Column: Class Warfare From the Top Down

Column: Class Warfare From the Top Down

Don’t know about you, but I am getting fed up picking up the paper nearly every day and reading of the latest efforts to weaken worker organizations, freeze pay, cut benefits, and downsize jobs across the economy. Corporate CEOs and Boards of Directors have been terrorizing workers for years. Now, politicians have their sights set on civil servants, especially down the road in Washington.

Federal government employees, quite a few of whom are our friends and neighbors here in Reston, have had their pay frozen the last two years, thanks to President Obama. Now, Republicans propose extending that freeze for three more years as part of a deficit reduction package—the goal of which seems to be keeping taxes low for the wealthy. They also propose to slash civil service jobs, 200,000 or so over the next few years. Neither of these actions would affect private contractor employees hired by the government to replace civil servants under the guise of cutting costs. Contractors and contractor employees soared during the Bush years while the number of merit-based civil servants declined.

This is another great fraud perpetrated by the Republicans and complicit Democrats, like our two U.S. Senators, who stand by and applaud greater use of the private sector. In fact, recent studies show that when the feds contract with private firms loaded with overhead and profit, both loyal, hard-working civil servants and the taxpayers lose—big time. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), citing one recent study, says, "…contractors may be paid, on average, more than 1.83 times what federal employees are paid to perform the same work." Furthermore, federal employees were less expensive than contractors in 33 of the 35 occupational categories reviewed. But, why go through the hassle necessary to competitively hire civil servants based on merit when you can hire a slew of folks at once and give a friendly contractor great overhead and fat profit at the same time?

Don’t even get me started on worker retirement packages! Corporations have vaporized retirement plans while a complicit Congress has stood quietly by, refusing to speak up for the 99 percent. Now, the attacks are occurring in government at all levels, with Republicans and DINOs proposing to "reform" government pensions to bring them into line with the pathetic remnants of private sector plans. Meanwhile, guys on the corporate boards, like an aircraft corporation I invest in, vote themselves each 140,000 stock shares for attending 12 meetings this year.