The new Aristocracy

September 4th, 2009 by Ken

            According to Webster’s New World Dictionary Aristocracy is defined as “rule by a privileged minority.”           

            Throughout history countries have been ruled by a privileged minority.  Often it’s a royal family, sometimes it’s a dictator and his cronies and sometimes it’s the military and their families.

            But we have a new aristocracy here in the United States which is  government by government officials.  In otherwords, government officials are the new aristocracy of our country.

            I’ve been concerned for decades about the continual erosion of personal liberties while government‘s all encompassing bureaucracy stifles independent  thinking and its rules stop independent actions.

            But it wasn’t until the 2001 earthquake that I really began to see how government has become the new aristocracy.

            On February 28, 2001 our region was hit by a big earthquake.   I had been at a meeting and tried to make my way home through the bumper to bumper traffic, right here in downtown Lacey.

            The streets were a nightmare and it was obvious that everyone had the same thought I did; get home, see if the family is alright and see what damage had been done to my house.

            Everyone did it – – even the city employees and state workers, who took off to check on their families and their own homes.

            Government was unable to function  because its employees had gone home – – fire fighters, police, emergency services, many had left their jobs to check on their families.

            (A similar event happened with Hurricane Katrina, but this is about our local government.)

            After the earthquake, local governments began to look at their policies regarding emergencies.   There was nothing in them in regard to personal concern about the employee’s families.

            So, government developed a policy.   It called for a special phone number that family members could call to tell their city employee that they were alright.

            It also gave individual families special radios that they can use to make those calls.

            In addition, the city governments set up a special meeting point, where families of  city workers can meet up, in case of a major epidemic or catastrophe.  There the families will be safeguarded, or whisked away to a safer location.

            All of this of course was related to making certain that public safety workers would be able to do their jobs without worrying about their families.

            So – what’s wrong with that?

            The answer of course is – nothing’s wrong with the concept, but it didn’t stop there. 

            If the plan was developed so just public safety workers and their families were covered, then it might have made sense.  But, all city employees, even those who answer phones or take your money, were also the beneficiaries  of the new policy.

            After all, we can’t have some government workers more important than other workers, and we can’t discriminate when it comes to special benefits because it’s bad for morale.

            So, now, all city employees and their families have these special rights and their families are treated differently than you and I.

            That was the beginning of my realization that we have two strata’s of people  – – government workers and everyone else.

            Concern over a Swine Flu pandemic is on the minds of everyone, particularly our government, which plans to inoculate us against the disease.  Except there’s one problem – – there isn’t enough vaccine to go around, so only some people will get vaccinated.

            Here we go again.

            Public safety workers and their families will get the inoculations because we need them to be around when the pandemic hits.

            But, if we inoculate only the public safety workers, what about the rest of the government employees?  They will demand and receive the vaccine as well.

            Those are just a couple of examples where I think that our government employees have become the new aristocracy.

            Some 50 million Americans are without health insurance, but all government employees have health insurance, paid for by the taxpayers including the 50 million without health insurance.

            In Washington State, public employees pay only 12 percent of the cost of health insurance, while the American public picks up the other 88 percent of the costs.

            Government workers have been relatively immune from the recent “Great Recession”.  Some 90 percent of all job loses have come from the private sector and even when government agencies lose employees, its often through attrition or through the decision not to renew contracted employees.

            And, when government workers do get laid off, many of them have reversion rights, the ability to “bump” lower seniority employees.

            So, once vested in the system government workers seldom lose their jobs.

            The recent Stimulus Bill which was to have created jobs, has failed to do so.  But it does have one side-effect.  It has allowed thousands of government workers to keep their jobs.  Our own governor has bragged about how many state workers have been able to keep their jobs because of federal stimulus money.

            And finally, teachers, police, firefighters and all government workers are vested in a retirement plan, partly funded by the taxpayers, that will always be there.

            You and I have seen many private retirement plans fail when the company goes out of business, and our 401k’s have declined to 201k’s.

            A permanent retirement plan separates public from private employees.

            To carry the concept that we are governed by an aristocracy, we need  only look at how government controls every aspect of our lives.

            It controls where we live, it tells us where to clean our car, it tells us what we can use to shop, it tells us how to carry our children, how to care for our dog,  what to eat for dinner, where our children can go to school and what they can learn.   And, if they have their way, it will soon tell us what we can drive and where we can drive.

            And, while it’s true that elected officials set the standards, it’s the lower level government workers who create the regulations, do the actual rule making and enforce the new laws.

            There are two systems at work in the United States- –   government workers – –  and those who support and pay for government workers.

            There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that government workers have become the new aristocracy.

  (The above article appeared in the August edition of “Ken’s Corner & The Real News.”         

Posted in Government, History, Informational, The Real News

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