Topic: Decline of the West
I rummaged around for different, perhaps softer, words with which to title this blog post. But really, there are no other words that accurately describe what’s going on in Wisconsin right now. At a time when taxpayers in the state and around the country are hard-pressed to make ends meet, Wisconsin’s public employees are up in arms because the new Republican governor has dared to question the sanctity of their gold-plated benefits package.
To be specific: Governor Scott Walker is proposing that public employees contribute 12% percent of the cost of their health insurance plans and contribute 5.8% of their salaries to their pension plans. They currently pay about 4-6% of the cost of their health insurance, and most contribute nothing to their pension plans. Looked at one way, this amounts to an 8% pay cut for state employees. Looked at another way, it brings their benefits package more into line with those of taxpayers who work in the private sector. Additionally, Walker is proposing a ban on most collective bargaining for most state union employees—essential to ensure that any reforms of the benefits package that are enacted today are not bargained away tomorrow.
All too predictably, these modest proposals have ignited a firestorm of union protests. Though banned by law from striking, the teachers of Madison have been calling in “sick” in such numbers that public schools have shut down. This, of course, not only shows them up as a bunch of greedy bastards, but proves them liars in more ways than one. Besides the obvious lie—no one’s really sick—this performance shows that all teacher union “for the children” rhetoric is so much eyewash. What is certain is that teachers in Madison who are calling in “sick” don’t give a hoot about the children of their city, however they may rationalize their behavior.
This column by Patrick McIlheran in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel argues that the public-employee unions are attempting to overturn the results of the 2010 election, which brought in a governor and legislative majority committed to fiscal conservatism. It looks that way to me also—and it isn’t a pretty sight. I suspect, however, that the union thugs in Wisconsin have gone too far. Suppose you were sitting at home in Wisconsin, with your mortgage under water and a layoff notice on the kitchen table—what would you think of all this?
Posted by tmg110
at 7:59 AM EST