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An Author's Perspective

Featuring new fiction from Ken Brosky and author authors, as well as occasional political commentary whenever something really important happens. But mostly fiction.

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Oh, Those Pesky Unions

wisconsin, unions, scott walker, madison protest, regulation, recession, pension funds, state workers, protests, wisconsin rally, wisconsin republicans, wisconsin democrats

A couple stray observations regarding this whole argument over collective bargaining:

1. Scott Walker is lying to you when he says he wants unions to contribute more to their pension plans. Every single state worker who receives a pension pays 100% into that pension plan by taking a wage cut. Even Politifact and the Journal-Sentinel are getting this wrong, and they're doing it because they're engaging in sloppy reporting. For a great explanation, click here for a link by tax reporter David Cay Johnson.

What Scott Walker wants state workers to do is give a cut of their pension back to the state even though it belongs to the workers, who took a cut in wages to pay into a pension system.

2. This isn't about the state budget. This is about killing as many unions as possible. Why? Because unions are the biggest pillar of the Democratic Party's strength: of the 10 biggest campaign contributors, seven are conservative organizations set up by the wealthy and three are unions. Kill those unions and the Republican Party pretty much owns our corrupt, bloated privately financed campaign system. There's an argument that this is good because "unions give to democrats who give back to unions." True, to a certain extent. But those seven conservative organizations give to Republicans because Republicans give back to those organizations and the companies that finance them. That's why our private campaign finance system is so ridiculous: we have elected representatives who spend entire days inside a room begging people for campaign contributions.

3. I've noticed a lot of the vitriol is aimed at the "overpaid" teachers. What about the firemen? The police? The state troopers? All three of their unions collectively bargain in the exact same way, and yet no one seems to be bashing them to the same degree. Which is funny, if you think about it ... it was only a few short years ago when a number of police officers' bad behavior was brought to light. Doesn't mean most cops are "whores," as some have referred to teachers.

4. When you compare public sector and private sector workers with similar education, the difference in pay and compensation between the two is pretty close. Not identical, but close.

5. What the Democrats are doing "isn't their job" ... really? This coming from the same party that filibustered pretty much every single bill that went to the Senate in Washington. That's not what the filibuster was intended for ... but we don't understand this anymore as a society because we've been told again and again that this is "democracy." That the filibuster is a crucial tool in preventing a "tyranny of the majority." Well, now the Democrats in Wisconsin are doing the same thing and they're being told to "get back to work." Could have used that kind of talk when the Republicans were filibustering everything in sight.

Why is the state facing a fiscal crisis? Because we just went through one of the most dibilitating recessions since the Great Depression. States have been cutting and cutting to balance their budgets, and President Obama and Congress should have temporarily covered state deficits to ensure no state would have to take more money out of the fragile economy.

Why are pension funds in such horrible shape now? Because a lot of state and federal pension funds were invested in the stock market, which collapsed as the result of fraudulent and unregulated mortgage schemes. It's going to take some time to recover, but perhaps a more important question is this: why isn't anyone who cares so much about teachers' wages upset that the same men who caused this financial crisis are now making tens of millions of dollars a year profiting from the recovery effort?

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