(PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Olson/GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The city of Chicago is mostly closed for business today... as a way to save money.
Most city employees are off without pay. Emergency services like the police and fire department aren't affected; but city hall, public libraries, garbage pickup, health clinics and other city offices are closed.
Chicago is facing an estimated budget shortfall of about $250 million to $300 million for 2009... so as part of the budget, the city included three reduced-service days. The other two are the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
The city anticipates these reduced service days will save more than $8 million.
But city workers are losing more than just the pay for these three-days. They've also been asked to take six furlough days and six unpaid holidays this year.
Mayor Richard Daley says every dollar the city saves from these measures "helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain services for Chicagoans." He thanked city employees for making the sacrifice and being "part of the solution" to the budget challenges. The employees weren't given any choice.
But some city workers say they don't mind taking the unpaid days if it means holding on to their jobs in the long-run.
Here’s my question to you: Should government employees be forced to take time off without pay as a way of saving money?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Derek from Sacramento, California writes:
No. Better yet, reduce the excessive benefits that most public employees have these days and fire people who don't produce. Kind of like the real world most of us have dealt with for many years.
David from Las Vegas writes:
Jack, I believe that any government agency could cut back 10-20% and you wouldn't notice any change. It happened all the time when I was an aerospace engineer and we had layoffs. The rest of us became more efficient and made up the difference. 'Lean & Mean' works every time.
Jack from Phoenix writes:
As a former big-city employee, I know that government workers are the most open to sacrificing for the citizens. They have done it for years with various cutbacks. Most of them do feel lucky to have jobs that are not dependent on bottom-line revenue or production goals of the private sector. Believe it or not, many will feel grateful that they can do their part for this very challenging economy.
Most government employees can retire in 20 years and get two-thirds of their pay for the rest of their life. Those in the private sector do not make as much and will likely die on the job because none of them will be able to retire. The government has way too many employees as it is. There are many who sit around at the state capitals not doing much of anything.
Bob from South Carolina writes:
Jack, How about some of you overpaid media types take some time off without pay instead of putting it on the backs of underpaid public servants? I suspect the average American could get along without you or Wolf for a day or two better than they could without parole officers, etc. doing the business of keeping our society running.