Basically, the thin and thick of it is this. Wisconsin's governor wants to save some cash. About 300 million bucks over the next two years or so. And he plans to do this by pretty well destroying the public employee unions in Wisconsin.
Now before I get into any of this a short disclaimer. I am a union employee. I do work for a government agency. I am a proud union supporter and I do faithfully pay my dues, through payroll deduction every two weeks.
So, there's that. Now why Mr. Walker (Governor of Wisconsin) has taken aim at the public employee unions is simple. They're an easy target. Their pensions, their benefits, their pay scales. Which are all things that can be skewed one way or the other depending on who is using the statistics and what they're using the statistics for.
He wants a few concessions from the unions that he has already said, repeatedly that he is not willing to compromise on. He wants an end to the ability of public employee unions to collectively bargain. He wants larger contributions to pensions from public employees. And he wants a larger contribution from public employees to their health care costs.
In exchange, he won't lay off any workers and he won't force furloughs onto workers who aren't laid off.
Kind of seems to me like he's pointing a .45 at a puppy and saying, "do what I want or fluffy gets one in the head."
In addition you'll notice that Mr. Walker left the police and firefighters unions out of this whole mess. Purely a political move if you ask me. How would it look to have a bunch of public heroes crying poor because the governor wanted to save a few bucks?
First of all, and this is a biggie with me. It boggles my mind why someone is allowed to attack these unions without being willing to give up anything himself. I'll bet Wisconsin has a very generous pay package for the governor. I'll bet that, like so many elected government officials, he will get a pension after a very short period of time in office. Some of these jokers draw a pension after only one term! I'll bet that the state of Wisconsin's taxpayers foot the bill for his medical, dental, vision, they pay for his house, they pay for his car, they pay for his police protection, they pay all his travel expenses, they pay all his vacation time and they pretty much meet every need he or his family may have for the duration of his stay in office. And I would imagine that most, if not all Wisconsin lawmakers are in pretty much the same palatial boat.
Well Mr. Walker, when are you going to curtail some of that? Public employees are one thing. When are we going to get around to the elected officials and all the sweet little goodies that they get? When are we going to not only attack the unionized employees, who are such a political thorn in your side, and start attacking those ass bags (like you) who go so far as to vote on their own pay raises? Alright, that one wasn't directed at Wisconsin so much as it was directed at the US Congress.
Now, I'll agree. Costs must be cut for state services. That's pretty much a given across the country, every state in the union plus the Fed is hurting for money and needs to save a little here and there. Okay, they need to save a shit ton, and they need to do it now or the whole kit and kaboodle is going to go tits up!
But here's where things start to make me laugh. They take aim at the wrong things. They take aim at the teachers, they take aim at the prison guards (of which, I am one.) they take aim at all the unions that provide a necessary, yet un-romanticized service to the public.
Have any of you met kids these days?
They're horrible. They're lazy, disobedient, undisciplined, violent, and a million other things that are bad. In short, they suck. Now of course, I'm not talking about your kids. But we all know what kind of kids are out there. Question being, would you want to go into a public school and deal with those little shits? Because I sure as hell wouldn't.
Do I think the teachers deserve to be fairly compensated for what they do? Hell yeah. The only thing I've always had a problem with teachers about is this. Why do they get a full years salary for nine months of work? That pisses me off. I work 12 months for 12 months of pay. They work 9 months for 12 months of pay. A teachers salary should be roughly 3/4's of what it currently is, and they should be expected to either work the other 3 months of the year or deal with only making 3/4's of what they were before.
Now on to the prison guards. Let's get a few things out of the way right off the bat. Prison guards as a profession have the highest levels of suicide, divorce, and alcoholism. Because if you ask me, we have the most stressful job. Name another job where a normal part of your day is protecting yourself from having piss and shit thrown at you? Can't do it can ya?
I tell cops that brag about how many guys they arrest. Yeah, well I get locked in a room by myself with 120 of the worst of the worst every day. All these guys have is time, and they use that time to come up with new and inventive ways to maim or kill one another and/or me. And I'm expected to control that situation with nothing more than my brain and my ability to coerce. So until you've stared down a room full of gangsters, drug dealers, child molesters, pimps, money launderers, and murderers let's keep the theatrics to a minimum.
But everybody loves cops and firemen. There's no love for prison guards or teachers. So guess who gets this mountain of shit dropped on them.
The funny part of this whole thing is, this move will only save Wisconsin 300 million over the next two years. Wisconsin's current debt load is 3.6 billion.
Now 3.6 billion is 36,000 millions. Got that? Now if all these budget estimates are right. That means that if Wisconsin puts every single solitary fucking dime they save from breaking these unions into paying off their debt (and no interest at all is charged on the debt, LOL) then in two years the debt will only be 35,700 millions. Hmmm, not a real big dent if you think about it. And it comes at the expense of all these working class people.
When are people in this country going to wake up? When are they going to realize that we're always looking at the wrong things? We were looking in the right direction for a little while, but then we lost it.
George Carlin once said something, he said, "Race, sexual orientation, anything that they can bring up to get us fighting amongst ourselves so that they can keep on going to the bank. Simple strategy. Happens to work."
In this case, they're using this financial crisis to break the unions. Make no mistake that's exactly what this is. Union busting. 2011 style. They used to come at us with sticks, bricks, and guns. Now they're coming at us with laws and regulations. They found another thing to get us fighting amongst ourselves.
A lot has been made in this debate of how the private sector workers have had to take pay cuts, benefit reductions, removal of pensions, and reductions in or outright suspension of employer contributions to 401k plans.
Okay, I get where they're coming from. But here's what I want to know. Why are we trying to pull the public employees down? Why aren't we trying to figure out how to raise the private sector employees up?
I don't know the answer to that question but I'd really like to hear what you guys think.
But it all boils down to this. If there's one thing that I know about this country its that there's only one color that actually matters and that's green. Money. Its the end all be all. Try to argue with me on this and you're...well you're gonna lose. Any pie in sky notion that money doesn't make the world go around is going to get shot down like an Iraqi scud.
Now there's a class of people that have it. And there's a class of people that works for it. And finally there's a class of people that doesn't get any of it. And, at the risk of sounding redundant, Mr Carlin said "The rich have all of the money, and pay none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there...just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep them showing up at those jobs!"
Now its time for a different frame of thinking in the country. I think too many people fell prey to the Tea Party mantra of less government. I fell for some of it myself. Problem is, I don't think we need to destroy so many lives for the sake of saving a few bucks...
In 2004, the wealthiest 25% of US households owned 87% ($43.6 trillion) of the country’s wealth, while the bottom quartile held no net wealth at all. The middle 50% of the country held 13% or $6.5 trillion of the total household net wealth.
Well maybe we need to be taking a good hard look at who's got what, and how much they've got. But regardless of what we do...it all amounts to nothing if we don't stand together.
Just a thought.
I love you Mom...