Readers Respond

Government workers are not the 1 percent

Once again, Marta Mossburg displays her disturbing obsession with public employees, as she plays the apologist for the wealthiest Marylanders ("In Maryland, your taxes support many of the one percent," Dec. 7). Ms. Mossburg is again muddying the waters about America's increasing income disparity that has been so clearly documented.

Mirroring rhetoric that was bought and paid for by the multimillionaire Koch brothers in Wisconsin, and puppeted by Gov. Scott Walker, Ms. Mossburg has attempted to convince us that public employees are the problem with today's economy. Her unfounded rhetoric reflects the same type of misinformation that is backfiring in Wisconsin and Ohio.


As President Obama said in a speech last week, "In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent, to $1.2 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her workers now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent."

Ms. Mossburg suggests government workers account for some of the millionaires in Maryland. In fact, the average annual pension for a retired member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, nationally, is $19,000. Census Bureau data indicate that the average non-federal annual retirement benefit for public sector is about $23,000.


Ms. Mossburg suggests that retired police officers are "millionaires" because they received a large lump sum payment when they retire. In fact, that benefit comes from delayed monthly payments which are accumulated while they extend their service to the county. Those benefits are paid for, in large part, by the employees themselves.

Rather than accepting that today's Great Recession was driven by individuals whose greed was only surpassed by their arrogance, Ms. Mossburg points to government spending and pension payouts as the source of all woes. Again, she is wrong. It is clearly documented that the collapse of the economy played the largest role in state and pension deficits. When 80 percent of state revenues come from income taxes and sales taxes, is it really a surprise that there is less money at times of high unemployment? With major corporations paying no income taxes in Maryland and millionaires being the only ones to get a tax cut this year, is this really a surprise?

The bottom line is that the transfer of wealth to the top 1 percent of citizens has had a detrimental effect on our entire country. The tax burden has been shifted to the rest of us while the income has not. The middle class has shrunk. This means fewer people can afford homes, and fewer people can even pursue the American dream. The next generation can no longer expect to do better than their parents. Which is of course, the point.

Patrick Moran, Annapolis

The writer is director of AFSCME Maryland.