As they resist budget restraint and Wisconsin’s reforms, their ideal becomes a crumbling city where government accounts for 40 percent of available jobs.
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Adding to the building Democrat war with the Tea Party is the Democrats’ disgraceful antidemocratic conduct in Wisconsin. What they are doing has not yet been rightly recognized in the public commentary. The fleeing of the 14 Democrat state senators out of the state, shutting down the legislature in the process for lack of a Senate quorum, amounts to refusing to abide by the results of last November’s elections.
In those elections, the voters gave the Republicans a 20-14 Senate majority, along with the Republican state house majority. The Democrat response has been to shut down the Senate by refusing to serve. The Democrats seem to think they have a right to limit what the people can vote for. If the voters go too far, what the Wisconsin state senators are telling us is that they have the right to nullify the election by shutting down the legislative process altogether.
What they are doing is not at all analogous to a filibuster. The filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate were adopted by the democratic process through a vote of the elected representatives of the people. Shutting down the Senate by refusing to show up is not authorized by the democratic process. It is directly counter to it.
Governor Scott Walker’s position on collective bargaining for state and local government workers is to the left of FDR and former AFL-CIO President George Meany. The pay and benefits of federal workers are not set by collective bargaining. They are set by Congress through the democratic process. Most fundamentally the reason for that is that unions do not have the right to sit at the bargaining table as equals with the democratic process and the will of the people. The unions are not an aristocratic fourth branch of government with the right to veto democracy and the will of the people. They are rightfully subject to democracy and the will of the people, like everyone else. That is why even President Obama could recently announce a freeze on the pay of federal employees, without collective bargaining over it.
Collective bargaining for state and local government workers inherently involves conflict of interest, bribery, and kickbacks. The government unions use the money they get from the taxpayers to put friendly politicians in office, who then negotiate sweetheart deals giving away pay and benefits to state and local workers far in excess of what the average taxpaying worker can earn in the private sector. The government unions even use the taxpayer funds they get from their political benefactors to finance commercials and campaign activities to promote tax increases, as they are doing right now in New York City, which already suffers literally the highest tax rates in the world, outside effectively of North Korea and Cuba.
Note that what the government unions are fighting hardest for in Wisconsin is not the pay and benefits of their workers. They have already given in on that to what Walker is asking for. What they are fighting for is the institutionalized corruption that empowers them to enjoy taxpayer funds for their political machine. It is Walker who is offering the real benefit to state and local workers, by empowering them to be free to choose whether or not to pay union dues, an effective tax cut of as much as a $1,000 a year, rather than having the government take that money from them and deliver it directly to the unions. This is the most important reform in the whole package, on which the Republicans must not compromise.
But those who are being exploited today are not the state and local government workers. It is the blue collar taxpayers in the private sector who are forced to pay for government worker pay and benefits far in excess of their own, through what amounts to institutionalized government corruption. Rush Limbaugh framed the issue correctly for the public yesterday. Do you want to pay higher taxes to finance pay and benefits for government bureaucrats that are far higher than what you can get in the private sector? Don’t tell me the public supports that, and Republicans would be crazy to allow the left-wing extremist media to delude them into that.
To the contrary, it is time for the Republicans in Wisconsin to put an end to the Democrat party’s revolt against democracy. The Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader must opine that from all appearances the seats of the 14 long missing Democrat state senators are vacant, and submit new Senate quorum rules for a vote based on the number of seats that are occupied. If the antidemocracy state senators hiding out of state who are refusing to serve do not like it, they can come back to object in accordance with the democratic process. Otherwise, the Wisconsin Senate should then just proceed with state business.
The Democrat/Government Union Detroit Model
Where the hard left government unions and their Democrat party benefactors would take America can already be seen in harsh reality in the experience of Detroit, where they have ruled without question for over 60 years.
In 1950, the population of Detroit stood at 1.8 million people, and the city enjoyed the highest median income of all major cities in America. Over the ensuing decades in which the city’s politics was a competition solely among the government unions and the most extreme left-wing of the Democrat party, working people, the middle class, businesses small and large, and capital investment increasingly fled the city and its high taxes, oppressive regulations, and poor services. Today the city is a shrunken, hallowed out shell of its former self, with less than half of its former population at 871,000 people. Moreover, its median household income now ranks 66th among major American cities.
The city government itself is the second largest employer in Detroit, right behind the city’s public school system. In fact, of the city’s 25 biggest employers, the state, county and city governments account for 40 percent of all jobs. The city employs one worker for every 50 city residents remaining, compared to Indianapolis which employs one worker for every 223 residents.
This municipal socialism is not working. In late 2010, unemployment in Detroit was stuck at 13.4%, 40% higher than the national average at the time. This reflected not a cyclical problem, but a long-term depression in Detroit. One-third of Detroit residents live in poverty.
Less than one-fourth of the public school students in Detroit graduate on time from high school, the lowest graduation rate in the country. Yet spending per pupil in Detroit public schools is higher than in wealthy Marin County, California, where the high school graduation rate is 97%. Indeed, for their performance, Detroit public school teachers enjoy the highest pay in the country among major metropolitan areas, at $47.28 per hour. Yet, citing supposed budget reductions, the Detroit public schools actually asked parents to provide toilet paper for the schools.
With Detroit’s dramatic loss in population over the decades, half the housing stock in the city is now vacant. Recent city government deliberations have considered just demolishing all this vacant housing. What this means is that over half a century of uniform governance by liberal/left politicians has led to the city now literally starting to disappear beneath their feet.
Yet the Democrats and the government unions comprising their political machine never learn. Their aristocratic attitude would reduce America to third world status if the Republicans, the Tea Party and the American people do not stop them.
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