Pitting Private And Public Sector Workers Against Each Other

Watch this Video, published on The Real News Network, 14.27 min, by Paul Jay, February 28, 2011.

Transcript: … JAY: And do you think it’s a mistake of the Wisconsin workers to have so readily accepted to compromise on the economic issues in terms of paying into their health plan and pension plan? And I raise that from two points. It kind of buys into the narrative that the deficit is the real problem, not lack of taxation. As I mentioned, the estate tax alone would take–if they had actually imposed any kind of serious state estate tax at the state level in Wisconsin, they could pay off their debt rather quickly, and certainly a couple of points more on upper-bracket income tax. And there’s some very small measures that could be taken that would create a lot more money than they’re going to get out of these compromises. 

HAMMER: Yeah. I think that, I mean, we have to look at the strategy on the part of the elite, that, you know, in the short run they want the unions to make all these concessions; in the long run, yeah, they’d rather do away with collective bargaining and union rights altogether. And so, you know, they’ve put out their maximum demand: we want to do away with you, and, well, if we just get the concessions that we wanted by using this mechanism, then, you know, we’ll be satisfied with that for now and we’ll come back for the rest later. So it seems to me that–on the part of the public workers unions, that, you know, they ought to–instead of trying to appease by saying, well, you know, we’ll be willing to give you–we’ll be willing to contribute to our pensions, we’ll be willing to contribute to our health care, that sort of to say, well, well, wait a minute, not so fast; how did we get into this mess to begin with? It certainly wasn’t the public sector unions that created this problem. And, you know, they should be going back to saying that, you know, we’re public servants. We make reasonably good incomes. We’re not the source–and we have a generally stable lifestyle. But we’re not the source of the problem. The source of the problem came from Wall Street, came from a mortgage crisis. And why are we now picking on our health care and our pensions? So I think that, you know, some of the suggestions that you made would certainly be a good response on the part of the labor movement to highlight that we don’t accept responsibility for what’s happened and we’re willing to work with the government to find real solutions that don’t attack our standard of living.

JAY: Thanks for joining us, Frank.

HAMMER: Appreciate it. (full long text).

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