I've been watching the events in Wisconsin for the past few weeks, and I am reminded of the fact that we have a long way to go in the fight to fix our educational system. On full display for everyone to see is a broken public school system run by the same people we are supposed to entrust our health care to...our government.
Rather than put my own personal spin on ground that's been well traveled over past couple of weeks by bringing up the cowardly democrats who fled like rats to avoid doing their job, or connecting the dots from President Obama to the labor unions, or whining yet again about the unfair coverage and blatantly bias coverage by the media of Governor Walker's fight to balance his state's budget, I'm simply going to boil this all down to a philosophical discussion. How's that for a run-on sentence?
Ask yourself the following question; Do the rights offered in this country apply to every citizen, or only the well connected? To ask me, you would hear me tell you that our rights apply to everyone, to ask a union representative, you would hear a well worded tap dance designed to distract you from the fact that he/she believes that the rights of a union member overrides and usurps that of an employer or the amount of money that employer has to work with in their budget during any given fiscal year.
Much like the big kid who would threaten "swirlies" unless you forked over your lunch money, unions threaten "strikes" unless you fork over wages and/or benefits that the free market would not otherwise provide under normal circumstances. At this point, the typical union member would proudly say, "Exactly, unions raise the standard of compensation for workers!". OK, but what happens when that artificially inflated level of compensation can no longer be afforded by the employer? Answer: Your employer either shuts it's doors, or bills the tax payer for a bailout as in the case of GM and Chrysler.
Worse yet, the difference between the car industry bailouts and what's happening in Wisconsin is the fact that in the case of the auto industry, the divide is between "labor" and "management". Labor being guilty of bullying their way to compensation packages that would eventually bankrupt the manufacturer while inflating the price of the car, and management being guilty of letting them, and then having the nerve to assume the tax payer should foot the bill. Yet in the case of Wisconsin, the divide is between labor being guilty of bullying their way to compensation packages that would eventually bankrupt the state while harming the quality of the children's education, and the tax payer being guilty of earning a paycheck and trying to provide for their family in the middle of a government induced recession. It's ironic that in both disputes, the tax payer is the one expected to fork over the cash.
As a conservative, I am duty bound to accept the rights of all people, even if the rights of others might not be in my best financial interest. That means I realize that when I pursue a particular job, it is the right of the employer to offer the terms of the job, and it is my right to accept them or not. It is my right to go elsewhere in search of employment, and it is the employer's right to offer an unreasonable compensation package that will result in him/her not being able to find quality employees, ultimately resulting in failure of his/her business. So says the free market.
For me to come to the negotiating table with a third party who's sole purpose is to win me "extras" that this particular job would not usually entitle me to, says a lot about me. It says that I can not stand on my own two feet, and that I have trouble navigating life without some powerfull third party holding my hand. It also says that I am starting from an adversarial position regarding my future relationship with my employer. It also tells you that I am not very forward thinking, because I do not recognize the exponential costs of my demands, and their inevitable result...unemployment. So says liberalism.
Lost in the haze of the Wisconsin debate are thousands of kids who are not being taught, by teachers who routinely claim that they teach because they "love children and love to teach". I guess that's as long as they pull down a salary and benefits package that would be the envy of any truck driver on the interstate.