Emotion is the tool of manipulative politicians who take advantage of people and potential voters. But emotion is also the source of illogical decisions where consequences are often overlooked.
Teacher pay is a recent prominent example. Who else but public employees can protest and gain public support regardless of facts and circumstances?
Governors and legislators in at least 25 states are proposing increasing teacher pay following strikes that crippled school operations and left hundreds of thousands of students missing school in recent months.
When faced with these issues we tend to forget the source of funding is only taxpayers. We often ignore the relative incomes in the communities supporting these jobs. And, we focus on salaries rather than total compensation. For public employee non-cash compensation is often more valuable (and costly) than current cash. In the case teachers, we fail to adjust for the work year.
None of this diminishes the extreme importance of teachers and many public employees. And it’s not a matter of them not deserving higher pay, it’s a matter of affordability and equity with their fellow citizens and taxpayers.