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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/23/10

Machiavelli invades Sacramento

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"Public Employee Retirement Packages". Doesn't the picture begin to form in your mind? Lazy clock-watchers, surfing the web as they count down the days to their fiftieth birthday when they can retire to the golf course on your hard-earned tax dollars. Is your slow burn beginning to boil over yet?

What isn't in the picture? Wall Street, Defense Contractors, Corporate Executives, Lobbyists, Corrupt Politicians. In a coordinated and spectacular initiative of mis-direction--"Look over here, tea baggers!"--the robber barons of our perspiration and resources are now cribbing from "The Prince's" playbook, and stirring up the proletariat passions towards "public", i.e. city, state, etc,", employees.

Let's not confuse the spin with the facts. Public employees work hard to provide critical services and infrastructure to cities and states, serving the public in most cases for over thirty years before considering retirement. During these years, they have worked in resource-limited environments for salaries that are substantially lower than wages in the private sector. Bonuses are also not part of the package. To obtain a pension at full salary, the average state worker will need to have been employed full-time for 40 years and be 63 or older. No one below the highest echelons of "public service", positions usually obtained through sponsorship or by appointment, will be retiring in luxury. The majority will receive a pension comparable to Social Security benefits or returns from a modest 401 K. Public employee pensions may be a challenge for state and city budgets, but their castigation is a straw man to distract all workers from the real causes of our dismal economic situations.

You're not a public employee? Then your 401 K and Social Security should provide you with a comfortable retirement at a reasonable age. What did you say--you lost your money in our recent financial meltdown? That's terrible--but not the fault of public employees. Let's see"could it be the Bush Administration, Wall Street, a bloated defense industry, rapacious insurance companies, profiteering and tax-avoidant corportantions, corrupt legislators and their claques, need I go on?

The oligarchic elite probably wouldn't mind too much if all workers, in the public or the private sector, were forced to work until 70 or older, and then, as a result of exhaustion and stress, collapse and die without dipping significantly into their retirement resources. After all, that model worked with slavery and indentured servitude, and sustained the feudal lords in their exalted and entitled positions, before democracy was forced upon them by an annoying nascent middle class.

So, don't begrudge public employees for the few dollars they, like you, have worked for diligently all their lives. It's time to lay the blame for our economic situation at the feet of those truly responsible--and demand payback for all workers.

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Jill Jackson is a practitioner of kindness and common sense. Unlike her cat, she prefers to think out of the box.

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