Republicans are framing an issue of non-government employees vs. government employees fighting over a shrinking pie. Current events in Wisconsin illustrate this.
If employees’ share of the pie is shrinking, doesn’t it make sense to consider whose share of the pie has been increasing.
Renee Loth considers this in the Boston Globe (emphasis added).
The problem is that wages and benefits for private-sector workers have collapsed. “People are squeezed,’’ said Harris Gruman, executive director of the Service Employees International Union state council. “Working-class people who’ve lost their own benefits are subsidizing workers in the public sector who still have these things. It’s an unsustainable situation politically.’’
The answer, Gruman quickly adds, is not to strip government workers of their health and security — a beggar-thy-neighbor approach that lowers everyone’s standard of living — but to improve the prospects of others. “The resentment is misplaced,’’ he said. “You need to increase private-sector unionization so those workers can start getting decent benefits again.’’
Addendum, Moments Later:
The Booman quotes Georgetown professor Joseph McCartin, who says much the same thing. An excerpt.
But an even more important factor is basically a 20- or 30-year period of failure in the private sector. What we are really looking at here is a private sector that for quite a long time now has not generated a lot of rising income for the great majority. It has not generated stable benefits for its workers, it has not generated increasing retirement security — in fact we’ve had income stagnation or decline, we’ve had rising indebtedness, we’ve had growing insecurity for retirement. The private sector has failed on a massive level. And the tenuous position that so many American workers find themselves in as a result of that now makes it suddenly appear that public sector workers are just living off the fatted calf. I think some of it has to do quite simply with the way in which so many nongovernment workers have been suffering, and legitimately so. You can go to those folks and say: Why are you paying for the pension of the guy down the street? You don’t have one!
Note that the “20- or 30-year period of failure” roughly corresponds to the period since the election of St. Ronnie Reagan and the Republican Party’s worship of voodoo economics.