Yesterday, I think, was a good day for America. It was a day when America saw the true face of government sector unions. Yesterday, Wisconsin became Greece, and Madison became Athens. Government union workers gathered by the thousands in Wisconsin's capital to protest Gov. Scott Walker's plans to rein in the constant abuse of the Wisconsin taxpayers by government employee unions. America - or at least that part of America that is paying attention - now understands that government employee unions have declared an all-out war on the taxpayers.
Unions are mobs, and it was a mob you saw descending on the Wisconsin Capitol yesterday. Mobs don't think. Mobs react. A thinking individual would not hold aloft a sign comparing the governor of Wisconsin to Adolf Hitler. An unthinking member of the mob would, as you could see yesterday by the union signs depicting Walker as Hitler. Mobs are easy to manipulate. That is the role of the union leaders. The leaders of the Wisconsin government sector unions are manipulating the mob for the purpose of preserving their own power and the fat incomes that come with being a labor leader. These union leaders have known for years that this day of reckoning over the state budget would come. They've also known that they would have to find a way to take this reckoning and turn it into a confrontation for their own benefit.
Just what is it that Scott Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature want of these government sector unions? Well, they want them to put 5.8% of their wages toward their own retirement. Imagine that! Contributing to your own retirement! Oh, the humanity! They also want government employees to cover 12.6% of their health care premiums. This, of course, is an outrageous concept for Democrats. People just should not be responsible for their own health care. That's the employer's job ... or the government. This, to these pampered and overpaid union members, seems like the end of the world. The fact is that even with those payments into their own retirement plan and into their health care premiums they would still be paying $100 a month less than the average private sector employee pays in Wisconsin. The unions acknowledge that there's a budget problem, but they have a better way of dealing with it. Raise taxes! It's as simple as that. Just raise taxes on the rich and on the businesses. Just do what you have to do to keep the money flowing into the state so that they can continue to be paid more than their private-sector colleagues would be paid for the same work; and so that they don't have to contribute anything to their own retirement or to their own health care. That is the union way.
Why do I think yesterday was a good day for America? Once again, because Americans saw what these unions are really all about. Even though they recognize and accept the financial disaster facing their state government and other state governments around the country, the union workers see no need for them to be a part of the solution. Their message to the politicians is "Hey! You know how to raise taxes. Get out there and do it!"
Yesterday was a good day for America because the people of this country, already beginning to harbor strong suspicions about the negative role that government employee unions are playing in our economy, finally had those suspicions born out. Teachers unions, the most powerful of all -- and the most feared by Democrats -- called in sick. It was a lie. They weren't sick. They wanted to be paid to demonstrate instead of teach! Now they're union leaders will tell you that the state actually called a work holiday. Not true. The illegal strike came first, in the form of a sickout. Well over 1000 teachers called in the night before the big demonstration and said they would not be at work the next day because they were ill. Did they go to the doctor ? You know they didn't. They painted their signs, grabbed some students and headed for Madison. They lied, and they engaged in an illegal work stoppage. The people of Wisconsin saw it, and the people of America saw it. And today the people of this country have a clearer understanding of just how lawless and how dangerous government sector unions can be.
The people of Wisconsin voiced their concerns at the polls last November. They elected a Republican legislature and they put a Republican governor in office. They were tired of the spending, tired of the deficits, and tired of the debt that their children were going to have to pay off. They were also tired of government sector unions riding roughshod, not only over the legislative powers, but also over the voters. They voted for a change. But, as an editorial in the Madison newspaper put it, the unions are determined that they will have the last word, and they will have the loudest word. Mob rule is now in effect.
Do you get it now? Do you see what's coming? Government union workers are prepared to go to war against the taxpayers to protect their jobs and benefits. They make more than their private-sector counterparts? So what? They don't have to contribute to their own retirement plans or health care? So what? They enjoy retirement benefits that private-sector workers can only fantasize about? So what? Just get those rich people out there to pay more in taxes and everything is going to be fine. We're union, people, and we can shut this government down if we want to. Be careful who you pick a fight with. The rich will surrender to higher taxes. We won't surrender to fiscal responsibility.