CHRIS POWELL: On whom will Connecticut's epidemic resentments fall?

Published on Friday, 14 January 2022 20:57

Teachers and nurses in Connecticut who are government employees, along with employees of nursing homes, whose industry is mostly funded by government, are feeling so overworked because of the virus epidemic that their allegiance to Governor Lamont and the Democratic Party is coming into question.

Surveying leaders of the teachers and nurses unions last week, the Connecticut Post's Ken Dixon found no rebellion but little enthusiasm. Some union leaders acknowledged that state government had made special efforts for their members but insisted that more was owed to them. Prison workers weren't surveyed but might have expressed the greatest bitterness, since the prisons are full of virus cases.

But beyond government's employees and quasi-employees, parents of schoolchildren and relatives of people ailing with something other than the virus have resentments too. For the more safety measures are demanded by teachers and nurses, the less schooling will be delivered and the less medical care will be available to people afflicted with something other than the virus. Some people whose treatment was delayed have died.

While teachers and nurses think of themselves as workplace martyrs to the epidemic, they are hardly alone.

Restaurants, bars, and the rest of the hospitality industry have been devastated. Even when restaurants and bars have been allowed to reopen, many customers have stayed away.

Retailers have been devastated too, as personal incomes were cut throughout the nation by a decline in working hours. Even when hours were restored, wages were overtaken by inflation, which in part is a result of the government's distributing so much free money even as millions of people have stopped working and producing things to buy.

Amid the hysteria of the government and news organizations, which treat even asymptomatic virus cases as the plague, workers in all sectors of the economy increasingly call out sick. This hobbles far more than schools, as society discovers that school bus drivers and trash haulers are really "essential workers" too.

There may be only one set of workers who are neither overworked nor forced to sacrifice income and benefits: employees of the government bureaucracy, many of whom, in Connecticut, are allowed to work from home most of the time, pushing electrons when they are not pushing paper.

In the name of "solidarity forever" could these employees sacrifice a little income or time on the job in favor of the government employees and quasi-employees who are overwhelmed in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes? Of course not; the paper and electron pushers will insist on every last cent of their wages and every last restriction on their working conditions as promised by their union contract. And since the paper and electron pushers are represented by unions affiliated with the unions of the teachers and nurses, the teachers and nurses will give them a pass anyway -- in the name of "solidarity forever."

So now that the epidemic in Connecticut is suddenly worsening after fading for many months, on whom should the state's political resentments fall?

The Communist government of China might be the place to start, since the virus seems to have originated from bio-weapons research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But Americans can't vote for the Chinese government; even the Chinese themselves can't.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has gotten off easy for funding research at the Wuhan laboratory. Americans might be tired of Fauci, but he's not elected either.

President Biden ordinarily would be a prime target of resentment, but as he dodders ineffectually from day to day -- spending a quarter of his time away from the office, apparently to regain his senses -- what would be the point of bashing him?

That leaves Governor Lamont, who got all the credit when the epidemic was fading and who is up for re-election this year and thus the most available target. At least Lamont didn't constantly make a mess of things as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did, but how much enthusiasm will be sparked by a campaign slogan like "It Could Have Been Worse"?

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns on Friday, 14 January 2022 20:57. Updated: Friday, 14 January 2022 21:00.