I don’t want this post to get us distracted from the important debates and votes happening in DC today, which aim to defund Planned Parenthood and walk back a host of other threats to the unborn and our national fiscal solvency.
So if you promise to continue keeping the positive pressure on our elected officials here in DC, I will feel free to take a few moments to talk about the important developments happening in Wisconsin. I believe it’s important we understand what is going on from the outset.
America faces an estimated $3 Trillion unfunded pension liability. This is the amount of money the states owe to union employees to cover their health care and retirement costs – taxpayer money the states do not have.
Nationally, union employees already earn far more than their private sector counterparts in terms of salary and benefits, and yet when newly-installed Governor Scott Walker proposed modest changes to how much (actually, “how little”, comparatively) union employees would pay into their own pensions and health-care premiums – the unions asked their members to abandon their jobs by the thousands and march on the Capitol.
(Union employees currently pay nothing towards an excellent pension, and only 6% of their healthcare premiums. Private sector employees average ~20-25% of healthcare premiums and a much less robust pension. Union employees are still winners under Gov. Walker’s proposal. UPDATE: Average Wisconsin striking teacher salary: $77,718 – Average Wisconsin worker’s salary: $53,724. This isn’t even counting benefits.)
The situation in Wisconsin has since escalated as national Democrat organizations decided to bus in more out-of-state protestors, and when the President himself took the side of the unions against the elected Republican Governor and Senate.
More than that, every single Democrat State Senator has literally fled the state (here’s video of two Senators fleeing), preventing the WI Senate from conducing any further business.
Gov. Walker appeared on TV this morning:
What raises my ire the most about this situation is to witness how those in favor of the unions (the President, every Democrat talking-head I’ve seen, the fleeing Democrat Senators, the Union Bosses, the liberal local and national media) cannot even acknowledge the legitimate reasons why Governor Walker and the Senate Republicans in WI are proposing these changes.
Folks, we’re in a crisis here. It is morally reckless to keep our states on a path to financial ruin under these circumstances. The obvious first-step to fixing these state budgets is to go after the huge liability posed by unfunded union pensions which risk throwing the states into fiscal insolvency. Every force that has aligned itself against Gov. Walker’s proposal and abets the dereliction of duty committed by WI’s Democrat Senators is risking the welfare of all the citizens of Wisconsin.
The double-standards shown the WI protestors compared to other recent Tea Party protests is astounding. During the final stages of the health care debate here in DC, tens of thousands of Americans showed up to voice their protest. Tens of thousands more attended town hall meetings across the country. Their protests were all ignored. But when union protestors descend on the WI Capitol, we are told by the liberal media that the Senate should not conduct any business whatsoever until the protestor’s demands are met.
Catholics discussions of these issues often focus on the rights of workers and the support of the rights of workers to organize for fair wages and benefits, but the reality of the union system we witness now is that a small group of organized individuals are parasitically enjoying inordinate benefits and wages at public expense, directly undermining the common good of society. Unions do not have an absolute right to organize when the effects of their organized efforts is to threaten and damage the common good, as Archbishop Listecki of Milwaukee recently wrote. And whatever positive things can be said about unions, in no way does the Church say their common good trumps the common good of the society as a whole, and yet that is what they are attempting to do here.
Let’s switch to a personal example. I’ve come face-to-face with union protestors. I know what union protests are designed to do: intimidate and scare. The Republican Senators in WI had to be given police escorts to fend off the union crowds. I watched an interview on Larry Kudlow last night of a Republican State Senator with a union crowd behind him. They were trying to shout over him, drown him out and were mocking him. Here is the video:
That Republican State Senator exhibited bravery. Because he takes his duties seriously, he is willing to put his safety on the line. Countless elected officials across the country will have to demonstrate the same virtues if they are going to fix the economic mess we are in. They deserve our prayers and support. Because this is going to get far worse before we have any hope of it getting better. Americans deserve elected officials who practice prudence, responsibility and selflessness. Governor Walker and the Senators who chose to do their job this week in Wisconsin are such men and women.
I will be updating the post as I have time to do so with more facts, context and links.
UPDATE: For more on this story, please see:
- James Sherk: Wisconsin’s Governor Walker Takes on Public-Sector Unions
- The Foundry: The American People Can’t Afford to Lose WI Union Showdown
- Jordan Fabian: WI Gov. won’t be “bullied” by union bill protestors
- Josh Mercer (CV): A Look at Abp Listecki’s Letter to WI Legislators
- Tom Crowe (CV): Chris Christie – “You’re Going to Have to Make Choices”
- NRO: Raging Wisconsin