Steven Mikulan is a Los Angeles writer and editor of The Frying Pan.
The next time a politician calls on the state or federal government to trim its workforce – right after promising to “grow jobs” – it might be good for him to remember that one in five working Americans is a public employee. Not only does thinning the public sector reduce the number of services and quality of life enjoyed by taxpayers, it also throws more people onto the unemployment rolls.
Those who see themselves as swashbuckling entrepeneurs or disciples of Ayn Rand do have an alternative to public sector employment in mind – the privatization of work that has historically been performed by government. In the Public Interest, a nonprofit that researches the dynamics of privatization and government contracting, has just released a study showing in sharp relief the dangers that come with such an alternative.
That last charge had a bittersweet irony. Padgett had been at the paper for more than 39 years and had done everything he could to help it prosper – even as members of the corporate wrecking crew that drove the paper into bankruptcy were still counting their money.
“It was similar to jumping into an icy cold pool of water,” Padgett recalls. “I felt like crying because I’d been there so damn long, but I soon got over it.” He drove on to his meeting in La Mirada, but hasn’t been back to the Times printing plant on Olympic Boulevard to clean out his locker.