The purpose of this blog is to get readers to think about the complex (or perhaps simple) issues I write about.

The primary topics will revolve around politics and society as a whole, but a mixture of sports opinion may be thrown in from time to time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin Is Just The Beginning

By now, you have likely heard about the uprising from public employees in the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison over the past couple of days. 

The uprising comes as a reaction to Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor's proposal to aid in restoring fiscal sanity to the state, which is currently experiencing a $3.6 billion budget gap by forcing teachers and public sector employees to contribute more to both their pensions and their healthcare costs. 

While admittedly this is not the easiest of "asks" from anyone in a time of financial crisis, it's been widely agreed upon that most states who are facing massive budget shortfalls are experiencing those short falls in massive part because of the exotic pensions they offer to state employees. 

The protests have been so rowdy and well attended that several cities in Wisconsin, including its biggest, Milwaukee, had school districts completely shut down, due to hundreds of teachers unanimously calling in "sick." 

Just today, after the liberal news media thoroughly had taken up the cause on behalf of the protesters (of course), President Barack Obama's Administration is reportedly fanning the flames of those protests, and the President himself accused the newly-elected Governor Walker of unleashing an "assault" on unions. 

Much of this should not come as a surprise, Wisconsin, all things considered is a fairly Progressive state, Madison in particular, is one of the hotbeds of the progressive movement in the Midwest. 

However, with Republicans practically sweeping the state in this past November's mid-term elections, with then candidate Scott Walker talking about the drastic measures that will need to be taken to reduce, if not eliminate the state's debt and budget shortfall, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise either, that these cuts are being proposed. 

With the words of President Obama from 2009 ringing in my ears, "Elections, have consequences, you lost," to Republican lawmakers in D.C. you kind of wonder if he forgot that message when he was stoking the flames in Madison. 

Lawmakers in Madison certainly weren't operating under the "elections have consequences" banner.  The entirety of the Democratic representation in the Wisconsin State Senate left the State on Thursday, holing up in an Illinois Best Western hotel. 

The Governor has sense (supposedly) ordered the Wisconsin National Guard to find the wayward lawmakers, and bring them to the Capitol to vote on the controversial legislation. 

The Republicans, who hold 19 seats in the State Senate, one vote shy of the 20 needed for a quorum have reportedly been emboldened by the flight of Senate Democrats. 

Make no mistake folks. This is just the beginning. 

Several states, most notably New Jersey, under Governor Chris Christie have begun to tinker with unions and their control over pay scales, pensions and the like. 

Just like the Madison public employees and the New Jersey teachers unions before them, we can and should expect more of these protests as both newly elected and sitting Republican and Democratic governors alike will be forced to sign into law similar changes. 

The bottom line in Madison is this. Public employee unions and teacher unions alike are being exposed for what they really are: Massive, influential factions whose only goal is to donate to favoring politicians who offer kickbacks in the way of legislation that increases union bargaining power, which then leads to massive, unaffordable (and largely undeserved) raises for their members' salaries, and more money and benefits in their pensions and healthcare plans. 

The events in Madison have also shed a light on plenty of teachers who are more loyal to their own welfare than to the minds of their students. 

Let's face it, in states where unions have no influence, the people who go into teaching aren't doing it for the money. Teachers do get paid less than they probably should, but for those prospective teachers who end up teaching in unionized states, the teachers unions create false senses of entitlement among its teachers, and you end up with teachers taking sick days, forcing entire school districts to shut down. It's a shame. 

This doesn't even address the fact that pensions and benefits alone make up a staggering percentage of just about every state's budget. 

The Wisconsin Governor is doing a bold and courageous thing, he's spotted the fat, and he's cutting it out. 

And the President, who's job it should be to be looking for better ways to create jobs throughout the country as a whole, butting his head in and chiding a Governor for making the tough decisions that he is apparently incapable of, or unwilling to make himself does not help the process. 

At the end of the day, the Wisconsin Senate will have the vote, the legislation will pass, and Governor Walker will sign into law, responsible legislation that will put Wisconsin on a path towards significant debt reduction and on a sustainable financial path.