Will Wisconsin become another France?

When I was in college back in the late sixties, as student riots and massive union strikes regularly crippled the French economy, I recall thinking it was great living here in the U.S., where a free-enterprise economy insulated us from such counter-productive and shameful displays of civic greed.  What a difference four decades of ever-expanding government can make.

Last year’s riots in Greece, and violent demonstrations in the U.K. – all birthed by the anger felt by students, teachers, union workers and others who have grown increasingly dependent on government subsidies and hand outs, and who now face modest cuts to those benefits – are being played out in America’s heartland.  Teachers and public-employee unions in the Badger State are angrily protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s modest austerity plan that would curtail public-sector union power in some areas, and require those workers to pay a small part of their health care benefit package and slightly increase their contribution to the very generous pension plans they enjoy.

You’d think by the response, the governor was forcing union members to surrender their first-born child to the state.

Yet, even more shameful than the vehement union reaction to these proposals – which includes publicly comparing Walker to Adolf Hitler – has been the cowardly reaction by Wisconsin’s Democratic state legislators (Walker is a Republican).  Rather than work with the new governor and Republican majorities in the legislature, the Democrats simply turned tail and ran to the neighboring state of Illinois; thereby denying the governor and their Republican colleagues the necessary majority to vote on budgetary matters.

Just how draconian are Walker’s proposed measures to help close Wisconsin’s burgeoning, $3.6 billion deficit?  In fact, not draconian at all.  The new governor’s first-ever budget proposal would require government workers to contribute a modest 5.8 percent of their pensions, and 12 percent of their health insurance benefits; both amounts below the national average. The proposal also would limit the ability of public-sector unions to collectively bargain; thereby helping to ensure taxpayers are not held hostage to unreasonable demands on their wallets in the future.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Walker is promising no layoffs or teacher furloughs in exchange for passage of these reforms. However, he has warned he will be forced to layoff some 6,000 state workers if action is not taken. The Democratic legislators who fled the state apparently would rather see public employees laid off, than support modest benefit contributions by employed state workers.

Public-employee unions, grown arrogant from decades of ever-more generous benefit packages, are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto their gains.  They exhibit no willingness to help shoulder any of the costs the taxpayers at-large have to pay in these rough economic times.

Walker is not alone in recognizing that steps must be taken to rein in such largesse.  Even California and New York are entertaining minor reforms to ease the burden that public-sector benefits have imposed on their budgets.

Whether the Wisconsin Governor and his legislative colleagues will prevail in this epic battle remains unclear; and the outcome will have significant ramifications in Ohio and other states that are heavily union-laden, as well as in the nation’s capitol.  But the battle now being waged in America’s heartland offers a focused glimpse into our country’s future.

Whether we become another France – a country long held hostage to powerful unions and debilitating social benefit programs – or begin the slow but vital climb back up the ladder from the depths of government entitlements and deficit-spending, may be determined right here, right now, in Madison, Wisconsin.

by- Bob Barr, The Barr Code

186 comments Add your comment

one world

February 23rd, 2011
9:20 pm

To: LA and other misinformed folk. I am a recently retired high school English teacher in CA. After 15 years of teaching (at age 63), I was earning $60,000 (gross pay) per year. I have heard that CA salaries are high, but maybe I should have been teaching in the states you reference. I wonder where you got your information. And by the way, I’d estimate my actual hours of work each week of the academic year at at least 80. Since the inception of public education, public school teachers across the country have poorly paid for: the amount of hours worked. Nothing has changed, except, possibly, that we are less respected today than ever before due to the false measurement of learning garnered from standardized – multiple choice – tests. Just a bit of FYI. ry reading and watching and listening to “news” outside of your usual comfort zone, and you may find yourself actually educated on current events!

LA

February 23rd, 2011
9:27 pm

one world

CA is going bankrupt.

LA

February 23rd, 2011
9:28 pm

“To the private sector, it’s always about money, isn’t it!”

Yeah, especially when it’s the private sectors money that pays for lazy union workers.

LA

February 23rd, 2011
9:29 pm

“Elections have consequences. And, the draconian hand of the newly elected will get them quickly pushed out of office. ”

Doubt that. Wisconsin put him in office because the last bozo spent too much money and drove business out of the state. Same with Ohio and Michigan.

Sucks to be you.

LA

February 23rd, 2011
9:30 pm

“And, destroying collective bargaining, to clear the way to “run the board” is draconian.’

Not when it’s the taxpayers who are getting ripped off.

Richard Katz

February 23rd, 2011
11:03 pm

Dear Bob,

This is no simple or mild ‘austerity’ program. First, the governor nor the bill can balance their budget by taking peoples rights away. But that’s what the bill and what Walker says he intends to do.

It doesn’t balance. How does it add up? How many dollars are your collective (freedom of assembly) and bargaining (freedom of speech) rights worth? Mine aren’t for sale at any price.

Second, and more importantly all this discussion about budget vs. rights hides a corrupt direction written into the bill: the bill would allow the governor to sell state property at any price, for any reason, to any one without any review by the state.

The State of Wisconsin already had a board to review these back-office cash deals and the intent of “the bill” is to defeat the any review. The governor’s intention with this bill is to undermine the financial health of the state.

Far from ‘repair’ or austerity, this is complete corruption on the part of the governor and the Wisconsin Republican party.

Thank you however for your analysis.

Regards,

Rich

[...] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Will Wisconsin Become Another France? Public-employee unions, grown arrogant from decades of ever-more generous benefit packages, are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto their gains. They exhibit no willingness to help shoulder any of the costs the taxpayers at-large have to pay in these rough economic times. … Whether we become another France – a country long held hostage to powerful unions and debilitating social benefit programs – or begin the slow but vital climb back up the ladder from the depths of government entitlements and deficit-spending, may be determined right here, right now, in Madison, Wisconsin (Bob Barr, 2/23).  [...]

[...] Will Wisconsin become another France? | The Barr Code. This entry was posted in Economy, Finances, Opinion, Unions, United States and tagged benefit, budget proposal, Code, College, democratic state legislators, face, free enterprise economy, greed, hand, percent, public employee unions, public sector union, reaction, republican colleagues, republican majorities, riots in greece, Student, student riots, Union, violent demonstrations. Bookmark the permalink. ← 2/24 cartoon: Mike Luckovich on HOPE | Mike Luckovich [...]

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:13 am

Public-employee unions, grown arrogant from decades of ever-more generous benefit packages, are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto their gains. They exhibit no willingness to help shoulder any of the costs the taxpayers at-large have to pay in these rough economic times.

Aren’t “public employee” [unions], taxpayers too? Just asking…….

Thou shall not encroach

February 24th, 2011
8:18 am

“You’d think by the response, the governor was forcing union members to surrender their first-born child to the state.”

That doesn’t really work there does it? Try, “The reaction makes sense only if the teachers had noticed the hidden, no-bid, and unreviewable gubernatorial resource allocations that were sewn into bill by the fringe.”

Instead you went for an overused and obsolete cliche which stopped most readers cold. and misled the rest.

As usual.

moron (Hey, notice how every other word Dr House on the tv show “House” uses is the word “moron”. Whadupwidat?)

The show is unwatchable.

LA

February 24th, 2011
10:20 am

“Aren’t “public employee” [unions], taxpayers too? Just asking…….”

Not sure what that has to do with anything, but yes.

Prison Planeteer

February 24th, 2011
10:45 am

I’ll bet that the capitol building is starting to SMELL like France, after being occupied by the commies for two weeks.

stinky pete

February 24th, 2011
11:22 am

Barr for President!

Hmmmm

February 24th, 2011
11:47 am

The unions have agreed to the financial settlements. The real issue are the rules the governor wants which would not allow a deduction for union dues and would require an annual vote on members of the union on continuing in the union. In other words, the members of the union want to keep the organizational structures that allow them to exist.

It seems to me that individuals should be able to voluntarily organize if they wish and combine their voices to speak as an organization in order to be heard and to be more powerful. Is that not what the National Rifle Association has done? Is that not what the Elks and Rotarians do? Or the Chambers of Commerce, locally and nationally?

Why is it that only those who work should not be able to organize as a group to better represent their interests?

David

February 24th, 2011
11:59 am

I love it how the union workers like to say if you dare take away their collective bargaining rights or make any changes that we will go back to the Pre-Union days. Guess what I understand the the Value that Unions USED to have. Child labor, various protections in terms of safety, etc. However in the real world of today there are many labor laws on the books that provide these same protects, if every union were to be outlawed today, there would still be minimum wages, 40 hour work weeks, a requirement for OT pay, child labor laws, safety standards, etc, etc, etc. So can you please spare me the red herring.

Darwin

February 24th, 2011
12:11 pm

Let’s start calling it Freedom Cheese!

ohmy

February 24th, 2011
12:26 pm

wonder how many french feel like hostages…cest la vie…been to or france (or even doceur de france) lately bob?

Gary

February 24th, 2011
1:05 pm

I am one Georgian conservative who hopes Walker fails pass his bill. I hope he is forced to increase taxes on businesses and taxpayers. This will create an environment where Georgia may be able to come in a steal away some of these employeers and entice them to a union free low corporate tax state.

For those who keep saying the Big Corps are getting the tax breaks in Badger land and need to pay up. Corporations do not pay taxes… Ever. That goes into the cost of their doing business and is added to the cost of what ever product they sell. Taxing business only hurts the local economy. Businesses on the other hand produce jobs which provide the state with additional sources of income and sales tax. There employees keep other businesses going by purchasing goods and services. The employees pay property taxes and utility taxes. All because a business decided to open in that area. Go ahead, demand they pay more and they will look for a better deal in another state and all of those funding sources will dry up. Instead, these producers will need unemployment, social services, house values drop, schools loose funds as populations drop as people leave to look for work. Drive around Detroit. See the effects it can have on a city. While high taxes is not the reason for Detroits failures, one has to wonder hos BMW, Hyundia, KIA, Mercedes, and other car manufactures seem to florish in the south where they recieve huge tax incentives, no unions, and an eager employment base. Ask Austin Texas why it is so successfull stealing IT companies from California. If you are a producer I want to give you a tax break because you create opportunities for real additional state income. So all you union states, keep things the way they are. We would love to see your job move down here. We are a business friendly state.

Gary

February 24th, 2011
1:10 pm

Do them like Reagan did to the air traffic controllers. Fire them and send them home. I am pretty sure you have 6000 quallified applicants in line right now in wisc. trying to collect unemployment who would do the same work for 20% less pay and bennifits and would be happy to do so. Hire all of them and then let these folks go ask the union what it will do for them now…. Nothing.

Community Agitator

February 24th, 2011
1:15 pm

So, a wretched left wing liberal plays a “prank call” on the WI governor, pretending to be a Conservative billionaire Conservative funder and talking about putting plants in crowds and whatnot. Governor Walker stated he had thought about it but decided no way. So guess who gets all pissy over a THOUGHT comment? The liberals! Yep, the same group of people who were actually proud to say they infiltrated Tea Party rallies with Nazi and racist plants. Hypocrites. Besides, it’s not like the governor’s team actually DID that or anything.

And now we here a Saudi Arabian chemical engineering student has been arrested on domestic terrorism charges for wanting to blow up Bush’s ranch. Yeah, the Tea Party is the real threat to America according to liberals. Sure. Of course the main stream DNC liberal media is not reporting him as being a Muslim and instead euphamize him as a “radicalized foreigner.”.You sure the term “foreigner” isn’t offensive to you there, liberals?

“MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin state troopers were dispatched Thursday to try to find at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats who have been on the run for eight days” These cowardly RATs need to be arrested and jailed for insubordination, failing to uphold an oath of public office, and dereliction of duty. Then get a special election for each and every one of their replacements. If Republicans were cutting and running for over a week because they didn’t want to deal with Obamacare, Democrats and liberals would be calling for their heads.

The world is spinning out of control, gas prices are set to annihilate any economic recovery we *may* have been in as the liberal DNC main stream media likes to trump it up (although I find unemployment still being at 10% not any kind of economic recovery), food prices are set to skyrocket thanks to liberal feel-good corn based ethanol, and the amount of banks in trouble is at the highest rate in 18 years. But guess what Obama plans on doing today? Having a Motown party! You sure it’s not time for another vacation?

In the meantime, Chicago proves what a bunch of mindless liberal Democrat drones it still is by electing Rahm as Mayor. They’ll get what they deserve: more corruption, more failed policies, higher taxes, and more people and jobs fleeing from the city [and state]..

mike

February 24th, 2011
1:28 pm

For all of the union bashers out there – do you enjoy an 8 hour work day, do you enjoy a 40 hour work week, do you believe in workman’s compensation, workplace safety regulations, child labor laws? If your answer is yes, then thank a union worker. They fought and died to get all of these rights extended to the American worker. This isn’t a political issue – it’s a labor issue. Turning this into a republican vs. democrat argument just keep us all blind to what corporations really want. Don’t think this is about corporations? This piece of legislation in Wisconsin has the added caveat of allowing no bid contracts to buy Wisconsin energy plants attached to it. It’s a lousy bill being pushed by another in the pocket politician.

LA

February 24th, 2011
1:56 pm

“I hope he is forced to increase taxes on businesses and taxpayers. ‘

Ok, so are you prepared for your tax dollars to bail out WI?

LA

February 24th, 2011
1:57 pm

“For all of the union bashers out there – do you enjoy an 8 hour work day, do you enjoy a 40 hour work week’

I work 70+ hours/week. I haven’t worked a 40 hr workweek since I was in college.

“If your answer is yes, then thank a union worker. ‘

No, the lawyers can be thanked for that.

mike

February 24th, 2011
2:57 pm

You work 70 hours a week by choice (you’re missing life by the way, you should give it a shot). Lawyers had nothing to do with it. If you worked less, you could read more, and form an educated opinion.

LA

February 24th, 2011
3:09 pm

“You work 70 hours a week by choice”

Nope, try again.

“Lawyers had nothing to do with it.”

Yes they did.

“If you worked less, you could read more, and form an educated opinion.”

I have an opinion and I stated it. My opinion of unions is negative because they are selfish people who take taxpayer dollars at will.

I, like MANY others, are sick of our money paying for selfish people to retain their jobs.

Gman

February 24th, 2011
3:43 pm

The majority of individuals that support what the Wisconsin governor is doing don’t know squat about education or teaching (including the governor). Ignorant people with opinions are the very base of the GOP!

Thou shall not encroach

February 24th, 2011
4:26 pm

Will America become like France?

What an insult to le French! American food = garbage. American Women = Flavo-fat. American Men = Amourons

When we invent something as tasty as the croissant, then we can talk about France. Have you tasted American breakfast rolls? Please. I’ve eaten more tender erasers. and have ingested tastier pencil lead.

Castor Oil would improve the flavor of most USA restaurant fare.

VIVA LA CUISINE en FRANCAIS!!!

LA

February 24th, 2011
6:04 pm

“The majority of individuals that support what the Wisconsin governor is doing don’t know squat about education or teaching”

Got something to back that up? Nope. I love it when left wing retards make stupid claims about other people and can’t back it up.

“Ignorant people with opinions are the very base of the GOP!”

Say goodbye to unions, ma’am. The people whose money is taken by unions are sick of people like you.

Sucks to be you, gwoman.

LA

February 24th, 2011
6:07 pm

“What an insult to le French! American food = garbage.”

Delta is ready when you are, ma’am.

“American Women = Flavo-fat. American Men = Amourons”

Ah, so you like your women with bad teeth, hairy arms and full of STD’s.

“When we invent something as tasty as the croissant, then we can talk about France. ”

Croissants are $hitty. Try again, ma’am.

“Have you tasted American breakfast rolls?”

Nope, we Americans like biscuits.

“I’ve eaten more tender erasers. and have ingested tastier pencil lead. ”

No wonder your IQ is so low.

“Castor Oil would improve the flavor of most USA restaurant fare. ”

Have fun going bankrupt in France, ma’am.

“VIVA LA CUISINE en FRANCAIS!!!”

Delta is ready when you are, tard.

Thou shall not encroach

February 24th, 2011
7:45 pm

Good one, LA. I’ve got milk coming out of my nose.

Great fun.

LA

February 24th, 2011
8:17 pm

“I’ve got milk coming out of my nose. ”

Sounds like you have bigger problems.

Thou shall not encroach

February 24th, 2011
8:38 pm

No, if milk is coming out of my nose, then I have booger problems.

Lou

February 24th, 2011
10:39 pm

Deb

February 25th, 2011
11:16 am

Had Governor Walker proposed FIRST that all Wisconsin legislators would take a ten percent cut, give up some of their own benefits and such, perhaps his wanting to cut the throats of the already overburdened worker wouldn’t have been taken so vehemently. Walker earns over $140,000 as governor. That is about 4 times the amount of the average wage earner of the state and likely at least 3 times that of a decently paid teacher. Whether you wish to admit it or not, this is a class war. Those in power with money want to chip away at the rights and benefits of all laborers. Removing collective bargaining rights is in and of itself a draconian decision. I’d think Walker should be removed from office if there are any legal grounds to do so. Someone who wishes to do this does not have the best interest of his constituents. As for the Dem’s leaving, it was their only option to try to stop this from going through. I’m proud of the courage they showed to fight the only way they could against something they opposed. Go Wisconsin Workers!

Kevin Jordan

February 28th, 2011
3:31 pm

There were other protest around the country this weekend by a group call USUncut. Take a look at some of the video from their rallies and read why their message is completely misguided.

We also posted our favorite signs from the Wisconsin protesters!

http://precisiontradingsolutions.blogspot.com