Monthly Archives: March 2011

Whose Rights Really Are Being “Infringed Upon”?

Barack Obama first mischaracterized WI Governor Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill when he referred to it as “an assault on unions.”  That, plus Obama’s recent remarks to the nation’s governors that public employees not be “vilified” or have their rights “infringed upon,” reveal beyond any reasonable doubt that the obviously orchestrated demonstrations we’re witnessing in WI and other states are entirely about getting the Obamacrats—particularly Obama—re-elected in 2012. Quite simply, Obama, the Obamacrats and the public employee union leadership don’t want to give up their current cozy system of forced union membership/dues collection, which scores them hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and upon which their continued power depends. That’s what’s really behind all the heated rhetoric and demonstrations.

Doubt it? Consider this: During last fall’s midterm elections, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) became the elections’ biggest spender, throwing nearly $88 million of union members’ dues into the failed effort to elect/re-elect Obamacrats. Is it any wonder the Big Government/Big Labor unions are turning out in force in WI and elsewhere to badger, badmouth and block budget-repair bills and their advocates?

The WI budget-repair bill  is quite modest by virtually any measure. First and foremost, the bill allows every WI public employee to choose for himself/herself whether or not to join the union, rather than acquiescing to union membership as a de facto condition of employment. Without it, the state and local governments were deducting union dues from each employee’s paycheck, dues that went directly to union coffers, where union leadership–not membership–ultimately decides how they’re spent. That’s precisely how the unions became the Obamacrats’ and Obama’s de facto funding/vote delivery arm.

Collective bargaining, under the WI budget-repair bill, can continue to be used in wage matters, but not to extort further extravagant benefit hikes. Remember, it’s not union members who go to the table to “collectively bargain.” It’s  union leaders, leaders accustomed to sitting across from Obamacrat legislators for whom they delivered funds and votes, legislators whom those leaders expect to grant their demands– whether or not those demands are necessary, prudent, reasonable or fiscally responsible. (Paying for Viagra? What’s next, Botox?) WI is broke. Already, WI public employees are among the nation’s best paid, best benefited. (Please see the linked WSJ article, “Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin,” for some facts/figures.) It’s immensely reasonable to limit collective bargaining to matters of wages while the state regains fiscal equilibrium. Despite the disinformation being spread, collective bargaining is not a “right.” It’s a union leadership tactic having nothing to do with the right to organize, associate, etc. (BTW, the WI bill exempts police, fire and state patrol.)

WI public employees were contributing little to nothing for their generous pension and health benefits. Under the budget-repair bill, they  would contribute about 5.8 percent to pension benefits and about 12 percent to health benefits, figures at or below the national average. Despite union leaders’ vaunted public statements about willingness to accept the bill’s modest employee benefit contributions, they reportedly used the protracted, inexcusable absence of 14 Obamacrat State Senators to try to recklessly ram through irresponsible, unsustainable benefit hikes (and even further pay hikes) before the budget-repair bill vote. (for a summary of the WI budget-repair bill),

Ironically, most federal employees under Obama’s purview (and, in fact, most public employees in most states and localities) have virtually no collective bargaining powers now. Given that, Obama’s admonition that public employees should not have their “rights infringed upon” rings particularly hollow and hypocritical.   Obama’s motive is purely political; why else would he continue to deliberately mischaracterize a specific state’s budget-repair efforts, which can only be viewed as unnecessary meddling? This is unprecedented for a POTUS, and particularly suspect, since it runs contrary to the U.S. Constitution. Given the Obamacrats’ and unions’ disinformation campaign and the increasingly inflammatory and uncivil rhetoric being spewed, for Obama to continue to comment at all on WI’s or any state’s budget-repair efforts seems tantamount to throwing gasoline on a fire. Obama must recognize this.  Perhaps he  sees no problem with the possibility that he may be inadvertently helping to foment anarchy? Perhaps this is just part of  how he sees his role as “community organizer in chief”?

Contrary to what Obama and others want us to believe, the demonstrations we’re now witnessing ad nauseam have never been about teachers’ pay, benefits, collective bargaining…other public employees’ pay, benefits, collective bargaining… or any of the myriad shifting talking points du-jour. From the get-go, these obviously orchestrated demonstrations have been about politics—dirty, in-your-face-lying-screaming, control-the-money/control-the-power—Obamacrat-style politics, aimed expressly to disrupt and intimidate, not to debate, discuss and persuade. (We saw it firsthand during the 2008 Democratic Primary and Convention.) Organizing for America, Obama’s campaign arm, along with the Democratic National Committee, the George Soros-funded, and Big Government/Big Labor Unions from other states injected themselves into the debate in WI and elsewhere with bused-in paid agitators, not because they care about teachers, education, kids, public employees, American workers or Americans in general. They got in and stay in because they care very much about the fact that their power in this country for a full generation to come depends upon getting Obamacrats (particularly Obama) re-elected in 2012. They know that if the WI proposed budget-repair bill passes, it will mark the beginning of the end for public employee union leaders’ (and labor union leaders’) heretofore virtually unchecked power to deliver—on demand—millions of dollars and millions of votes to Obamacrats and Obama, from whom they will continue to expect and receive “big favors,” favors paid for on the backs of American taxpayers.

Perhaps we were to understand implicitly that Obama’s call last month for more civil public discourse exempted Obamacrats. Seems the legions of bused-in outside agitators definitely got that memo. It’s small wonder that today’s American children and teens are not receiving quality education, if the incessant news clips we’re seeing include actual teachers in the American public school system.  We watch these agitators and shake our heads at their hate-filled signs,  their spit-laced obscenities shouted at cameras, their estimated $7.5 million damage to the once-pristine WI state capitol building (built with taxpayer dollars), their physically accosting/threatening pro-budget-repair state legislators and generally behaving like ill-educated, ill-mannered, slovenly, temper-tantrum-throwing spoiled brats.  This is not what real democracy looks like.

Any scant number of genuine anti-budget-repair-bill protesters joining or supporting the thuggish paid outside agitators in WI and elsewhere—without understanding the proposed individual state budget-repair bills, without understanding what the outside agitators really are up to—are being duped and ill-used, not to mention jeopardizing any remaining professional integrity for their 15 minutes of infamy. Those outsiders care nothing for taxpaying WI citizens, whose two-year state budget would face a bankruptcy-threatening/business-crippling/jobs-killing $3.6 billion shortfall without reform.  They care nothing for the thousands of WI public employees who would’ve received layoff notices. Those outsiders care nothing for the over-burdened taxpayers or for the consequences of impending economic meltdowns in other bankruptcy-imperiled states. 

Those paid agitators care only about ensuring that the Obamacrats and Obama maintain their vise-grip on forced public employee union membership/dues via union leaders. Anyone joining or supporting those outside agitators should ask themselves: Why should taxpayers–representing the spectrum of political viewpoints–be required, by default, to fund the 2012 re-election of  a specific party (Obamacrats and Obama) via forced public employee union membership/dues collection? Why should the minority (public employee union members) expect the taxpaying majority to continue to foot the bill for the unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible/unsustainable demands being pushed by their union leaders? With the plethora of legislation now protecting public employees in local, state and federal government,  should public employee unions even be necessary any longer?

This boils down to a matter of individual freedom of choice. Choices (like elections) have consequences. It’s time for the demonstrators to get out of the way and let our democratic republic form of government work. It’s time to get out of the way of those who were elected in the Nov. 2010 anti-Obamacrat landslide precisely because the overwhelming majority of Americans recognize the urgent need to act now to restore fiscal sanity at the local, state and national levels, so that we can begin to resuscitate our ailing economy before it’s too late.

As usual, Obama got it wrong. It’s  not public employees who are in any danger of having their “rights infringed upon.” Rather, it’s everyday working, taxpaying American citizens whose hard-earned tax dollars pay public employees’ salaries and benefits–salaries and benefits that now typically surpass those available in the rapidly shrinking private employment sector. Have public employees considered the Orwellian scenario that if American private sector businesses continue to lay off workers and shut down at the current alarming rate,  we will ultimately reach a point where public employment is the only gig left in town;  a point where only public sector employees will be left to shoulder the enormous tax burden for their salaries/benefits? In that scenario,  public employees also will be the only ones left to bear the crushing burden of all those gargantuan, significantly abused Big Nanny State programs.