The Hon. Abner J. Mikva grew up in Milwaukee during the Depression. After serving as a navigator in World War II, he attended college and then entered the University of Chicago as a law student in 1948.
As more of our best and brightest are lured into the private sector, many into lucrative but socially unproductive jobs, we reduce the prestige and desirability of government service. This could have devastating effects for the future.
To some public servants, the call to do even more with even less may sound all too familiar. It's especially difficult if your employees see it as a call to work even harder to achieve the same results with fewer resources.
You can argue tax policy until you're blue in the face, as well as income inequality. But the first steps in the development of a government besides finding an even-handed way it can govern fairly, is to govern itself without greed, corruption and selfishness.
In America, the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there seems to be a limited pool of well-being. We are wired-in, but existentially alone; we are electronically connected in social networks, but isolated from social groups.
As history shows, any small, short-term budgetary gains from work force cutbacks are likely to be offset by serious regulatory missteps, more after-the-fact finger-pointing and a continuation of the cycle of failure and mistrust.
We need to reconnect Americans to their government. People need to better understand that public servants are their friends and neighbors who are helping address our collective challenges here and abroad.
The American people have an unfortunate habit of taking valuable public servants who have made stupid public statements and forming an instant bucket-brigade to deliver those public servants to the trash heap of history.