by Ed Schultz at MSNBC | November 17, 2010
by Ed Schultz at MSNBC | November 17, 2010
by David Dayen at Firedoglake
Public workers have become the new demons ruining America, with their greedy pay and pension benefits. As this video from Brave New Films makes clear, that notion is just a load of crap. Pension benefits are not all that generous for the vast majority of workers; the average benefit for the workers in Prichard, Alabama (who were eventually cut off) was pretty much the size of Social Security, around $1,000 a month. They signed a contract to receive those benefits, a contract singed by both sides, but contracts only matter when they have to do with AIG credit default swaps.
It’s worth making this comparison, which the video does over and over again. The reason state and local budgets are in trouble simply has nothing to do with their spending on public employees. It’s about the financial crisis which triggered the Great Recession. In 2009, the recession dipped state tax revenues by 1/3. There’s no way on earth to attribute that to public workers. The obliteration of state revenue is entirely to blame. And the folks who created and sold toxic mortgage instruments and sucked trillions in wealth into a high-risk vortex shoulder the burden.
And yet they are not shouldering any of the responsibility; those danged public workers are. Chris Christie talks tough about public pensions but fails to mention the theft of those pensions from the workers over a 15-year period.
And how exactly did the crisis “reveal” that some pension funds were close seriously under water? A more accurate rendition would be that, at least in New Jersey, the state has been raiding the pension kitty for over 15 years. This is not news to anyone who has been paying attention, any more than underfunding of corporate pensions. In the Garden State’s case, Governor Chris Christie skipped the required $3.1 billion pension fund contribution last year. He claimed this move was to force reform, but what impact does another $3.1 billion failure to pay have on an unfunded liability that was already over $50 billion?
Although Christie has been gunning for the unions in his zealous efforts to address the budget shortfalls, inconveniencing those at the top of the food chain is off the list. Christie nixed a millionaire’s tax last year.
The whole sordid story is at the link. Financiers raided the pension fund, made awful investments, and actually got reprimanded by the SEC for phony accounting. The politicians just withheld pension fund deposits. And now, everyone’s surprised by the post-recession shortfall.
Yves Smith thinks that the unions, in a tough spot, will have to regain the moral high ground by calling for shared sacrifice. If they have to give up some benefits, the people at the high end of the income scale will have to pay as well. Republican Governors like John Kasich, who are lamenting high public union costs while increasing the salaries of their own staffs, or Governors like Rick Scott hiring a full-blown security detail for his lavish inauguration, are ripe for this critique.
The larger point is that the ax is falling on people who had nothing to do with the problem, while the rich and culpable get away with everything.
UPDATE: You have to love John Kasich’s reply to the report of his inflated staff salaries. He said “we have to pay well to get the best people.” Really, he said that. Wouldn’t that apply to public workers in every sector, too?
Written by Robert Greenwald
The wealthy right wing have always liked to pick on the working class. And now Wall Street wants to blame Main Street for the financial crisis our country is in. Big bankers taking home large bonuses are blaming the childcare workers and parking-meter collectors in this country, saying that their jobs are the reason we’re in a recession.
If you stop to actually look at the people and jobs Wall Street is attacking, you realize that we need to stop the lies. Public-service workers make little money and do the hard jobs necessary to keep our country running.
In 2009, public service worker Joe Wisniowski made $40,000 as an Airport Equipment Operator for an Ohio airport. Meanwhile Wall Street raked in $20.3 BILLION in bonuses during the same year.
As Robert Bonds, a parking meter collections assistant in Detroit, puts it: “What is this teaching my son? You can work hard, go to college to get your degree, and it’s all out of your hands; your success is based on somebody sitting in an office somewhere on Wall Street… that’s not what I want him to believe.”
Public-service workers are coming under attack like never before. Wall Street has the money, the power and the media mouthpiece to spread lies about those who serve our country in necessary jobs. We can’t let Wall Street destroy the backbone of America. Join with us to defend public service workers.
To keep up with all the latest from Brave New Foundation, follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter by clicking here.
by Mike Hall at AFL-CIO Now Blog on January 4, 2011
New Republican governors, old right-wing radio windbags, Fox News and extremist hacks continue to stoke the noise machine that’s belching blather about public employees.
As Dave Johnson at the Campaign for America’s Future writes:
The right’s propaganda machine begins with a simple narrative, repeats it endlessly, and then ties current events to the narrative to drive the point home. The corporate/conservative right are currently working a narrative that public employees and their unions are the reason for state and local budget problems. This is repeated endlessly, and every current event that hits the news is then used to support the claim. This is how an untruth becomes “conventional wisdom.”
Johnson traces the recent (and false) mantra that public employees’ pensions and wages are causing state and local budget meltdowns. It ran from George Will to the Wall Street Journal to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) to anti-tax extremists.
As we reported last month, AFSCME launched an aggressive new “Stop the Lies” campaign to fight back against lies about public workers by radical talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, John Stossel and right-wing politicians.
The campaign is using social media, videos, paid advertising and ground events across the country to get the truth heard. See this five-minute video by Brave New Films that calls out right-wing mistruths on workers’ pensions, wages, state budget deficits and tax cuts for the very wealthy. Says AFSCME President Gerald McEntee:
Public service workers have become the scapegoats for the far right. We’re not going to sit around and let corporate CEOs define the debate. After all, it was their greed and incompetence that drove this country’s economy into the ditch.
Also, check out this recent post from Mike Brenner on Labor Notes on public employee myths and realities.
by John Wojcik at People’s World
AFSCME is launching an aggressive new “Stop the Lies” campaign to fight back against lies about public workers by radical right talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and John Stossel.
The campaign will use social media, videos, paid advertising and ground events across the country to get the truth heard amidst the din from Fox News, loudmouthed TV and radio talkers and their attacks blaming public workers for the financial crisis cities and states are facing.
Says AFSCME President McEntee: “Public workers have become the scapegoats for the far right. We’re not going to sit around and let corporate CEO’s define the debate. After all, it was their greed and incompetence that drove this country’s economy into the ditch.”
A powerful five minute video by Brave New Films calls out right wing lies about pensions, wages and state budget cuts. The voiceover says:
“When Wall Street tanked and 15 million Americans lost their jobs, the billionaires decided they had to blame someone else. Instead of accepting responsibility for their greed-fueled actions, Wall Street and the corporate giants blamed librarians, corrections officers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, cops and public service workers. Right wing talking heads have been only too happy to join the attack.”