If, as suggested by Governor Linc, state agencies are facing the chop in all areas of government, may Phillipe and Jorge offer a solution to at least minimize the bleeding, and perhaps build a little "all for one, one for all" spirit as well? P&J have seen this tactic work on a small scale, and so it is worth proposing in a grander arrangement to help save our brothers and sisters of the working class.

Rather than eliminate jobs outright — say one out of every five in state government — some budget reductions can be achieved by cutting back everyone's work hours by 20 percent. So instead of one person getting the hard word put on him or her — and facing a depressing trip home to tell the better half about his or her new job search, beginning immediately — the four remaining employees agree to cut their hours by one-fifth, putting them all on four days a week, including the person who could have possibly lost his or her job outright.

This would also allow all five to keep their benefits, a move of consideration — and compassion. It might lessen the budget savings, but hey, we're talking family health here. And yes, shared sacrifice. It's the Christian thing to do, right Cranston?

Now, the nut. Would people do that for their colleagues? Yes, if they were convinced they weren't carrying the water for absolute no-accounts.

Could most get by with a 20 percent pay reduction? Probably, if faced with the alternative of "Would you like fries with that?" or "Don't shoot, the money is in the drawer, take it, and thanks for shopping at 7-11" or, "Yes, I have been looking for work, but there are no jobs out there!"

There is little doubt that in 99 percent of workplaces, people know enough about each others' jobs that they could pick up specific, manageable pieces of the others' responsibilities.

The opposition to this new system would probably come from the top, where the self-styled head honchos would be afraid that farming out some of their responsibilities meant losing their authority. Time for your egos to take a back seat, folks. Non-hierarchical, "flat" work environments were lauded — and some worked well, Saturn auto buyers — not so many years ago. Maybe it's time to give it another shot.

Of course, you'd have to sell the idea to the average worker, who is skeptical, these days, that the suits at the top of any organization care for anyone other than themselves and fellow elites.

Any working stiff who thinks that CEOs and finance industry titans, Congress or local elected officials give a rat's ass about their welfare is in a distinct minority. Indeed, the idea of "shared sacrifice" can seem grossly out of step with our time.

Still, if they can be convinced — if enough people who really care for their fellow workers embrace the idea — it may be a way to get through a time of crisis with the health and welfare of your friends and neighbors intact. Or maybe P&J should just wake up from this dream, and face the nightmare this state and country are becoming.

Just a thought, Linc.


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