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'Musical chairs' becoming harder and harder to 'play'

Bob'n'Along by Bob Stealey

EDITOR

Most people, I suppose, are familiar with the game of "musical chairs."

It's played by placing a number of chairs or seats in a room, usually in a large circle. All participants then take a seat and a band begins to play or other music is started.

When the melody begins, everyone stands up and walks in a big circle in front of the chairs. While the music is playing, another person removes one of the chairs. Then the music abruptly stops and everybody sits down in the nearest chair.

With one chair removed, that means there'll be one person left standing without a seat. That person is then out of the game.

This is repeated several times -- either until there's just one person seated or until the participants decide to end the game with very few left. Or until the music no longer is playing.

Actually, I cannot say I have ever been a musical chairs game participant myself. But I was able to draw an uncanny parallel between musical chairs and middle-class American people trying to eke out an existence in this automation-driven economic world.

Let's see how I want to approach this. Ahh, yes! Tending to be quite conservative in my views, I am one who believes that big government should be reduced, although obviously not to the extent of sacrificing crucial personnel such as experts in emergency management, the health-related fields, those who are trained to maintain the peace and public safety or those who are knowledgeable in training others to effectively perform the necessary work and duties that keep the world turning 'round.

Now having read this, you may be thinking, "What's the matter with this guy? He just wants to do away with the jobs of a large, large number of West Virginians. He's like the guy who removes the chairs and orders the music stopped, metaphorically speaking. (Remember musical chairs.)

Granted, a great many of the people in the Mountain State who receive an employer's paycheck are employed by the state government. Still others are employed by the federal government and others still by county and local governments.

No, I'm not in any way advocating a mass exodus of workers from the government rolls. A critical degree of expertise is needed by a large number of individuals who happen to receive their paychecks from public funds, i.e., revenue derived from the taxpayers.

Perhaps all I'm suggesting is that the various agencies, all the way up to the executive branch, begin exercising more care in hiring and maintaining people for government work. I know that certain tests must be not only passed, but submitted with a very high degree of accuracy in order for some folks to fill jobs requiring special skills. That, I think, is known as the merit system.

But I also know there are people who fill openings in which they are no way qualified to fill. They find themselves in jobs -- indeed some jobs that may be secretly created for them -- because they're a good friend of this office-holder or are owed a favor by another politician. I believe that's called the patronage system.

Either way, I do not like to see people end up out of their jobs. In essence, they're left standing when the music stops. In most cases, they have a family to fully or partially support and now they're not able to do so.

Is there a way to keep the participants from losing their chairs? Or for the music to not end so abruptly? And I'm not limiting these questions to just the public sector, either. It happens in the private sector all the time. I realize that in the public sector, there is only so much money available to pay the salaries and wages of government workers.

I've heard people in the private sector balk and complain about the number of people on the welfare rolls and the unemployment rolls. Some such individuals don't have any desire to work. Others, however, would love to find a job after weeks, months or even years of being unemployed. After being dismissed or laid off from their jobs.

These are the ones who are left standing when the music stops. Could we find another band?

Have a good weekend, one and all!

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