Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tired of Being the Real Victim

Make no mistake about it, what is occurring in Wisconsin is a move in defense of the taxpayers. It can be characterized as any number of other things, but with public finances in the dumper (the state faces a $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years) moral stewards of the public trust must make changes.

Leftists have characterized the defensive response of Wisconsin Republicans as a war on the middle class. It has been called an attempt to bust the unions. It has been called a war on democracy and the end of democracy. Yet, none of these false charges even recognize that what is occurring is defensive in nature.

Only the most delusional among us see the current national financial trajectory, of which Wisconsin is emblematic, as sustainable. The economic system will is a mathematical certainty, that is, if significant changes are not made immediately.

What is being done in Wisconsin is neither draconian nor punitive. It is a reasonable response to right wrongs serially committed against taxpayers. In 1992, my employer raised my family health care plan to $120 per month. It essentially lifted me to a level where I was paying approximately 33% of my overall health insurance premium. (As an aside, I received only three sick days per year, had my 401K contributions matched 1 to 3, and had to work ten years to get that third week of vacation.) Life in the private sector sucked!

I am willing to accept that collective bargaining has legally gained public workers unions great pay and benefits. And yet, it is just as easy to see that it was a mistake to lavish unsustainable compensation on a huge sector of the labor force, and legal or not, it is unsustainable, and must be corrected.

If a private company made similar mistakes it would make mass lay offs, close up shop, or reorganize under bankruptcy protection. If a public entity makes those same mistakes, however, somehow the viability of the entity in question gets forgotten. No problem, say the benefit recipients, raise taxes!

The system in Wisconsin is one that allows a generic bus driver to knock down more than $150,000 per year, while the best teacher in Milwaukee gets canned because she has worked fewer years than some old farts who desperately hang on for a full pension. Screw the second graders, we got us a teacher with tenure! Funny, but in my world, the people we owe are the second graders, not the teachers--after all, didn't we make a promise to them too?

What is occurring in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan on the behalf of public worker unions is a blatant misdirection of intent. Public service unions, somewhere along the line, forgot that the foci of the jobs they represent were to provide a valuable service to the taxpayers for fair compensation, and not to get rich by victimizing them.

So, right now the Wisconsin statehouse is full of raving lunatic union members threatening violence against Republican legislators who want a bill passed that might cut benefit levels back to where mine had to go some twenty years past.

I didn't riot. I didn't threaten anyone. I didn't refuse to go to work or begin a plot to oust the corporate executives. Neither did anyone else. Should I expect anything different from those who have been more than fairly compensated for as long as they've been knocking down a public paycheck?

I am one taxpayer that is tired of being the real and unrecognized victim. Speaking of which, isn't there one lousy teacher in the Wisconsin statehouse today that teaches economics?

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