[Kamikaze] Time for the Pink Slip


Brad Franklin

Many of you work a regular 9-to-5 job. Even those who work part-time, odd hours or odd days understand the premise of hustling for a paycheck. You work hard with little to no reward and even less appreciation from co-workers. Unless you own your own business, most of you work for or have worked for someone else. We've all had a boss, right? The person who holds your professional future in his/her hands?

Every day, the "boss" gives you a set of tasks to tackle and usually a time to have them done. Speaking from experience, I know what happens if you consistently fail to get those assigned tasks done. I'm sure you do, too. That's right: the pink slip.

In fact, I don't know of any job where you can continuously miss deadlines, leave before you've completed your work and still get paid. Well, except one: state legislator.

We elect lawmakers because we believe they will have our best interests at heart. We choose them to be good stewards of our tax dollars, protectors of our goodwill and prosperity. In reality, we pay their salaries, and that makes us their bosses. But because we have assumed for so long that our employees were capable men and women, we've let the tail wag the dog. Or in this case, we've let the inmates run the asylum.

By the time you read this, Mississippi may or may not have a budget. That's some $6 billion hanging in limbo. That also means that several state agencies and school districts are in a holding pattern waiting for our "good stewards" to figure this out. I'm beginning to think that our employees at the state capitol are relying on our naïveté to continue to dupe us. Fact: Our lawmakers get paid quite well for a part-time job. Fact: Our lawmakers get paid 55 cents per mile for travel (which you can imagine adds up for those coming from the northern and southern most parts of the state). Fact: Our lawmakers make $109 a day for what is, in essence, three months of work. That adds up to some $19,000 a day that we, the taxpayers of Mississippi, are paying to have them represent us. Some people have said that it's becoming common practice for lawmakers to mark colleagues "present" during session—even when they're not actually there. Throw in a few perks here and there, and you'll understand why being at the state capitol is pretty good work if you can get it.

Incidents like this happen all too often under our noses. It's imperative, now more than ever, to ask our legislators why they have not been doing the work of the people. How can you so nonchalantly leave town when important issues remain on the table? Why are you missing deadlines and costing the taxpayers more money for special sessions? Why are the citizens and children of the state suffering because of party politics?

Jackson's mayoral election put a much-needed emphasis on accountability and transparency in government. I believe that accountability should extend beyond the city and engulf the state as well. I'm not saying all of our representatives at the capitol are bad—just comfortable.

It's time we start letting them know we expect our tasks to be completed within the allotted time. If not, it's probably best that they start looking for other means of employment. Your pink slip will be in the next ballot box.

And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.


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