Ever since I was 11 or 12, every time I read a newspaper, after scanning the headlines, the first page I turned to has always been the "Letters" section.
It's frequently a forum for idiots, but I've always loved it because it seems the most open and democratic part of the news media. So, for awhile, I frequently wrote hot-headed letters to The Salt Lake Tribune, many of which were printed.
Naturally, it later became part of my job to edit the opinion sections at various newspapers. Since then, I've avoided writing letters, since I felt that is not something that a professional editor should do. Instead, I should express my outrage in my own column. Or (since I no longer have a regular column), on this blog. Or (at times when I get worried that nobody's reading this blog anymore), in angry status updates on Facebook.
When this letter appeared in the March 15 Trib, however, I couldn't help myself. I'm sick and tired of the latest ploy by the ruling class to pit union workers against the rest of us stiffs. Yes, they have better pensions and benefits. But that's because they're union members. Instead of resenting them, we should emulate them. Here's my response (which appears in the March 21 issue):
Brigit Martinez is correct that private sector workers are at least as hard-up as those in the public sector (“Join the Club,” Forum, March 15). In fact, despite comparatively low wages, state workers — who, until recently, have enjoyed secure retirement plans and decent health care benefits — may indeed be a bit better off than the rest of us, who are now expected simply to work until we die.
But if public workers have fared slightly better during the economic crisis it’s because they’ve been more diligent at maintaining their collective-bargaining rights through labor unions. The question isn’t why public employees still have decent pensions and benefits — the question is why the rest of us were cowardly enough to give ours up!
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