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Milt Hankins: Romney waffles on hiring public workers

Oct. 19, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

I learned from high school civics that one of the most important jobs a voter has is to determine what candidates will do, if elected. I believe an educated electorate will always choose the most honest, reliable and qualified person for the job.

An apparent, insurmountable problem in the upcoming election is the fact that the Republican nominee takes the most expedient twist on every major issue. Someone said, "He's sort of like throwing Jello against a wall. Nothing sticks!" On almost every issue, Mitt Romney is, as one of his primary opponents remarked, "a well-oiled weather vane." Take, for example, the area of public service.

In a Wisconsin speech in June, Romney said, "(President Obama) wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers ... It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

If I understood correctly, Romney was saying that we need fewer firemen, policemen and teachers. How can the economy benefit by laying off more firemen, policemen, and teachers? But, that's not what Romney meant, of course. Apparently! In his first debate with President Obama, he said, "I reject the idea that I don't believe in great teachers or more teachers."

In other words, Romney seems to have changed his mind over a three-month period. But ... wait. On Oct. 10, according to the Maddow Blog, Romney told Sam Stein of the Des Moines Register he wants to hire more school teachers. Then, arguing against himself, Romney continued, "Hiring school teachers is not going to raise the growth of the U. S. economy over the next three-to-four years."

Hundreds of thousands of public education jobs were lost during the recession cutbacks. Hiring more teachers would not only help schools and students, but it would have considerable economic impact. Does Romney not thoroughly understand that firemen, policemen and teachers draw paychecks and spend those paychecks to pay bills, purchase products and services, which significantly contribute to the economy?

Now, I know Romney is typically known as a "flip-flopper," and examples are not hard to come by. But, it seems to me that in the area of public service, he ought to find solid ground on which to stand.

Does he want to hire more public service personnel like policemen, firemen and teachers, or does he not?

According to my civics teacher, one of the jobs of the government is to "promote the general welfare" of the citizenry. How can I know whether Romney will work to improve public safety or education for my grandchildren? The obvious answer is, I do not know! It is impossible to know the governor's stand on any issues, much less the most critical ones. Even if one knew his stance today, experience tells us it may be something entirely different tomorrow.

I, for one, am terrified that what we see is what we'll get if Mitt Romney wins in November.

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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