An Open Letter – Gilded Mouthpieces for Big Business Shill Class Warfare Agenda for Corporate Sugar Daddies
After that blatantly manufactured “statewide” report on municipal health insurance (“The Utility of Trouble, Municipal Health Plans: Gilded Benefits from a Bygone Era” 4/5/11) released by The Boston Foundation and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Paul Grogan and Michael Widmer need to change the names of their organizations; and the press needs to start reporting them for what they are. They represent the most one-sided interests of anyone engaged in public debate today: big business. The same big businesses that have record profits, and for the first time in history stole all the productivity gains from workers and kept them as profits, are who fund, generously, the smokescreen “think tanks” that produced that report. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation should be called the Massachusetts Business Taxpayers Foundation. But alas, businesses don’t pay taxes in this country or in this commonwealth like the rest of us do, so Widmer should completely reinvent his group’s name. The Mass. Budget and Policy Center reports that the corporate income taxes of businesses like those that bankrolled Widmer and Grogan only accounted for 6.4% of total taxes in this state, compared to regular working people who paid 36.8% of the total in personal income taxes. No wonder Paul Grogan has allowed The Boston Foundation to so drastically lose its way; a lot of the money they’re saving on taxes is going to his endowment.
The only thing gilded about that report are the salaries of Paul Grogan and Michael Widmer, both of whom are making closer to a half-million dollars than they are to your average municipal workers’ salary. That is, unless, you’re talking about Jeffrey D. Nutting, Franklin Town Manager prominently featured in a Boston Globe story, who makes $128,125 per year, has a $6,000 annual car stipend, $4,000 per year in lieu of long-term disability payment, a retirement plan, 47 days of paid time off every year, and an insurance annuity, in addition to health insurance even better than the “gilded” benefits he criticizes those selfish women in the school cafeterias for having; cafeteria workers who make barely above minimum wage, haven’t seen a raise in years, and whose personal share of health insurance costs has gone up every year. This is an all-out public relations assault on the working class by big, shadowy, selfish business interests and its being waged by their shameless mouthpieces like Widmer and Grogan who masquerade as some kind of defenders of the public interest. The public would be shocked at whose interests they’re really shilling. Of course, they’ll never know if the press doesn’t bother to report it.
Workers could very easily cherry pick the fourteen communities with the worst health insurance benefits and produce a report that just as strongly supports our position that municipal workers pay their fair share and have historically, time and again, given up raises in order to maintain their health insurance benefits. More shameful than the bias and foregone conclusion nature of this “statewide” report is the press reporting on it as if it was comprehensive and portraying it as an actual reflection of all health insurance benefits for public workers around the state. Municipal workers don’t have “overly generous” benefits, no matter how many times Widmer and Grogan parrot that phrase. They have benefits, just like we all should have, whether union or not, whether public or private sector. The report’s methodology is so fundamentally flawed that even the most lax professor would give it a failing grade; the communities were chosen because they had the very best benefits and those with worse benefits were not included. A statewide report should have a bigger sample than just fourteen out of 351, or just 4%, of cities and towns. And the press should be better than to print it as gospel.
Robert J. Haynes
President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO