Public sector workers are a ‘privileged new class,’ says billionaire

In the ideological assault being directed today at public sector workers no one has outdone Mortimer Zuckerman ... It is the millions of “public servants” with their outrageous five-digit salaries and their galling health insurance and retirement pensions, Zuckerman insisted, who have now become “the public’s masters,” seizing a disproportionate share of society’s rewards and bringing on the failures of the U.S. economy. by John Bellamy Foster, PBS Voices

In the ideological assault being directed today at public sector workers no one has outdone Mortimer Zuckerman — billionaire real estate and publishing mogul, owner of the New York Daily News and chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report — who declared in September that public sector workers are a “privileged new class” dominating U.S. society. Populists, Zuckerman (the 182nd wealthiest American in 2010) pronounced, have long gotten away with their insidious “class warfare speeches” emphasizing “the gulf between the rich and the poor.” The aim has been to divert attention from society’s real ruling class: public sector workers. Forget the corporate rich, forget Wall Street, forget the bank bailouts, corporate bonuses and high-income tax breaks, forget the private jets and mansions. It is the millions of “public servants” with their outrageous five-digit salaries and their galling health insurance and retirement pensions, Zuckerman insisted, who have now become “the public’s masters,” seizing a disproportionate share of society’s rewards and bringing on the failures of the U.S. economy.

Such views might be grimly amusing, if it weren’t for the fact that similar opinions are now widely disseminated in the corporate media and voiced daily by politicians. What we are witnessing is a concerted attack on government at all levels, extending to public sector workers and their unions. It is out of control government spending, we are told, that is at the root of all our economic woes. Public sector workers, it is claimed, enjoy higher salaries, greater job security, and more ample benefits than their private sector counterparts, while continually demanding and getting more. It is time that they shared in the crisis of the rest of the society.

It doesn’t seem to matter to those making such charges that all of this is false — as long as they have the power to spread such misinformation and people are sufficiently gullible. 

But what about government spending? Isn’t it true that it is becoming a bigger and bigger burden on the overall economy? The answer is no. This article continues at PBS.org

Written by John Bellamy Foster for Need to Know at PBS.org