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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Coastal Voices: Don’t blame public workers

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Coastal Voices: Don’t blame public workers

I’m sure Karen Brooks is sincere in her desire to lower her taxes and those of others in the community (“Taxing us into serfdom,” Feb. 25). Taking it out

on public workers seems a bad idea.

In Del Norte County, 35 percent of those who work are government employees. This includes California state workers at Pelican Bay State Prison, and at the local Caltrans and Highway Patrol. There are also U.S. Government workers in the National Park Service and Social Security offices, and then local police and fire departments. School teachers and administrators are public employees.

If you add to these government workers the 18 percent of the population living below the poverty level (and therefore probably not paying a lot of tax) you have more than half the population of our county. Add to that seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare, and you have an overwhelming number of people dependent, at some level, on government to provide an income.

I agree with Ms. Brooks that the state of California should “cut up the credit card.” However, I disagree that public employee unions are the problem. I’m for taxing oil extraction, forcing online retailers to collect California sales tax, stopping giveaways to big developers through redevelopment programs, and, mainly, raising taxes on the many millionaires in this state.

Ms. Brooks plays the same tune as Governor Walker in Wisconsin. His election campaign was funded by major corporate interests seeking to cut their own taxes, reduce environmental regulations so that they can freely pollute our environment and lower the rates they pay their workers by abolishing unions. All so these billionaires can make more money. Does she also speak for billionaires?

Perhaps the Tea Party could tackle the issue of the war in Afghanistan and our ongoing actions in Iraq. Take a stand. Call for the end of our involvement as a way to cut taxes, or agree to higher taxes as a show of support. I don’t hear anything from them on this issue.

As far as political power goes, I have yet to see a retired police officer spend over $100 million of his own money to run for office, nor have I seen a schoolteacher leave her job with a $22 million payout, as someone at Wells Fargo recently did.

Real patriotism means making sure everyone in the community gets a chance to have the best education available, subsidized by the taxpayers, if necessary. It means not letting anyone go hungry, providing services to the elderly if they need it, providing public transportation, and making sure we are safe in our homes with adequate police protection. It’s also critical, for the benefit of society, but also for purely economic reasons, that everyone, even government workers, has a comfortable retirement.

If government workers have better benefits than private workers (and that is probably false for college-educated workers), then maybe the private-sector benefits are too low.

The future for our children and grandchildren is grim if public schools are not adequately supported, including teacher pensions. And our Founding Fathers didn’t “give their blood” so that corporations with endless amounts of money could control our election process.

Barry Wendell is a Crescent City resident.

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