THE BLOG
06/01/2010 03:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Taking a hit for the country

I read all kinds of campaign mail in my work as a communications consultant, and one of the ongoing phrases is "Enough is enough!" But, what I want to know - hat tip to Howard Dean - what IS enough? Let's get more specific here.

While we worry about the exploding deficit, let's remember we pay all those salaries of the people who supposedly worry on our behalf, at The Treasury, The SEC, even the Mineral Management Services, State Department, and the other big Federal institutions. And while they "worry," (also on our "behalf"), teachers, paramedics, police officers, (insert anyone else who's been laid off here)... all the really important people...are getting pink-slipped. So, let's remember we pay the salaries of the vast machine that IS the government.

Instead of picking on just some people, forcing them to accept less and then quibbling about extending them unemployment or not, let's simply ask that vast machine to do it right alongside us. It is incomprehensible to me how one not only cuts jobs, but then justifies cutting unemployment benefits and then continues to fund the beyond-huge military funding, for instance.

So, in other words, if we pay you, YOU take a pay cut. All the big deal people at the Treasury, how much do the many who work there make? That huge State Department, how much are we paying them? In Treasury, how many of them slide back and forth from the world of derivatives and hedge funds? At MMS, aren't we trading lobbyists back to the world of oil and gas? Listen, Congress? If we feel like we hired you and you're doing a lousy job, certainly we should vote you out, but if you want to stay there and really help, then you take a pay cut, too, please?

The day I thought I'd have anything in common with Va. Congressman Eric Cantor (R) would never come, but I agree with him that anyone our taxes pays should have to suffer consequences along with the rest of us. Call it a responsible act of patriotism. Then, our wildly diverging Congress would be shamed if they disagreed. They've already voted down an effort to eliminate pay raises for Federal employees! What, they would suffer without one?

AND THESE DAYS WALL STREET BANKERS AND MANAGERS MAY AS WELL BE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. So, I'm including here the individuals who--already making millions or billions of dollars a year--are benefiting even further from taxpayer bailouts to restore confidence in the US economy...the financial industry, the banking business, the Goldman Sachses of the country. Our taxes bailed them out so they could, in turn, bail the financial business out. But those guys make how much? More than 3 teachers. 4 nurses. 6 sports coaches. Call it an assessment, call it tithing, for g-d's sake, but think about how many paramedics we could bring back to cities deprived of more and more public services? I work in small towns, large cities, places where gangs of drop - out kids flourish. Yet, any effort to change the course of a drop-out's life is thwarted by the cuts in local government. How many summer schools could we keep, sometimes the only things standing between a kid and a great future? I've worked on city council races in communities with a high population of retirees. One city had cut their paramedics down to three! I asked my candidate how long they had to wait for a paramedic, and he told me sometimes an hour or more. Now, that's just crazy, not to mention heartbreaking.

Instead of penalizing the people who make the least and do the most, let's ask for some give from the other people whose salary we've accepted as a given all along, those who make their salaries from our taxes. Maybe that's a drop in the proverbial bucket, naysayers would pipe up. I doubt it, we'd still be talking billions, after all, and a billion to a local government is heavy duty. And taking a pay cut for the country? Isn't that the honorable thing to do in the face of severe need? Give the money to those cities and towns that need it. You could be responsible for creating more jobs as well as saving lives.

Let's call it something like: "Take a pay cut for the US you love." Too cheesy? Okay, then, "Take a hit for the country." How about it?