The state of the States, and the people who live in them


Monday’s New York Times headline hit me when it showed up on my computer screen “Now in Power, G.O.P. vows cuts in State Budgets.”

Who can do anything but love trimming the fat of bloated, hated, “Government”?

It will be an interesting process as a new Minnesota G.O.P. majority in both House and Senate take meat axes to try and eliminate a huge deficit created by assorted budget tricks the last several years of stalemate between the Democratic majority in House and Senate and G.O.P. Governor Tim Pawlenty. (Minnesota State Law requires balanced budgets, so to get around this little technicality, bookkeeping strategies, like “borrowing” money from school aid to local school districts, were used in the brutal sausage making of legislating in a “veto” environment. Now, just in time for Christmas 2010, the bill comes due. Probably there will be a Democrat Governor in 2011, though when remains a question, as there will probably be a recount and a promised aggressive defense by the challenger G.O.P. The current Governor, G.O.P. and contender for Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, may well occupy the office well into the New Year, the new term.)

“Trimming fat” is an abstract thing, if one chooses not to notice the personal dimensions.

I have a personal example.

In the family constellation of my wife and I are eleven adults. The youngest is Down Syndrome, age 35, and thus not part of the work force. The other ten (including one former daughter-in-law) are all employable at the present time, and all working. So, technically, in our family there is full employment, and no unemployment.

One of the ten was laid off from a corporate job nine months ago, and went on unemployment.

He was only unemployed for a couple of months when he was offered a full-time State job for a maximum duration of a year. It paid far less than his former position, but it was a job and it had benefits, so he took the position.

What he does all day, every day, is receive and process phone calls from fellow Minnesotans who are unemployed. It is his job to redirect them to the appropriate agencies within the State of Minnesota system. The work is not fun. Neither is it in the specific trade he trained for.

Because the State job doesn’t provide adequate income, he works a part-time job, several nights a week.

Because he works during the day, he cannot do the requisite networking to find jobs in his area of expertise, and his expertise is rapidly going stale.

At the end of the twelve months, perhaps sooner if the meat ax reaches him, he will be unemployed again, struggling to find something, anything to survive.

Historically, getting a state job has been an entree into other State jobs. But that is a very unlikely scenario for this family member in this slash and burn time in our history.

There is an 11-year old boy in this scenario. Mom and Dad are divorced. Grandma does a great deal of heavy-lifting.

Oh, how easy to trim the fat of bloated government.

Oh, how easy….