Monday, February 21, 2011

How to think about the political battle in Wisconsin

J. P. Freire puts it well. This is not a battle between the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' It's a battle between the 'haves' and 'have yours.'
Taxpayers are becoming acutely aware of the have-yours as a class -- something like Angelo Codevilla's ruling class -- whose gains in salaries and benefits aren't associated with harder work and important innovations but political access. Public-sector unions rallying in Madison aren't even taking a hit for their political activism, given that their protest is made possible by paid sick days, negotiated for them by their collective bargaining units who, it must be said, donate to the very people with whom they negotiate....All of the people at the bargaining table are salaried by taxpayers anyway, so it's a big negotiation with someone else's money. But don't call it "negotiation" -- call it "divvying up the loot."

This whole exercise in protesting isn't civil disobedience -- it's just another transaction, one in which the have-yours labor leaders are trying to reassert their authority over taxpayer resources by arguing that it's inhumane to ask government workers to pay more into their own health care and pensions, and that collective bargaining means only one side gets a bargain.

To distract from the sheer avarice of this position, the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, and others are trying to get as many people as possible to protest and show some kind of consensus that Gov. Scott Walker's, R, position is unreasonable, even cruel. The numbers are impressive and the photos really do depict the us-vs-them drama, but not in the way union leaders and member hope because the chilling have yours subtext of every sign held aloft by a protesting union member is clear: We don't work for you, taxpayer. You work for us. (emphasis in the original)
This is exactly the context in which these protests should be viewed.

Meanwhile, don't believe the myths being perpetuated by liberals that there is no deficit in Wisconsin or that the deficit is caused by tax breaks that the Wisconsin Republicans voted for or even as Rachel Maddow tried to claim that Wisconsin has a budget surplus.
This claim has now been debunked even by the liberal Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which endorsed Obama in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004: “Our conclusion: Maddow and the others are wrong. There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.” Maddow blamed the state’s current deficit on business tax breaks supported by the Governor, but those cuts are a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the state’s overall budget; and as the Journal-Sentinel newspaper noted, “the cuts are not even in effect yet, so they cannot be part of the current problem.”

Despite being debunked by newspapers like the Journal-Sentinel, liberal bloggers and TV commentators continue to make this false claim that Wisconsin’s budget crisis was “manufactured” to create an excuse to destroy public-employee unions. (Never mind that the proposals by Wisconsin’s governor would still allow far more collective bargaining in Wisconsin than is permitted in states like Virginia).

The dishonesty of the liberal assault on Wisconsin’s governor is mirrored by the dishonesty of striking government employees there, who have engaged in widespread fraud in calling in “sick” to shut down Wisconsin schools. By the thousand, they have procured doctors’ notes fraudulently claiming that they were sick when they were in fact perfectly healthy. In broad daylight, doctors allied with the government employee unions handed out thousands of fake sick notes. Here’s video of doctors handing out fake medical excuses at a Wisconsin union protest.

Wisconsin government employees are not being shortchanged. The average compensation for a school teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, tops $100,000. Even the cuts proposed by Wisconsin’s governor would leave government employees with a sizeable edge over their private sector counterparts.

The governor’s proposals are modest and reasonable, not draconian. Under his proposed restrictions on collective bargaining, Wisconsin public employees would still have more freedom to bargain collectively than they do in 18 other states, such as in Virginia and North Carolina, where collective bargaining by government employees is completely banned. The Wisconsin governor would end collective bargaining over pensions – which has been used to shift the cost of employee compensation to future generations by running up trillions in unfunded pension obligations – but allow some bargaining over salaries.
Collective bargaining by public employee unions is just a method by which the unions can extract generous benefits from compliant politicians whom the unions then use government mandated dues to put back in power so that the unions can be granted more benefits the next round of negotiating. It's a corrupt cycle every bit as much as in the 19th century when wealthy businessmen bought compliant senators to grant them business benefits.

Go to Doug Ross's illustrated guide
to the history of public employee unions. His charts put all this in such clear perspective.