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Letter: Public workers have warped view of their plight

I found it hard to grasp the depth of angst being expressed by budget repair bill protestors until I read Lesley Williams' letter in last week's Journal.

She related how her feet got cold as she watched Lincoln Day Dinner attendees arrive at Kilkarney. She saw a Lincoln Navigator and a Volvo among the vehicles, leading her to conclude that those attending, and therefore all Republicans, are rich.

She noted she and her husband drive second-hand cars, and her Subaru's check engine light permanently glows. If it weren't for the repair skills at Swede's, she'd have us believe she'd be afoot. They even buy discount food at Aldi.

The picture she painted of herself and others shivering along Radio Road that cold night, watching the rich folk arrive, was worthy of the parable of the beggar outside the rich man's gate.

But public data reveals Ms. Williams' teaching salary for the 2009-10 River Falls school year, the latest available, topped $65,000, with additional fringe benefits of $33,000-plus. She noted her husband is a professor with 29 years' experience, so it's a safe bet his income at least equals hers.

I don't begrudge the Williams' their income. I applaud their frugality. However, I find it incredible how anyone blessed with an income of the Williams' apparent level can believe themselves poor.

If the economic frame of reference of public employees has become warped to that degree, we face a much bigger and more frightening problem than an overspent budget.

Ms. Williams, you are seated at the rich man's table, not outside the gate. There's no shame in that, but if you want to debate the budget bill, please find a position other than class envy.

That said, I support your right to protest and hope your feet have warmed.