The following is an editorial in this weeks Granite State News that hits home for all NH towns as we go through our budget process this time of year.
Our editorial last week, “A depressing alternative,”
generated a fair amount of comment, as well
as two letters that we publish on this page, from
Cate McMahon and John R. White, both from
As always, we urge you to read their letters, if
only because we feel the basic reaction they express
is shared by most Americans, regardless of
Our intention in last week’s editorial was to lay
bare the stark and depressing choices most of us
are facing, not just in our nation but in our towns.
We focused on the issue being debated in the town
of Tuftonboro: how the pay and benefits of public
employees are being compared to the stagnant pay
and declining benefits of most non-governmental
Some ask why taxpayers should provide pay
and benefits to town employees that are significantly
greater than those who work for private
businesses in our communities. We acknowledged
that this is a fair question, but then pointed
to what it implies, which is that because some of
us are being treated unfairly, then all of us should
be suffer the same fate.
It is, essentially a variation of the zero sum
game: if you are winning, I must be losing as a result.
It assumes that prosperity is a limited commodity,
and because a few have managed to take
most of it for themselves, there is very little left for
most of us to share. We find ourselves squabbling
We also touched on the issue of state defined-pensions,
which have virtually disappeared
in private enterprise. Should taxpayers accept the
burden of funding them when their own pensions
have been taken away?
There are “practical” and “realistic” answers
to both the pay and pension questions and all of
them involve government employees accepting
the steadily darker future we all face.
We agree that this conclusion is not only depressing
but unacceptable. And, as we argued last
week, we are not alone in feeling that way, as the
chaotic presidential election campaigns just ended
demonstrated to all who were paying attention.
Both the rise of Bernie Sanders and the success
of Donald Trump questioned the established view
that “We Can No Longer Afford to be Great,” that
Americans just have to get used to getting by, as
we have since 2008, with less and less. It was no
surprise that politicians favored by the establishment
offering “more of the same” lost, and “Make
America Great Again” became a rallying cry.
We all want a future that promises a better life
for ourselves and our children. Continuing the
race to the bottom of the last 15 years is something
most of us emphatically do not want.
Does anyone really believe the same old solutions
heard for decades – more free trade
and globalization, larger government and continuing
the tax cuts for the very rich that they
have enjoyed for the past 14 years – are going to
make a difference?
Most of us, regardless of party, agree that business
as usual is unacceptable and that we have to
get off the downward path we are on. We should
not let ourselves be turned against one another
and let our anger and frustration lead us to attack
those who are as powerless as we are.
We have to stop accepting the unacceptable. Instead
of taking away benefits and reducing the pay
of public employees who have not yet suffered our
fate, we should demand that we be treated fairly
and be given back the pay and benefits that have
been taken from us.
Donald Trump did not win in a landslide, but
he won because he expressed what most of us feel
– that it is time to question everything about the
way this country is run and the inequality it has
produced. There are many who doubt his ability
to accomplish the changes needed and because of
his party affiliation and some of the people he has
chosen for his team, fear that the nation has been
misled. But he has promised change and fairness
and vowed to make America great again. We all
need to insist that he does what he has promised.
At the same time we should not let the idea that
“We Can No Longer Afford to Be Great” lead us to turn against those government employees who