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The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay - When times get tough, we turn on one another

  • My uncle is convinced that the assault on the middle class began the moment Mr. and Mrs. Gottrocks were on vacation somewhere expensive and exotic, only to encounter Joe and Edna Dinnerbucket sunning themselves on the same beach.

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  • My uncle is convinced that the assault on the middle class began the moment Mr. and Mrs. Gottrocks were on vacation somewhere expensive and exotic, only to encounter Joe and Edna Dinnerbucket sunning themselves on the same beach.
    It would be fascinating to know how many working-class voters blew off the November elections, or voted for Gov. John Kasich, who promised to hack away at taxes but forgot to mention what he had in mind for public-sector unions.
    The sudden demonization of collective bargaining by these unions is not some weird, widespread happenstance, like sunspots. From the latest generation of immigrants hijacking jobs to the mythical Cadillac-driving welfare queen, working-class Americans have fallen for the same divide-and-conquer shtick since Ellis Island opened for business.
    THE CURTAIN
    The wizards behind the curtain always find a way to deflect blame and prime the pump of resentment among blue-collar people, even as they send their jobs offshore, including some of the 600,000 Ohio has lost since 1991.
    Using code words like a dog whistle, they persuade the frustrated and frightened that the reason things are in such a mess is that “others” are getting breaks they don’t deserve.
    Public-sector workers merely are the latest manifestation of those others.
    In a wobbly economy, it’s not hard to convince some people that unions are a racket whose surly, lazy, crooked, shovel-leaning, mobbed-up members — like your kid’s lunch lady — are overpaid and underworked.
    Harvard economist Richard Freeman sums up this latest skirmish, telling The New York Times: “It used to be, ‘You have something I don’t have; I’ll go to my employer to get it, too. Now I don’t see any chance of getting it. I don’t want to be the lowest one on the totem pole, so I don’t want you to have it either.’ ”
    THE VILLAIN
    Dog-piling on public unions ignores the fact that collective bargaining has all but eliminated  illegal strikes in Ohio, nor does it explain why four of the five states that explicitly outlaw collective bargaining (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) are broke, too.
    But someone has to be the villain.
    Are there too many instances in which unions defend the indefensible? Yes. Should government workers have to ante up more for their health benefits, and recalibrate expectations of such fantastical benefits as being allowed to convert thousands of hours of unused sick time into a big, fat check? Absolutely.
    But accusations of egregious benefits and overcompensation also can apply to nonunion Wall Street grifters and hedge-fund hustlers whose shenanigans nearly destroyed life as we know it.
    Collective bargaining by ODOT snowplow drivers is not the reason your mortgage is upside-down.