Let’s forget about the fact that Scott Walker actually inherited a surplus when he took office as governor of Wisconsin. Lets forget about the fact that he got rid of that surplus by giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. And lets forget about the fact that he is essentially manufacturing this “crisis” in Wisconsin just to stick it to the unions.
Forget about that for right now.
I have watched Republicans do these kinds of things for my entire thirty-one years on earth. I even think I understand why they do it. That’s fine, I’m not even going to argue it. Play on fear, claim the world is ending, and make it seem like the only way out is to blame the unions, and finally bust them up. Just do it, Governor Walker; listen to Nike.
While we’re forgetting about important things that should matter, let’s also forget about the fact that these evil, satanic unions have agreed to reform. They have agreed to a 1,200% increase in what they pay into their pensions. They have agreed to over a 100% increase in what they pay into health insurance. They have agreed to everything, which is going to cost some teachers around $1,200 a month in lost take-home pay (depending on their pay scale). Let’s forget about the fact that in reasonable discussions about the sacrifice middle-class Americans are going to have to make in these tough times, the teachers in Wisconsin have stepped up and agreed not only to tighten their belts, but to practically tighten it around the necks of their families.
Forget about that too.
And while we’re choosing not to access certain parts of our brain that help us remember facts, let’s completely look the other way when studies in Wisconsin show that even with these so-called “Cadillac” pensions, private-sector employees, when all is said and done, still end up with more money, better healthcare, and more in overall wages for retirement. So that the argument about the high life these teachers lead is actually quite the opposite. Even with their pensions, a state employee would be better off in the private sector. Period.
And let’s forget about the fact that the people we’re ganging up on are teachers. Governor Walker isn’t going after firemen and police officers’ unions, because it is unpopular politically. He isn’t going after private sector employees who already make far more. He is giving breaks to people who own yachts. But teachers? Evidently it is popular to keep attacking teachers, even though we are already a laughing stock when it comes to fair wages and work conditions.
Let’s forget all of the above. Turn a blind eye. Turn up Fox News, turn off your brain.
Now I want you to remember.
Remember how this whole catastrophe began? Didn’t it have something to do with banks, and lenders, and mortgages, and deregulation? My memory isn’t what it once was, but I don’t remember George W. Bush looking into the camera begging the taxpayers to bail-out unions. I could have sworn we average Americans paid hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars out of our thin pockets because one big sector of the working world was falling apart. I just don’t remember that money going to help unions, do you? I could have sworn it went to companies who turned around and gave out hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses (who needs a pension when your bonus for being bad at your job is a million bucks?). I also don’t remember asking those responsible to pay more taxes, or pay more into social security, or stop giving out bonuses worth more than a school of teachers will make in all their careers combined, or do much of anything. I remember the first stimulus, the one George W. Bush gave the banks. Even today we don’t even know where that money went. We just watched as the disparity between the rich and the poor kept increasing.
Perhaps the saddest, most upsetting thing I remember after our country avoided falling apart only after the public sector bailed out the private, is that nobody marched against them. No one marched against the fat cats in Washington who let Goldman Sachs tell them what would work best for them. No one marched against the banks. Even then they claimed they weren’t in need of regulation. Where was the anger against frivolous spending then? Where was the anger against Cadillac compensation in those days? Where is it today?
It’s in Wisconsin–However the anger isn’t for the banks and the private sector, it is against the working Americans who bailed them out. Ironically, now they are calling for regulation.
What Governor Walker is doing to teachers in Wisconsin is regulating the way their “business” is run. It is basic oversight. He is telling them they need to scale back, pay into this, watch the way you do that, and do the rest of it like this. Basically, we can’t regulate banks, and the corporations who are much more culpable for the situation in Wisconsin, and around the country, but we can regulate teachers, some of the worst compensated workers out there. So the teachers have decided to use the one thing our democracy guarantees for its citizens- their voice.
These last couple days have been hard for me to take as a teacher. Teachers have mobilized, but even more amazing to see were the other middle-class Americans being bussed in to mobilize against the teachers. While these outraged Americans never marched against those who caused our pains, I have watched in denial as actual American citizens marched against other American citizens. And it isn’t even because the teachers won’t agree to reform or regulate the way they do things. They’ve already agreed to EVERYTHING. No, they are marching against middle-class American citizens simply to take away their right to have a voice.
This more than anything is what hurts me the most.
So forget about this manufactured crisis in Wisconsin, a state that, as the recession goes, isn’t doing too horribly, and whose pension system is quite healthy. Let’s forget that corporations and the wealthy don’t have to tighten their belts as far as Governor Walker is concerned, but teachers have voluntarily tightened their belts where it is hurting them the most. Let’s forget about the real reasons for the state of our union (whoops, bad word, how about state of our nation?). But can we at least remember who we should be mad at before we point fingers at the unions? Can we at least remember that?
Blaming the unions in Wisconsin for today’s economic reality to the extent that their ability to bargain should be destroyed is utterly absurd.
While teachers are out there in the rain fighting for their rights, you also might want to remember the most sickening scene of this play. There are people out there marching against middle-class Americans—marching against teachers, of all people.
You have to wonder the direction our democracy is heading when you see people out there doing that.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a reason to march against my fellow working Americans—firemen, paramedics, shopkeepers, small business owners, checkers at the supermarket– you couldn’t pay me enough to try and take their rights away- especially if that group of workers had already agreed to give up so much. The very idea is despicable. Teachers aren’t asking for respect. Teachers aren’t even asking for higher wages or better health insurance. Teachers just agreed to help the rest of their state by taking home less. They have agreed to LESS money for their families. What they are asking for is simple:
I can’t believe there is anyone in this country who would begrudge a teacher that.