I’m not necessarily opposed to some kind of pension reform this legislative session; truth is, I haven’t really studied the issue closely enough to have formed an educated opinion one way or the other. But I do have an opinion on the rhetoric used by the Seattle Times editorial board to close their argument in favor of reform, an opinion I can pretty much sum up in two words: fuck you.
State employee benefits come out of the pockets of the average citizen. That person does not have a plan with annual pension increases and has no chance of ever having such a thing. The average citizen will support Gregoire’s proposal.
The Times, who constantly calls for bipartisanship, and who rails against class warfare (in the form of raising taxes on the wealthy) once again promotes its economic race toward the bottom by attempting to turn working people against each other, rather than against the corporate and political elites who have had their boots on the throats of the middle class for most of the past few decades. It is the same argument the editors use in favor of slashing the wages and benefits of public employees—you don’t get it, so why should they?—a mean-spirited appeal to society’s lesser angels, and the antithesis of the guiding principles of the labor movement that led to astonishing gains in workplace conditions, personal income and standard of living for nearly all Americans throughout the first three quarters of the twentieth century.
To be clear, what the Times calls “pay increases for beneficiaries” is nothing more than cost of living increases of the kind enjoyed by Social Security recipients. And no doubt when the Times eventually argues for eliminating that too, they will make a similar argument to the younger workers paying into the system to support the current retirees: “You won’t collect this benefit,” the editors will argue, “so why should they?”
Until eventually, nobody has much of anything, but for the lucky few who remain at the top.