For the past two weeks, it has been impossible to turn on the TV or log on to the Internet and not see something about the ruckus in Wisconsin.
The protests and demonstrations by union workers in regards to their collective bargaining rights has successfully been turned into a media circus. With Governor Scott Walker being vilified and compared to Hitler and state Democrats fleeing to Illinois, it is getting painful to watch.
It’s not surprising, though, because Walker has the courage to finally address an issue that this country has faced for years: the all-too-powerful public unions.
Last week, the streets outside the capital building in Madison were filled with teachers and other unionized members of the public sector.
Walker’s proposed budget repair bill would require public employees to pay 5.8 percent of their salary towards their own pension benefits.
I applaud Walker for his strong stance on the subject and his willingness to attack the issue head-on. This is a problem that states have been dealing with for quite some time now.
While public employee benefits have continued to surge in states, the average taxpayer who foots this bill has been cutting back due to the economic times.
In Wisconsin, public employees pay less than one percent of their salary toward their pensions. The Wisconsin taxpayer essentially pays for the benefits of the public employees in the state.
Wisconsin is currently facing a deficit of $137 million. At the rate the state is spending, it is projected to rocket to $3.6 billion in the next two years.
Similar problems are plaguing states like Ohio and Indiana as well, with Ohio Governor John Kasich addressing his state’s pension problems and Indiana democrats also fleeing to Illinois.
I think that there is also a major misunderstanding across the country about what the proposed legislation in Wisconsin actually entails.
The fact that there are protesters in Wisconsin comparing Walker to Adolph Hitler and the destruction of unions in Germany in the 1930s shows a complete lack of understanding of the issue.
There are people who say Walker is evil and intends to completely strip unions of their collective bargaining rights.
This is not accurate.
What Walker’s proposal would do is take away unions’ collective bargaining rights on things pertaining to pensions and benefits. Unions will still be able to bargain on their wages and other issues.
By taking a strong stance and not budging from this issue in Wisconsin, Walker is giving a highly contentious issue the attention that it finally deserves, after years of very little.
Unions have manipulated state legislatures across the country for incredible pension packages at the taxpayer’s expense.
In the private sector, when unions use collective bargaining to improve or change their pension plans, they are dealing with the company management and profits that a company has made from paying customers.
In public sector unions, when union management seeks to drastically change or improve their pension plans, it is at the taxpayer’s expense.
Due to public union’s influence in state legislatures and ability to employ some of the most powerful lobbying teams in the country, it is simply far too easy for public unions to manipulate elected officials and dump thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to receive the changes they demand.
Even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood this.
In the 1930s, Roosevelt proclaimed, “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transported into the public service.”
It was true in Roosevelt’s era and it is true today. The powerful influence that public unions have over state legislatures needs to be checked.
The time has come for the American taxpayer to stop footing the bill for some of the best, over-the-top pension plans in the country.