A simple message for the people of 'O'
Long ago, the people of “O” built a bank to protect those who provide services that the people cannot do for themselves. It was decided that each “server” would have a special account, and each account would be filled with deposits from the servers and from all the people.
Each server, after 30 years of work, would receive one-half of an average top salary for the remainder of his/her lifetime — 60 percent for police and firefighters. And for a time, the servers were pleased.
Rules were created. The people hired administrators to oversee the work … lawmakers and other officials to create and enforce the regulations … and judges to decide any disputes that arose.
All of them were given their own accounts in the special bank. The people were willing to pay into all the accounts, often including the share previously paid by the servers. They were confident that the Land of O would benefit from such a progressive system of caring for the valued servers.
However, the servers hired agents to seek additional benefits. Those agents — working among the administrators and lawmakers and officials and judges — found ways to produce spectacular increases in payments from the special accounts.
At first, the people didn’t understand what was happening. They stood by as the agents persuaded regulators to make unsustainable commitments. Lifetime payments escalated to 60 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent of salary and even much higher for some servers, plus disproportionate annual increases.
The people limited future payments for new servers, creating inequities, but that wasn’t enough. So the people began eliminating jobs and reducing services.
The agents sponsored campaigns to increase taxes. They agreed to a few inadequate changes and called upon the people to pay more to subsidize the special accounts.
“No,” said a small band of lawmakers — lawmakers like McLane and Conger and Richardson in the House, and Ferrioli, George and Boquist in the Senate, among others.
Some people pilloried those lawmakers, accusing them of abandoning the children. Take more money from businesses and higher-income citizens, they said; keep feeding the special accounts.
The lawmakers for reform are outnumbered. They wonder when the people of “O” will rise behind them to demand real change to a system that threatens financial stability throughout the land. They speak to the people of “O” in a unified voice, saying simply:
Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news register.com or 503-687-1223.