Friday, April 26, 2013

Biased or Fair?

I read this article,  Montgomery County workers took $30,000 hit since recession,  in our local newspaper and I was so taken aback by its one-sided nature that I wrote a letter to the editor and the reporter.

What I wrote is below. Tell me if I'm wrong.

To the Editor,

I read Ms. Alexander's article, Montgomery County workers took $30,000 hit since recession, and the first thought that came to my mind was, "I wonder how much the County Employees Union paid her to write this?"

No one enjoys a pay cut. No one enjoys having to cut back or facing financial hardship. However, in your numerous stories of County employees who have taken a financial hit, nowhere did you mention the alternatives to the pay freeze.

  • Would it have been better to raise taxes on the citizens of the county so that the employees didn't have to make the sacrifices you covered?
  • Were there services that should have been cut instead?
  • What about layoffs? Maybe it would have been better to fire the worst performers in the workforce and allow everyone else to keep their salaries at the level they wished?
I don't know what the better answer is or would have been, but your article didn't even present that topic for consideration. As a person, I share their anxiety. As a taxpayer in the County, I am entitled to have that information and make the best decision.  Your article had an agenda. "It's not fair what has happened to the employees of MontCo and you should be upset about it."  Maybe yes, maybe no, but you didn't give us that option. You tried to force our hand.

In the private sector, if a company does poorly, employees sometimes sacrifice. Either in pay freezes, reductions, or lay-offs. It's unfortunate, but these are the trade-offs inherent in our economic system (or any economic system, for that matter).

By not painting the full picture of the trade-offs, you do a disservice to your readership, particularly one which is immediately impacted. I'm not reading about a company that didn't sell enough and had to lay people off, I am reading about a situation where I am being asked to either directly pay more in taxes so that others don't have to sacrifice, receive less services, or accept the fact that some fellow citizens may get laid off from their jobs.

Regardless of what is optimal, if you want an informed citizenry, you should focus on presenting the full story, not what appears to be an advertorial.

blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments