Thursday, March 10, 2011

The New Class Envy?

Too many times to count, I've chided the Left for stoking class envy--the jealousy that screams "tax the rich" is the same kind that used to scream "death to the kulaks" 80 years ago. I don't fault people for legitimately earning their money, and I also don't think that the public has some noble claim to someone's money. I've heard about "excess" money and making "too much" money--even addressing that topic over two years ago--and what I find is that the people who use such terms always describe the people who have "excess" money as someone who has more than they do!

I don't like class envy. I don't like its very existence, and I don't like those who try to exploit it.

As I said, it's usually the Left that plays the class envy card. Lately, though, I'm hearing from my own people on the Right. "Public workers get pensions that private citizens can only dream of." Whether that's true or not, and whether that should be changed or not, those are legitimate points of debate. When I read between the lines, though, what I hear is, "I don't have those, so you shouldn't, either, and I'm going to vilify you until you don't have them, either."

Bringing everyone down to the lowest (economic) common denominator is what socialists do. We on the Right should not adopt their tactics and their rhetoric just to score cheap and temporary points against public unions. Our ideas and values are strong enough to carry the day, let's not crawl into the gutter and manufacture our own 2-Minute Hate just because of the visceral rush it provides. We're supposed to be better than that.


Happy Elf Mom said...

I know that as the tax PAYERS of those pensions and whatnot don't see those benefits as logically going with the job that these things are in fact up for debate PRECISELY because we don't have them usually with a job. But teaching isn't the sort of profession most people get into reasoning that they'll get sooo much richer than everyone else. And I agree with you - so much of the nastiness is uncalled for. I don't like teachers' unions, but how about a little respect for this profession? We're treating these folks like drug dealers and we should be ashamed.

handsinthesoil said...

Many say "tax the ubba rich, the top 2%" but according to the IRS, the top 5% earns less than $159,000. Two state workers i.e. two near-retirement teachers could be in this percentage level, not sure what the top 2% earn but the top 1% earn 380,000 and above so... the top 2% really aren't "ubba rich" as somewhere between $159k-380k is a nice income but not "ubba rich" "Corporate elite", "evil". When I think ubba rich I think the Gates, Kochs, know, incomes in the millions. If you tax the hell out of the top 2% you tax people working their butts off, small business owners, professionals, etc.

ChemProf said...

I kind of agree with you, but here's the point of disagreement. In my family of public school and public college teachers, I constantly hear that "teachers are underpaid" and "we need more money for schools." However, those same folks don't include the value of their pensions when they talk about compensation. Sorry, they can only have it both ways for so long.

mazenko said...

Absolutely agree with you on this one, Darren. For years people in the private sector have complained that they don't have "due process" in their jobs, and my answer has always been, "Well, why don't you get yourself a union." Additionally, David Cay Johnston argues against the idea that public workers don't contribute to their benefits or "only pay 5%." Actually, the compensation package is negotiated as wages and benefits. Thus, people are demanding that workers cut their own wages and shift that compensation to benefits - and that decision should be up to the workers to negotiate, which they have.

DADvocate said...

I'm with ChemProf. My father was a college professor who made plenty of money, more than the governor at one point. But, I still heard the underpaid lament. I see it as more of a retort - you're not underpaid, poor, or whatever, not class envy.

And, my father made more money from his pension and Social Security in retirement than he made while working. Amazing.

W.R. Chandler said...

I have to disagree with you to a certain degree.

It's not that I want to deny public employees a pension, or even a good pension. After all, I am a public employee.

However, do remember that public employee pensions are paid for by the taxpayer, while private pensions are not.

Rhymes With Right said...

As i emailed you the other day, I don't see this as a class envy issue at all --

Mavor said...

Darren, I was heartened to read this. I don't however think you can now count yourself as a conservative. May be a moderate conservative or Rockefeller Conservative. But also, I wonder if this is merely self interest? But I hope you make the point that the bulk of the money in STRS comes from teacher pay checks.

Darren said...

It may be self-interest, it's also consistency.

I'm conservative. I think you equate "conservative" with "Republican".

On every "where are you on the political spectrum" quiz I've ever taken, I always fall just right of center. Lefties, especially those in California, refuse to believe that, but it's true.