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"Welfare Queens" or Have Others Just Lost Their Backbone?

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.

Comments (3) -

  • Jeremy Kroto (Colorado Springs)

    11/15/2010 11:41:59 AM |

    Great post, Jeff.  In addition to what you've posted here, the attacks we are hearing state that we should be subjected to the same hardships that the private sector is seeing.  Interestingly enough, the local politicians attacking our wage and benefit packages have conveniently ignored the fact that the private sector in our community has seen consistent compensation increases every year while we have not has a cost of living adjustment in 4 years.  Those without backbones have decided that the negative aspects of our economy should factor in to comparisons while completely denying any of the positive indicators.  Keep up the fight brothers.  Luckily, we have factual data in our corner.

  • Craig Russell (Crowley)

    11/19/2010 11:09:34 AM |

    Lets get this straight. Put this into context and just realize that public or private, we ALL have to do the hard things together if we are going to recover as Americans.Our pensions and pay should not be more or less protected than any other private job. That being said, our union leader Trumka has put our dues into bed with some very questionable people to get backdoor shady politics done. That has left us all vulnerable to the beltway politics.
       We need to start looking at the local city and state level for legislation. There should be no question though that before we decide to cut anything with public safety, there are numerous things to be cut from budgets.Public safety should obviously be the last on the list but for some reason cities like Oakland Calif. are cutting their public safety like it's going out of style.

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