Let's Reckon Who's Truly Non-Essential
edited: Sunday, July 23, 2006
By Bob Holt
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Sunday, July 23, 2006
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This work appeared on 7/20 in The Philadelphia Inquirer not long after the end of the New Jersey government shutdown.
Let's reckon who's truly nonessential
By Bob Holt
So our long regional nightmare is over. Once again New Jersey is alive and well and open for business, and "nonessential" state workers have returned from furlough and begun to earn paychecks again.
But how would you like it if your place of employment classified your job as nonessential?
We learned during the state-government shutdown that New Jersey has nearly 45,000 "nonessential" state employees. They did not have to report to work during the shutdown.
I work for a major corporation that distributes compact discs, videos and computer games for a large portion of its earnings.
This is very much a nonessential service, except to state employees who might have been watching the videos during the week they were furloughed because they couldn't afford to go out for the night.
I am also a freelance writer. My work is essential only to an editor who needs to fill newspaper space on slow news days.
So I know what it feels like to be nonessential.
But for the furloughed state workers it must have been a surprise to hear they were not essential.
How would you like to find out that you were nonessential in your workplace after working there for 25 years? What if you are a parent struggling to support your family?
So maybe it's time to review the criteria that make state workers essential or nonessential.
Obviously the police and those who provide services for people with disabilities such as mental illnesses must be listed as essential.
Casino Control Commission employees, whose absence shut down the casinos, may qualify as essential.
To casino-goers in Atlantic City, these state employees are essential, though most visitors I talked to said the most essential employees on the Boardwalk are the ones who sell Steel's fudge and saltwater taffy.
Atlantic City felt the brunt of the revenue loss during the state shutdown. No one wins when the wheel lands on red at the casinos for three days.
The city that's always turned on isn't quite the same during the heart of vacation season when all of its slot machines are turned off.
But when a budget is proposed in March, and more than 100 days later we reach a conclusion that gouges taxpayers anyway, the status of certain legislative positions may require a second look as we ponder who's essential and who's not.
To balance the budget we had to lose $2 million per day in lottery revenue and $1.3 million a day in casino gaming taxes during the state shutdown. Apparently some people in essential positions had not done their math for years.
It's funny. Those nonessential state workers, many of whom earn $20,000 a year or less, manage to balance their personal budgets, but New Jersey has a hard time figuring out how to make ends meet on nearly $31 billion.
All this leads to one conclusion.
Essential employees: people who put in an honest day's work to feed their families and often contribute something to the betterment of their community.
Nonessential employees: politicians.
Bob Holt is a humorist, freelance writer and forklift operator. He writes from Mantua.
Web Site: Lifestyles of the Unskilled and Mediocre
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|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|very well put, a well written piece that evokes some real thought|
|Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher
|Enjoyed this very well penned article. You are probably very right about the conclusion who is essential and who is not!
Love and Peace, B&R
|Reviewed by Kate Clifford
|We could live without a politcian, but we know we could not live without humor ;-) Love the way your mind works :-)|
|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|Maybe a humorist, freelance writer and forklift operator from Mantua would be considered essential as I know for sure Corzine should have been considered non-essential...ed & Rufuz|