Walker unfairly demonized for Wisconsin vision

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.

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One Comment;

  1. Lorrie Hill said:

    Sam,
    I love this article! This is a topic many fear to address. I support our teachers and public workers but am sad to see they have colored the real issue with talk of Wall Street greed. I also think the greedy on Wall Street should have gone to jail, but that has nothing to do with this issue. I also think this quote from my friend’s dad sums up the situation we are facing extremely well “My dad was a firefighter in Philadelphia from 1943 to 1963. When he began, he was working 70-hour weeks, and by the end he was down to 40 hours because of collective bargaining. He never made $100 a week but he could earn his pension at a young age. With collective bargaining what’s happened is the wage base for all these jobs… has gone way up. A fireman today earns $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year. The pension system has not changed. So you still have people retiring in uniform, some of them have 20 and out. Someone can become a cop at 22, and at 42 they get half of their compensation for the rest of their life. There’s a complete mismatch, and that’s some of the structural issues that have to be dealt with. Frankly, people are going to have to work longer…or they’re going to have to dramatically reduce the benefit level. It’s not sustainable by society.” In my mind this is the real issue that must be addressed.

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