A friend who serves in the Minnesota State Senate posted “Made a little headway today…” on her Facebook feed. Was she commenting on legislation to fund schools, build roads, reform cockeyed tax codes? Nope. She’s commenting on fighting against Governor Mark Dayton‘s decision to bring the salaries of his state commissioners inline with comparable work elsewhere in politics. (Never mind the private sector.)
Minnesota commissioners are poorly compensated as measured against similar positions in other states. They are underpaid compared with other public officials in Minnesota. (Meanwhile, rumor is our highest paid public official — a football coach — is likely getting another raise this year. Oh, and our largest public infrastructure investment — a football stadium — is over budget, now officially over $1 billion.) So when someone finally has the backbone to do something about a pay increase for public commissioners — god knows no other politician has the guts to do it — the flimsy politicians go nuts.
To watch their self-serving head shaking and feigned concern for the public good disgusts me. But, alas, this has become the cool thing to do. Complain, whine, and repeat. If it involves a government paycheck, it is couched as “your money” being abused. Poppycock. What’s being abused is the decency of public service. If elected officials really cared about “your money”, they would be doing something about investing it so you got something in return from your government.
Instead…well, we know the routine…cut here, blame this, delay that…and back again to complain, whine, and repeat. Right? Right.
Where’s the pride? Seriously. Haven’t we any ideas or any goals that go beyond tacky battles over whether someone is worth a salary they deserve?
Mark Dayton is showing some energy and style in contrast to the pouty slog of petulance that’s come to define public service. He’s got guts. People don’t like guts. Public officials are supposed to whimper and hide from issues. They’re supposed to pretend that government is out of control and nothing can be done about it other than complain and whine. (And repeat.) Complain enough — the “strategy” goes — and people will toss up their arms and forgive leaders for doing little if anything. After all, what can be done, right? Government is a free-for-all wheeling out of control! Government! Freeloaders! Lazy government freeloaders…hijacking your freedom, ruining your life, endangering your future! A raise? For those people? God, please! No!
So fighting the petty fight — being tacky — somehow equates with “making headway.” That’s pathetic.
Go do something. Go get something done. Please.