Wisconsin and Within our Means

Wisconsin may well prove to be only the first State to go through an economic crisis that goes viral. I’d like to offer perspective as a private citizen from the State that sits below Wisconsin and that often gets beat by its football team.

Like many of us and more and more of us, Kris and I live within our means. We pay our credit card bill completely at the end of the month. We don’t buy things we can’t afford, we don’t spend money we’ve not got, and we don’t overspend in the hope that we’ll just keep making more and more money and somehow will be able to pay our bills on the basis of personal economic growth.

The USA and its States, though, have for decades followed reckless economic decisions and are now discovering that those previously-established patterns and habits are unsustainable. Unsustainability is what Wisconsin is all about. It’s affected all the States to one degree or another.

When we encounter unsustainable spending patterns in families, we learn either to cut back — painfully at times — or we go belly up.

The brass of Wisconsin wants to cut back and the teachers don’t want to surrender ground they’ve captured — they captured such ground during the reckless years and they’re learning about unsustainability.There are reports that the public workers of Wisconsin will agree to the economic cutbacks but not to the curtailment of their collective bargaining rights. I’ve read the official document, but it is unclear to me what is precisely at stake in the proposed amendments. All I’m hearing on the news reports is “Walker wants to crack the union” but I don’t know the specifics so we’re hoping to be enlightened by our readers. (This article suggests Wisconsin is only one on a list of other states.)

Roland Martin speaks some wisdom here and asks the teacher’s union to do what has been the leitmotif of the union and liberal democratic experiment: what’s good for all of us is good for us as individuals. What’s good for all of us is that we better cut back, and we better surrender some ground we’ve gained, and that will be even better for all of us.

(CNN) — The feud between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and that state’s employees has all of a sudden become ground zero in the battle between efforts by the GOP to shut down unions as they exist, and those same union workers desperate to hold on to long-fought-for wages and benefits.

This pitched battle is clearly a precursor to the 2012 elections, but it is also the latest shot across the bow of union purists who are relentless in waging a war against government and business for the benefit of their members….

Walker wants public employees in Wisconsin to pay more for health care benefits and to contribute to their pension plans. Frankly, those are reasonable requests. Where he has largely run into trouble is the effort to end the collective bargaining rights of the various public employees….

This comes down to basic economics. If no additional revenue is coming in due to a refusal to raise taxes, coupled with the dramatically falling property tax revenues, government officials have no recourse but to go to the negotiating table with unions.

No one likes to lose benefits. We all want what was promised years ago. However, it is simply not going to happen. As long as these budget deficits are staring taxpayers in the eye, unions are putting themselves in a difficult situation by thinking they will not have to give something back.

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