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Thread: So how, exactly, did middle class Americans...

  1. #1
    SharonB is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default So how, exactly, did middle class Americans...

    Become the scapegoats for the budget problems being faced by states? They - we - didn't cause the financial meltdown, or the mortgage crisis, that led to lower investment returns and lower revenues for states. But somehow, now it is the fault of public employees - our teachers, out police officers, our state workers - that state budgets are out of whack. We can bail out the banks, and allow them to continue to hand out bonuses, but we can't help bail out states in order to stave off layoffs of middle-class Americans?

    In one breath, my Governor (Wisconsin) says we all need to sacrifice. OK, fine. The public employees have agreed to more than a 12 percent reduction in salary, by agreeing to contribute more to their healthcare and pensions. Where is the commensurate sacrifice being requested on the part of the wealthy in this state? There isn't any. In fact, our governor already passed a tax CUT for some businesses and people that can afford to contribute to HSA'S, both of which benefit higher income earners. Why aren't those earning 250k, or 500k, or more, also being asked to sacrifice to help balance our budget?

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    jordansmom is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I would not compare the public sector concessions to the wealthy, but compare public sector concessions to the private sector concessions. Private sector employees have been making these kinds of contributions for medical coverage for decades now. Private sector employees do not have the kind of pensions available that public employees do. Most private sector employees are also middle class and not weatlhy.

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    ahava is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I'd have to agree - I'm maybe not middle class (though it feels like it sometimes for sure), everyone at our company had a forced 10% paycut, all bonus (bonus is not really a "bonus" they reduced our pay a few years back and then added in "bonus" as part of the pay package) were suspended and raises were frozen, etc, etc. For 2 years, on average people had about 35% paycuts... it lasted 2 years. We are just coming out of it this year.

    And yes we do pay a good amount for insurance (always have). And no, there is no such thing as a pension. And if we lose our job, if we are extremely lucky we get 4mos pay (been there 20 years).

    This is common in our field, so I don't think that this is on the back of the public middle class workers - it seems like they have finally been invited to the "party". It is not such a fun "party". That all being said, my examples are things that happened to ppl earning about $90K a year, so I know that a % of a budget on someone making 60% a year is more painful. I'm pretty strict in my thoughts that we should NOT tax to re-distribute wealth. But I'm also a bit uncomfortable as to what will happen to the "middle class". Not so much "what" will happend to the middle class, but what will happen to the economy and society if the "middle class" is gone.

    I'm interested to see the other responses.

  4. #4
    cherie is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharonB View Post
    Become the scapegoats for the budget problems being faced by states? They - we - didn't cause the financial meltdown, or the mortgage crisis, that led to lower investment returns and lower revenues for states. But somehow, now it is the fault of public employees - our teachers, out police officers, our state workers - that state budgets are out of whack. We can bail out the banks, and allow them to continue to hand out bonuses, but we can't help bail out states in order to stave off layoffs of middle-class Americans?

    In one breath, my Governor (Wisconsin) says we all need to sacrifice. OK, fine. The public employees have agreed to more than a 12 percent reduction in salary, by agreeing to contribute more to their healthcare and pensions. Where is the commensurate sacrifice being requested on the part of the wealthy in this state? There isn't any. In fact, our governor already passed a tax CUT for some businesses and people that can afford to contribute to HSA'S, both of which benefit higher income earners. Why aren't those earning 250k, or 500k, or more, also being asked to sacrifice to help balance our budget?
    There is so much going on. Unions are antiquated. When the idea of pensions for public workers came about, most folks did not live past their 70's at best. Now, states are paying insane amounts of money to past workers for much, much longer.

    As stated by another poster, the public workers are now being asked to join in the world of the private workers as far and pay cuts and increased contributions and other things.

    While its easy for those not making over $250k to say that the rich should pay more, they do not realize that the rich pay a lot more in taxes. Also, the "rich" are the ones that hire folks and create jobs. If more is taken from them thru taxes, they will not hire. The cuts you mention were made to attract business and jobs to your state, not reward the horrid rich.

    IMO, unions should not be able to take tax payers hostage with strikes. That is bullying at best. I think that pensions paid by tax payers should be stopped starting with new hires. I think that public workers should be able to have similar forms of retirement options as private workers. I think that it is just complete BS that people are forced to join a union if they want a certain type of job.

    My family is full of cops, firefighters and teachers. They pay huge dues to unions that they have to join. The unions tell them what to do, who to vote for etc. Its quite a racket. They are all good, hard working people that have had enough union BS. So, the unions are the problem, not the workers.

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    This is not about unions vs rich people. Most middle class Americans are not in a union, and perhaps resent all the benefits unions get and they don't. And they are paying for the unions in terms of taxes.
    I agree with you that the wealthy should probably pay a higher percentage of taxes. But this is not about us vs them. Many wealthy people invest in businesses and create jobs in their business ventures. I work for such a place--it really does happen!
    And perhaps middle class America did contribute to the financial crisis by biting off more than they can chew in terms of mortgages and other debt. Many people made bad financial choices.

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    jvirginia is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I posted more about this in the Wisconsin string. I manage a municipal department and am in the midst of this mess.

    I have a lot of issues with unions. They stifle innovation and take a lot of excellent tools away from managers. I also think that retirement benefits for some public employees (especially retiree health care) are unaffordable. Finally, the inability to adjudst health care plans without negotiating with 10 different unions makes it very hard to control the #1 cost driver in government these days.

    That said, it is the mayors and governors and their senior management who agreed to these deals and who have refused (in many places) to do what it takes to address them. They are the ones to didn't fund the retirement plans, and the health care reserves, and are now facing huge shortfalls. Also, the major financial crises being faced are not because of "greedy" unions, but because the recession added costs and took away revenues.

    A lot of times the excellent benefits are in return for lower salaries. I have extremely bright, hard working, dedicated employees who make 30K/year. How on earth can we address this budget crisis on their backs?

    Finally, the wealthy and connected have more and more power in this country, and the unions are one of very few counterweights to that. While I don't agree with all they do, I appreciate that they offer some level of balance against the highly influencial wealthy individuals and corporations who have an out-sized influence on government.

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