Thursday, January 6, 2011


I really tried to avoid all political news during the holidays.  I didn't want to spoil my good times by getting angry when I read what the Republicans were up to.  Of course, it's impossible to avoid news if you read a paper or watch TV, so I did my share of ranting. 

Now the honeymoon is over and I am paying attention to what is going on.  I am not sure how much more I can take without going berserk.   My last post was a wish list, but it is not going to happen.  Between the no-nothings that have been elected to represent us and the ideology of the Republican party we are, I fear, doomed. 

An example of what is happening is outlined in the following editorial  I can't say it any plainer so I am going to publish the entire article.

When I get caught up with the New Year obligations of getting my house in order I will write about my holiday and include some pictures.  How long it will take me is any one's guess.  Right now it is daunting, but I will get it done eventually.  I will also read your posts and see what you have been up to while I was away having fun.  Please bear with me as I am slowing down more and more.  

Now on to Robert Reich.

Robert Reich

Posted: January 5, 2011 09:14 PM (On the Huffington Post)

In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Eventually Memphis heard the grievances of its sanitation workers. And in subsequent years millions of public employees across the nation have benefited from the job protections they've earned.

But now the right is going after public employees.

Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don't want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they'd like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

It's far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public's work -- sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees -- to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican's Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that's too big.
Above all, Republicans don't want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.

But the right's argument is shot-through with bad data, twisted evidence, and unsupported assertions.
They say public employees earn far more than private-sector workers. That's untrue when you take account of level of education. Matched by education, public sector workers actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

The Republican trick is to compare apples with oranges -- the average wage of public employees with the average wage of all private-sector employees. But only 23 percent of private-sector employees have college degrees; 48 percent of government workers do. Teachers, social workers, public lawyers who bring companies to justice, government accountants who try to make sure money is spent as it should be -- all need at least four years of college.

Compare apples to apples and and you'd see that over the last fifteen years the pay of public sector workers has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education. Public sector workers now earn 11 percent less than comparable workers in the private sector, and local workers 12 percent less. (Even if you include health and retirement benefits, government employees still earn less than their private-sector counterparts with similar educations.)

Here's another whopper. Republicans say public-sector pensions are crippling the nation. They say politicians have given in to the demands of public unions who want only to fatten their members' retirement benefits without the public noticing. They charge that public-employee pensions obligations are out of control.
Some reforms do need to be made. Loopholes that allow public sector workers to "spike" their final salaries in order to get higher annuities must be closed. And no retired public employee should be allowed to "double dip," collecting more than one public pension.

But these are the exceptions. Most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. Few would call that overly generous.

And most of that $19,000 isn't even on taxpayers' shoulders. While they're working, most public employees contribute a portion of their salaries into their pension plans. Taxpayers are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public retirement benefits. Remember also that many public workers aren't covered by Social Security, so the government isn't contributing 6.25 of their pay into the Social Security fund as private employers would.

The solution is no less to slash public pensions than it is to slash private ones. It's for all employers to fully fund their pension plans.

The final Republican canard is that bargaining rights for public employees have caused state deficits to explode. In fact there's no relationship between states whose employees have bargaining rights and states with big deficits. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights -- Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, for example, are running giant deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many that give employees bargaining rights -- Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana -- have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Public employees should have the right to bargain for better wages and working conditions, just like all employees do. They shouldn't have the right to strike if striking would imperil the public, but they should at least have a voice. They often know more about whether public programs are working, or how to make them work better, than political appointees who hold their offices for only a few years.

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.

This is what the current Republican attack on public-sector workers is really all about. Their version of class warfare is to pit private-sector workers against public servants. They'd rather set average working people against one another -- comparing one group's modest incomes and benefits with another group's modest incomes and benefits -- than have Americans see that the 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. And Republicans would rather you didn't know they want to cut taxes on the rich even more.

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at


Kay Dennison said...

I linked Robert Reich's blog to my post yesterday (and aded it to my 'follow' list and his book is on my reading list. He is brilliant!

Glad to have you back. I've missed you. I wish I could turn it all off but my poor brain only gets one station! LOL

Hattie said...

This, along with the attack on women's reproductive rights, is the Republican agenda for the next two years.

Looking to the Stars said...

Glad to have you back :)

Freda said...

Sounds like you have a difficult time with your government, same as we are having in the UK.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I was hoping you'd have more time away from the crazy politics Darlene...but with all that goes on every day, it's pretty much impossible. Now, pace yourself sweetie... Glad you're back....I missed you.

Darlene said...

*Kay Dennison - It's nice to be missed and thank you for welcoming me. I am getting caught up, but it's slow going so I won't really be back for a while yet.

*Hattie - What in the blankety blank is wrong with them? Are they really so mean and stupid? Depressing.

"Looking To the Stars - Thank you.

*Freda - I guess it's universal now. Politicians are the same the world over.

*Joy Des Jardins - I am pacing myself out of necessity. ;-)

20th Century Woman said...

It is difficult to watch this new kind of world unfolding. The demographics are changing in ways that will make the country as we know it almost unrecognizable in 50 years. Of course, you and I will not be here to see what happens -- to me that's the worst part about dying. Even though it's painful to see, I really want to find out what happens next. Hopefully, we will both survive to vote in the next election, and we can hope that the Senate's Republican leader's first priority (I think his only real goal) is not realized. And if we look back on the last 2 years, quite a lot has been accomplished, especially considering the political climate.

Vagabonde said...

I trust you had a great holiday. Darlene I watched a very interesting lecture on youtube given in Australia by a sociologist. His thesis is that the changes in demography here and in other parts of the world are changing our politics. For example in the US in 1900 2/3 of the people where born in “main line” or liberal Christian denominations. Among those born in 1975 2/3 were born in conservative evangelical denomination. There has been very little switching in denominations. The conservatives have had a one child fertility advantage so that by 1975 there was a majority of evangelical protestant births. The Tea Party and other groups like that have tapped in this already made base which is growing because of their population advantage. He predicts that by 2050 most of the US will be very conservative. One of the problems is that the liberal minded people are tolerant and are not actively fighting these super conservative Christian Right groups, or not enough. They (the extreme conservative) in turn because of their numbers are changing the laws and will continue to do so at an accelerated pace. Then when they have more power they will make the laws they like which won’t be very lenient and completely change the way we know this country. This has happened slowly since the 70s and now is going faster. I don’t think we have a chance. The only good thing I see, for me at least, is that I won’t be here to watch it.

rummuser said...

Darlene, I beg to take issue with you. While I agree that attacking all workers in essential public services is wrong, my experience with public employees, with the sole exception of Singapore, is that they are grossly under employed. No politician dares to work at administration costs and this must receive the attention that it deserves. Reich's thesis over generalizes the issue and in my opinion, he errs in this.

To lighten the mood, please read my post

Tabor said...

I had read this a while back and became so sad that those who need to really understand what is going on because they will not read this. It is much easier to make enemies of public servants...people who they think are different then them!

Barry said...

Hi Darlene - As were still waiting to hear what's going on out there I'll reserve my comments on the senseless violence in Tucson, but I have no doubt that this is a result of the rhetoric of the RW extremists. I hope I am wrong. Hope you are ok and I am sure you are following closely the status of Congresswoman Giffords and the other survivors. She seems to be a class act and a woman of the people.

Darlene said...

*20th Century Woman - I have hope that the pendulum will swing back to decency in time. We have had dark days in the past (Joe McCarthy, Nixon, etc) and we came out stronger and the counrty was good for a while. But the crazies come back and swing the pendulum the other direction. It takes time to reverse the insanity, but it usually happens.

*Vagabonde - Scary thoughts. I don't want to see it either, but our children and grandchildren will not live life as we know it. Maybe we should all move to France. ;-)

*rummuser - yYou make a good point and I have heard of lazy public servants with too much seniority and not enough responsibility. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. But his point that they are being scapegoats while the CEO's who got us in this mess walk off with huge bonuses is well taken. It's a matter of proportionality and fairness.

*Tabor - I know that I am preaching to the choir, but just maybe someone will carry the message to a non-choir member.

*Barry - I just published a new post on Gaby Giffords. She has survived surgery and is responding to her doctors. Thankfully, the prognosis is good. She has been a super Senator and I hope she is able to stay in Washington.

I am fine, although saddened by the senseless violence here.
Thank you for your concern.