Friday, February 18, 2011

When Public Employees Are the Enemy

The Republican governor of Wisconsin has declared war on his state’s public employees. Teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen. You know, those evil people.

When the governor reported a $137 million budget shortfall – that’s right, million with an “m” – he saw his chance to do what conservatives do best: go after middle class workers. Not only is he asking public employees to bite the bullet and kick in some money to help him balance the budget, he is trying to deny them the right for public employee labor unions to negotiate labor contracts.

This is akin to going after a mosquito with a baseball bat.

First, a $137 million budget shortfall is not a crisis. It is, if anything, a small inconvenience. Ask California, New York, or Texas about a budget crisis. I know budget crises, and Wisconsin's dear Mr. Governor, is no budget crisis.

Second, it would seem that the Wisconsin “budget crisis” has been engineered by the self-same Wisconsin governor. It was only last year that the governor decided to hand over $117 million in business tax breaks. Giving that kind of money to business and then asking public sector employees to foot the bill takes not just a little gall.

But probably the most infuriating thing that this governor has done is threaten peacefully assembling demonstrators in Madison with rough treatment: he has threatened to order out the state’s National Guard troops to take care of this matter.

If this isn’t retrogression at its worst, I don’t know what is.

I have signed a letter to the Wisconsin governor to knock this stuff off. You can too.

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