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News Opinion Readers Respond

European public and private workers have it better

Jim Rogers ("Government workers deserve no sympathy," Dec. 11) denies sympathy to federal employees who complain about attacks on their pay and benefits. Truth is, federal employees have it good, like private-sector employees in those European "socialist" countries that our politicians denigrate. But over there, at least for northern industrial countries like Germany and France, private and public employee compensation is about the same (European Central Bank, Working Paper 1406) — public employees are ahead in southern Europe.

So why can they do this, and we cannot, especially when American private sector workers are as efficient as the very best in Europe?

I think the answer is in how the money is divided up here. Over there the ratio of CEO pay to average worker by country (Politifact.com) for largest private sector companies is 12:1 for Germany, 15:1 for France and 22:1 for Britain, and over here the public sector CEO (that's our President) has a ratio in the same range. The anomaly is in the American private sector where the ratio is 476:1. This disparity in income, and the declining purchasing power and employee benefits of the American worker, are well known.

What to do about this is the question of these times. While this is being written, the unions in Michigan are being busted — let's see if the ratio goes up to 477:1.

Michael Brown, Columbia

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