pay freezes, and departmental mergers at the federal level.
Whether bowing to political or polling pressure, this Democratic administration has done little to stem the losses of public employees, while Republican leadership in Congress and at the state level has dome even less, in some cases actively implementing policies to kill public sector jobs. The cuts to public sector employment during this depression have been unprecedented. Near universal agreemnent exists among economists that public sector employment during times of economic trouble should be increased forcefully, rather than cut back, because to do so exacerbates not only public sector unemployment, but private sector unemployment.
Moreover, the cuts affect the public in real and important ways. School budgets are slashed as teachers and staff are laid off, fire and police response times increase, public parks close, retraining and unemployment services are cut, small businesses and employers face longer wait times in filing necessary paperwork and application materials. The Post Office is even at risk. Essentially the quality of life of the community at large decreases significantly.
While I understand the need to keep deficits under control when economics rather than hyperbole indicate a need to do so, punishing the people who do the important work of public service is not only mean-spirited, it is fiscally counterproductive.