Thursday, February 17, 2011
On Union Thugs and "Sick Outs"
Wisconsin is making the national news today because of extraordinary events that I believe will soon be replicated across the country, because they stem from a simple problem that many other states and municipalities suffer from -- Wisconsin cannot afford the pension and health benefits it has promised to its public employees.
Facing this problem, new Governor Scott Walker has proposed an obvious solution -- government workers going forward will have to pay 50% of the calculated contribution to their pension system and 13% of their health insurance costs out of their own paychecks. Walker, a Republican, proposed this cost-cutting measure instead of raising taxes based on the sound moral proposition (to me anyway) that well-paid government employees with great benefits shouldn't get to pass the costs of those benefits onto less well-paid private citizens. For those of us who pay for our own retirements and health insurance out of pocket, being taxed so that public employees with little accountability and no requirement to turn a profit can retire at age 55 with a lavish pension and free health care for life is an outrage.
In other words, Walker is counting on tapping into the growing frustration in America that public employees (the government) are parasites living well off the work of everybody else. (Note: the proposal would also strip most government employees of their collective bargaining rights, under the theory it is inherently corrupt when politicians whose campaigns are supported by public sector unions are asked to sign off on higher wages and benefits for those same unions under the guise of collective bargaining.)
Not surprisingly, the public employee unions and their Democrat party stooges don't like this one bit. So, yesterday, teachers in Madison staged a "sick out" and shut down the Madison public schools, and are essentially trying to shut down the Capitol with protests, as you can see above in the Capitol rotunda. Then, today, Democrat senators in the state senate have fled the jurisdiction to avoid a quorum call to vote on the Governor's budget plan.
My thought is this: if Scott Walker wants to become an immediate national figure on the level of a Chris Christie, the great governor of New Jersey, he has one obvious course of action. Fire them. Any teacher who lied to her employer by claiming to be sick and then going to the Capitol to protest has undoubtedly breached their contract. Fire them. I think his approval rating would skyrocket.
One sidebar too: Walker is a relatively young guy, only 43, and he has two boys in high school. Union thugs showed up at his home in Wauwatosa -- my hometown -- to protest yesterday, knowing of course that he was in Madison. Is there any reason they would do that other than to say, implicitly, that they know where he lives? Can you imagine what would happen if this was a Democrat politician and his family home was threatened by Republican protestors?
Oh, and remember this sort of thing the next time a liberal lectures you about "civility" in political discourse.