There was another article today in the Strib, this time about Minnesota’s pension plans for state employees. Reading through the comments (42 of them, when I read the article), it became clear, yet again, that state employees are unloved and unappreciated. For the record, many of us (not all of us, just like every workplace) do enjoy our jobs and serving the public. [Editor’s note: yes, I complain about my job more than I should, mostly because this is not what I want to be doing with my life, but one of the things that makes this job bearable for 6+ years is that I know what I’m doing is making people’s lives better, however indirectly, and I need that, and the private sector cannot often guarantee that in any sort of non-superficial way.] We know that we’re generally unliked and that we can’t count on pay increases or even being considered “worthy” of the salaries we do make. Perhaps this is why unions are so important to us. Reading comments on articles like today’s made me feel like a telemarketer, or a SPAM emailer, or some other despised profession. All of the people I work with are fully aware that our salaries are funded by taxpayer dollars, as are the program dollars we administer. We’re not oblivious to that.
And, while I’m happy to be (someday) changing professions to one I will enjoy more (teaching), this article, like the last one, pointed out that teachers are, all too often, also unappreciated and despised. That makes me sadder than I can even articulate. Now, teachers are generally valued more than government employees, but the gap is narrowing all the time. I’m pretty sure that teachers are also aware that their salaries are paid by taxpayer dollars, and that a majority of them also enjoy their jobs and serving the public.
Need I remind people that you cannot get government services for free? Of course taxpayer dollars fund salaries and projects – no one would do them otherwise. And most government programs are considered necessary, either by law or by enough people speaking their mind to convince the legislature to continue funding them. Free public education, paved roads, water and sewer, helping persons with disabilities, food stamps to ensure that young children don’t go hungry, the list goes on.
I really wish people would stop hating on government employees. It makes it very hard to get up and go to work in the morning.
Also, I’d like to add that while perhaps I should be worried about my retirement account, I’m not. Retirement is over 30 years away, and hopefully by that time this current economic crisis will be a distant memory. I don’t even understand how it all works or how to maximize my savings or anything like that. There’s a class I can attend to help me understand planning for retirement, and I should really sign up, but I just haven’t found the time.
My last complaint was going to be about how very little sunlight we see these days. But, then I read Stefi’s post on fast-falling feathers about how little sunlight they’re getting up there in Finland right now, and I thought I had it good. Yesterday we had 9 hours of sunlight (from sunrise to sunset, according to weather.com), so that feels practically luxurious compared to 2 hours. Plus, yesterday was the first day of my new work schedule, where I get to leave at 4 instead of 4:30, so I actually saw sunlight briefly. On the downside, it’s 3* today here. Oh well, can’t win them all.