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The Wisconsin vs Union thing...
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I'm not a huge pro-union guy. I think historically they served an extremely important purpose. But I've always felt that in some situations they've overstepped their bounds. In the auto industry, the excessive compensation of unionized line workers has hurt the American auto makers' competitiveness with foreign car makers.

I had some personal experience with unionized construction workers - when we were renovating our offices, we first got a bid from a local, fully union shop. It was incredibly high - so high, in fact, that we decided that we couldn't afford to do the badly needed renovation.

Based on another dentist's recommendation, we solicited a bid from another contractor, which came in a few hundred thousand less than the union shop's bid. This was affordable. The contractor ran his own crew of non-union carpenters, who were well compensated, by their own admission. He used union labor on most other parts of the job, though there may have been another non-union sub-contractor or two in the mix. I don't really know.

The point is that we couldn't have built the building, we couldn't have spent the money we did, if we hadn't gone with some non-union labor. So I'm not totally pro-union.

But this Wisconsin thing - have you seen the numbers? Unionized schoolteachers in Wisconsin average about 50K a year, with another 35K or so in benefits. That's 85K a year. Just a few months ago, Fox News was running their mouths about the fact that people making over 250K should not be considered "wealthy"; in fact, one commentator suggested that, with college costs and stuff, they were "barely above the poverty line!!" (I saw the exact quote last week on the Daily Show's YouTube video.)

I think this is as clear an example of how the Republicans and the forces behind the Tea Party want to balance the budget or cut spending as we're likely to get. They want to balance it on the backs of the middle class and poor. It seems apparent to me that they set up this class warfare scenario between the middle class and the poor, and the middle class and other nations even, in order to distract attention from the fact that the real class warfare is being silently waged from above. It's an often repeated fact that the income of the wealthiest Americans is rising, even as we decline to support any increase in taxes on them. And it's equally repeated that the income of the middle class is stagnating, and even shrinking. Yet the policies that seem to end up getting supported all seem to favor the mega-rich. I wrote about flat tax last week and how the real-world proposals of it would end up being a tax cut for the wealthy and, since there is a minimum amount of revenue necessary to run the country, almost certainly a tax increase on the rest of us.

In one breath Fox News talks about Wall Street needing to pay out exhorbitant bonuses to execs in order to "attract top talent". You know, as if making less than a couple mill a year would be a deterrent to the top scumbags, er, ah, investment bankers in the world from plying their trade in the only place in the world they can do so. In the next breath they say that these teachers in Wisconsin have to sacrifice for the good of the taxpayers and for the good of the children of Wisconsin. Not a mention of the fact that decreasing their salaries and benefits might lead to TOP TALENT quitting the teaching profession and plying their trade as any of the myriad of other things they are likely qualified to do. Teachers aren't morons; they're highly educated individuals who often have a gift which allows them to instruct our kids.

Yeah, I said OUR KIDS!!! If the top teaching talent decides that, oh, I don't know, putting food on the table or paying their mortgages and having a little left at the end of the month is more important than teaching those kids, who's going to suffer? OUR KIDS!!!

This policy cuts spending at the expense of Wisconsin children, not at the expense of lazy good for nothing public sector employees (I'm being facetious here).

Maybe Fox News and those Republicans would like those teachers to go ply their trade on Wall Street where perhaps they can develop that same killer instinct and greediness that almost ended up destroying our financial system. Gimme a break. They need to pick on 90K a year employees who perform a vital function in our society?

Maybe they should start by cutting Governor Scott Wilson's salary to, oh, say, 10 grand a year. Think he'd like to show the way with some sacrifice? Somehow I doubt it.

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