Letter of the Day (with Reply)

State Worker Misunderstands Role

Editor, Times-Dispatch: In his column, “State Workers Sound Off on Budget Delay,” Jeff Schapiro quotes a “31-year state employee” who reported that “he and his colleagues . . . ‘truly care for the Virginia taxpayers who are our customers.'”

Well, that state employee missed the mark by a wide margin. We taxpayers might be the consumers of the Commonwealth’s goods and services, but first and foremost we are the employers of the bureaucrats hired to execute the policies adopted by the General Assembly. The taxpayers are the employers. Period. Alicia S. Brittle. richmond.

My response:

Dear RTD Editor, Concerning the remarks of Alicia Brittle, who asserts that taxpayers employ state workers – she is correct in a very general, philosophical sense – technically, however, she’s totally wrong. There are not two classes of people living in Virginia – ‘state workers’ and ‘taxpayers’. She may be surprised to learn that state workers also pay taxes and, as a result, share the title ‘taxpayers’. Are state workers their own employers? I don’t think so. The Commonwealth of Virginia, in general, is large enough that it has many, many subsidiaries which, collectively, employ tens of thousands of people across the state. The actual ’employer’ are these subsidiaries (state agencies, courts, authorities, etc.), depending on which branch of government a person works for. To say that taxpayers ’employ’ state workers simplifies, to the point of obscuring, a very complex system. Taxpayers, who want a say in what happens with their tax money, rather than pointing fingers at career government workers (their fellow taxpayers), are active in the political process (where the real decisions are made) and, most importantly, they vote.

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