|Saddened by Boeing contract, Walker vote|
Letter to the Editor:
I’ve been saddened and puzzled by recent events in Seattle, where I’ve lived for the past 25 years, and in Eagle River, where I’ve been a summer resident for 77 years.
My sadness is due to the loss of financial security for older citizens who have accepted reduced compensation and will lose pension income following their retirements.
Why did the Boeing Co. force workers to accept reduced pension benefits and why did Eagle River voters support a governor who reduced net compensation and eliminated collective bargaining for state workers?In Seattle, Boeing negotiated a severe contract with 25,000 workers who manufacture the fast-selling 777 aircraft by threatening to relocate to another state. A major feature of the new Boeing contact was the pension change from “defined benefits” to “defined contributions.”
Boeing’s reduction of overall worker compensation comes at a time when executive pay and company profits are soaring. In Wisconsin, Gov. Walker and the state Legislature have reduced state payments to pension plans for many public workers and eliminated collective bargaining. Actions in both Washington and Wisconsin diminish part of the safety net that those of us who aren’t super rich may someday need.
In Seattle, despite vigorous support for the workers by the general population, politicians and newspapers — who feared loss of jobs and tax income — urged the union to accept Boeing’s terms.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Walker received strong support from Eagle River voters in a recall election. Of course, the circumstances in Seattle and Eagle River differ greatly. Boeing’s actions reflect a century-long de-emphasis of corporate social responsibility and increasing corporate amorality.
Walker is a product of increased?conservative Republican and Tea Party patriot activism as well as major financial support from out-of-state billionaires such as the Koch brothers.
Boeing’s behavior appears on the surface to be understandable. Boeing competes with Airbus and will eventually be challenged by China. Manufacturing costs are lower elsewhere.
Actions in Eagle River seem more puzzling. A letter in the Vilas County News-Review Jan. 1 stated that 54% of Eagle River households have incomes less than $25,000. This suggests that many of our Wisconsin neighbors may need help from a safety net at some time during their lives.
Another puzzling aspect of actions in Eagle River is the apparent discrepancy between professed values and political behavior.
The Vilas County News-Review often promotes Christianity, both in editorials and letters from readers, such as the one from Dr. W. E. Anderson (Jan. 1, 2014). The Christian value that we are our brothers’ keepers goes back to the story of Abel and Cain and was emphasized by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31).
America’s Founding Fathers even went beyond Christian values when they asserted our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Events in Seattle and Eagle River lead citizens to feel helpless in the face of circumstances beyond their control. In the Middle East and Africa, perceived helplessness is suggested to be a major cause of the violence endemic in those regions.
Concerns about perceived helplessness and violence underlie ongoing national conversations regarding increasing disparities in the distribution of wealth. Seattle and Eagle River reflect small steps that contribute to those disparities.
Why do some attack the poor among us, disparage the “takers” relative to the “makers?” More consistent with fundamental fairness, enlightened self-interest and Christian morality would be efforts to promote institutions and practices that would increase the size of the economic pie and foster equitable sharing of wealth.
and Eagle River
|Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:43 AM|