GrassTopsUSA Exclusive CommentaryBy Don Feder 02/25/2011
This will be a bit personal, so bear with me. Iâ€™m not complaining; Iâ€™m trying to make a point.
Iâ€™m 64-years-old. Iâ€™ve worked full-time for almost 40 years. Iâ€™ve diligently paid my taxes, â€“ with the knowledge that most of it goes down the rathole of public spending. I obey the laws, even those I consider idiotic.
My principal assets are a heavily-mortgaged house and a car manufactured about the time Paris Hilton lost her virginity. The car and my furnace should be living in a retirement community in Florida.
Savings? I was too busy raising four children, and helping to raise two grandchildren, to plan for my retirement.
Fact is, Iâ€™ll never be able to retire.
You can imagine, then, my sympathy for the Jacobin mob in Madison, Wisconsin. When public-employee spokesmen begin whining about â€œfairness for working families,â€ I wonder: Whatâ€™s my family supposed to be? If I put in a 50-hour week, I think Iâ€™m on vacation. Guess you have to have a union card to be part of a working family.
If I retire this November, my monthly Social Security benefits will be approximately $2,000 â€“ slightly less than my mortgage and real estate taxes. I live in New England â€“ dumb, I know, but there it is.
A pension from a former employer would give me another 2K a month â€“ which might cover utilities, auto insurance and gas, though, with the price of gas inching toward $4.00 a gallon and the Middle East in turmoil once again, that too is uncertain. (According to USDA projections, food prices are on the launch pad, preparing to blast off.)
That leaves exactly â€“ nothing for food, clothing, medical care, prescription drugs, cable and an occasional book, movie ticket or meal out.
By the way, if youâ€™re in your 40s or 50s, you can count on Social Security being there when you retire the way Israel can count on good relations with the next Egyptian government.
For the first time this year, FDRâ€™s Ponzi scheme will be officially bankrupt â€“ paying out $45 billion more than it collects in taxes. Due to a declining worker/retiree ratio, the years ahead will bring a roiling sea of red ink.
Washington punishes me for having my own business by making me pay the employer and employee â€œcontributionâ€ to Socialist Insecurity.
But most of the Middle Class is in my boat, or clinging to debris in the middle of the ocean. I have a cousin who was in human resources. Her husband (a Vietnam vet and cancer survivor) was a computer programmer. Both were laid off by their companies, canâ€™t find other employment, and have spent the last few years trying to survive running a Net company â€“ www.iwishicouldearnalivinginthiseconomy.com.
Over the course of half-a-century, the Democrats and their allies have done a number on the Middle Class.
Theyâ€™ve welded together a moocher coalition composed of those receiving whatâ€™s euphemistically called â€œpublic assistanceâ€ (Aid to Families With Illegal Aliens, Have An Out-of-Wedlock Birth On Us, etc.), labor bosses, weird minorities, feminists and public employees.
Democrats have despoiled our property, inflated the currency and regulated business to a standstill â€“ all in the name of â€œworking families.â€ Theyâ€™re done everything in their power to destroy domestic energy production, driving up the price of everything from gas and fuel oil to food and manufactured goods.
They may rail against the rich, but itâ€™s Middle America they really detest.
Arrogance and intimidation are their weapons of choice; witness the union goons and their student symps rallying in Madison, a college town as well as Wisconsinâ€™s capital.
College kids are natural allies for protesting public employees. Professors at the University of Wisconsin have done a swell job of indoctrinating their students in an ideology in vogue only in Cuba, North Korea and on U.S. college campuses. Scruffy students and foul-mouthed public employees have a lot in common. Neither knows what it is to work for a living. One is on the daddy dole; the other nurses at the public teat.
Protest signs compare Governor Scott Walker, a deficit hawk, to Adolf Hitler.
Hitler to an aide, circa 1939: Haf ve raised za public employee contribution to zere health care yet?â€ Aide: â€œJarvowl, Mein Fuhrer!â€ Adolf: â€œWunderbar! Let za Panzers roll.â€
If Wisconsinâ€™s public-sector clowns think theyâ€™re so oppressed, why donâ€™t they find jobs in the daunting private sector? All that stands in their way is 1. Significantly lower wages 2. Negligible fringe benefits (by comparison) 3. Regular performance reviews 4. No guarantee of lifetime employment and 5. Lack of marketable skills, on the part of public employees.
Public employees are the new aristocracy (not hereditary, but political) sitting in their chateaus, built by the sans-culottes â€“ shoeless taxpayer/serfs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006, the average state or local worker earned $78,853 annually in salary and benefits â€“ $25,771 more than the same private-sector worker. The gap is widening. In 2000, the differential was only $7,604.
In Wisconsin, teachers â€“ whoâ€™ve called in sick to take part in the Madison protests, not that it will impact learning in the state â€“ work for 9 months out of the year and take home $89,000 annually in salary and benefits.
Badger state teachers are on the front lines of illiteracy. (Were it not for their valiant effort, literacy might break through.) The U.S. Department of Education says 68% of eighth graders in Wisconsin canâ€™t read â€œproficientlyâ€ (which, given the Departmentâ€™s standards, probably means â€œcanâ€™t read a candy-bar wrapperâ€), this despite the highest per-pupil education spending in the Midwest â€“ $10, 791 in 2008, up from $4,956 a decade earlier.
Due in part to public-employee avarice (Madison protestors should bring in Gordon Gekko to lead them in chanting â€œGreed is good!â€) Wisconsin will face a $3.6 billion deficit by 2013.
With this looming on the horizon, Governor Scott Walker â€“ that Hitler-clone, that fiend incarnate â€“ wants their lords and ladyships of the state workforce to contribute more to their lavish pensions and platinum-plated health-care plans.
Private workers are lucky to even get a pension. Only 18% of them do, compared to 80% of state and local workers.
Hans A. von Spakovsky, a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former member of the Federal Election Commission, discloses:
â€œFrom 2001 to 2010, Wisconsin taxpayers paid more than $48 billion for state employee health care coverage, while state employees contributed only $398 million, less than 5% of the total costs. From 2000 to 2009, taxpayers paid $12.6 billion for public employee pensions, while the employees only contributed $55.4 million, less than 0.5% of the total cost.â€ Naturally, the unions which represent them (whatâ€™s the difference between organized labor and organized crime?) are anxious to keep having involuntary relations with the stateâ€™s taxpayers.
Von Spakovsky estimates that the average Wisconsin family of 4 is paying $1,560 each year for public employee benefits â€“ exclusive of salary.
Yes, but look what theyâ€™re getting for it â€“ teachers who canâ€™t teach, garbage men (excuse me, sanitation workers) you have to chase down the street in your slippered feet to get them to take all of the trash, surly employees of the DMV, officious inspectors of every size and shape, librarians who think itâ€™s their solemn duty to protect adolescent access to Internet porn, health workers who deliver condoms to kids, and state college professors who teach class warfare.
The president of the United States â€“ who thinks everyone should be on the public payroll â€“ says Walkerâ€™s economy measures are an â€œassault on unions.â€ Public employee unions put Obama where he is today. You might say he got his job through the union hiring hall.
Public-sector unions are to the Democrats what organic fertilizer is to a Kansas field in springtime. In Wisconsin, public employees contribute $500 to $600 annually in union dues â€“ up to $1,000 for educrats.
Thanks to the Party of Plunder, public employment is one of the very few growth industries left in this country. Over the past decade, private-sector unions lost 2.1 million members, due mostly to economic contraction. In the same period, unions representing public employees added 508,000 members.
In the productive sector, 8.2% of workers are unionized, versus 37.2% of public drones.
In the 2010 election cycle, the big three drone unions â€“ Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the National Education Association (NEA) â€“ the teachersâ€™ soviet â€“ spent $171 million to buy political clout.
Almost every penny went to the party that favors a never-ending expansion of the public sector â€“ and the commensurate growth of public-employee unions. According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics AFSCME gave 99.55% of its PAC money to Democrats â€“ the NEA 96%. SEIU contributed $60.5 million to Obamaâ€™s 2008 campaign, and mobilized 100,000 volunteers in his behalf.
The resources SEIU, AFSCME and NEA spend on electing Democrats is the smartest investment they could possibly make. When a private-sector union goes into collective bargaining, itâ€™s up against cost-conscious management, who are ultimately answerable to directors and stockholders.
When Democratic officeholders bargain with public-employee unions, they have a vested interest in capitulation.
The more they give during contract negotiations, the more they get in campaign contributions and in-kind support in the next election. No wonder the Madison mob screams about their sacred right to collective bargaining, and why theyâ€™ll go to the wall to protect it. Only 24 states allow collective bargaining by public employees â€“ quite coincidentally, theyâ€™re the states that face the biggest deficits.
Public employee unions and Democrats go together like alternative lifestyles and STDs At a rally in support of the Madison mob, in front of the Massachusetts State House on February 25, Congressman Mike Capuano literally called for blood in the streets.
â€œIâ€™m proud to be with people who understand that itâ€™s more than just sending an e-mail,â€ the Massachusetts Congressman blustered.
â€œEvery once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,â€ Capo Capuano urged the assembled labor goons. According to Christen Varley, leader of the Greater Boston Tea Party, the thugs responded by surrounding counter-protestors and screaming in their faces, knocking signs out of hands, knocking several men to the ground and telling women they were â€œugly whores.â€ The liberal civility police must have called in sick that day.
Capuano later tried to apologize. â€œI wish I had used different language to express my passion, and I regret my choice of words.â€ Notice, he said heâ€™s sorry for his choice of words, not the sentiment expressed â€“ go out and spill blood, or, in the words of â€œLa Marseillaise,â€ â€œTo armsâ€¦. Let impure blood water our furrows.â€
Last month, Capu-slogo disclosed thereâ€™s â€œnothing wrong with throwing a coffee cup at someone if youâ€™re doing it for human rights.â€ Now why didnâ€™t Martin Luther King think of that â€“ burning an opponent with scalding coffee in the cause of human rights?
Public employee unions also want bloodâ€”ours. Whatâ€™s the difference between a Wisconsin public employee and a Somali pirate? Somali pirates pay for their own health insurance and retirement. Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.