Where Have all the “Public Servants” Gone?

By Julie Roys

He’s the highest paid superintendent in our area, even though he oversees the least amount of students, teachers, and schools. Plus, under his watch, our school district has increased spending 20-percent over the past four years, while enrollment has steadily decreased. The district has run deficits the past four years, and now it’s facing bankruptcy unless it takes some immediate and drastic measures.

Yet, at a recent community forum, our superintendent boldly announced, “I’m not taking a 10-percent pay cut!”

So seems the attitude among our so-called “public servants” today. Once upon a time, so I’ve heard, people on the public’s payroll put the good of the community above their own selfish interests. Not anymore. Now they’re entitled: they clamor for their rights; demand what they’re due; and seem to care little for the public welfare.

Of course, there are exceptions: some public employees remember they’re working for the people. Yet, just this week, tens of thousands of disgruntled public school teachers in Wisconsin called in sick and abandoned their classrooms. Apparently, demanding collective bargaining rights trumped the need to educate millions of Wisconsin children. Similarly, state senate Democrats deserted their posts, fleeing to another state rather than face defeat on the union bill. Their departure leaves the senate one vote shy of a quorum and essentially holds the entire legislature hostage.

Now, I’m not against politicians and public school teachers. My husband’s a public school teacher, though he’s never joined the union. But, what bothers me is the me-first attitude I see displayed in so many of these standoffs triggered by huge budget deficits. Many of these public employees seem bent on making someone else pay for the problem. It would be so refreshing if these so-called public servants actually displayed concern for the common good.

States around the country are facing huge budget shortfalls and someone has to give. Wisconsin’s confronting a 3-point-6 billion-dollar deficit; so is Florida; New York’s deficit stands at 10-billion dollars; and California? It somehow has to close a 25-billion–dollar shortfall. Yet, what are teachers in California doing? They’re holding a candlelight vigil to show support for Wisconsin teachers who refuse to do their job.

Let’s face it: the recession has caused tax revenues to plummet. And we can’t just keep increasing the burden on taxpayers. Many in the private sector have made big sacrifices to keep their companies afloat. I think it’s time the public sector does the same – instead of defiantly announcing they won’t take a 10-percent pay cut. I think everyone should take the advice offered in Philippians 2 – that we look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others.



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10 thoughts on “Where Have all the “Public Servants” Gone?”

  1. Do you and MBI promote a double standard for Philippians 2? Or did I miss an MBI commentary during the last three years?

    You honorably defend Wisconsin taxpayers and condemn laborers defending their wages and pensions. Yet, what meaning have you ascribed to “Taxpayers” and “Pensions”?

    The essence of civil unrest is taxpayer revolt against a few and those few quashing the uprising, or simply a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    In 2008, taxpayers cried foul over exploitations by money changers. Yet, three years later the bargained position is that the taxpayers hold the bill, hardly a CEO shed a wage or pension – either of which would feed and clothe a small army of taxpayers, and criminal investigations and trials yield deaf justice for blind-eyed CEOs.

    For MBI, does Matthew (21:12), Mark (11:15) and John (2:15) mean nothing where Jesus overturns the tables of money changers? Does the word “free” in free-market recuse money changers of Philippians 2? Should we admonish the many and absolve the few? And, did I miss an MBI commentary during the last three years that says it is okay to rob Peter to pay Paul, as long as Paul is a money changer and not a laborer?

    American Taxpayer
    Wheaton, IL

  2. First, my opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Moody Bible Institute. But, to answer your questions… My post addressed public employees — both teachers and administration. Your reference to CEO’s would apply to private companies, no? When public employees demand money, they’re not taking from company profits and CEO bonuses, but taxpayers.

  3. Thank you for your reply.

    I encourage you to become familiar with the security of the funds associated with TARP, QE2, and other financial bailouts associated with the actions of the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banking System. Therein lies the dilemma and answer to the essence of your question, which is whether company profits and CEO bonuses are privately funded or paid for and secured by taxpayers.

    Please note that these programs are highly complex, thereby making it easy for spin doctors to hide and falsely state the full cost of these programs to the American taxpayer. Accordingly, in addition to your own readings you may want to contact competing experts in this field.

    As you may appreciate, half of a story is often more dangerous than no story at all.
    A follow-up commentary and reply with your findings would be most interesting and appreciated.

    Thank you for your time,
    American Taxpayer
    Wheaton, IL

  4. Ms. Roys you need to understand that superintendents and teachers are not union members together, superintendents aren’t in a union at all. His salary is an issue for the board of education in your city. Furthermore, we teachers are ALWAYS giving up salary, among other things, to keep our jobs. Before you bash all of us, you should do research and get your facts straight. I have never been so angry listening to the radio before, but listening to you this morning ruined my day. It’s misinformed people like you that fuel this adversarial atmoshphere in this country against teachers. I have been teaching at the same salary for 4 yrs. but as you well know, nothing in this world has stayed the same. House notes, gas, food, college, EVERYTHING!! And you say I need to sacrifice more. What do you know about what we public employees go through everyday with your children or those who come to school with no proper upbringing, swearing at you and disrespecting you everyday. Many of us work in Satan’s playground and listen to Moody Radio for encouragement, not a verbal beatdown from someone who clearly doesn’t get it.

  5. Anonymous,

    Believe me, I love and appreciate teachers. Maybe you missed the line in my commentary that reveals I’m married to a public school teacher? My commentary was simply addressing the entitlement mentality I’ve observed in some public employees – most notably those demonstrating in Wisconsin, but also in the superintendent of our local elementary and middle schools. Whether they’re administrators or teachers, all public employees are paid by taxpayers – and I think their attitude should reflect that. I know I feel very grateful to taxpayers for the salary my husband receives. I live in a county where the unemployment is around 10% and many in the private sector have had to take pay cuts. These are tough times and I think everyone on the public’s payroll needs to appreciate that.

    Of course, this topic is complex and one commentary can’t possibly do it justice. I certainly did not mean to imply that all teachers should take pay cuts. You may be in a district where teachers are underpaid. If so, I hope your district can find the money to pay you a more appropriate salary. And, I hope your community appreciates the job you do. Good teachers are critical to our nation’s future and the well-being of our children.

  6. Anonymous concerned about TARPS, etc…
    I’m not for bailouts either. I don’t understand how suggesting that public employees should consider the needs of taxpayers could be construed as support for bailouts???

  7. Hello Julie,

    Re: taxpayers, public employees and bailouts…

    The brevity of commentaries and replies make it difficult to fully express principled passions, especially in light of the complexities surrounding the Wisconsin school teacher situation and the economic tensions that impact us all.

    First, I am not a teacher, and my comments are from the perspective of a taxpayer.

    I would agree with you that many in the private sector have made big sacrifices to keep their companies afloat, I included. This is not to say persons in the public sector have not made sacrifices, as well.

    On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that persons employed with private companies in sectors of the market that have brought the global economy to its knees have not sacrificed wages or benefits.

    So, it is difficult to hear, especially from Christian-based mass-media, tongue lashings cast upon public employees, while gratuitously praising a group whose members brought this economy to its knees in the first place.

    Thank you for your time,
    American Taxpayer
    Wheaton, IL

  8. I agree it’s hard to unpack complex issues in a short format. That’s why I really was limiting my commentary to one point: public employees need to serve the public good, not just self-interest.

    While I agree that the private sector should do the same, there is a difference. Public employees get 100% of their money from taxpayers. I concede your point that the govt. bailouts gave taxpayer money to private companies (which I opposed). But, private companies still get the vast majority of their money from people who voluntarily pay for their goods and services.

    I think this difference in funding necessarily makes one more accountable to the public than the other.

  9. Christ Follower / Idaho Educator

    Ms. Roys… I just commented to Moody regarding your opinion piece played on the airways last week regarding public servents. I will comment here as well. You seem to believe that by cutting education, we can alleviate the economic woes in this country, and that for teachers to oppose such cuts, ammounts to dereliction of duty. The unions are bad guys, the democrates are bad guys, the teachers are bad guys… let me see, I am willing to bet you live in a pretty black and white world where converitism is the only path to Christ, and all republicans are good guys. Just a guess. Here’s a thought for you… we are in this mess because of mass expenditures on Middle Eastern wars that will never be “won”. It was the unions that put us in this mess, nor was it the democrats, though the teachers that educated Donald Rummsfeld et all do bear some culpability. Target public servants if you want… attack our rights to fair wages, and collective bargaining and villify anyone who stands up to the legislative bullies who don’t have the courage to call an end to the insanity in military spending and raise taxes on the wealthy. Lots of self preservation going on out there Ms. Roys and it isn’t the “rich” public servants who benefit from the insanity. THINK By the way… Jesus wasn’t republican.

  10. You’re making a caricature of what I said. No, I don’t think teachers are the bad guys. As I said before, my husband is a teacher and I hold teachers in the highest regard. I think some teachers and administrators and other public employees have simply lost sight of their responsibility to the taxpayer.

    You make some pretty bold assertions. I don’t think Middle Eastern wars are what’s sinking STATE budgets. That would be a federal budget item.

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