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Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan

B.S. in Wisconsin: Public Employees Shouldn’t be Able to Strike

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What the hell is going on here?  Following the absurd public teacher strike in Wisconsin that’s been going on for a couple of weeks now, another 45,000+ Wisconsin public employees are threatening to join in and bring Wisconsin to a complete halt.

Why are they striking, you ask?  Well, the patently evil Wisconsin governor and state legislature (and, I suppose, the patently evil citizens of Wisconsin who elected them) are attempting to curtail a $3.6 billion biennial budget shortfall by enacting the following:

  1. Public employees must pay 5.8% of their salary toward their retirement pensions, up from 0.0% (police and firefighters are exempt).
  2. Public employees must pay for 12% of their healthcare premiums, instead of the current 6% (police and firefighters are exempt).
  3. Public employees may collectively bargain with the government over wages, but not benefits and work rules.
  4. Wisconsin voters must approve any additional salary raises for public workers that are over the inflation rate.

That’s it.

Now, let’s dissect this.  For starters, I don’t want to hear the following:

1.  Don’t give me that “Those poor teachers” crap.

Considering that this entire mess in Wisconsin began with teachers, I think it’s only fair to start with them.  Everyone always lines up at the drop of a hat to shed a sympathetic tear for the plight of the public educator – the 21st century version of a galley slave.  If even half of what I’m reading about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is true, he’s probably one fancy hat away from being this guy:

 

 

Reality check: the average Wisconsin teacher makes $52,644 before benefits.  By itself, that’s pretty damn great; the median family income in the U.S. in 2008 was $52,029.  If you’ve determined that one person making $52,644 is more than one family making $52,029, maybe that’s because a Wisconsin teacher done learnt you good.

In terms of benefits, in Milwaukee the average teacher makes another 74.2 cents in benefits on every dollar they receive in actual salary.   Two particularly surprising items which factor into that figure are: 1) the school district’s contributions for teachers’ health insurance, which is the equivalent of 38.8% of their wages as opposed to the national private-sector workers’ 10.7% average, and 2) teachers currently don’t pay a dime toward the state employee pension plan or the additional teacher’s supplemental pension plan (they automatically receive both).  Hopefully it’s becoming pretty clear that they’re living the sweet life compared to the overwhelming majority of working Americans.

If you’d like some specific examples of what these teachers are pulling down, look no further.

2.  Don’t give me that “Going after public employees is unfair, and anti-union” crap.

First of all, nothing going on in Wisconsin has anything to do with private-sector unions, okay?  This entire fiasco is all about public employee unions.

Now keep in mind that taxpayers pay public workers.  Is being held captive by a denial of service from workers whose salary you are obligated to pay “fair?”  Is it fair to have your children refused education because somebody in the public sector doesn’t want to start playing by the same rules as their counterparts in the private sector?  Would it be more fair for Wisconsin to go utterly bankrupt and have everyone lose?

Besides, in the terms which define collective bargaining there’s no real way for public employees to defend the legitimacy of their strike.  Wisconsin has broken no laws by changing the terms of public employee collective bargaining, and federal courts have repeatedly denied that collective bargaining over employment conditions is something you can petition the government about for redress.  Of course, this isn’t to say that workers can’t strike illegally under the belief that they can force their way – though that’s no guarantee of success.  In the 1980s, some air traffic controllers learned the hard way that they were expendable when their illegal strike caused 11,000 of them to be fired by President Reagan.  Still, replacing every teacher and/or state worker in Wisconsin is probably impossible, and I’m sure the public employee unions are aware of that.

The fact of the matter is that Wisconsin is broke, and it’s time for public employees to share some of the same burdens that their paymasters – the citizens of Wisconsin – have been dealing with.  Reality has nothing to do with being anti-union.

3.  Don’t tell me that public employees should even have the right to collectively bargain, much less strike.

There is not and should not be anything legal about a hostage situation, which is what this ordeal is.

The President of the 97-union South Central Federation of Labor of Wisconsin said,

“Two weeks ago who would have thought there would have been 70,000 people on the Capitol Square demonstrating on behalf of worker rights?” Cavanaugh said. “We have had an awful lot of statements of support from around the country.”

 

Statements of support from around the country are nice, but utterly meaningless.  Guess who runs Wisconsin?  The duly-elected representatives elected by the people of Wisconsin.  So these union folks can blather on, but the bottom line is they don’t have a leg to stand on.  Not that that’s going to stop them from extorting every Wisconsin taxpayer until the unions get what they want.

But it’s statements like this that really warm my heart to the union “cause” (my emphasis added):

A coordinating committee is being formed to contact European unions with experience conducting general strikes, and to begin educating and organizing unions, students and other groups, said Carl Aniel, labor federation delegate from AFSCME Local 171.

“It doesn’t mean that everyone is going to stop working on a particular moment or day,” Aniel said. “It means that we are preparing so that the decisions are made in a very significantly different way so that it protects the people of Wisconsin.”

 

Yes, it’s really the interests of the people of Wisconsin you care about, isn’t it?  When 40% of all Wisconsin teachers suddenly (and fraudulently) call in sick and shut down the public school system, I’m sure it’s really about protecting the people of Wisconsin – because after all, what else does a public employee do but serve the public?  I mean, you know, besides what they’re doing right now in Wisconsin, which is extortion (my emphasis added):

Extortion, outwresting, and/or exaction is a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection.

 

Oh.  I guess it is about “protecting” the people of Wisconsin after all.  Please excuse me, Carl Aniel of AFSCME Local 171, for failing to immediately understand you.

To make matters worse, Democrat legislators have fled the state to avoid voting on the public employee benefit and collective bargaining adjustments; without at least one of them being present, there aren’t enough legislators on hand to legally call a vote on this or anything else.

“We were left with no choice,” Democrat Sen. Jon Erpenbach said [.]

 

Well, no choice besides doing your job and allowing voters to implement their will via the democratic process.  Other than that, no, I guess there wasn’t a choice.  Plus when you consider that public employees and their unions contribute 20% of the total Democrat campaign contributions in Wisconsin, I suppose maybe that’s sort of a factor.

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The Pointless Veneration of Reagan

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Why conservatives and many self-styled libertarians insist on worshiping Ronald Reagan is beyond me.  What’s to like?  His tripling of the national debt?  Promising to end the Departments of Education and Energy, and failing to do so?  Selling arms to Iran?  Merely being present during the inevitable fall of communism?  It seems that the patently rudderless Republican Party is reduced to attributing things they never do (creating and maintaining fiscally-sound small government) to a man who never did them.

Not that they have too many presidential role models to work with.  Let’s review: should they choose George W. Bush, whose unfortunately all-to-recent slew of terrible policy and popularity disasters include sending the federal deficit and national debt to spectacular heights?  Perhaps George H.W. Bush, whose “Read my lips: no new taxes” pledge was a comical farce?  Gerald Ford, who pardoned Nixon?  Dare I even mention Nixon himself?  It’s absolutely breathtaking to consider that at this point we’ve backtracked all the way to Eisenhower, and fond remembrance of 60 years (or more) past isn’t likely to energize the electorate.

The entire strategy of misty-eyed Reagan retrospective is a guaranteed failure anyway.  With every breath wasted on Ronald Reagan and his so-called legacy, the Republican Party demonstrates no forward momentum into 2012 with any real presidential contender.  Perhaps this wistful yesteryear obsession with Reagan is simple self-preservation via subconscious denial of today’s political realities; after all, what present-day presumptive Republican candidates are there to be excited about?  It may very well be a forlorn hope that Ron Paul will enter as even a reluctant candidate, and with all the Party toes he’s stepped on over the years it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t be a concerted effort to internally sabotage his candidacy.  Chris Christie, who makes headlines as a champion big-government fighter in New Jersey has repeatedly stated he won’t run.  Paul Ryan, whose claim to fame is purposing a balanced budget by – oh boy! – 2063 is a highly improbable choice.  Who’s left?  Sarah Palin?  Mike Huckabee?  Can anyone actually believe the best they could come up with in the recent New Hampshire straw poll was Mitt Romney?  Is there any Republican less qualified to shrink government?

It is thus that the Republicans and their Tea Party supporters in particular – both so outspokenly dedicated to reducing the size of government – are practically doomed to look in the past and credit a man with actions he never took and purported beliefs he clearly betrayed.  To make matters worse, consider that the recent Republican boom in Congress is to be of scarce comfort in short order.  While congressional Republicans make noise about reducing the deficit by pathetically microscopic amounts (while refusing to take on Defense or entitlement spending, which currently make  about 76% of the budget), election season is right around the corner and there’s no evidence to suggest any remotely significant direction on the legislative front.  Attention, GOP: the charade can’t last forever.

But it’s the so-called “Reagan Libertarians” that raise my hackles; it’s a sad commentary that hijacking and bastardizing the libertarian label is so unfortunately in vogue.  If there was ever a contradiction of terms, this would be it: the defining of small government as big government.  The real Reagan legacy is deficit spending, hugely expanded national debt, foreign intervention, and tax hikes.  There is not and cannot be anything libertarian about any of that, period.

I suppose none of this is really surprising: the Republican Party is a contradictory self-defeating desiccated husk of anything it ever even claimed to be.  You can’t have small government and the fruitless War on Terror, the patently failed War on Drugs, the morality police, the Patriot Act, pointless federal departments, oil dependence, and a bevy of foreign entanglements.  Sadly, the impossible is apparently what Republicans desire – it is, after all, what they consistently vote for.

So perhaps, all things considered, Ronald Reagan is the best representative of the Republican Party that anyone could ever dream of.  As long as Republicans insist on what can only be called hypocrisy, perpetuating the myth of Reagan is quite frankly the shoe that fits.  But I draw the line – I must draw the line – at any fool who wishes to hitch libertarianism to Reagan’s fraudulence.  Unlike the ideologically boxed-in Republicans, Libertarians can offer a future for a nation mired in very real and very present dangers.  We need not clamor aboard a sinking ship, and I condemn any professed libertarian who implicitly or explicitly insists that an abandonment of libertarian principles by celebrating the antithesis of libertarianism is the path to our salvation.

Written by libertarianews

February 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm