When people attack public employees as “welfare queens,” common sense should dictate that such an attack would be blown off as one made by a looney tune.
But somehow, those attacks have taken root. Appearing more and more, they seem to be the next frontier for the haters to go after fire fighter wages and pensions.
Never mind that you risk your life to serve and protect. Or that teachers spend more time with most kids today than parents do. It’s irrelevant, we’re told.
Since Wall Street and corporate America have been successful in driving down the wages and benefits of those formerly middle class workers in the private sector, the strongly middle class wages and pensions of fire fighters and teachers are now “an easy target for the right’s politics of resentment” through what Alternet’s Joshua Holland calls “classic example of analysis-by-anecdote.”
Economist Dean Baker notes that the average pension for a public employee was $22,000 a year in 2007. According to Mr. Baker, “the idea that we have a whole class of public employees enjoying plush retirements is nonsense that can be readily dismissed with a quick look at the data.” He dismisses the right’s latest attack as nothing more than “a sleazy case of scapegoating that is intended to divert people’s attention from the real villains in this economy.”
The attacks will keep coming. But using real data and not apologizing for earning a decent living and a retirement that will keep you out of the poor house — and taking on those who have lost their backbone and now resent you for having some — are the challenges that lay ahead of us.