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My Letter to the Editor in Response to the “Teacher Revolt”

May 9, 2018

A few days ago I wrote a post in response to an editorial that appeared in our local newspaper, the Valley News. Today the newspaper published this letter I wrote, drawing from some of the points I made in that post:

I applaud the Valley News for writing an editorial in support of the public employees who are funded by taxes. The concluding paragraph of the editorial calling for public employees to wrench funds from “politicians who want to maintain a stranglehold” on “pay raises and more resources”, however, overlooks one crucial point. Voters who elect austerity minded politicians do so because they are convinced that all government spending is bad and that all taxes are confiscatory.

Voters who lost jobs when mills closed, who lost benefits and pensions when their former employers were bought by a larger conglomerate, and who are struggling to make ends meet are generally not sympathetic to public sector employees who are fully employed and hold jobs that offer good wages, benefits, and pensions. And their sympathy for public sector workers is even more diminished when those employees are funded by their taxes.

Many voters who work in the private sector want to see government run like a business, and most of the major donors to both political parties see “privatization” as the ultimate solution to the problem of “government inefficiency”. Both conservatives and neo-liberals believe that deregulated for-profit businesses could do a better job of providing education, police protection, fire-fighting, and road maintenance because competition will result in those tasks being done at the lowest cost possible. The resulting race-to-the-bottom in wages and benefits will benefit the businesses who assume responsibility for these functions and it might save the taxpayers some money, but it will also result in a further hollowing out of the middle class.

If public sector employees want to elect officials who support more government spending or “wrench” more funds from politicians, they will first need to convince a majority of voters that government ISN’T the problem and their taxes are being well spent.

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