So pardon me ever so much if I gag when I see the hopelessly tainted mainstream media refer to the "struggle" that public sector workers are "enduring, "

Terminal Ingrates Showing Their Terminal Ingratitude

By —— Bio and Archives--March 2, 2011

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As much as I’d like to be sympathetic to the “plight” of public sector employees, it’s just never going to happen.  The reason is simple: in my entire life, I’ve never had a job where I got paid when I didn’t work.  I never had one where I got automatic raises or had may health care paid for by somebody else.  And I’ve sure as hell never had a job where, after a certain period of time, I would be granted a “tenure” of guaranteed lifetime employment.


Understand, I’m not complaining.  Life is a series of choices, and I’ve made some good ones and bad ones.  The fact that you’re reading this column represents one of the good ones.  Not so much from a fiduciary standpoint, but from the standpoint that my desire to contribute to the ongoing national conversation has been somewhat fulfilled.  Quite frankly, if someone offered me a writing job that paid as much as a teacher in Wisconsin is making—without the pension and benefits—I’d be seriously tempted to take it.

And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts I’m not alone.  I bet there are millions of Americans who are watching the spectacle unfolding in Wisconsin, et al, with equal measures of envy and disgust.  I bet they’re looking at a bunch of ingrates who’d like you to believe the sky is falling because they might have to kick in to their own pension and health care costs, and because their ability to to first support, and then collude, with politicians they put into office is being challenged.  I bet there’s a whole lot of Americans just like me, whose “collective bargaining” power consists of nothing more than one person trying to get the best deal he can, based on nothing more than the quality of his work.

You know what happens if I go “on strike?”  I don’t eat and my mortgage doesn’t get paid.  Same goes for a “sickout” or a “work slowdown.”  And I’m pretty sure if I showed up in front of the offices—or private residences—of the people I write for, picket sign and bullhorn in hand, demanding my “rights,” there wouldn’t be any media organizations breathlessly extolling my “courageous stand” against the forces of “evil” publishers.

I understand that not everyone in this world can make his own way.  The principal fear of self-employed people like me—which is never really knowing where your next dollar is coming from—is a bridge too far for most folks.  And that would be fine in and of itself, were it not for the fact that those who’ve decided to nest themselves in the bosom of public employment have decided that people like me should keep shelling out more and more of my hard-earned dough to underwrite people like them.  People who always know where their next buck is coming from.  People who know they can drop by a doctor’s office anytime they want, while people like me, who are forking over several hundred bucks a month for my own health insurance—with a big deductible to keep it affordable—have to be at death’s door before seeing a doctor.  People like me who’ll have to work for far longer than twenty years to collect anything resembling a lifetime pension.

Again, no sympathy expected or wanted.  But I sure wouldn’t mind seeing some perspective.  I sure wouldn’t mind seeing a public service employee or two or expressing some gratitude for the fact that he or she is still employed—and getting cost of living raises in many cases, to boot—while a lot of their fellow Americans in the private sector are hanging on by their fingernails.  Americans who’ve taken a big salary cut, or lowered the prices of their goods and/or services in order to survive.  Americans who’ve swallowed a ton of pride to feed their family and keep a roof over their heads.

Americans for whom the words “job security’ are an oxymoron.

So pardon me ever so much if I gag when I see the hopelessly tainted mainstream media refer to the “struggle” that public sector workers are “enduring, ” even as they get paychecks and phony doctor notes for abandoning their jobs, in order to protest “injustice.”  What injustice?  The injustice of better wages and benefits than those given to private sector workers.  Pardon me if I laugh when I see democracy-be-damned Democrat legislators referred to as “heroes,” when everyone knows Republicans doing the very same thing would be called fascists.

Memo to the protesters:  I’m betting there’s a lot more people like me than people like you.  I’m betting that the ongoing spectacle of terminal ingrates demonstrating their terminal ingratitude is one of those “light bulb” moments in American politics.  I’m betting the longer it goes on, and the more unseemly it becomes, the better Americans will understand why government is a cauldron of ineptitude and incompetence.  I’m betting the almost one-in-five Americans who have a part-time job, or no job at all—the ones who would take any public service employee position in the country in a New York nanosecond—will not easily forget that when times got tough, those who had it the easiest complained the loudest.

That’s all I’ve got to say.  Now that this column is finished, I’ve got to start thinking about the next one.  And the one after that, and the one I’ll be composing in my head while I’m trying to fall asleep.  All to keep myself going, without regret or complaint. 

Too bad so many of the protesters in Wisconsin and elsewhere have no idea what I’m talking about.


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Arnold Ahlert -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Arnold Ahlert was an op-ed columist with the NY Post for eight years.

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