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Forum Post: Help me wrap my mind around this - WI

Posted 2 years ago on March 12, 2012, 1:45 p.m. EST by chambermaid (0) from Milwaukee, WI
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Okay, so to start out - please don't flame me. I'm really not interested. What I am interested in is a reasonable discussion of the situation in Wisconsin.

Politically, I'm smack dab in the middle. I voted for Obama and I'm not happy. I voted for Walker and I'm slightly less unhappy. (I can't *&#@ win, seriously, but that's another story.) I've worked in civil rights for a long time. Our family had a $13K fed/state income tax liability last year (geez, already), and I really just want to be left alone to pay my fair share, raise my kids, and smoke the funny stuff once in a while.

I have lots of friends who work for the State - teachers and DOC workers, mostly. The overtime abuses? They happen - they laugh about this on pool nights. The insurance? A DOC worker w/a family of four pays 25% of what I pay as a nonprofit employee w/a family of four. The pension? Don't get me started. With federal and state grants dwindling, we've taken a HUGE hit to our income in the last 5 years. Luckily, I wasn't one of the laid off ones.

My husband and I have worked our asses off, never bought a new car, shop at Aldis, save and save and save....we've done everything right. We're solidly middle class, but we've been able to save about $160K combined for two college funds and our retirement. I haven't taken a vacation in three years.

So that's where I'm coming from. I hate seeing our state so divided, and I'll concede that I'm not sure how I feel about tax breaks for businesses. On one hand, we need the jobs in WI. On the other...well, you all can fill in the blanks, I am sure.

The unions really didn't play nice for a long time. I'm more of a leftie than a rightie, I suppose, and I -want- to support the unions. In principle, it's a great plan. In practice, let's not pretend that they were ready to make lasting concessions. It's easy to say "we woulda done such and such" after the decision's been made for you, you know?

My State buddies don't know I voted for Walker. They don't know I'm gonna vote for him again. They all make more money than I do (still - they have not been "crushed"), and I'm the only one with an MS (and mine's actually relevant to my field). The discussions I've had with them make me sad....they don't see the other side of the coin at all. The "comments" on the local newspaper are vitrolic.

We're normal people too. I don't like everything about Walker. But my choice (at least so far) is a candidate who signed a pledge to veto any budget that doesn't restore collective bargaining. What is THAT?

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[-] 2 points by ARod1993 (2420) 2 years ago

The thing is that you're basically assuming that whatever resources get taken from the unions will be redistributed to everyone else and that the state will be better off as a whole. As far as I'm concerned, that's probably not going to happen. Break the unions and ten to one the money that was going to teachers will instead be spent on massive tax cuts for the very wealthy and for big business instead of on the welfare of the state as a whole.

Second, the income and support that teachers get compared to what you're getting is not a sign that they're on the take or getting any sweet deals or anything of that nature. There probably are occasional abuses of the system, but the lazy, useless teacher is almost as much a stereotype as the welfare queen. There are a few of them (my mom wound up working in a school that got run into the ground by arrogant, incompetent idiots whom she wound up periodically rescuing) but more often than not the reverse is true. In my case, the principal at Bronx Science was incompetent, tyrannical, and not a little bit racist. This isn't just hearsay or personal opinion; there's actual documented proof that she suggested a perfectly capable geometry teacher would be better off working as a school aide simply because she was black. The woman systematically dismantled the engineering and tech programs at a science and technology high school, and a number of brilliant, dedicated, amazing teachers either quit in fear and frustration or were forced out. This was with the teachers' union; now imagine what would have happened had the union not been there.

As far as your complaints about the support that they get that you don't, I would argue that that's not because they're getting coddled or being allowed to take from you; you're simply getting gouged, and gouged badly. The protections that teachers get aren't (or at least shouldn't be) something especially reserved for them, but rather something that every worker should have access to when they need it. As tempting as it may be to let Walker bring down the teachers, all you're doing is making it that much harder for anyone who wants protection in the workplace.

Finally, electing Walker will do exactly jack for you as a nonprofit employee. If he's getting to the point that he'll screw teachers and public employees then there's no way that he and his cronies will ever help you. What you want is someone who would be willing to roll back some of the tax breaks for the really big businesses and increase taxes on the very wealthy so that at least partial funding is restored for nonprofits.