Jun 7, 2010

Are Americans Willing to Settle For Less, as Politicians Think They Should?

"We have a new privileged class in America," said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who rescinded state workers' collective bargaining power on his first day in office in 2006. "We used to think of government workers as underpaid public servants. Now they are better paid than the people who pay their salaries."
Yes, really, why can't we go back to the glorious days when public employees were underpaid? (Not like now, right, with all these furloughs and unpaid leave?) Those halcyon days when Wall Street tycoons occupied their proper place as gods, and government workers were underpaid and overworked just like the rest of us except those CEOs we work for and the golden parachutes they fly in and out on. When regulations melted away and left politicians and money men standing smiling before the bell in the morning at the Stock Exchange, in mutual satisfaction and dreaming of the piles of cash they'd all be swimming in soon. Let's go back to that time, shall we?

When will people get it through their heads that union workers aren't "privileged?" That they fought for and mobilized for the benefits they have now? And why should those benefits be eroded just because others weren't able to do the same? Once again, it's the race to the bottom for all American workers. And too many Americans, unfortunately, buy into this line. Instead of thinking, "Yeah, I should unionize so I can get the good benefits and salary that unionized workers enjoy," too many Americans are led instead, by CEOs and greedy politicians bent on destroying unions, to think, "I don't have that stuff, so nobody should."

It's the kind of mindset that's going to send all of us--that's going to send America--to the bottom of the hill if we don't act fast and act now. It's the kind of mindset that makes us doubt, frankly, whether the can-do spirit of America is still with us.

Instead of the race to the bottom, can't we join together in our workplaces to make all jobs better? Before the only Americans who can afford to take care of their families and retire with dignity are the ones at the top--the CEOs and Wall Street execs? It's time politicians stopped blaming unions and started blaming the ones who caused this mess of a recession in the first place. And it wasn't teachers, or firefighters, or cops. That we do know. But will politicians and too many Americans continue to use them as whipping boys anyway? Or will we stand up--at least all union members, public and private employees together--and say once and for all that American workers deserve more?

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