Unless you have your head buried in the sand or live in la la land (California) then you know that the public teachers in Wisconsin are pitching a fit because some of their benefits will have to be paid for by themselves instead of the lowly taxpayers and they also may lose the ability to have a political hack negotiate even higher salaries and benefits. What a pity if the tax payers actually had a say in whether the teachers and any other public employee had to have the approval of the tax payers in order to get a hike in pay/benefits.
The great news in all of this is that it exposes public employees and public teachers in particular to two things:1.) They are in it for themselves and could care less about the kids they teach and2.) it makes it clear that the pay scale and benefits that public employees receive is out of line with what employees in the private sector get. Once upon a time it was necessary to give good benefits (retirement/health care) to public employees to attract qualified people. The argument went that since public employees made less than comparable jobs in the private sector it was necessary to give them better benefits. That no longer is the case and Wisconsin teachers are a prime example of a system run amuk.
I sincerely believe that most public employees do not understand that the ONLY reason any of them has a job is because someone in the private sector works and pays taxes. Were it not for that, there would be no money to pay any of these people. When times are good pay and benefits climb. When times are bad something has to be done. For private sector employees that means layoffs, firing, closing businesses, etc. Companies cannot print money and can only borrow enough to survive a downturn for so long, then it is sayanora. For public employees to think that they are not to be subjected to the trials and tribulations of a bad economy is naive and selfish. Were it not for the Federal stimulus money that kept public employees working the last two years this situation would have occurred much sooner. Now that the stimulus money is gone and the Republicans control spending the states are having to scramble to try to balance their bloated budgets. The worst is yet to come. Just wait until the states discover that income tax revenues are going to be much less than they have predicted and probably budgeted for. Then the real scramble begins.
I have predicted for some time that we will have civli unrest in this country when benefits actually get cut. It is impossible to give groups of people a goodie and not have them complain/demonstrate/riot when the goodie is taken away. That is one of the major problems with giving away goodies. Today we are seeing the beginning of the civil unrest, there will be more to come. The problem that the public sector employees are creating for themselves is that more and more tax payers will become aware of the pay scale and benefit packages that many public sector employees have. They will become aware that in many cases these public sector employees have it better than they do. While many of the taxpaying workers have lost their jobs, their cars, their homes' the Federal Government has actually expanded the number of Fed employees by 10% the last two years. Very few of the states have actually laid off or fired employees or cut benefits until now. The people who are paying (the lowly tax payer) will have to reconcile why the people who TAKE are still employed or have not had their pay or benefits cut.
This can lead to a public revolt against public employees. Union membership in the private sector is at an all time low, while union membership in public jobs is at an all time high. Polling data shows that very few in the private sector support unions, I suspect that when the smoke clears that support will disappear.
The fact of the matter is that most states are broke. Some states have a constitutional requirement to balance their budget. When the money runs out they have to do something. Too many of them have depended upon Uncle Big Money Pockets to bail them out. When taxpayers don't work and pay taxes then public employees, public programs, and public benefits have to be cut or eliminated.
What can we do to prevent real civil unrest in this country?1.) Understand that the public sector has the right to demonstrate just like we do.2.) Understand the reasons they may be upset, after all they are not the ones who allowed the pay/benefits to get out of control.3.) Support the politicians who are in the position to have to make these hard choices. They must not fail.4.) Make people aware that amenable solutions can be reached. Let them know that the difficult choices must be made, but working in harmony to solve the problem will yield much better results than a heavy handed solution.4.) Hold the politicians accountable. The Democrats in Wisconsin have abdicated their constitutional responsibility to their constituents. They have the legal responsibility to represent them. Running away is a sign of cowardice.
Remember, the problems that we see in Wisconsin will also occur in Ohio, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and in every state that has the hard choices to make to cut expenditures. We are seeing it in SC. Public sector jobs are going unfilled. Professors are being fired. Teachers will be laid off. Policemen will be laid off. California is just now coming to grips with their growing problem. If Jerry Brown cannot solve the problem there then we will see California default on their municipal bonds and then the real trouble begins.
If you know anyone that has a public sector job then encourage them to understand why the cuts have to be made and unless cuts are made and states are successful in balancing their budgets then more permanent cuts and deeper cuts will be made. This country has to get back to physical reality (State and Federal spending) or else we will go the path of Argentina, Germany, Greece, Russia. We don't want that.