Walker’s proposals strike at the heart of some of his state’s money problems, and his plan will reduce the state deficit. Obama presented a budget to Congress that ignores the major causes of repeated deficits and, if adopted, will make conditions worse.
The newly elected Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is supporting a bill that would remove from the collective bargaining process everything except wage levels for most of the state’s employees, and he has the votes to pass the proposed legislation.
This bold action, however, cannot become law unless it is voted on, and 14 Democratic senators have road-blocked that possibility by leaving the state, thus making it impossible for the Senate to form a quorum –– the minimum number needed to conduct business –– and vote.
Thusly paralyzed, Walker and his supporters wait for the runaway legislators to return. In the meantime, thousands of state workers have assembled on the streets, clamoring about the tactics of the administration.
President Obama has weighed in on the side of the unions, and his national political organization is doing the same. Meanwhile, the national labor movement is organizing workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere to loudly protest Walker’s attempt at “union busting.”
The pressure on Walker to back off is tremendous, but he has held fast.
Why did Walker take such a strong action that was bound to garner fierce resistance? He did so because his state faces a deficit of more than $3 billion. He promised to cut spending during his campaign, and he’s trying to do it. He also claims that if his bill does not pass, thousands of jobs will be eliminated.
Why isn’t Walker willing to consider the late-coming, “give-back” proposals from unions? Because, if accepted, they would be reversed whenever liberals regained state power and, more importantly, the idea of public employee unions is intrinsically flawed and corruptive. Reducing their power will be therapeutic.
Why are public employee unions intrinsically flawed? State, city and town executives negotiate contracts with public-sector unions. The same unions are a potent political force in elections. Public officials, aware of the political power that sits with them at the negotiating table, negotiate contracts cautiously, with one eye on local issues and the other eye on the political consequences of decisions made.
Is it any wonder contracts that emerge from this process contain wage rate, vacation, sick leave and pension deals that are so pleasing to unions and their members? If bargaining officials do not bend to union demands, the union-political machine could destroy them.
The above facts represent the yardstick of courage that applies to Walker’s position. He is a marked man, and he knows it. For the rest of his political life, he will be fiercely opposed by one of the most powerful forces in American politics — organized labor.
Agree with him or not, it must be acknowledged that Walker is one of the most courageous political figures to appear in recent American history.
In this respect, it is impossible to ignore the comparison between his approach to Wisconsin’s budget problems and President Obama’s approach to national budget problems.
Walker’s proposals strike at the heart of some of his state’s money problems, and his plan will reduce the state deficit. Obama presented a budget to Congress that ignores the major causes of repeated deficits and, if adopted, will make conditions worse. And to add insult to injury, the president has attacked the man who did what he did not do: face reality.
Unions for federal workers were never a good idea, a conclusion that time has confirmed. Eliminating their influence in the political arena would result in less corruption, better politicians and higher efficiency –– dramatically so in education.
In the year 2011, unions are not needed to establish and protect — from executive whims — public employee security, wage rates and fringe benefits. Proven and objective systems (job evaluation techniques, polls of the private sector, legislation, etc.) can do the same job.
It has begun. Huge protests in the streets of Wisconsin are the first sign of what will happen to this nation when its state and federal leaders either take voluntary steps to reduce deficits and debt or, worse still, when such actions are forced on them by a money market that no longer respects the American dollar.
In two to five years, the nation’s tax system will be different; its immigration system will be tighter; pay and fringe benefit levels of federal employees will be lower; the scope of government will be smaller; every social program, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will be less centralized; and the U.S. military will be more defensive and less intrusive.
America will gradually become more constitutional and less progressive. Such things will happen because they must if America is to survive. And, as they do, the nation’s streets will look ugly. Civil unrest will be widespread and the handling of legitimate poverty will be a major problem. And righting the American ship to its former status will not occur quickly; it will take years.
Faced with such a struggle, citizens should celebrate the arrival of a new leader on the scene: Gov. Scott Walker. The nation needs more like him.
Robert Kelly is an author of several books on baseball, history and politics. He is also a freelance, award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in many Massachusetts newspapers. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
-- MetroWest Daily News (Mass.)