Press Talk: Hey, people call me. They do!

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photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.
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Hey, call me!

No, I meant for dinner or your book club.

I didn't mean call me … names.

All in a day's work, I guess, but I was thinking about the nice things people say about me.

"Acerbic, character assassinator, hypocrite, vitriolic."

And that's just from my conservative friends.

My liberal friends don't always like me, either, but they usually are more professional.

Usually. But not this week.

I got "hater" and "creating an 'us vs. them' atmosphere."

Hey, it ain't easy being me. ;-)

Now, one might logically ask how I can have both conservatives and liberals all over me like a Northwest fall mist.

Well, the answer is pretty obvious. When you don't have your feet firmly planted in either ideology, you're free to move in and out of liberal and conservative viewpoints.

That -- by extension -- creates bad vibes on both ends.

So, if you want to call me something, you're welcome to call me "all over the lot."

But back to my liberal friends. What got them cranked up this week?

Well, it was my column where Professor Brancaccio discussed with his class how we ended up with most public employees -- generally speaking -- being better off than most private employees.

The name calling (BTW, I'm certain I've been guilty of this myself) started pretty quickly, and I was labeled a "hater" of public employees.

(Please don't tell this to my wife! She's a public employee.)

Of course, it's all silly talk. No one yet has been able to tell me why I would hate public employees.

I guess this "hate" talk is what some people do when they don't have a viable argument.

I contacted a liberal political friend of mine. He's one of the guys who said I was creating this "us vs. them" division.

Here's what I said:

"What's creating the 'us vs. them issue' is not my acknowledging the differences (between public and private employees).

"What public employees are getting (from you) compared with what private employees are getting is what is creating the issue."

In other words, it's not the media that's creating it. We're just covering it. It's the politicians that have created it by what they do. What they give.

And on calling me a hater, I had this to say:

"When someone is losing a discussion on an issue, very few folks have the courage to admit it.

"Instead, they do what you have done. Sort of like the playground loudmouth. He figures, maybe if he shouts loud enough, he'll win. Maybe if he begins to name call, he'll win.

"I get it. I do. Such is life."

• • •

Truth is, I appreciate what public employees do. Always have. Most are hard-working, good neighbors and involved in the community.

And I also realize how difficult it is to cut back on someone. We're talking about real people with real bills. Still, every dollar a public employee gets is a dollar from a taxpayer. Now the private sector is fine with this, but only to a point. And it's the "at what point" where the debate begins.

Regardless of which side one comes down on this debate, it should be debated. Ideally without name-calling. Will that happen? Sometimes, it's just too easy to be the playground loudmouth.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews