Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm on your side

When the debate over private vs public sector jobs gets really heated, I think people overlook a very important truth:  public employees pay taxes too.  Just because I label myself "moderate democrat" and "public school teacher" (raised by two hard working public employees, married to a brilliant public employee, sister to three public servants, granddaughter of a public employee, and a WWII vet . . . you get the picture).  Just because these things are my identity and my principles doesn't mean that "angry taxpayer" can't also be on that list. 

1.  Do I think ALL (police, firefighters, military, ALL) government employees should pay more into their pensions?  YES!  That is what is best for government employees and other taxpayers.
2. The moment Ben told me he'd have to pay more in health care did I complain?  NO, I told him that's how much we paid into our health care in DC, Wisconsin state employees should toughen up. He took that info to work with him and shared it with his co-workers. 
3. Do I think government employees should enjoy the job security they usually have?  NO! Better evaluation systems and easier ways to "let people go" need to be in place ASAP.

Taxpayers too quickly forget I'm on your side. 

And not only am I on your side, but I'm on the INSIDE of your side. 

Let me explain why harsh measures to bust public unions does not save tax payer money. The most common result of union busting is early retirement.  When government employees retire earlier than they had planned they start cashing into their pensions, instead of continuing to pay into them.  The amount of years they collect pensions is now greater.  The amount of taxes they pay becomes smaller.  And the government has to fill their old job with a new employee, yes that new employee may have a smaller base salary than the retiree, but when you figure in the lack of revenue coming in and the increased pension and benefits going out of the government, you come up with a loss. 

I also think it is important to point out that of the 5 states who never allowed collective bargaining or union organization (interesting that they are all southern states) 4 of the 5 currently face the largest state deficits in the union.  Virginia, Texas, and both the Carolinas.  To me this statistic proves something a Republican columnist wrote about in the NY Times.  Public unions and their managers actually have an incentive to work together, for their very survival.  Yes, a Republican said that.

So perhaps I've helped someone see that the best option is not to end unions all together.  Maybe a system similar to UT or CO, where unions are permissible but their bargaining rights are not mandatory, works best.  In these environments workers are allowed to organize and come up with strategies that will better serve the government they work for while improving their own work conditions, but the people who run that government are always willing to say "sorry, come back and try again" without any penalty or severe lash back.  I don't quickly forget that I grew up in UT and I don't think politics there are healthy, but I do see value in allowing unions to function without letting them run the show. 

Whether any readers see my beliefs as bi-partisan or not, I know I am offering such amends.  I know this because most of my ideas are fueled by the thinking on the Right.  The Republican columnist I spoke of wrote a great article pointing out all the flaws of Governor Walker's scheme.  It is titled, Make Everybody Hurt.  His title couldn't be more accurate.  Had Wisconsin raised sales tax by a meager 1% the whole budget deficit would disappear, and everyone in the state (not just half of the public workers) would play their part in fixing the deficit.  The Republican Governor of Indian did this way back in 2005, and his state now faces a surplus which results in larger tax returns for every citizen, rich or poor.  The Republican Governor of Florida also called Walker out for not looking out for the best interest of all Wisconsinites.  I always find a small source of reassurance in knowing some GOP members are on my side.  America still has a chance to meet in the middle.

I think it is vital American's start trusting one another by putting partisanship aside.   Remember, just because I'm registered to vote in Democratic primaries doesn't mean I'm not on your side.  It just means I have slightly different ideas on how to achieve the same goals.  I wish I lived in a State where the leaders thought it was important to listen to them.  

1 comment:

Utah Youngs said...

we must be on the same wavelength or just put into words what I have been thinking for a while! partisanship labels serve no purpose...and TRUE leaders are those that are ready, willing, and able to look at all sides of a problem and cooperatively come up with a solution!! btw...i love that you quoted the article by the repub. columnist!! see, not all us repubs are wackos :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...