David Sirota of Pando Daily has written an excellent article on Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and his plan to “reform” pensions for public workers. According to Sirota, the city has not made its share of contributions to pension funds for the last 14 years. At the same time it has built up TIF (Sirota calls them “slush”) funds that could have covered a good part or all of the missing pension contributions. I urge you to read this article because, as Sirota says, this is not a problem unique to Chicago. Across the U.S., political leaders of both parties are claiming pension funds are in crisis. What they almost never discuss is how the crisis came to be and who should be responsible. The rule of our time seems to be: Workers must pay, so the rich and their government representatives can play.
David Sirota of Pando has written a fascinating article outlining some funny business at PBS. One of PBS’s funders, John Arnold, has backed a series that is critically of public pensions. Is this reporting or advertorial? Sirota reports that PBS denies any conflict of interest. However, they refuse to release any documents that would verify their claim. Sirota also cites an expert who points out that grant payments could be made over time, which means that PBS needs to play ball with Arnold if they want him to pay the full grant. So much for PBS being the voice of the “liberal media.”
What really bothers me about this story is that we have in Arnold another “poor” billionaire who wants to strip working people of their retirement security. Why can’t billionaires be happy with their money and leave the little people alone? Maybe they’re chess addicts who see the working and middle class as pawns that must be sacrificed. Thanks to David Sirota and others who have reported on this story, we have the chance to see the game they are playing and understand its consequences.
Think twice before you give to PBS or NPR. They have billionaire friends and well-endowed foundations who can pay to keep the propaganda coming.
P.S. Sirota updated his story with one from the New York Times that PBS will return the $3.5 million given by Arnold’s foundation. Will they keep spreading his message? That’s the real question.
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).
I live in Chicago, a city where our Democratic mayor fights unions, especially the brave members of the Chicago Teachers Union. Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson introduces us to another “tough love” Democrat, Rhode Island Treasuerer Gina Raimondo. This public servant has been attacking public work pensions in the name of “reform,” which really means screw the workers and pay the bankers. Raimondo is rumored to be a candidate for Governor. Hopefully Daily Kos and other liberal groups will educate workers about who this “Democrat” really is.
I’m working from home today, so I’m able to listen to the radio more than on a typical. What am I hearing? More and more about the royal baby and Anthony’s wiener. What’s the news on Detroit? It's bankrupt and there’s no other choice but to cut worker’s pensions. What’s the news in Chicago, a city that had its bond rating slashed? The city’s broke, and we must cut workers’ pensions. Meanwhile, here’s the latest on the royal baby and Anthony’s wiener.
The corporate media, better defined as the info-tainment industry, doesn’t focus on important matters and go below the surface. The budget problems in Detroit and Chicago have resolutions that are not discussed by shallow reporter who look like models. There is also no examination of the real winners and losers. When pensioners are asked to take reduced benefits, who wins? Investors and the bankers who care for their money as if it were a royal baby.
Retired workers and current employees that paid into pension plans expected to have security in retirement. They worked thinking that retirement was part of their compensation, not a resource owned by the city that could used to pay its debts. The problem here is not simply a matter of “resources,” as the Emergency Manager of Detroit put it. People’s lives are on the line, and we need to understand these stories with that in mind.
Government officials, bankers, and the investor class do not care about these people. They only know Return on Investment. They also know that most people will not pay attention to this story. They want the sensational story that’s easy to understand. Working people and the middle class need to wake up, or their wages – present and future – will be the next target.
P.S., Economist Dean Baker compares Detroit to an organization that the government bailed out, Goldman Sachs. Needless to say, the rich get richer.