Paul Jay discusses with his guest whether or not public sector employees are overpaid.
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The above discussion included the following exchange:
JAY: Well, then, let's ask them a more underlying question. So let's say the public sector's paid a little more. Let's say unionized workers are paid a little more. What's wrong with that? What is wrong? This is being played out in the public discourse as thisï¿½there's something wrong with higher wages.
THOMPSON: That's exactly right. The argument is, you know, lazy workers, they're stealing from us, basically, is what it boils down to. But the reality is that there's not necessarily a problem with higher pay in the public sector, for a number of reasons. The public sector not only provides basic services in local communities paving roads, policing services, fire, schools, etc. but it also plays an important role in upholding basic public standards. And to the extent that wages everywhere for low-skilled workers are too low, the public sector can play an important role in boosting them. So if low-skilled workers in the public sector are getting more, that can have a spillover effect and bring up the wages in the private sector, because private sector employers are having to compete for workers with the public sector, and that can benefit communities although low-wage employers in the private sector aren't going to like it. They want to be able to pay lower wages. And if a public sector prevents them from doing that, then they're going to be upset about it. That's for sure.