Guys like Gordon Maag give public service a bad name

The Madison County Record Jul. 20, 2012, 3:00am

The story is told, of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, that some were captured and tortured by the British, some died from wounds or hardships suffered during the Revolutionary War, and some lost everything they had and were left penniless.

What the story makes clear is that our Founding Fathers willingly sacrificed their safety, their fortunes, and even their lives to the cause of liberty and the creation of our exceptional country.

Compare their sense of civic duty to what passes for public service today.

Today, our ship of state, much larger than it ever should be, is besieged by the human barnacles of greedy little men and women who have gotten themselves elected or appointed to public office so that they can promote themselves, peddle influence, and enrich their pocketbooks.

They say they're working for us – and surely some are – but too many instead are serving themselves and their cronies, not their constituents. Our nominal public servants have become our de facto masters. We're working for them, not vice versa.

A lawsuit filed by ex-Judge Gordon Maag filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court last month is a case in point.

Maag hopes to lead a class action on behalf of some 80,000 state retirees, challenging a new law that requires all of them -- including judges, legislators, and university workers – to pay premiums for their state health insurance.

In the past, ordinary state employees qualified for free health insurance after 20 years of service, judges after six years, and legislators after four years. (Note how the judges and the lawmakers got the sweetest deals.)

But these "free" benefits were never free. Somebody had to pay for them. That somebody was the Illinois taxpayer--the same taxpayer who today feels lucky to have a job with even without benefits.

Nevertheless, Gordon Maag, the entitled ex-judge, thinks the taxpayer still should be obligated to finance his "free" benefits along with tens of thousands of other public "servants."

We await that day when the judge has to decide this case on behalf of the public or on behalf of keeping free health insurance benefits for public servants such as the judge.

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