Obligations in the areas of health care, pensions and salaries are strangling employers in areas where employees work under a union, and are resulting in fewer services, more expensive services and tax increases.
This is far from isolated, with such cries heard throughout the state and the nation.
As a result, taxpayers are turning up and speaking out against public employees, decrying the money they must fork over to cover benefits they increasingly no longer enjoy.
Is the answer to this problem to pull public employees into the pit private sector workers are trapped in?
In the private sector, in some cases, not all, raises were insignificant well before The Great Recession knocked the wind out of the nation and left it on the ground, scrambling for a breath and footing.
In the private sector, pensions seem to have largely become a thing of the past, replaced by 401K’s. The 401K works great until a worker has reached or even surpassed retirement age and it is time to step down and follow those carefully made plans that possibly include relaxing with the spouse near the fire, traveling the world, etc., and then the stock market crashes and that worker is forced to continue working, well beyond what plans A, B and C called for.
I remember hearing such a worker say, “My 401K took such a hit I’m going to have to work another 10 years.”
That hardly seems fair.
Health care costs are indeed soaring and are beyond the reach of some private sector employers, while others who can afford them often are forced to offer plans that are too costly for employees to afford.
That doesn’t seem fair.
Shouldn’t hard-working Americans be able to count on having adequate health care for their families, health care that doesn’t force them into debt when they use it? Shouldn’t they at least have some sort of health care?
I can understand the frustration by those in the private sector. Then, they see their taxes go up so public employees who sometimes earn more than them can enjoy decent raises and affordable heath care.
The response by many is to call for unionized employees to be pulled down to their level.
That sort of mirrors the mentality of dysfunctional individuals who are cruel to others to feel better about themselves. But to be fair, this is their lives, and they are not making it, or are barely making it, and they have bills to pay and food to put on the table.
Anyone would likely be angry in such a situation.
But shouldn’t it all be about doing what is right by human beings and ensuring all hard-working Americans enjoy a livable wage, and decent salary increases and adequate health care and retirements that are somewhat predictable?
Well, to be fair there, it is not about any of that for the average private sector employer.
It is not about fair, it is about numbers.
It is about making those numbers work so the business survives and the employees working there take home a paycheck.
I know and have known many business owners and they want to pay their employees generously and they want to provide pensions and they want to offer adequate health care, and while some are able to, many are restrained by the numbers that would result in the business going under if those numbers were ignored.
The public sector is in the same mess, only it has contracts it must obey, so the result is fewer or more expensive services and higher taxes.
For the private sector, ignoring the numbers and simply providing what an employer believes an employee should receive would often mean no more business and no more jobs.
That doesn’t seem like it would work for anyone.
So perhaps when people come out to decry higher taxes, everyone on both sides should instead get together and discuss what is broken.
Does it make sense to support a system that is increasingly failing to work for most Americans?
Are there ways to improve upon that system so it does work for everyone?
I don’t know, but those are the discussions I would have, the ones that ultimately might work out better for everyone involved.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.