Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Social workers like to talk about changing whole systems, changing the system, systemic change, putting the client in the context of the whole system.

I have become increasingly suspicious over the years exactly what they mean by that. Today at department meeting there was discussion about further state budget cuts, and why didn't the state bring back that idea about furlough days instead of laying people off? I mean, it was rejected before, but why can't they bring it back?

Because it was the union that scotched that idea, you bufflehead! The governor can't bring it back. That can only come in the contract negotiations. Then there was a discussion of why we didn't have a sales tax, and complaining that the only reason politicians wouldn't do it is because they wouldn't get re-elected. "I mean, it just makes so much sense, that everyone just give 2%." How this particular system, the economic system, actually works is beyond them. They believe in uncomplicated solutions there. All these complicated systems that they love talking about? They don't mean that. The motto of social workers on the job is "I understood there would be no math involved."

They are despondent (or furious) that budget cuts might mean personnel cuts. I understand that - everyone feels that way when layoffs come close to them - but they are quite certain that it is state workers who will be bailing the whole state out by taking it on the chin. They believe this, even though there have been few cuts, and nothing near like what the private sector is hit with. I have heard SEA members going into apoplexy because of possibly having to pay for part of health insurance. "I'm going to vote against that! We need a union that stands up for us! We have the power to shut the state down if we want to." These people really believe they are already giving more than their share by taking jobs that don't pay as well as the people they read about in the paper. You know, all those rich people who make oodles working at useless jobs that don't contribute to society.

They don't understand systems, only their own self-interest. That's a respectable POV, but then you don't get to talk about how noble the Helping Professions are, and how you earn your living by understanding systems.

Most of you can sense where this is going. What they mean by changing systems is "becoming more socialist." What they mean by complex systems is "politically difficult."

1 comment:

Gringo said...

Much of the problem of unsustainable government spending has to do with what goodies government unions have negotiated for their members.Goodies which are superior to those found in the private sector. Ditto incomes. California is the poster child, it would appear.

IIRC, JFK issued an executive order permitting the existence of unions for federal workers. Which is a lesson in unintended consequences.

There is a fair amount of resentment among private sector workers over the goodies that government unions have negotiated for their people. We are paying for those goodies for government workers when we don't have them ourselves. (I would now include the Government Motors pensions and insurance benefits the UAW negotiated that taxpayers are now paying for.)

How many government workers are aware of that resentment? AVI is aware, I am sure, but I fear he is the exception.