Winning Through Intimidation
Asheville Citizen-Times Right and Left Editorial - 81 – PoliceandFire – June 3rd, 2012
Police officers have one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Between criminals, a fickle public, and politicized administrators, they begin every shift facing three-to-one odds. The few among us with that level of courage and character merit gratitude.
The day-to-day grind of firefighters is different. In addition to professional duties, their salary covers sleeping, eating, and watching TV. Many have second jobs not because they’re poorly paid, but because they have the free time and energy. Their burden is lighter – right up to the point they throw on turnout gear.
Firefighters embrace an admirable model running in direct contradiction to the nature of government. Like conservatives, they fight fires by attacking the source. They avoid liberal pretense of action by standing outside and throwing water. Recent tragedy demonstrates the dangers of stepping toward fires.
Asheville’s police and firefighter unions used that “go to the source” approach to address pay concerns. Frustrated with a three-year freeze, they marched on City Hall. In response, Asheville’s liberal council was embarrassingly self-serving. Reacting to intimidation, not new information, they came perilously close to raising taxes that same evening.
Speaking of self-service, public safety unions master the art. These and other conservatively masked local groups, like the Military Officers Association and Manufactures Executive Association, are dedicated to self-promotion as job one. Political endorsements from these folks have little to do with principles – everything to do with a willingness to play ball.
With adjustments to the reality most everyone makes less in Asheville than elsewhere, our public service salaries are not out of line with NC norms. Frustrations with a three year pay freeze? In today’s America that line stretches around the block.
An intimidation induced pay raise will happen for city employees, but taxpayers shouldn’t reward the tactics. That revenue can come from improved fire and police department efficiencies. Removing that nice but not necessary extra man they’ve added to fire engines and restraining the practice of sending large trucks to small calls is a start. City and police administrators can borrow from the firefighter model and stop tap-dancing around the expanding drug culture founding 70% of our crimes.
The audacity with which public servants and almost everyone else in America is willing to milk their fellow man marks a culture in decline. When our society’s takers eventually exceed contributors, it will be too late to turn back. We’ll miss what we’ve betrayed.
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