Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Now Is The Winter

Readers who have never had the opportunity of working under a state or federal contract, or in conjunction with government in one form or another, have missed a great learning experience. There isn't any way to understand the extent to which the government entwines itself in the fabric of business life in America without have lived through state and federal auditing processes with state and federal auditors.

So what most voters are left with are vague references from business and sparse articles written outside of the main stream media about 'regulations are destroying American businesses.'

The Oxford Tea Party will run a short series of articles about local, state, and federal government workings. Clearly we have a bias. However, we will try to simply present some stories and let readers draw their own conclusions.

There is an interesting table in a USA Today story from last year, comparing the compensation of federal and private employees. Scroll through the list. Notice that government economists make more than private ones! There is a disparity between what the private sector jobs pay and government sector jobs pay. We wonder why. Certainly this is a large block of committed voters.

(NOTE: These numbers do not take into account health insurance or retirement packages which in some cases run as high as 80% of salaries. Also, in each category take the "difference" and multiply by the thousands of workers in each category.)

Broadcast technician----$90,310----$49,265----$41,045
Budget analyst----------$73,140----$65,532------$7,608
Civil engineer----------$85,970----$76,184------$9,786
Clergy----------------- $70,460----$39,247-----$31,213
Computer, ISM--------$122,020---$115,705------$6,315
Dental assistant--------$36,170----$32,069----$4,101
Electrical engineer-----$86,400----$84,653----$1,747
Financial analysts------$87,400----$81,232----$6,168
Graphic designer--------$70,820----$46,565---$24,255
Highway MW------------$42,720----$31,376----11,344
Landscape architects--$80,830----$58,380---$22,450
Locomotive engineer---$48,440----$63,125---$14,685
Mechanical engineer--$88,690----$77,554---$11,136
Office clerk------------$34,260----$29,863----$4,397
Pest control worker-----$48,670----$33,675---$14,995
Physicians, surgeons---$176,050----$77,102----$1,052
Physician assistant-----$77,770----$87,783---$10,013
Procurement clerk-----$40,640----$34,082----$6,558
Public relations-------$132,410----$88,241---$44,169
Recreation worker-------$43,630----$21,671---$21,959
Registered nurse--------$74,460----$63,780---$10,680
Respiratory therapist---$46,740----$50,443----$3,703
Sheet metal worker------$49,700----$43,725----$5,975

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA

You look at all the job titles and wonder why these folks are on the government payroll? Why isn't the work they do being done by the private sector for the government? Assuming the government should be doing the kind of work these people are hired to do in the first place. Clearly there are surveyors in the private sector that could do the surveying that government need done and for less money. Also, the fact that government doesn't need surveyors every day…..So why are they there?

We went to sleep at the wheel is the answer...Is the answer…Is the answer…

We hold the seeds for failure or greatness in our hands every day. Each of us has a choice….(and YES we still have a few choices left.) The game of kick the ball down the road is over as well as the great American rational of, "Oh I voted for him/her because they didn't seem as bad as the other him/her."

How many people do you know who did not listen to The State of the Union address? For us, the easier head count would be, how many people do we know who watched The State of the Union address? So little interest….

Regardless of what most citizens think or feel about their government, a common thread seems to be detachment. Most seem to feel they don't have any power to affect how they are governed and fewer seem to realize how government impacts their lives every day. At the core of "the American experiment" is the idea of a people who form a government for themselves. A government by them and for them. Between yesteryear and now something profound has happened. To say this is to say the obvious but obvious to whom? Certainly there is no one obvious place, person, or thing to point a finger at because this change in perception and attitude in Congress has come about over generations.

In any number of ways it is difficult to understand the wrath directed at the Tea Party who are little more than a small percentage of the American people whose only goal is to get their government back to the basics. A government for and by the people. How is that a threat to anyone or any group we ask?

Well we are a threat to the centralizing of power in the hand of a small percentage of our population, the autocratic structure of government itself along with a national elite news media, who have effectively controlled what we do as individuals and as a people. No one and no groups are willing to give up this kind of power. History teaches us it has to be taken. In our history the power had to be taken back with swords and guns but we have a better battering ram--the vote!

This is not a zero sum game. If we win this struggle to get our government back to the notion of a government for and by the people it will win along with us. If we lose the government will continue on its autocratic path and it will lose, we will lose as our nation declines. Will these power groups see our mission in this light? Not a chance.

In the last few days we have seen a bill to tax money transfers working its way through our State legislature. The bill wants to use our taxing power to single out and punish a specific group of people. When we have used power like this in the past it has always had unintended consequences. In a broader sense whenever government, at any level, has used its power to punish a group or limit what one group can or cannot do indirectly affects everyone's freedom. Certainly we have the same frustration as everyone else has over our immigration problems but using taxing authority to punish is an abuse and does not in any way solve the issues of illegal immigration. Also, transferring money is used daily by citizens of this country. They transfer money to children, family, and friends around the world. At different times our children were in Europe and Mexico as well as other places and we were always having to transfer them money and more often than I would like to remember.

If we are not very careful in supporting these kinds of freedom limiting bills we are going to begin to look like our elected officials who say one thing while doing another.

My wife's mother got off the boat at Ellis Island as a young women. As a much older woman she still remembered what her family's life was like in a country where freedom was granted one at a time by government as well as taken away one at a time. Why this time in our history is so urgent is because our government is doing and has been doing the same thing. Something we have only begun to notice.

Never again. Never again will we put ourselves in a position to have to negotiate our freedoms with our government.

In 641 days, 20 hours, and 33 minutes 'Never Again' will be shouted loudly from the Maine to the California and they will know we are coming after them.


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