I personally was shocked at today's USA Today article on double-dipping by state employees: http://bit.ly/6TiQel. But beyond highlighting the basic sleaziness of the practice, the article missed the many negative impacts to the long-term success of government. In short, governments shoot themselves in the foot when such practices are tolerated.
The first casualty is reputation. The American people already have a deeply rooted mistrust of government -- even to the point of ignoring much of the good it does and the value it provides to society every day. Stories like this shine a spotlight on the worst apsects of government that will only increase public mistrust and add to the perception of government acting like "pigs at the trough". The likely result is that citizens become even more inclined to vote against legitimately needed taxes to fund critical initiatives in the years ahead.
The second casualty is just that -- funding. In current budget and economic climate, states are already hard-pressed to invest in vital instrastructure, services, and future e-government solutions. They absolutely can't waste critical funds feathering their employees' nests. How many infrastructure projects are languishing, how many public services being canceled, and how many vital investments in innovative solutions that could boost productivity are on hold given this sanctioned and widespread form of "graft"?
As members of the government community, we all have a responsibility to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. We all have to think nationally and act locally. Otherwise, we'll all pay the long-term price of strapped, understaffed, ineffective government.