In an article published yesterday by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, entitled “The Shameful Attack on Public Employees,” Professor Reich rebuts the most common myths about public workers. Included among these myths are:
- Public employees earn more than private sector employees
- Public sector pensions are crippling the country
- Bargaining rights for public employees have caused state deficits to explode
None of these statements withstand factual scrutiny yet they are repeated by many politicians and business leaders as if they were gospel. The question is “Why?”
Professor Reich convincingly argues that this attempt at pitting public v. private sector workers masks what is really happening in our country:
- “[C]orporate executive pay … continues to rise as corporate profits soar”
- Wall Street bonuses are higher than before taxpayers bailed out the financial industry
- Hedge-fund and private-equity managers continue to pay 15% federal tax, while the rest of us pay close to or more than double that
- “[T]he top 1 percent is now raking in a bigger share of national income than at any time since 1928, and paying at a lower tax rate.”
As Reich summarizes the situation:
Don’t get me wrong. When times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else. And they are right now. Pay has been frozen for federal workers, and for many state workers across the country as well.
But isn’t it curious that when it comes to sacrifice, Republicans don’t include the richest people in America? To the contrary, they insist the rich should sacrifice even less, enjoying even larger tax cuts that expand public-sector deficits. That means fewer public services, and even more pressure on the wages and benefits of public employees.
It’s only average workers – both in the public and the private sectors – who are being called upon to sacrifice.
The Big Lie is a strategy that has been employed by some political figures over the last century to win over public opinion in an attempt at seizing power. The Nazis in Germany and Joe McCarthy here in the 1950’s are prime examples. As someone once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” We need to make the current crop of political leaders accountable for what they say.
Alan H. Shapiro
Sandulli Grace, P.C.