Breaking eggs over tone-deaf governmental pay raises

Dec 9 2012 - 9:39am

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A few random thoughts from last week:

* My wife used to run a women's drug program in Davis County and still has friends there. One of them told her this story.

A client needed food. This friend drove her client to the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank in Ogden.

The food bank doesn't have a waiting area, and the line moves slowly. This friend and her client stood in line, out in the cold and rain, waiting.

The friend thought about her still-warm car. Sit there while the client held the place in line?

No.

So they stood. They got in. They got her food. They left, and on the way to the car the woman looked into the dozen eggs she had gotten.

Eight were broken.

She started to cry. Eight eggs. Two meals or more. Gone.

Go back? Look at that line.

Buy her more? If social workers dipped into their wallets every time a client needed a few bucks, they'd be broke in a day.

I was sitting with my wife in our warm kitchen, a dozen unbroken eggs in our nicely running fridge. I had cash in my pocket to buy more.

We had just sent a donation to the food bank, but suddenly it felt very small.

* Speaking of people struggling, did you see where a special state commission has recommended Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and the state's attorney general, treasurer and auditor all get 36.5 percent pay raises?

I wish I were making that up.

These commissioners, the most politically tone-deaf people on the planet, actually had the gall to say Herbert's salary should be raised to $150,000 a year so people who hold office don't need to be independently wealthy.

Now, be clear: Herbert did not ask for this raise. This is just a recommendation. The Legislature, made up of fiscal conservatives, has to approve it.

It should not.

One shouldn't have to be independently wealthy to work for the state on any level. State workers haven't had a pay raise in four years.

Leaders should set an example, and it's not as if Gov. Herbert is struggling. He gets a free car, free driver, spiffy perks. Just last week he was hobnobbing with the president.

True, he does live in government housing, but the rent is free and the governor's mansion is pretty nice.

If Herbert is short on cash, he can get a part-time job like everyone else. He'd almost certainly be alongside a lot more state employees trying to make ends meet.

* Speaking of tone deaf, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, told one of the Salt Lake City papers he intends to introduce a bill requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

Is he nuts?

I mentioned this in my blog (blogs.standard.net) and immediately heard from many people asking if Weiler also intends to mandate safety equipment for car drivers, sky divers, bicycle riders and rock climbers.

Weiler thinks motorcyclists should be required to wear helmets because, if they survive the wreck with brain damage, they often end up needing public assistance.

Let's face reality, folks. There are many arguments, pro and con, for helmet laws, but only a fool even raises the subject because the blowback is so massive.

Last time someone tried, the lobby of the Legislature was filled with angry leather-clad bikers. The lawmakers, big and brave when it comes to running the lives of single moms seeking abortions, turned to green Jell-O.

Sen. Weiler should do something that has a chance, like find a way to give all government workers a pay raise.

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or ctrentelman@standard.net. He also blogs at www.standard.net.

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