In Saturday’s New York Times, Ron Lieber proposes that there is new class warfare in the United States. Let’s allow Ron to do the talking:
“There’s a class war coming to the world of government pensions.
The haves are retirees who were once state or municipal workers. Their seemingly guaranteed and ever-escalating monthly pension benefits are breaking budgets nationwide.
The have-nots are taxpayers who don’t have generous pensions.”
In postulating a class war between public and private workers, Lieber follows very briskly in the footsteps of Tom Petruno of The Los Angeles Times, who made the very same point using virtually the same words two days earlier.
A class war is a war between classes or a war that one class makes against another. Before World War I, class war often meant real fighting. Nowadays, it’s waged solely economically. The best example of class war in the contemporary world is the 30-year net transfer of income and wealth from the poor and middle classes up the ladder to the wealthy in the good ol’ US of A.
Of course we’re taught in school that we live in a classless society, and most of the media we encounter assume that we are overwhelmingly a middle class society with aspirations to go higher.
A quick Google search revealed that before Petruno-Lieber, virtually all mention of class war assumes conflict between the rich and poor, or the rich and everyone else. So, these guys really are breaking new ground in creating “new speak.”
The logic of both these writers is haywire. Both public and private workers are part of the same class: the working middle class. These two writers try to recreate the definition of class warfare by pitting two parts of a class against each other. It’s the old divide-and-conquer strategy that wealthy ruling elites have used for centuries; usually it’s a matter of making the middle class afraid of the poor, or of making the poor of one color afraid or resentful of the poor of another color.
Just like virtually all other stories recently that have proposed or considered gutting the pensions of public workers, both Lieber and Petruno praise the courage of legislators who take on the public unions. And I’m sure that their courage is amply rewarded with campaign contributions from those who want to destroy public unions and reduce the wages of all workers.
These two articles are representative of the latest tactic for moving money up the economic ladder: Instead of raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for pension obligations, Republicans and many centrist politicians, think tanks and the mass media are proposing to screw the public workers. I’ve written before about how this new war on public workers is another phase in the 30-year program to redistribute income upwards.