Saturday, August 28, 2010

Praise The Public Sector

Some thoughts on governance and the public sector:

37 percent of public workers belong to a union, 7 percent of private sector workers belong to a union. Of approximately 20 million public workers 7.4 million workers are unionized. Of the roughly 123 million private sector employees 8.6 million workers are unionized. The total unionized workforce represents 11 percent of total employment. The decimation of union representation is a major reason for our declining wages, increasing inequality, and general insecurity. [The funny part is that this small percentage of workers are always blamed for any economic issue that arises. If they wielded that much power, much more of the workforce would be unionized.]

Keith Bender and John Haywood have found, "Over the last 20 years, the earnings for state and local employees have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees." The overly-compensated, lavishly-rewarded public employee is a myth. Yet, despite these facts, somehow I feel this delusion will live on with anti-government know-nothings and FOX News talking-heads. [Sorry, that was redundant.]

Conceptual Guerrilla highlights numerous government provisions - legal infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and other services - without which our lives would be decidedly more barbaric. As a thought experiment, think of all the places you venture in a day. Think about water, roads, street lights, the police, the sewers, etc. Think about what life would be like without all these public provisions. Then actually express some appreciation for all these necessities most take for granted everyday. And, lastly, the next time some obnoxious know-nothing spouts the tired old anti-government lines, rattle off a list of all the things government has done and does for us daily.

"A large part of the political class is showing it's priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton era boom, or allowing the nation's foundations to crumble - they're choosing the latter," declares Paul Krugman. In a country that has allowed wealth inequality rivaling the Gilded Age, today's enriched barons would rather watch the institutions and infrastructure (that allowed such wealth) crumble; rather than pay a small percentage more in taxes to ensure the continued strength of their nation.

Decent pay and a dignified retirement no longer fit into our over-financialized economy. In this race-to-the-bottom, the uber wealthy will not be content until health care is demolished, retirement is purely a worry of the worker, and WalMart wages are the standard. How can this change? Organize!

For Further Reading:
Defeat The Right in Three Minutes
The War on Public-Sector Unions

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