Today, the Houston Chronicle has posted the salary of just about every public servant in the Houston-Harris County Metrolplex. Now, the initial reaction of many public servants is anger. Common courtesy tells us that it is impolite to ask what people make. However, since public servants' salaries are paid for with tax dollars, that money has to be accounted for.
One has to ask the question. Why did they do this? The caption underneath the photographs reads "are your tax dollars well spent?" I'm not referring to an elected official, or the head of Metro, HISD, or the Toll Road Authority. I'm referring to the lay people who get up everyday, work an 8 hour shift and come home. Look at some of the "peons" and you'll see how little they make. Take for example K, an assistant clerk and his 2007 yearly salary was $19,115. So, is the chronicle asking is that tax money well spent? I have a theory, and just a theory. Public servants make easy targets. While their positions put them under a lot of scrutiny they are held to a higher standard. However, what the chronicle, and a large portion of the public fail to understand is that if you compare the work habits of public servants and private workers, you'll find remarkable similarities. It also exposes the hypocrisy of the chronicle and a large number of the public. When a public servant leaves his/her post to run through a drive thru window to get a quick meal, it's reported as "taxpayer waste." When a reporter or sales clerk does it, it's no big deal. When a public servant's email is scrutinized, it makes news. I bet you half my salary that all work emails have the same issues, especially reporters' emails. For many people, it is easier to open others' closets and expose their skeletons while keeping their own doors nailed shut. There is also a tendency to think that public servants do not have mortgages, families, and bills to pay. The tone of many chronicle (and other news organizations) is that public servants should work harder for less money and benefits. They have another article about paid overtime for the Houston Police Dept. and the Sheriff's Dept. The news wants people to be outraged at the amount of paid overtime. Now, if these overtime programs ended today, there would be far less officers on the street. There would be fewer patrols, peoples' reports would be left unwritten, and response times would increase dramatically. Now, many people are thinking "oh so what, if you don't want your name and salary to be public record, go to the private sector!" Yet, these same people would have a coronary if their full names and salary were posted for all to see. So, in the interest of fairness, let me ask a question. Is that money you spend on the chronicle well spent? Is that time you spend watching TV news well spent?