Priorities, Priorities

Assigned Reading: Cops Not as Important as Lottery Workers
(FROM: American Police Beat)

In Pennsylvania, the very real possibility that state troopers will not be paid while state lottery workers will be doesn’t make any sense at all to John Srsic, a retired state Department of Labor and Industry manager.

But that’s just what will happen if state lawmakers can’t agree on a budget quickly. “To select a group who are not law enforcement to pay, I can’t understand. We can live without those in the lottery. What’s more important to the public?” Srsic, 72,told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Governor Ed Rendell is pushing a 16 percent state income tax increase.

Unfortunately, it is common practice for states and especially local municipalities to threaten cuts in law enforcement and firefighting whenever budget talks go south. The prospect of the local or state government laying off lottery workers, DMV clerks or even garbage haulers generally doesn’t receive the same emotional response from residents, so lawmakers tend to prey upon uncertainty and fear and get their way by threatening force reductions.

It’s unfortunate, as I said, but nothing new. Generally, however, such jilted and irresponsible priorities are presented as a scare tactic and rarely become a reality. In the Keystone State, though, it appears we’re already headed down that path. Two more excerpts from the same article:

Pennsylvania is currently facing a $3.25 billion deficit. The majority of the state’s 77,000 employees stopped getting paychecks last July. Inmates in state correctional facilities however will continue to get paid for working at state prisons.

What’s really shocking to many in Pennsylvania is the fact that welfare recipients are still getting checks because of state court decisions upholding federal law. But until a budget is passed, state welfare workers can’t be paid for work done since July 1 because Pennsylvania has no authority to spend money.

“You’re paying people that aren’t working, and people that are working aren’t getting paid,” said Carla Powell, 49, of Lawrenceville, a security guard at Gateway Center told the [Pittsburgh] Tribune [Review]. “That’s ridiculous. That’s really asinine.”

Asinine? Certainly. Reality? Absolutely. Welcome to the manifestation of the Welfare State, of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Not only are we, as a nation, paying people who aren’t working instead of paying those who are, but we are setting up every possible mechanism to make this practice the rule rather than the anomaly.

State workers have not been paid since before the Independence Day holiday, yet welfare recipients and incarcerated inmates are still being paid. It’s simply not sustainable, but it’s a microcosm of what we’re seeing in this new Obama America. Should cap-and-trade pass, those who pay their electric bills will see a sharp increase, while those who don’t will see a cash refund direct-deposited into the bank account of their choosing. Should health care reform pass, each and every one of us will be forced to submit to less responsive and overall lower-quality care, so that nobody–at least, that’s the White House fantasy–will go without.

It’s governance governed by social justice rather than common sense. We’re beginning to see the impact on the state and local levels, and soon we’ll see the impact nationwide. The result, I’m afraid, will be the same across the board.



  1. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -

    Years ago I worked with a lovely girl from Russia who was so happy to have made it to America. She told me the story of her uncle, who was a scientist. He went to work every day, although he hadn't seen a paycheck in years. He went to work in the hopes that he would keep his job, & that when things improved, he would get paid. I asked her how they survived – she said he grew a big garden. She said many people were in the same boat.

    I dread that we are heading toward the same disaster.


  2. Anonymous says:


    Any entitlement programs that do not mandate eventually improvement and graduation from said program should be fixed.


    verification word: under
    (as in "going under"?)

  3. Rix says:

    It has been quite a while since I formulated the principles of balanced welfare state: total welfare expenditures must be a fixed percentage of the overall budget, regardless of the number of recipients and the amount of social programs. The percentage should only be changed by the absolute majority of the legislature. The leeches will have to compete among themselves for our buck instead of using us as a limitless free-lunch machine. That will also stop politicians from buying votes with tax money – which is why my idea will never make it through the Congress.

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