You are hereCampaign for America's Future: Discover The Network Out To Crush Our Public Workers
Campaign for America's Future: Discover The Network Out To Crush Our Public Workers
February 9, 2011- It is difficult to read, watch or listen to the news without hearing that public employees are paid too much and get “lucrative” pensions and this is “bankrupting” your state, county or city. Public officials are "in bed" with "union bosses" and state and local government; taxpayer dollars are wasted to pay for people who don’t do much work but live the good life. "Reports" and "studies" confirm this.
People hear the same story over and over and over and over, seemingly coming from everywhere: public employees have it good, with extravagant pay and "lavish" or "plush" pensions, while taxpayers are taking it in the shorts. Public-employee pensions are "bankrupting" the state/county/city. "Unfunded liabilities" are "out of control" and it is time to do something about it before it is too late.
This is part of a broad, nationwide attack on public employees and their unions, and through them, on government and democracy itself.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the nature of this constant attack in a post, Conservatives Claim Unions Caused NY Snow Jam.
After the record-breaking snowstorm in New York in late-December, the media ran with a story claiming that the reason the snow was not cleared was because of a slowdown by unions. My post showed the progression of the story from one conservative outlet to another, until it reached the mass media. I wrote,
The right's propaganda machine begins with a simple narrative, repeats it endlessly, and then ties current events to the narrative to drive the point home. The corporate/conservative right are currently working a narrative that public employees and their unions are the reason for state and local budget problems. This is repeated endlessly, and every current event that hits the news is then used to support the claim. This is how an untruth becomes "conventional wisdom."
. . . The story claims the unions did this to protest budget cuts. Of course the obvious cause of the snow mess was that budget cuts caused the problem because there were not enough people employed to clear the snow.
The way the right's "noise machine" works is that a story gets started somewhere and is amplified by the right-wing media machine that includes FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. And in this case, of course the story is being spread by ... FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. The idea is to create enough "noise" that the mainstream press picks up the story.
It Was A Hoax
In fact, the recent “union snow slowdown” turned out to be a hoax. But it fit an ongoing narrative, so it was used to help drive the anti-public-employee-union point. And it was repeated endlessly, everywhere. Laura Flanders, writing at The Nation, Setting the Story Straight on Snow 'Slowdown',
The freshman councilman, who has Tea Party support, now says that workers “were subtly informed there was no need to rush” while clearing snow, rather than explicitly told to slow it down.
A Distraction From The Real Problems
These state pension reform campaigns across the country come at a time when so many states are in a terrible budget squeeze and are looking for solutions. This storyline diverts public attention from the real culprits. Of course, the obvious solution is to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, and to cut back on tax breaks, subsidies and “incentive programs” for corporations. The campaign attempts to distract voters from the obvious and lead them to different conclusions, including:
1) Don’t raise state taxes, cut public employee pensions instead.
2) Public employee unions are strangling us and keeping the budget high.