Is it Time for a Government Holiday

By | December 26, 2011

Christmas is over, and our goose is nearly cooked.
New Years is here, and our noose is tightly tied.
Government employees have their trips all booked,
in the name of training to the public they have lied.

This year thousands, the actual number is almost impossible to determine, of public employees set off on vacations paid for with your tax dollars. Most prominent among them has been President Obama and and his gaudily dressed companion. With those two it is not surprising because they both have an entitlement mentality. One should hope better from other public officials.

This coming year The People should demand an explanation and an accounting. Cities, Counties, Special Districts, regional government organizations, and yes a multitude of federal agencies will be sending officials off for training at some conference or other. The entire packages will be paid for by the government. What will be included in these training sessions? Here is a list:

1. A keynote speaker-usually some entertainment type of chatterbox, who will be highly paid to make the hungry folks cheer and applaud.
2. A continental breakfast-usually much nicer than what most unemployed families eat.
3. A very fancy lunch. Much more than they would pay to take a family member out to eat.
4. Speaking of family members, some of these folks manage to take spouses along by booking a room with a king-size bed (the room is paid for by the government entity).
5. Several forums-usually they reiterate what the employee should already know when hired.
6. Many will include a spouses tour. Wait, why a spouses tour? Because the spouses get to tour the resort town where these conference is held each year, so they are not left bored in a hotel room. Monterrey seems to be the venue of choice in California.

The plane/travel fare is covered by the government. Meal costs are paid by the government. Lodging is paid by the government. Many incidentals are paid by the government.

Millions of dollars of taxpayer monies are spent each year for these “trips” so public employees can take vacations that the unemployed and underemployed can’t hardly dream of taking. Some officials travel on these three and four day excursions at a minimum of four time per year. On top of that elected officials and top management are paid to travel to day-long (Meaning 4-5 hours) monthly meetings with other officials, where usually nothing is decided. In many cases these “local” trips occur nearly weekly. Again, food, travel, and occasional lodging is a cost to the taxpayer.

As William Proxmire once said, “A million dollars here, a million dollars there and pretty soon you are talking real money.”

But, let’s dig just a little deeper. Just about every government entity in America takes between 11 and 15 holidays every year. All employees get these holidays off, unless they perform “essential duties for public safety.” Those lucky union employees get paid double time for working the holiday.

One of the other beauties of working for the government is that if one of those holidays falls on a Saturday or Sunday the employees get either Friday or Monday off from work.

Most small businesses in the nation get maybe two holiday off each year.

But, that is not all! I am beginning to sound like infomercial.

New employees get a standard two week earned vacation their first year. That is at worst twice what private small business employees receive.

The amount of public tax money taken each year for this grab bag of goodies for public employees reaches well into the millions. Yet, there is no outcry because it is done in secret and in small increments. The result is the same. The people that pay are poorer because the people who should be serving are making off like bandits.

I have a proposal for 2012. You will see how generous I am, because I am attempting to keep the medical charges for heart attacks down.

1) Reduce the work year from 2080 hours per year for public employees by 80 hours. They can still have their holidays off, but without pay (except two).
2) Reduce the work year by another 40 hours. This is because the day before each holiday the productivity is at best fifty percent (50%), as they planning their day off rather than actually contributing.
3) Reduce vacation time by 50% across the board. This can be either in time taken off or the rate of pay for each hour over 40 that is accrued.
4) Close government offices, except for essential public safety functions, the week of July 4th, and the week between Christmas and New Years. This is an eighty hour per year reductions in cots. Let’s face facts, NOTHING gets accomplished during these times anyway.
5) Eliminate government paid conferences. Allow employees to attend university level training, within a one day’s drive time from their base. No more than 20 hours per year will be allowed, and only the actual course work will be paid for.

The bottom line to this would result in millions of dollars of saving by eliminating these resort town mini-vacations, where fully 50% of the time is spent touring and not learning.

Additionally, the other savings realized by the hours reductions would be equivalent to 160 hours per year. At an average of $25 per hour (very reasonable) that is $4000 savings to governments across the land. Now just for exciting math purposes, let presume an extraordinarily low number of public employees-450,000.

Without really negatively impacting the public at all, this proposal diminishes public cost a conservative $1,800,000,000. The is one billion eight hundred million dollars every year. Mr. Proxmire, now we are talking real saving.

William Way is a former career city manager. He is highly knowledgeable of of the various levels of government waste, which elected officials refuse to address.

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