Laura Clawson of Daily Kos reports on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s take on the minimum wage. According to the governor, the minimum wage and income inequality are only problems because Democrats keep talking about these subjects. Christie thinks that more “opportunity” is the real solution to what plagues the U.S. He refers to President Obama as a “class warrior.”
In my view, Christie is the one playing politics. He is a leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and he is now on the trail campaigning for other Republican candidates. The issue of the minimum wage is political, but it is also about people’s lives. It’s a fact that most working people and those in the middle class have fallen further and further behind since 2008. “Opportunity” works well for the investor class and corporate executives. For everyone else, income and benefits have been problems. Not talking about the problem won’t make it go away.
I often cite Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson when she is describing attacks on workers. Today the news is good. Pro-labor mayors were elected in New York and Boston. Voters in Cincinnati came out in favor of protecting the pensions of public sector workers. While this news may warm our hearts, we still have to remember that Governor Christie, a loud foe of unions, was re-elected by a landslide in New Jersey. The tide is still against labor and workers. The good news is that workers haven’t lost the will to fight. When they win, we all win (except for the Koch brothers and their fellow greedy billionaires).
Today’s New York Times has an interesting analysis of public attitudes toward public sector workers. As you can imagine, it’s not pretty. Rather than look at political leaders who have raided pension funds or the bank executives who drove the economy into the ditch, the public directs its scorn and blame at unionized public workers.
Governor Christie of New Jersey is the hero of this growing chorus. He wants to cut the pay, pensions, and job security of public school teachers, which, of course, will inspire more talented young people to want to go into teaching (or any other branch of public service). Christie himself has added to the problem by skipping payment of the state’s share into the pension fund. However, after 30 years of hearing negative PR about unions, the American people no longer know how to think clearly about this issue. They only know what they know – what they have been told – again and again.