I’m a guv’ment worker, which for non-government workers means I’m overpaid, don’t work hard, and have a gold-plated retirement package that is breaking the back of government and taxpayers. If only any of that were true.
It’s easy to attach government workers these days, particularly when, here in America, corporations and private companies have spent the last couple of decades destroying the safety net for private sector workers. As they get less and less, when it comes to benefits and retirement, they look at the benefits that government workers receive and want to know why us, but not them. Rather than coming up with a system that provides safety and security for all, the response is to tear down what government employees have. We are the villain, we are leaches, we get far more than we deserve, and “they” are tired of paying for it.
Again, if only that were true. Yes, there are always examples of abuses, but the abuses do not justify a drastic overhaul of the system and the destruction of the benefits good, hardworking people have earned.
Why am I bringing this up? It’s this. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, there is a piece about the NFL’s recent lockout of their referees. Why? Because while the NFL is offering salary increases to $149,000 this year and rising to $189,000 by 2018, that’s not enough for the referees. Also, the NFL wants to eliminate their defined benefit plan and replace it with a 401(k) type package, while the referees want to keep their defined benefit plan.
Where’s the damn outrage about this? Football referees, who work a part time job for about six months out of the year, aren’t happy with a salary that will go from $149,000 to $189,000 over the next six years. They work games for three hours a week for four or five months a year. Yes, I’m sure there are classes and training they have to go through, but at the end of the day, what they do, what they are paid for is three hours of work every weekend from mid-August through December, with the best getting to work the playoffs in January.
Where’s the damn outrage about this? All of the bankers, investment bankers, and Wall Street whizzes who did their best to destroy our economy who have never been held accountable for it. Instead, they kept their jobs, continued to earn their massive salaries and bonuses and are continuing to fight with massive lobbying dollars any effort to reign in their abuses.
Where’s the damn outrage about this? Government officials who sanction torture in violation of United States and International law and who are not held accountable.
Where’s the damn outrage? I just cannot understand a society in which referees get paid as much as they do for a part-time job and there’s no outrage over that while the cost to go to a game continues to rise, to the point where us regular folk cannot attend a game, a society in which the haves continue to get more and more while screwing the have-nots without any accountability for what they’re doing, but where it is OK to attack teachers who barely make enough to scrape by and will end up with a pension that is barely more than Social Security, where it is OK to attack other government works who work for a fraction of their private sector colleagues and, generally, will be able to retire with a pension that is half the amount of the tax credit Mitt Romney got for his horse.
I’m an attorney. I have almost 20 years of experience. I could work in the private sector and, easily, make two to three times what I make in my current position. Yes, the hours would be longer and the expectations may even be greater, but there are trade-offs. I wanted to be in my kids life when they were younger. I wanted to have a life that existed outside of my work. I wanted a more balanced life. And, as a result, I’ve spent my professional life accepting a salary that is far, far below what I could have earned in the private sector. In exchange for that, my hope is to have a retirement package — more than half of which I have paid for during my time as a state employee that will allow me a moderate lifestyle in retirement. That’s the deal most state employees make. We don’t retire with pensions that leave us rich. We retire with pensions that will get us through our final years on this planet, without having to beg and scratch and claw for the things we need to survive. That doesn’t seem to be unreasonable.
But, we’re the villain. Not the bankers. Not the private attorneys who charge $600 per hour to do the same thing they’re doing for 12 other clients at the same time. Not entertainers who make $20 million per movie, or the athletes who make just as much per season, or the damn referees who make all that money for a part-time job for only part of the year.
I’m annoyed. I’m tired of the attacks. I’m tired of the criticism. I’m tired of being a cog in the wheel of a system in which, thousands of good people do good work on behalf of us all, only to be held up for ridicule and scorn and a desire to take away the measly benefits we receive to do what we do.
<getting off of soapbox>
Resume your regularly scheduled activities.