Hard Times? Not for government bureaucracies
It is unfortunate that your newspaper didn't vet the materials in the article "Hard Times? Not for government bureaucracies" by Howard Rich in the September 10, 2009, edition of the Clearwater Gazette. I realize that he is for a smaller government but he certainly has to be realistic.
Our country went through the Great Depression and fortunately put in place certain programs to lessen the dangers to our personal economic health and to avoid such a catastrophic depression in the future. In the beginning there were many government-funded programs to get people back to work and provide food for our families. In time a system of unemployment compensation was established to provide cash for short-term layoffs. Due to the stigma of welfare I knew of people who parked their cars blocks from the unemployment office because they were ashamed to be seen driving a car to pick up their "welfare" check. Fortunately we managed to get past that stigma inasmuch as the funds were provided by the employer and not government. In future years programs like food stamps and similar programs were added.
Mr. Rich should look around his own community to see how local programs in the community have been decimated during these times. Just in our area our cities and counties have reduced their staff by hundreds of employees. We have all heard of libraries being closed or put on reduced hours. The county parks have eliminated many services in our parks. Many rest rooms are locked due to a shortage of staff to maintain the facilities and visitors are being inconvenienced. As important as our beaches are to visitors there will be a shortage of lifeguards and beach patrols. The county built a new county park not too far from our home and there may be enough cash to permit it to open next spring.
Looking at the increases in government employees, there has been a ballooning in the need for services to the public. Many more people are applying for food stamps and Medicare, the staffs at our unemployment compensation offices have had to greatly expand to cover the additional unemployed workers and the extensions in the number of weeks of compensation allowed. Organizations such as F.D.I.C have had a great need to expand their staff due to the problems at our financial institutions. The same can be said about other agencies such as the S.E.C and the Department of Treasury.
The decision was made many years ago to not permit the devastation of the 1930's to happen again. Over the years since World War II we have survived many recessions which might have become another depression without the safety nets put in place. I was very fortunate not to have to draw unemployment compensation during my working career between 1958 and 1992 but did have the benefit of such programs during my years at home when my mother received this income almost every year when times were slow at the auto plant. I received Social Security due to my father's death in 1946 until I turned 18 in 1956. All of these programs kept families together then and I am sure that the programs which are now larger continue to keep families together.
The federal government is hiring thousands of people because of the economic times and in addition will hire hundreds of thousands due to the retirement of all of the baby boomers working for all of the government agencies. If you know anyone needing a job they should look at federal civil service. My oldest son, a retiree from the Air Force, now is a federal civil service employee and being in middle management is a valuable commodity.
I certainly would hope that Mr. Rich would do some exploring and stop speaking in generalities.
Paul C. Blatt, Dunedin
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