Marc Munroe Dion: Working stiffs wave the flag

Marc Munroe Dion

If you’re me, then writing about using civilian flaggers on road construction sites is such a nightmare that you have to give it a try.

Why such a nightmare?

Well, in general, it’s because I’m in favor of higher salaries for working people.

Which means that, yes, I’m in favor of police officers making $40 an hour directing traffic around construction sites.

I’m also in favor of civilians getting a shot at making $15 or $25 an hour doing the same job. I’d probably be most in favor of civilians getting $40 an hour, because that would represent, not overtime for people who have jobs, but new jobs at a real good wage. I do not like any situation which creates lower wages or fewer jobs. Anyway, I hold the old belief that when you work overtime, you’re stealing a job from the unemployed.

The state of Massachusetts, which can barely cover expenses, recently decided that civilian flaggers can take over for off-duty cops on road work jobs.

This is one of the “improvements” in government that radio talk show dullards have been screaming about for years.

“You’re paying $40 an hour for some officer to stand in the street, looking in the hole,” the talk show host screams. “That’s YOUR tax money! Those are YOUR tax dollars!.”

It is your tax money, and my question is, how much less will I pay in taxes now that civilians are replacing police?

You heard me. Now that wasteful government is through throwing my hard-earned tax money at $40 an hour cops directing traffic, how much extra money will I see in my take-home pay every week?

Will I get an extra $5 in my take-home pay? $4? $3? $1?

C’mon, tell me how much money I’m going to personally save because of this “cost cutting” measure.

You can’t, can you?

That’s because I’m not going to get any extra money.

That’s why I’m often not in favor of these “savings” that usually result in lower wages for the folks at the bottom and bigger profits for the folks at the top.

But, hey, it sure sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s what political discourse is all about these days, not “Will it help anybody?” but “Does it sound good if you yell it at the top of your lungs?”

And everybody gets poorer. The only constant in the last decade is that working people get poorer.

Let me explain something about the economy. When someone gets paid for working, he or she does not cash their paycheck and then set the money on fire. They do not bury their entire take home pay in the basement, either.

What they do is spend the money.

If a police officer makes $40 an hour working a flag detail, then he/she buys a new car. If you sell new cars, you get some of that money. If someone makes $15 an hour waving a flag at a road construction site, he/she has $25 an hour less to spend than the off-duty police officer doing the same job. If the $15 an hour flagger buys a car, he/she buys a cheaper car than a $40 an hour flagger would buy, so, if you sell cars, you get less money.

There is, in modern America, a wonderfully touching idea that everyone makes too much money except you. That belief is coupled with the even more touching (and idiotic) idea that everyone’s wages can fall without your wages falling.

In general, over the last 10 years, the second of those statements has proven to be true only if you are very wealthy indeed.

Truth is, working people (and cops are working people) are all in this together.

We go forward together or we go backward together.