Governor Scott Walker is undergoing his recall election today in Wisconsin. As many of you know by now, Walker and the newly-elected Republican majority in the Wisconsin legislature passed legislation severely limiting the public employee unions’ ability to collectively bargain. As a result of not having complete control of Wisconsin for the first time since, well, ever, the Democrats bussed in a bunch of angry people to come up with clever chants and take up space. They’ve also been hot on the “Recall Walker” trail since the day the collective-bargaining legislation was passed, which occurred while all of the Democratic Senators had run away to Rockford, Illinois. Who knew Wisconsinites could be so interesting?
We explained why public employees, as opposed to private employee unions, shouldn’t have the right to collectively bargain earlier in this blog. Simply put, unless every taxpayer is sitting across the table from the union rep, it isn’t really collective bargaining, since the taxpayers are paying for everything.
I expect Walker to win today. And then I expect the Democrats to both ask for a recount while simultaneously arguing the election was stolen by expensive television commercials. The reason why Walker will win is very simple: he’s done a good job. Before Walker and a Republican legislature were elected, the state was in debt. One year after the Republicans took control of everything, it will have a surplus.
But the state Department of Revenue now estimates that the state will take in about $265 million more than the bureau expected, which should translate to a $275.1 million surplus on June 30, and a $154.5 million surplus on June 30, 2013, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch wrote in a letter to Walker.
That’s a pretty impressive turnaround in one year. What’s more,
State law requires that if revenue exceeds initial projections, half of the surplus must be deposited in the state’s rainy day fund. If Walker’s projections hold, about $45.4 million would go into that fund after June 30.
That would mark the first time in state history that state officials have added to the fund in consecutive years, DOA spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said. The Walker administration added $14.78 million at the close of the 2011 fiscal year, she said.
In other words, if the people of Wisconsin actually throw Walker out, then they get what they deserve.
Speaking of people who get what they deserve, let’s look at Illinois. It’s not just the results that should get Walker re-elected, it’s the trainwreck that keeps on keepin’ on down south. Unlike Wisconsin, public employee unions basically run the place in Illinois, and their desires go almost entirely unchecked. As a result, the state is $83 billion in the hole on their pensions, which is the worst in the country. No one seems to care. In other news, a recent poll revealed that 67% of Illinois residents expect it to rain money sometime in the near future.
Walker eliminated the deficit by cutting spending. Illinois Dems hope to solve the problem by increasing property taxes in the Chicago suburbs and downstate in order to pay for teacher pensions. This plan only failed because the Democratic governor discovered a map which reveals Illinois extends beyond Chicago.
So what have we learned? Wisconsin solved its deficit problem by cutting spending. Much of that cut resulted from eliminating collective bargaining for public employee unions, and forcing said employees to contribute more to their own pensions and benefits. This has resulted in school districts actually hiring more teachers. Illinois, on the other hand, continues in its nation-leading debt, largely due to pensions it can’t afford while it refuses to make any changes to the status quo. This stance will ultimately lead to increased taxes, unless Illinois begins to print its own money, which isn’t likely to be accepted as legal tender at Meijer. This will, in turn, cause me to move to Wisconsin, which may have been the Dems’ goal all along. I am, after all, very important.
Well, apparently elections still matter in Wisconsin. Apparently a party can’t lose an election, and then stop a vote on a bill brought by the majority which was just voted into the majority by simply leaving town. Apparently that group can’t then complain about what happens in the State Senate when they were on vacation. Apparently those that are able to yell the loudest, despite being in the significant minority, can’t take over an entire state. And finally, apparently one judge can’t overrule an election.
Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowed the legislation regarding public unions to be published, thereby making it the law of the land. Democracy seems to actually work sometimes. I’m sure those that yell the loudest aren’t done with their protests, but their likelihood of success is certainly less now than it was two days ago.
Ok, maybe I’m going a bit overboard here with this USA/Gallup poll, but if I’m not, I’m buying a cabin in the woods.
I would post the actual poll, but I can’t figure out how to do it on my wife’s Mac. So, here goes:
The poll asked people how they would prefer to tackle state budget deficits:
Cutting state program? 48% oppose, while 47% are in favor.
Cutting pay or benefits for govt. workers? 53% oppose, while 44% are in favor.
Raising taxes? 71% oppose, while 27% are in favor.
Hmmmm…either the people responding to this poll are in on some super-secret way to take care of budget deficits or they have trouble with anything more complicated than sleeping. There are no other options than those offered folks. Now I understand why cutting spending isn’t as easy as it should be. Oh, if you want the pretty graph, along with some others, here you go.
You know, maybe I’m missing something here (which is entirely possible), but I don’t think I like what’s happening in Indiana. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a bill making its way through the Indiana House of Representatives which would, reportedly, bar a private union from requiring that a worker belong to the union before the union has to bargain on behalf of the worker. This would change Indiana law rather significantly for unions:
In Indiana currently, if a union bargains for a group of employees at a workplace, all workers covered by the contract must belong to the union.
As a conservative, this proposed legislation sounds like one of the worst ideas ever. A union, like a country club, is a private organization with operating costs and limited resources, right? Why would it use its own resources to bargain on behalf of a non-member? More importantly, where does the government get off telling private organizations – and private businesses – what they can and can’t do?
Look, if someone wants to be in a union, he should be able to. If he doesn’t want to be in a union, he shouldn’t have to. If a private company wants to hire only union members, it should be able to. If the private company doesn’t want to hire any union members, it shouldn’t have to. This seems like a no-brainer. Of course, I’m the guy who thinks an owner should be able to hire and/or serve whomever he wants at his restaurant, for whatever reason, since it’s his restaurant; others, including the Supreme Court, disagree. So what do I know?
When I said private and public unions are different animals, I meant it. When I said private unions, as opposed to public unions, should be able to exist and bargain for better pay and benefits, I meant it. The entire point of being a conservative is advocating for small government. When the government is telling private citizens, groups, and companies what they can and can’t do, the government is no longer small.
If the Indiana bill proposes to do what the Wall Street Journal says it does, then conservatives everywhere should be with the unions in defeating it. Just because legislation is offered by a Republican doesn’t make it any less instrusive.
Why am I continuing with this? Because it is, without question, the most important event out there right now. In fact, it’s approaching “day of reckoning” status for the left. Whether you believe it or not, we’re in a financial mess that can’t simply be kicked down the road anymore. The Republicans in Congress lack the political will to do what is necessary. They will follow the lead of the states, where Republicans are far more likely to get things done, simply because they can’t print their own money.
It’s pretty rare to see a local budgetary issue become the national phenomenon that is now Wisconsin. And the liberals are out in force. A good summary of their position is offered by Paul Krugman in the New York Times. Because it’s full of unsupported nonsense, we will address it.
For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power.
Krugman is right. It is about power. But not the kind he’s referring to.
What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.
Krugman asserts a common liberal theme here–that big corporations bought the most recent election for the Republicans, and are now attempting to take over America by destroying the middle class. Except what’s happening in Wisconsin has nothing to do with big business. It has to do with the people of Wisconsin deciding that they are the ones who pay the bills, which include the salaries and benefits of the public employees who are massing in Madison. And those bills are continuing to increase. Krugman’s response: it has nothing to do with the budget.
Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.
Note Krugman’s use of vague phrases like “comparable qualifications” and his failure to cite to any authority for his general assertion. Those are the signs of fibbers. Well, others have done the research, and not surprisingly, Krugman is full of beans. According to the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a Wisconsin-based think tank, the median income of a Milwaukee Public School teacher is $56,500.00. With benefits, the total income goes up to $100,005.00/year. The Milwaukee per capita income is just over $19,000.00, and the median family income is $43,000.00. With these figures in mind, and the attitude of the Wisconsin people, it’s little wonder that the public employee unions have recently offered concessions. The Governor isn’t interested. Krugman’s view:
But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.
Krugman, like all liberals, believes tax increases are the first and last line of defense against, well, everything. The problem is, the often-used, but never defined, “vulnerable” masses always seem to be exempted from the shared sacrifice of tax increases.
Is this an attack on unions, as Krugman argues? Certainly. More specifically though, it’s an attack on public-sector unions. Some ask why the Governor isn’t simply going after benefits and pensions, but also the union’s ability to collectively-bargain. The likely answer is found in the significant difference between private-sector unions and public-sector unions when it comes to collective bargaining. In a private-union scenario, there are actually two separate parties with competing interests entering into negotiations. This relationship usually results in a mutually-beneficial result (ignoring the government bail-outs for the auto industry of course). The same isn’t true in the public-sector scenario though.
Oftentimes, the public sector union ends up negotiating with the very same politicians it just helped get elected by way of significant campaign contributions. At a time when the politicians are supposed to be negotiating on behalf of the taxpayer, they are instead negotiating on behalf of their political futures. Because this relationship can never change, such negotiations should no longer exist. A public-sector group wants a raise? Ask the people of Wisconsin to give it to you. It’s that simple.
Krugman then completes his piece by trying to scare you:
On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.
Obviously, corporations have more sway with politicians than the average Joe. Why? Because they contribute more money. This works with both parties though, despite the left’s “we’re the people party” mantra, and largely cancels each other out. Regardless of how much money is spent though, we continue to be a country where individuals vote. And Microsoft doesn’t get any more votes than I do.
Look, I have no problem with private-sector unions, and I would be against any effort to eliminate their opportunity to collectively-bargain. Public-sector unions are a different animal though, for the reasons set forth above. At the end of the day, I would be more concerned with my elected officials leaving the state to avoid a vote while talking about upholding democracy, than I would be about America becoming a third-world oligarchy.
“Elections have consequences.” Remember that? It was uttered by none other than our current president, right after he was elected. What’s he saying now that the election in Wisconsin is having consequences? Where are all the libs who cried foul on the Senate Republicans using the filibuster so much? None of them seem to have any problem with the Wisconsin State Senate leaving the state to avoid a vote.
How about all of those public school teachers who only care about their students? Oh yeah, they’re shutting down their schools for the first, second, and in some cases, third day. And some are even bringing their students with them. Why? Because they, like most other public employees under the Republican plan, would have to pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health care costs, which is still less than the rest of us in the private market.
‘I want to do anything in my power to raise awareness that this can’t happen,’ said one protestor.
I find the arrogance of these people appalling. Sorry, but there isn’t a secret pot of money sitting around just for you. Your salary comes from your neighbors. All of it. And the idea that taxes should be raised to pay down the state debt is absurd.
The state of Wisconsin, as well as just about every state out there, could function just fine on probably a quarter of the employees they have. Why? Because government has absolutely no incentive to be efficient, and as a result, it isn’t. And no, this conversation does not involve police and firefighters, since a legitimate role of any government is protection of the people. Otherwise,what’s the point?
Personally, I hope the movement to shrink government results in doing something substantial about our public education system. And by “something” I mean dismantling it. It costs too much, is completely unnecessary, and in too many instances, fails to actually graduate well-rounded, educated, and moral kids.
What’s happening in Wisconsin is historic. Pay attention. And remember for all of you that think voting doesn’t matter because both parties are the same: sometimes, elections do have consequences.
The people of the State of Wisconsin made a decision this past election cycle. Not only did they give the boot to long-term Senator Russ Feingold (D), they elected a Republican Governor, a Republican-controlled state Senate, and a Republican-controlled state Assembly. They voted for change. They wanted accountability. They demanded that their government stop spending their money like it was emanating from a never-ending spring of cash. Well, they’re getting what they asked for, and now some are reacting like my kid when I tell him no candy before dinner.
Protesters clogged the hallways of the Wisconsin state Capitol on Thursday as the Senate prepared to pass a momentous bill that would strip government workers, including school teachers, of nearly all collective bargaining rights.
It never ceases to amaze me just how blind some people choose to be. We’re circling the drain here folks. Our governments: local, state and federal, are spending too much. In fact, they’re spending more than they have. It’s no longer a question of “is government too big?” Now it’s “how long ’til it dies from obesity?” Some states, like my lovely Illinois, have decided the people need to pay more in taxes to make up for their drunkness. Other states, like Wisconsin, have said the opposite. They’ve decided that the government’s days of simply grabbing more money from the people for pet projects, entitlements, or other nonsense, are over. In Wisconsin, that means the days of most public employees receiving pensions that the rest of us don’t have are likely over.
‘I’m sad. Scared. Disappointed,’ said Kelly Dzurick, a 31-year-old fifth-grade teacher in Elkhorn, who came to the Capitol on Wednesday night. ‘Nobody’s listening to what people say.’
‘The story around the world is the rush to democracy,’ said Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. ‘The story in Wisconsin is the end of the democratic process.’
No one’s listening to the people? The end of the democratic process? All of you need to be committed! In case you hadn’t noticed, the people of Wisconsin voted. And they voted for this.
In an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ, President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation in Madison and acknowledged the need for budget cuts. But, he said, pushing public employees away from the bargaining table ‘seems like more of an assault on unions.’
No Barry, it isn’t an assault on unions. It’s an assault on government spending. And it’s a long time coming.
Honestly, I’m tired. I’m tired of people yelling about what they think they’re entitled to. I’m tired of being taxed through the nose for a whole lotta crap I never asked for and/or will never use. Social Security? I promise that I can take better care of my money than the government. Public schools? Forget about cutting back on funding; shut every single one of them down. Instead of forcing people to send their kids to schools they don’t want, give people their property taxes back and let them choose where to send their kids.
Here’s a message to every single one of you public employees raising a ruckus in Madison, Wisconsin: don’t complain to me about Democracy and freedom and picking on the most vulnerable. You’re not entitled to a lifetime job in a government office with a full pension. Not when your neighbor, who just lost his 401(k), is working at McDonald’s to pay for it.
It’s time we have a real discussion about the role of government in this country, because it sure seems like everyone failed civics class in elementary school. America isn’t Western Europe. If it were, it wouldn’t be America. Unfortunately, until we find our government defaulting on its loans and the value of the dollar in the toilet, it seems that no one in Washington, on the left or right, is going to have to stones to actually fix the problem. It seems like Wisconsin might though, and that’s a start.