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Of Cowards and Crybabies

By Greg L | 22 February 2011 | National Politics | 28 Comments

Guest Post by Sanford D. Horn

With adult supervision being restored in the governor’s mansions in Madison, WI, Columbus, OH, Richmond, VA and Trenton, NJ, the GOP is keeping its promises of cutting budgets – and not with a scalpel, but with the necessary hacksaw.

In abject cowardice, Wisconsin’s 14 Democratic state senators fled the Dairy State to shun their jobs, jobs that the voters elected them to perform. As fast as they fled, they should be fired via recall. We will stay away “as long as it takes,” said Democrat Sen. Jon Erpenbach of his party’s unwillingness to conduct their sworn duties, inclusive of which is to participate in the budgetary process. A budget that includes the salaries these scofflaws are still collecting while on the lam.

Similar to Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is calling for a scaled back benefits package for public employees as well as greater contributions for their own healthcare and retirement programs. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is also on record publicly supporting Walker in his quest to rein in the out of control spending and keep the union rapscallions at bay.

There has been an ongoing debate between public and private sectors regarding benefits and tax breaks. Public means their salaries are paid by tax dollars from all employees, public and private. Private companies may set their respective bars as they see fit and workers may opt in or out of such employment. The same is true of public employees.

Wisconsin is in the midst of a $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Governor Walker proposes public employees raise their healthcare participation from five to 12.4 percent. The public sector average is 20 percent. Additionally, Walker is requesting public employees contribute 5.8 percent of their wages into the Wisconsin pension system – also less than that of the private sector’s average participation in its various retirement funds. And for this Walker is called a “tyrant” and a “dictator.”

There are those objecting to Gov. Walker giving tax breaks to private businesses who have forgotten a basic economic axiom; private business creates jobs which fills the government coffers. Public employee’s largesse comes from those government coffers. Empty coffers equals fewer public employees, thus equaling a reduction in services provided.

The more public employees demand or out-earn what is incoming to the state treasury, the more the level of sustainability drops until a state is bankrupt. This leads to what happened in Oregon a few years ago when public schools were shut down more than a month early as the well had run dry. This creates a danger to society.

Gov. Christie told a group of complaining teachers that if they were not satisfied with his plans, they could quit their jobs, with plenty of people ready to step up and fill those vacancies. These were folks crying poverty for being asked to kick in one percent more for their cushy-tushy benefits package, and with salaries over $80,000 a year.

I will not castigate the teaching profession – as it is an under-respected and underappreciated profession – for making $80,000 a year – those are veteran teachers who have been on the job for decades.

Nor will I join the ignorant who suggest teachers have it easy with summers off and days ending at 3:30 p.m.

Dedicated teachers, and there are many, are often in their classrooms before 7:30 a.m. and required to work through lunch. They are typically still in school at or after 6 p.m. – coaching, tutoring, grading homework and other materials as well as working into the night and on weekends at home to write lesson plans, deal with parents and administrators.

Summers for teachers are typically about six weeks out of the classroom, but that time is needed to recharge their mental batteries, or in many cases for research and furthering their own education. I know, having walked the walk for seven years as a teacher of social studies and American History.

In Wisconsin, it is against the law for teachers to strike. The teacher-protesters are engaged in a massive sick-out. They are being supported by doctors who are writing excuses for the teachers to bring back to their schools – in many cases these activities are taking place on the very streets where the protests are being held amongst total strangers. These doctors are committing fraud and should be sanctioned by their governing body. Perhaps the licenses of the complicit doctors should be suspended for a year with a concomitant loss of wages.

Striking teachers ought to be fired, a la the air traffic controllers in 1981. Supporters of striking teachers say the educators are not subject to dismissal as a work stoppage does not create a danger to society as the striking air traffic controllers did.

I disagree.

Striking teachers keep children out of class and allow them to fall further behind in the learning process. A prolonged strike would necessitate the students completing the school year when the strike is settled. Will the students be subjected to attending school for longer hours during the day and perhaps early evening? What about weekends and summer? What about religious prohibitions preventing students from attending school on their Sabbaths – be it Saturday or Sunday? What about parents whose schedules don’t allow for a longer day or paid vacations in the summer that would need to be forfeited?

Teachers’ union leaders are more to blame than the majority of their rank and file. They are in business to zealously defend their clientele. Failure to do so is demonstrative of their inability to do their jobs, thus making them irrelevant. However, union leaders are paid, strike or no strike, while strikers are literally out in the cold – many wondering how long they can survive without a paycheck.

There are thousands of out of work, qualified, eager teachers ready to step in and give the children what they need – a quality education – thus avoiding danger to our society by keeping them from the classrooms and the knowledge they so desperately need to compete in the ever so challenging global society.

A note to striking public employees, including teachers – perhaps you need to revisit your history textbooks. Just because Governor Walker is asking for greater health care and pension package contributions from workers does not make Walker a “Hitler” as is being depicted by the protesters in Madison. Save that vitriol for the real villains.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.



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28 Comments

  1. Patty said on 22 Feb 2011 at 9:53 pm:
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    Mr. Horn, is Wisconsin a right to work state?

  2. Greg L said on 22 Feb 2011 at 10:38 pm:
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    Wisconsin was kind of the birthplace of Unions, and it’s definitely not a right to work state. Forced unionization is the rule there, as in most of the states in the region.

  3. peter danlyn said on 22 Feb 2011 at 11:16 pm:
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    “In abject cowardice, …fled the Dairy State to shun their jobs…”

    Is that how you would characterize A Lincoln’s similar actions? If not, why is it acceptable for one politician to use this tactic, while another is vilified?

    “they should be fired via recall.”

    If there is an absence of a credible recall motion couldn’t that mean that the public, like the police and firefighters, side with the democrats and public workers?

    You argue that “striking teachers” present a danger to society, presumably to align the situation more closely with the Coolidge doctrine that “there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” If you truly believe this, why do you think the governor exempted uniformed public safety workers from this legislation? I didn’t think this was specifically about striking, but about the ability to collectively negotiate.

    Has the governor reduced his own salary/benefits, or those of his staff?

    If the real problem is the size of government and the number of services provided, wouldn’t the hacksaw approach be to cut all unnecessary services? Why slice razor thin percentages off salaries and benefits if it would be better to get rid of whole departments? Why doesn’t the governor tell the voters exactly what programs and services they don’t need, and really reduce the size of government as he promised?

    How about less teachers, health inspectors, zoning administrators, dmv workers, etc?

    Seems that the governor is just telling public sector workers they cant bargain collectively, but they must bear the collective burden for his reluctance to make the real tough decisions to slash unnecessary positions and services. They are his collective scapegoat, so he doesn’t have to explain shrinking government services to individual voters yhat may not agree with specific decisions. That sounds much more like childish cowardice than anything the Dems are doing.

    Seems that the Democrats are taking a principled stand to protect basic rights of working people. Today’s workers have it pretty safe and pretty easy, in no small measure because of the gains made through collective bargaining.

  4. AmericaFirst said on 23 Feb 2011 at 6:38 am:
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    The “gains” made through collective bargaining are bankrupting localities. 100% paid retirement, 100% paid healthcare, vacation days up the wazoo - all gift by a public, which by a far too large percentage, is unemployed.

    So lets leave the hyperbole, lies and bs to Chris Matthews and look at what these fine union folks have accomplished.

    What are the graduation rates of students in Madison, Milwaukee, and other liberal run major cities in Wisconsin? Are they commensurate with the high salaries and benefits strong armed from the public?

    I will let the union apologists answer that - if they dare - and then follow up with the real numbers.

    Bottom line is this: these people are the epitome of greed. They demand, strong arm and bully themselves into lovely positions and then refuse to perform. Why? Because they are union and one can’t make them.

    Ask them to pitch in an provide a small potion of their own largess - and you are Hitler.

    They lie about being sick, doctors publicly write phony excuse and they parade other people’s children around as props.

    Nice.

    In this part of the country, we all know what an unmitigated disaster TSA is and what a disaster unionizing them will be.

    Well, thats Wisconsin and thats what the governor is trying to fix.

  5. Anonymous said on 23 Feb 2011 at 6:50 am:
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    And on a separate note: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/22/arizona-senate-panel-passes-birthright-citizen-law/

    Why can’t we have legislators with the cajones to deal with illegals like they have in Arizona? Instead we have a bunch of mouthers, many of whom act as if they will do something (cough cough, Frank Wolf, cough, cough), most of whom just say to heck with it.

    Need some backbone injected into our legislators.

  6. park'd said on 23 Feb 2011 at 7:30 am:
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    We can’t have legislators like Arizona because a) everyone keeps voting for the same POS’ every 2 years that take up space and don’t do anything and b) because people would rather piss and moan on a blog instead of taking their demands to the state house or to Deane’s office - Wisconsin style and marching en masse to let them know that the BS stops now. Organize a mass march on the benefactors of illegals in the state and something tells me you will get some action. Griping on a blog and continually reelecting do-nothing boobs like Wolf and Colgan is not going to solve your problems.

  7. poetic justice said on 23 Feb 2011 at 10:01 am:
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    America First,

    Your swell anti-union harangue,
    Echoes the tea party gang,
    Diversion attacks, that fall short on the facts,
    With the substance of day old meringue.

  8. Citizen12 said on 23 Feb 2011 at 10:43 am:
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    This Wisconsin business is a shining example that the enemy of American is advancing its cause and the lemmings are in full gallop.

    Imagine for a moment if every household in America responded in such a manner.

    At the suggestion that we must cut back on the cable TV premium channels and going out to eat in order to pay the rent, buy food and keep the lights on, the first reaction is; no laundry, cleaning, household repairs or yard work will get done and in addition to that we don’t even get up to go to work.

    What crap.

    There is a system in place under the title of organized labor, and it does not start with an organized strike at the first talk of change. But it would appear that the system has been corrupted to the point that it puts opposing sides, all the money and the shot callers under the control of one group.

  9. Henry said on 23 Feb 2011 at 11:04 am:
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    Unless I missed a page, there is not anything in the constitution / bill of rights that says americans have a right to unioinize / strike / or bargian collectively.

    Those were privilages granted through time, and are continually refered to as “rights” when they are not.

    That said, there seems to be the movement to villianize public sector workers for achieving some of the same “privilages” the private sector had when times were good - high pay, benefits, and retirement plans. The difference is the teacher getting 80K has worked for 25 years or more to get there, while the 20 somethings started there ( again when times were good).

    Fallacy. It is like calliing Social Security and “Entitlement” - I have been paying for that for over 40 years, it is mine.

  10. Patty said on 23 Feb 2011 at 11:18 am:
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    Someone should publish the salaries of Labor Union bosses.

    I’ll bet that will be an eye opener.

    I think every state should be a right to work state.

  11. Just the Facts said on 23 Feb 2011 at 12:02 pm:
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    Good post. As a self-employed, small-business owner I pay 100% of my health insurance and retirement costs. I can take days off whenever I want, but in my case no work means no income.

    No sentiment here for people who want more of my money to finance 100% paid health insurance and retirement, and guaranteed employment.

  12. Nat said on 23 Feb 2011 at 1:24 pm:
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    “That said, there seems to be the movement to villianize public sector workers for achieving some of the same “privilages” the private sector had when times were good”

    Henry, you are spot on about the concerted campaign to villainize public sector employees. But don’t think for a moment that the people behind that campaign aren’t after private sector employees as well. The House of Representatives recently voted on a proposal to completely defund the NLRB. The practical effect of such a proposal passing would be to end collective bargaining in America for the employees of private industry. Fortunately, 60 Republicans voted against this proposal and it failed.

    Wisconsin is facing the same shortfall that every other state is facing due to a severe recession. And like every other state must cut its budget accordingly. That recession led to major gains for the Republican Party. The governor is free to misinterpret that election result as an embrace of a far right agenda if he likes (can you say “overreach”). But that doesn’t bode well for future electoral success.

    Demonizing public employees may play well with a certain segment of the Republican base, but the independent voters who swing elections will see through this phony argument and will move in a different direction.

    It is neither good policy nor good politics.

  13. Joe Doc said on 23 Feb 2011 at 1:53 pm:
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    Democratic unions fund Democratic candidates.

    Democratic unions negotiate with Democratic lawmakers (the aforementioned candidates) for higher pay and better benefits.

    Democratic unions get more money from their members, as a result of higher pay and better benefits.

    Democratic unions fund Democratic candidates.

    Democratic unions negotiate…

    And on… and on… and on.

    So, who represents the taxpayer? Gov. Walker.

    Elections have consequences. The Ponzi Scheme is over.

  14. Harry said on 23 Feb 2011 at 2:26 pm:
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    Hmmm, seems the unions are being blamed for the problem, actually it was the politicans who gave in to the union demands, no one forced the elected officials to sign the contracts and give away the store

  15. Citizen12 said on 23 Feb 2011 at 3:46 pm:
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    Harry said on 23 Feb 2011 at 2:26 pm

    “no one forced the elected officials to sign the contracts and give away the store”

    ******************************************************************

    And that is at the heart of the problem with organized public service workers.

    If the public service workers were not unionized, there would be no potential for political favoritism, arm twisting and corruption to take place.

  16. AmericaFirst said on 23 Feb 2011 at 5:51 pm:
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    Poetic justice.

    Very cute.

    Typical douche bag leftist - can’t counter with an intelligent argument…..

    I suppose 3rd grade poetry is a step up from the usual leftist drivel - but not by much.

  17. poetic justice said on 23 Feb 2011 at 7:52 pm:
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    In answering Pete Danlyn’s screed,

    All points but one you concede,

    with inelegant prose you just grunt “union blows”

    To best that grade three IS all I need!

  18. Maureen said on 23 Feb 2011 at 7:55 pm:
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    I belonged to the AFL-CIO for 21 years and after the first ten concession after concession was made by the employees. No more double time on Sundays, pay more for perscriptions, pay more for healthcare, etc., etc.

    Did I like it? No of course not but one realizes that something is better than nothing and more than what other’s have. And I still had a job.

    Please don’t get me wrong, teachers have it pretty rough with the kids these days and should be well compensated for what they do. But teaching is the only profession I know that gets about 2 1/2 months off a year. So if you divide the time they are at work they are making pretty good money. Throw in the benefits and they are making a better living than alot of folks.

    So if they are asked to contribute money to their own retirement I can’t feel too bad for them. They are only being asked to do what most of us are already doing.

  19. Prester John said on 23 Feb 2011 at 8:36 pm:
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    Let’s really get things stirred up.

    How about having Federal employees contributing more to their pensions? Shoot, they can retire at 55 with 30 years of service. True, they do have a deduction every pay period but IMHO it is relatively low.

    And how about this one. In addition to the pension contributions do the Feds really need to be giving FERS employees a 5% match to their Thrift Savings Plans contributions when they’re running a $1.5 trillion annual deficit?

    It seems to me either employee pension contributions have to go up or the government match needs to go.

    Private companies cut retirement plan matching when things are tight, why not the Feds?

    Just a thought.

  20. Regdfry said on 23 Feb 2011 at 10:09 pm:
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    Prester, you are stirring it up. How about this? Federal retiree pension payments receive cost of living adjustments. . . Now there’s a target!

  21. Prester John said on 24 Feb 2011 at 7:18 am:
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    Reg, I am one of those federal retirees (military actually).

    Have I enjoyed the zero COLA over the last two years? No, but my country is up to it’s eyeballs in debt, so tough.

  22. Rene said on 24 Feb 2011 at 2:14 pm:
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    I think Walker blew it when the unions agreed to pay a percentage of their pension contribution and their health care. He keeps insisting that it is about the money and the budget, then he turns the money away. What he really wants is for them to lose their voice. When big government and corporations demand the ‘little people’ to shut up and put out - that is trouble. He had his chance, and he blew it. He is not a man for the people.

    Secondly, what ever happened to the good old days when we had chain gangs? Here we have prisoners sucking the life out of taxpayers and we are not utilizing them to pay their debt. I am not talking in the traditional sense of forcing prisoners to work actually attached to a ball and chain, but certainly there are jobs they can perform in order to pay their tab. Maybe I just haven’t done enough research on the subject and they are actually working to pay their debt to society, other than making license plates. Can anyone share why we aren’t utilizing this resource?

    I would also like to comment on the teachers ‘get summers off’ comments on this site. Most people don’t understand this is forced unpaid leave as there are not enough summer teaching positions available. Most of us would find it difficult if our employer asked us to leave for 10 weeks without pay. But this is the nature of the teaching business and we have no right to complain about it as if teachers are actually requesting some type of luxury summer vacation time. It is beyond their control and many end up working at other jobs during the summer just to make up for the lost cash. Some teachers spend that time working on graduate classes or professional development for recertification. Most of which cannot be completed during the school year simply because of time constraints. We all know there are some lousy teachers out there, but for the most part the teachers that I have met are very hard, dedicated workers that put in many more hours than most people like to acknowledge.

  23. Regdfry said on 24 Feb 2011 at 4:51 pm:
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    Prester,

    How about permanently eliminating the COLA? That would put federal pensions on par with the private sector. Thin you could handle that?

  24. Prester John said on 24 Feb 2011 at 8:06 pm:
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    Reg,

    Like I said, I wouldn’t like it, but that’s too bad.

    I have more than just my military pension to live on.

  25. Regdfry said on 24 Feb 2011 at 8:34 pm:
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    Prester,

    Thanks for your service. The last two years had zero inflation (according to government, really?) so no COLA. That even applied to social security recipients. Future years will bring a drastically different fiscal reality. When adult leadership is restored, items like this are likely to be in play.

  26. Black Saint said on 27 Feb 2011 at 8:26 am:
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    Public Unions are just the Mob Collection agent for the Democrat Party. One would have to be brain dead not to recognize the corruption in Democrat politicians rewarding Mobsters with tax payers money in return for votes and money! In fact, the Unions and their hired Politicians have been so corrupt they are bankrupting this Nation!

  27. Black Saint said on 27 Feb 2011 at 8:29 am:
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    Public Unions and the invading Horde of Illegal Aliens are both like Big fat bloated Ticks full of blood on the Tax payer Backs sucking all of the blood from their bodies and both must be curtailed or this Nation will be a Third World Slum in a few years!

  28. Black Saint said on 27 Feb 2011 at 8:32 am:
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    Obama could add millions of jobs and save 100,s Billions of dollars while increasing tax receipts by billions just by the simple act of abiding by our Constitution against invasion, enforce our immigration Laws and honoring his Oath of office!

    Instead Dumbo,s answer is to reward them and give them American citizenship and Amnesty for their Invasion of this Nation and their many crimes!

    But by doing so he will add tens of millions of uneducated, prolific breeding, welfare Democrat voters! Which to him and the Democrats is much more important than the welfare of American citizens and the future of this Nation!

    With millions of Americans without jobs and losing everything no Liberal Democrat will address the 500 pound gorilla in the room, 20 to 30 million of invading Illegal Aliens taking jobs that should be American jobs and billions of dollars in social services that should be for American citizens while driving our standard of living toward third world status!

    Their negative impact extends to every area from Sub-par loans, Lower standard of living, Billions taken from this economy and sent to their home countries, Massive document fraud, Crime, Overrun ER rooms, Bankrupted hospitals, Failing schools, Property Taxes, Insurance costs, Environment, Culture, Welfare costs, Welfare fraud, SS fraud, Voter fraud, Disrespect for laws, our Constitution against invasion and even Balance of payments occurring from oil and other imports to support the 20 to 30 illegal aliens in this country!

    One has to only look at Calif. which is basically mostly an Spanish speaking Bankrupt state that cannot afford to provide Welfare, Schooling, Medical, Prison cells etc. for millions of uneducated, fast breeding, third world Parasites from Mexico, MS-13 Gang bangers, Drug dealers, Rapist and other assorted Criminals!

    In a very few years it will be impossible to see where Mexico ends and Calif. begins as both will be an third world cesspool!

    Failure to secure our borders and reward the Invading horde for their invasion and their relatives in an never ending chain with American Citizenship will assure our future is an over populated Spanish speaking Slum that is an Cesspool of Corruption, Crime, Poverty and Misery modeled on Mexico!

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