So what’s the huge deal in Wisconsin? Why are teachers abandoning their posts (and students) to protest at the capitol. The Wall St. Journal explains.

Mr. Walker’s very modest proposal would take away the ability of most government employees to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index, unless otherwise specified by a voter referendum. The bill would also require union members to contribute 5.8% of salary toward their pensions and chip in 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

If those numbers don’t sound outrageous, you probably work in the private economy. The comparable nationwide employee health-care contribution is 20% for private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average employee contribution from take-home pay for retirement was 7.5% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Mr. Walker says he has no choice but to make these changes because unions refuse to negotiate any compensation changes, which is similar to the experience Chris Christie had upon taking office in New Jersey. Wisconsin is running a $137 million deficit this year and anticipates coming up another $3.6 billion short in the next two-year budget. Governor Walker’s office estimates the proposals would save the state $300 million over the next two years, and the alternative would be to lay off 5,500 public employees.

(Hat tip: Betsy Newmark, a teacher.)

In short:

  • The union refuses to be treated same as everyone else.
  • The union doesn’t care about the state’s financial problems; let someone else pay the price.
  • The union doesn’t want the governor to make the tough choices, at least if those tough choices affect the union.

This is what liberal politics has given us; teachers, and a union, that frankly don’t care about the fix we’re all in. If you want to complain that teachers aren’t paid as  much as those in the public sector, who’s fault is that? It’s the fault of those who insist on keeping their jobs, and their paychecks, in the hands of government.

Not all Wisconsin teachers approve of playing hooky for politics, nor are they all against this belt-tightening. But those that are, are doing their profession a disservice, and are exposing the problems with their union.

And here’s another entry for Civility Watch. If you thought the previous video of the lady with a Hitler sign was a one-off crackpot, check out those signs, including a very clear gun-violence message towards the governor.

Filed under: EconomicsEducationGovernment

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