Parasites are a part of living in our world whether we like it or not.
There are many kinds of parasites out there from the literal such as the blood sucking mosquito above to the figurative such as the tax dollar consuming civil servants below.
Civil servants unsurprisingly chafe at being labelled as parasites but they fit pretty much every definition of the term. Civil servants are 100% reliant on the resources provided to them by their host (taxpayers) who have to give without consent.
At best, the relationship can be considered something of a symbiotic one as civil servants can provide tangible benefits to taxpayers at times. There is no doubt that civil servants provide some rather essential public services particularly in emergency service provision. One rarely feels that their tax dollars were poorly invested when they have received emergency services from an ambulance or had their property and well being protected by a police officer. Most people agree that a degree of regulation is required in society and that regulation will come with some degree of bureaucracy and enforcement in its administration. That still doesn’t change the parasitic nature of the relationship however.
What is critical in a parasitic, symbiotic relationship is balance.
If parasites overpopulate, the host can become irreparably damaged as more resources are drawn than commensurate services are provided.
The Notley government has caused a terrible imbalance between the parasites and hosts in our provincial society. In order to try to mask the effects of our recession, the NDP has been borrowing at an astounding rate in order to pad up the number of civil servants in Alberta. This helps for a short term at least in keeping the unemployment figures from truly reflecting how depressed our economy really is right now. This approach is totally unsustainable and we will be paying a very heavy price for it soon.
While the trend of mass civil servant hiring did indeed begin before the NDP took office, they expanded on it and continued the trend. The parasite sectors is growing swiftly while the host sector has dropped and remains flat lined.
The accidental Notley government will be replaced in the next general election. Unfortunately, the hard work to recover from the terrible economic management of the NDP will only be beginning at that point.
The spike in civil servant numbers and compensation will rise even more dramatically once the NDP accept that they will not be forming government again any time soon. The NDP will greatly expand the civil service and will bind the hosts to contracts that will be terribly difficult to get out of as they vacate their temporary home in government.
With out mounting public debt and our flat lined employment numbers among producers (private sector), the cuts that will come to the tax dollar consumers (civil servants) post-Notley will have to be deep and will have to come soon.
Parasites will always struggle with vigor when being removed even if it means further damaging their host and themselves. Just as a wood tick will dig in and possibly cause its own head to be torn off rather than be removed from its feeding spot on its host, civil servants will do anything in their desperate attempts to continue feeding on the taxpayers indefinitely.
The parasites will begin lashing out with threats. I already saw that last night as a union member annoyed by my parasite characterization actually implied that civil servants may purposely meddle with my health care if I keep up with my critique as can be seen below.
Strikes will be threatened and possibly held as essential spending restraint looms.
This is not unprecedented at all as we went through all of this in the 1990s when Ralph Klein made the tough decisions that had to be made to bring the province back into balance. Those choices led to a period of unprecedented Albertan prosperity for over a decade until we slipped back into the trap of excess government spending yet again.
The looming cuts are inevitable. The clashes are inevitable too unfortunately as those with a sense of entitlement to the earnings of others never let go easily.
It will take courage to stand down the protests when the time comes. Understanding the parasitic and symbiotic relationship that we have with civil servants will help us remain strong when pressure to back down on cuts comes. We can’t be afraid to call the relationship what it is and act on that basis.
The relationship between taxpayers and civil servants is way out of balance and we will all suffer until that is rectified.
On the plus side there is a bright spot. With an antagonistic public sector there will be no upside to continue the policy of appeasement of government employees. The mildest attempt to bringing the costs under control will be met with howls of outrage. This presents an opportunity of a generation. Serious efforts to roll back can be made with no additional pain – well to the taxpayer. Tying public sector remuneration to equivalent private sector remuneration including benefits and working conditions would be a good first step.Pensions can be dialled back and defined contribution plans, as standard in the private sector, can be imposed. The inevitable strikes will be a wonderful opportunity to blueprint which departments are unnecessary and what programs will not be missed and assist the government in determining which can be contracted out. The reestablishment of balance in the relationship will set up Alberta to face the challenges for the rest of the century. And then there is the feds…. and there the dream ends.