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Right-Wingers Using Public Employees as 21st-Century Welfare Queens

The image of the overpaid public sector worker with fat retirement benefits offers a compelling storyline for the Right. But it's a complete fabrication.

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The school crossing guards were let go. Parking enforcement was contracted out, City Hall workers dismissed, street maintenance workers made redundant. The public safety duties of the Police Department were handed over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The Times noted that despite the vaguely iterated concern of “critics,” the “sky [didn’t] fall.” But that’s a bit deceiving. Half of the city’s salaries went to law enforcement, which was “outsourced” to another municipal government. Of the "general enthusiasm” city residents supposedly displayed for the move, the Times noted “many of the nonpolice workers have been rehired on contract, so in some cases the faces encountered by the public remain the same. In other words, no one has noticed much going wrong because there was not much to notice in the first place…The five crossing guards, for instance, are doing the same work but are paid by a security company.” What the Times didn’t mention is that all of the city’s nonpolice workers are doing their usual jobs without the same security or retirement benefits -- it’s union-busting through the back door.

It’s also yet another example of class-warfare being waged from above. Americans working in the private sector have a choice: they can fall for the Right’s latest anecdotally driven welfare queens narrative and seethe in resentment as we run a footrace to the bottom, or they can ignore the distractions and fight to reverse the “ Great Risk Shift.” They can push back against an increasingly savage elite that’s undermining their own economic security, or drag another group of workers down to join them on their perilous perch.

Only time will tell whether they’ll be sufficiently distracted by the Right’s images of city filing clerks driving Mercedes and drinking champagne to ignore their own economic interests yet again.

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