Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Showing their true colors in Wisconsin

The public is getting a true insight into the people who make up the fight on the left to pursue, at any cost, the maintenance of public sector power.

Democratic state senators flee the state rather than fulfill their jobs. They are elected to serve in the state senate whether they're in the minority or majority. If they succeed in their escape from responsibility, think of the precedent that that would send across the country any time the minority dislikes a bill. We would see legislators fleeing the state to deny a quorum for any bill they want to block. This is an attack on the integral qualities of a democracy. We can't have the losing side throwing in their marbles and going home any time they don't like a bill. Democratic elections work when the side that loses respects the results and gets ready to compete in the next election not hold up any work until they get their way.

As a teacher in a public school, albeit a charter school, I've been appalled at the sight of teachers abandoning the classroom, dragging students to rallies that they don't understand, and holding up vile signs. Mike M at Confederate Yankee, also a teacher expresses a lot of what I've been thinking as I watch these teachers. What is truly disgusting are the teachers who have been holding up signs indicating that they have taught, and even worse, now teach Governor Walker's children.
On the curb, teacher Leah Gustafson held a sign saying, "Scott, your son is in my class. I teach him, I protect him, I inspire him."

Gustafson said she teaches Walker's son in a school outside Milwaukee. Like much of organized labor, she also said she accepts the need for union workers to pay more for their pensions and health care.

"Absolutely, I get that," she said. "I understand that, and I am more than willing to do that. But it's the bargaining rights that really scare me. We have to obtain and retain teachers for the future, or our educational system is going to crumble."
Think of the hubris of that claim that she inspires Walker's son. I've taught for 20 years, but I would never claim that I inspire my students - that is for them to decide, not for me to appropriate for my own purposes. But even more, this teacher is singling out an individual student to discuss without his permission in a national interview to score points against his father. That is beyond the pale. Most school districts have strict rules about not giving out information about a student without a parent's permission, yet this teacher uses that student for a poster. How is that boy going to have confidence in how that teacher will relate to him after seeing this story. It's disgusting. As Mike M writes,
After engaging in the lowest form of politics and dragging a child into the pit with you, do you imagine his father will see you as an honest, dedicated teacher who is “protecting” his son? Would any parent feel that way? Do you imagine that Gov. Walker’s son will find you “inspiring,” should you eventually decide to return to the classroom which you have dishonorably abandoned? Have you obtained your fraudulent “doctor’s excuse?” Tell me Ms. Gustafson, what would you do with a student who skipped a week of school and showed up with a forged doctor’s note? If he said he did it for a worthy political purpose, would you excuse him?
And while we're toting up those who have betrayed their professions, add in those doctors who were handing out doctor's notes like they were trick-or-treat candy. If only they would suffer the penalties for violating their professional ethics.

And there are the innumerable posters and speech creating false analogies between Scott Walker and Hitler, Mubarak, and Stalin. Do these people have no sense of history? I sure hope that none of those teachers carrying such signs actually teach history. And there are the anonymous commenters on Ann Althouse's site saying should be shot in the head. Lovely.

And wouldn't it be nice if our president with all his nice rhetoric about civility after the shooting in Arizona would show some true leadership and make such comments now about Wisconsin. But no, he just poured oil on the fires with saying that the proposed legislation sounded like "an assault on unions." Of course, that comment followed his acknowledgment that he hadn't followed the legislation in Wisconsin closely. How typical. He admits he's not following the story but gives out his opinion. And he doesn't say anything about the ugly rhetoric that his political supporters are using in Wisconsin. He even allows his political organizing unit, Organizing for America, to be involved in amping up the protests. The White House has tried to distance themselves from what their political unit is doing but, as Doug Ross demonstrates, they forgot about all those tweets being sent out by the DNC Communications Director and from Organizing for America to encourage people to go to Wisconsin to help in the protests. Oops indeed.

Add into the hall of shame the coverage that the protests in Wisconsin have received in New York Times. Jonathan Tobin contrasts the coverage that the Times gave to the tea party movement with how they portrayed the crowds on the streets of Madison.
First, the portrayal of the unions and their Democratic Party allies, who have attempted not so much to defeat the Republican program but to prevent the legislature from even meeting to vote, as the progressive movement that represents the will of the people is absurd. This fight is about the will of the people but it is the public sector unions and the Democrats who are trying to thwart that will. As is the case with many other states, Wisconsin is going broke because past governments have let public employee unions have their way in collective bargaining. The result is an extraordinarily generous package of health-care and pension benefits that few, if any, in the private sector (where workers rarely are paid as much as government workers these days) enjoy. Governor Walker wants those public employees to begin contributing to their health-care costs and their pensions the way almost everyone who is not a government employee must. And he wants to curb the ability of these unions to hold the government hostage by ending their right of collective bargaining. That is a setback for unions but the alternative is the budget chaos that is bankrupting state governments around the nation. The unions may use the rhetoric of the workingman but they are actually seeking to retain benefits that enrich their members at the expense of hardworking taxpayers who aren’t as lucky.

Moreover the idea that these unions are fighting oppressive Republicans is a joke. Contrary to the Times, the governor of Wisconsin and the Republicans in the legislature there are not the moral equivalent of Tunisian or Egyptian autocrats. They were voted into office by the people and what they are doing is exactly what they promised the electorate they would do once they gained office. It is the unions and the Democrats who are the reactionary defenders of an untenable and frankly undemocratic status quo, not the Republicans who advocate change.

Second, and just as important for those who watch the media, the Times’ flattering portrait of the protesters ignores the extremist and violent rhetoric that has characterized the union demonstrators. As we noted Friday, unionists and the Democratic Party activists who have been bused in to help them have compared Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler and the Republicans to Nazis, as this video illustrates. Yet the Times has ignored that aspect of the story even though such rhetoric and demonstrators’ signs were the focus of much of their coverage of Tea Party protests. One can only conclude that in the liberal universe of the New York Times, left-wing union protesters are judged by a very different standard than the one they employ to report and editorialize about the conservatives of the Tea Party.
But such double standards are so typical of the New York Times. Did anyone expect anything different?

And why are the unions going to the mattresses over the proposed legislation in Wisconsin? Steven Malanga explains why this is their Armageddon. They need the automatic dues money taken from their members' paychecks by the government and given to the unions so that the unions can push for electing the legislators who will continue those privileges. And they also want that money so they can push for higher taxes.
Government workers have taken to the streets in Madison, Wis., to battle a series of reforms proposed by Gov. Scott Walker that include allowing workers to opt out of paying dues to unions. Everywhere that this "opt out" idea has been proposed, unions have battled it vigorously because the money they collect from dues is at the heart of their power.

Unions use that money not only to run their daily operations but to wage political campaigns in state capitals and city halls. Indeed, public-sector unions especially have become the nation's most aggressive advocates for higher taxes and spending. They sponsor tax-raising ballot initiatives and pay for advertising and lobbying campaigns to pressure politicians into voting for them. And they mount multimillion dollar campaigns to defeat efforts by governors and taxpayer groups to roll back taxes.
They need those higher taxes to fund the bigger government that will provide their benefits and jobs. It's a vicious cycle and that is why they must be stopped. They must be stopped in Wisconsin and in the other states that are waking up to the terrible hole that they have dug for their citizens.

For those teachers protesting in Wisconsin who think that the proposed bill would mean the end to all protection in their jobs, they are are misinformed. George Will quotes Governor Walker to clarify this matter.
Many protesters do not realize that most worker protections - merit hiring; just cause for discipline and termination - are the result not of collective bargaining but of Wisconsin's uniquely strong and century-old civil service law.

"I am convinced," he says, "this is about money - but not the employees' money." It concerns union dues, which he wants the state to stop collecting for the unions, just as he wants annual votes by state employees on recertifying the unions. He says many employees pay $500 to $600 annually in union dues - teachers pay up to $1,000. Given a choice, many might prefer to apply this money to health care premiums or retirement plans. And he thinks "eventually," most will say about the dues collectors: "What do we need this for?"
That is the true fear that the unions have. This is a time of true clarity. Will points to the contrast between Governor Walker and President Obama.
Walker, by a fiscal seriousness contrasting with Obama's lack thereof, and Obama, by inciting defenders of the indefensible, have made three things clear:

First, the Democratic Party is the party of government, not only because of its extravagant sense of government's competence and proper scope but also because the party's base is government employees. Second, government employees have an increasingly adversarial relationship with the governed. Third, Obama's "move to the center" is fictitious.
Yes, indeed. What we've seen in Wisconsin has been a moment of true clarity. We are seeing the true colors of many of those involved. And what we're seeing from teachers, unions, Democrats, and the President is not attractive. They are clearly showing us how they place their own personal and professional interests above that of the common good. It is a sight well worth remembering at election time.