cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Who will blink first? The Senate Democrats who are ‘living in exile’ or Governor Walker? What if this continues for weeks on end?
At the moment, there seems no easy answer to those questions. The Democrats are apparently raising quite a bit of campaign money as the result of their demonstration. Walker seems to be on top of the PR game although the mainstream media seems intent on ending that run, if indeed it is a run.
We have a dysfunctional state government at the moment. The public employee unions, and I am not including the teachers in this group, have realized that Walker is quite serious about all this. Their leaders have backed down from the earlier statements and said they’d be happy to give in on the request for higher contributions to both their pensions and their health care costs. In return they seek no further limits on their collective bargaining rights.
It doesn’t seem that Governor Walker has gotten his message out on this subject; at least I don’t hear much discussion other than on the conservative talk shows. The work place rules that have been negotiated over the years seem to be almost as big an issue as are the very low contributions made for benefit packages that almost none of us in the private sector enjoy. These rules are the things that permit a Madison bus driver to have earned nearly $160,000 in wages and benefits last year. He is senior and, therefore, gets all the overtime he wants. He is building up his pension benefit since that will be determined by an average of his last three years pay, including all overtime pay. He isn’t doing anything wrong; the worst he can be accused of is taking advantage of his benefits, and not many of us would do things any differently if we were subject to those rules.
Things of that nature are the problems created by the unlimited bargaining rights of public employees. They bargain with other public employees in some cases and with elected officials in other cases. The taxpaying public is not involved in the bargaining and seldom learns of the things that were negotiated unless and until something like the current issues surface. Private sector unions negotiate with the very real knowledge that their employers can replace them if they feel it necessary. That is not the reality in the public sector because the very unions the members belong to are major contributors to the politicians who make the rules. It all sort of sounds like "go along to get along".
There are issues that still would need resolution beyond simply benefit contributions. If the unions were willing to address those issues, I suspect there might be room for compromise. If that isn’t going to occur, given the magnitude of the costs implied in basic work rules, I doubt that Governor Walker will be the first to blink.
All the while, of course, the Democrat State Senators have not been showing themselves to be willing to take their own medicine. They are the first to remind conservatives that “elections have consequences” when they are in the majority, and yet they flee the state in order to avoid their own set of consequences.