Some in the business community and Chamber of Commerce, in a dither over capital move talk, have said that Juneau needs to be more "business friendly" in order to fight the capital move. If we really want to keep the capital we need to become more "government friendly."
Many of the comments I have heard lead me to believe that there are those who want to keep the capital only if we can have the payroll but not the employees. However, government does not consist of disembodied paychecks. State government consists of employees who, among many other things, protect the environment, enforce worker safety laws, perform restaurant inspections, and collect taxes. In other words, they enforce a whole host of laws and regulations that might be seen as unfriendly to business.
Why? Because the job of government is not to serve business; it is to serve citizens. Sometimes that service consists of protecting citizens from unsafe and unfair business practices. Of course, not all government programs are "unfriendly to business" and not all state employees are politically liberal or progressive; however, on the whole, individual state employees believe in what they are doing. Sometimes that causes them to support policies and vote for candidates that differ from those policies and candidates supported by the business community.
Business people must decide: Is having a large state employee payroll in our community worth having a diversity of opinion? If not, then we don't want the capital in Juneau.
If business people believe having the government payroll in Juneau is worth having a diversity of opinions (even some which are not "business friendly"), then it's time to become cheerleaders in support of state government and state employees. Instead of attacking the efforts of citizens (and potential customers) who work for government, start educating your peers in Juneau and around the state about the positive role of government. If you've forgotten your civics lessons and have come to believe that the best government is the least government (except when encouraging commerce), I'm sure there are a lot of state employees who can refresh your memory and broaden your perspective. Otherwise, you may get what you wish for a whole lot less government (and government payroll) in Juneau.
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