Streets of Madison, Wisconsin look more like the streets of Athens or Paris these days. At the heart of the matter is a Republican governor and state legislature trying to do the right and responsible thing for the citizens of the Dairy State.
The ire of thousands of NEA, AFT, AFSCME, and other union members are directed at a proposed legislation that would limit collective bargaining to salaries only - not benefits. As it has been widely reported, many states are facing financial doomsday mainly due to the sorry state of their pension funds and overly generous benefit plans unions have extracted from them over the years.
Governor Walker is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and he wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance. That’s an outrage by itself.
Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America -- which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
Exempting police, fire, and state troopers, Governor Walker would end collective bargaining over pensions and benefits for the rest. Collective bargaining for wages would still be permitted, but there would be no wage hikes above the CPI. Unions could still represent workers, but they could not force employees to pay dues. In exchange for this, Walker promises no furloughs for layoffs.
The Democrat members of the Wisconsin legislature have fled the state in order to avoid being rounded up and forced back to the capitol for a vote. They have the backing of thousands of union members, the Obama Administration which has called this an assault on collective bargaining, and bus loads of OFA (Organizing For America) activists. In other words, the goons are out in full force.
On the opposite side of them is the citizenry of Wisconsin, which according to polling yesterday, support the Republican governor by a 64% to 20% margin. Today, for the first time, thousands are gathering in Madison in a show of unity for the Governor and the Republican legislators. This is remarkable since Madison is one of the birth places of progressive liberalism in America.
One of the real victims of this charade in Madison are the school children since 40% of the teachers had called in sick past two days in order to protest. What is even more outrageous is that they brought with them hundreds of school children as peons in their illegal action. Sadly, as interviews with the protesting children shows, almost none of them have any idea why they are there.
It is really the parents of school children who should be protesting the unions: the graduation rate in Milwaukee public schools is 46 percent. The graduation rate for African-Americans in Milwaukee public schools is 34 percent. Shouldn’t somebody be protesting that?
As Gov. Scott Walker said, it would be “wise” for President Obama to keep his attentions on Washington, not Wisconsin. “We’re focused on balancing our budget,” he said in a television interview. “It would be wise for the president and others in Washington to be focused on balancing their budget, which they’re a long ways from doing.”
I was going to write a paragraph about 'civility' but decided this is not the appropriate post for it. Please check the crowd of goons in Madison and their signs; and then compare it to any Tea Party protest in the past. Progressives and their civility lectures make me want to throw up!