The Wisconsin Teacher Post. Bring it.

This will undoubtedly make my liberal friends angry at me. Yes, I’m mostly writing this because of what’s happening in Wisconsin. But, I’ve been seeing the same problem bubbling up in my native California over the last several years. It’s a national problem.

It’s been said that you shouldn’t talk politics or religion in polite company. Both tend to bring out strong emotions in people. Hopefully the comments following this post will stay civil. I’m not looking for a fight. And will just stay away from it if I see it. While politics used to be a huge part of my life, I’m now more disgusted with both parties. And tend to stay away from the topic.

I grew up as a Republican. When I was little, I didn’t have a male role model in the house. My parents divorced and my Dad wasn’t around much. Also, I was looking to be the best “man” I could be. I was trying to fight the feeling inside that I was born in the wrong body. Everyone told me it was wrong to believe such things. So, I needed to find a way to toughen myself up. By the time Ronald Reagan came to the Presidency, I was 8 years old. Here was this strong, charismatic leader fighting the evil Soviets and cutting taxes to try to bring prosperity to the American people.

As most kids grow older, they might ditch classes to smoke pot. Or just to get away from school. I ditched class to sit in my car and listen to Rush Limbaugh. These days, I couldn’t keep myself tuned into his program if you paid me. I don’t know if it’s me that’s changed, or him. I think it’s a little bit of both. And no, I don’t listen to Glenn Beck.

I was still a rampant Conservative while serving in the Navy. But, in the years that followed my service, I started to face my own insecurities with my gender. This was also during the rise of the Social Conservative movement. I’ve never been one to be very religious. Well, that’s understating things. I’m an atheist. But, I don’t push it on people. It was during this time that I became very reluctant to call myself a Republican. I saw myself dividing from the party on issues like gay marriage. And the fiscal discipline that Republicans used to be so proud to talk about simply vanished during the George W. Bush administration. But, I certainly didn’t see myself as a Democrat.

Today, I still vaguely follow the issues in the news. I skipped the last Presidential election. I see myself as a social libertarian (small “L”). But, when it comes to financial issues, I’m a HUGE conservative (small “c”).

Also, I’ve never been much of a union fan. the collectiveness of unions reminds me of communism and I see most as being fairly corrupt. But, if unions and private companies have to deal with each other. I don’t really see it as my business.

What I do still feel passionate about is how tax dollars are spent. We are very slowly recovering from a deep recession. Tax receipts to local, state and federal governments have been in the toilet. Home values are still there. Some places worse than others. For instance, Colorado wasn’t as hard hit as California. I recently performed a check of homes for sale in my little home town. I found quite a few in the 40-50,000 range. When I was growing up, this little town was a mix of strong middle class and retirement town. It was said that during the 80’s, the only other street with more money on deposit was Wall Street. The senior citizens who lived there were from the depression era. I remember counting the banks on the main street one time. I don’t remember the number I came up with. But, it was insane.

Everybody in the country tightened their belts during this last recession. Everyone except public service employees. The pensions employees in the public sector get are insane. And most are guaranteed by the tax payer. The number of unfunded pension liabilities have gone through the roof. Yes, while the unions in Wisconsin have caved on some of the other issues regarding teacher pay and compensation, they say doing away with collective bargaining in all areas except pay is unreasonable. I say they are being incredibly unreasonable to the tax payers. Any cuts made now, will undoubtedly be brought back to the table 2-5 years from now.

When I saw that the teachers union in Wisconsin was being asked to pay 12% of their health premiums, I thought back to what Federal employees have to pay: 20%. And there are plenty of people in the private sector who don’t have health insurance. I have a coworker who has health insurance through our company. He recently had to go to the emergency room to get a contact lens out of his eye that had drifted back out of sight. He was told that he didn’t have ER coverage. He had emergency medicine coverage. But, not visits to the emergency room. He’s on a payment plan with them. And this is a major pizza restaurant franchise. If you were to guess the top three pizza chains in the country, you would name my company. In times like this, I’m glad I have the VA health care system. It sure beats not having anything.

Recently on the radio, I heard a man who claimed to be a public sector employee say that people in the private sector are just jealous of people in the public sector. And that the problems people claim are not there. That’s ridiculous. When property tax revenue and other tax revenue to the State and federal government go down the drain, the government has no choice but to make cuts.

Recently, residents in Jefferson County, Colorado became the only residents in the State to vote no on most school bond issues. So, put together with reductions in tax revenue, Jefferson County schools are going to have to close schools and lay off teachers.

The money that funds the operations of government comes from somewhere. And the people who pay the taxes need to feel like their money is being spent responsibly.

Teaching is a hard profession. I know. My Mom is a retired teacher. And my Step Dad is a school administrator. But, what kind of leverage should teachers have over the people who pay their bills. Should they lose their jobs for mass sick outs to protest at the Wisconsin State Capital? I say yes. Would I lose my job if I suddenly left to do the same thing? Undoubtedly, yes. Don’t get me started on the fact that they get summers off.

My 85 year old Grandfather is a retired International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers member. The electrical trade was very good to him. But, I tend to think it wasn’t the union who helped him get to where he was when he retired. It was his hard work. He never turned down a job. And when he retired, he was the vice president of the company he worked for. When he and I talk about this issue, he brings up some of the tactics companies used to use to break unions. And for the most part I tend to agree with my grandfather. But, the laws that are in place now, prevent most of the things that happened back then. And that was the private sector. I’m talking about the public sector.

Okay. I feel better having written that. For a good 30 minutes, I felt like the next words to be typed into my computer would be “Get off my lawn”. Sometimes, you just have to get it out of your system. And that’s what I did. Now, on to other more exciting topics. Ignite Boulder will be coming up very soon. And I have a support group meeting tonight. And I have a history test tomorrow. So, I need to do some studying.

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About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
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One Response to The Wisconsin Teacher Post. Bring it.

  1. nirvank says:

    Good post. I disagree with some of it, but that is the point right?

    I’m not a fan of unions as a whole, but there are aspects of them that I do agree with. We’ll use teachers at the example as they seem to be put in the cross hairs in WI over other public union employees.

    Teachers do have a hard job and they get paid little, relative to the importance of the work they do. The average income of a teacher is $50k. Which is a decent living depending on where you live, but that’s less than what a babysitter would get paid. $50,000k / 30 students / 180 days (summers off) / 8 hours a day = ~$1.15 per hour. Find me a babysitter for that little of amount, not to mention a babysitter who can actually teach. Sure a teacher gets benefits (health), so add 20% to that. ~$1.40 per hour…. Still chump change.

    That is why I have no problem with giving teachers a pension/benfits after they retire. Because that is part of their pay, it’s just deferred pay IMO.

    To keep up, as a country vs. competing countries and for private employers to hire the best and brightest means having an educated workforce. We gut teachers pay, benefits, who will want to teach? Sure some of the befits that are being proposed to be cut may come back in the future, but not if certain factions have it there way, and that is why collective bargaining is being ‘assulted’.

    The teachers, and other public union workers, are okay with the financial aspects of the WI Governors bill. They just are not okay with removing their right to collectively bargain. If WI teachers had the same pay/benefits as a state Congressman/Senator, let alone a Federal one, I think the point would be mute, but the teachers (and other public workers) do not. If that was the case, make it so all state employees/union or non, would have to take these cuts, have the same benefits, salaries, etc.

    And why are unionized Police and Firemen not being caught in these cuts and being deunionized? Because as much as Gov. Walker says it is about financial responsiblity, it is more so about politics. He wants to break left leaning unions. It’s no secret that unions in general lean left, but even more so with teachers and other public unions except those of law and fire enforcement.

    De-unionize the left support and Walker would hope that collectively the group could not contribute to democratic nominees… And these days money plays an extremely large part in who wins elections.

    Anyway, that part that I hate about teachers’ unions are their inability to fire a teacher for incompetence once that teacher has tenure. If anything that protection needs to be removed. The recent Colorado change, where a teacher, even if tenured, does a poor job one year they have the next to improve, if they do not improve they can get fired.

    All unions should not give an employee, basically lifetime protection from being fired for doing a poor job. That part is ridiculous and needs to be revamped across the nation, public or private unions.

    With that said, I understand fiscally what Gov. Walker has said, but I do not understand his stance against agreeing to the financial cuts by the unions, but still insisting on destroying the unions themselves. Plus to exclude other state employees, union and not union, makes his stance even more partisan/political then it should have been from the beginning.

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