The Gravy Train Has Derailed
February 28, 2011 by Bob Livingston
Scenes like those playing out in Madison, Wis., with tens of thousands protesting efforts to reduce State budget deficits, may well soon come to your State capital.
States are broke and their budgets are imperiled. Years of living beyond their means, of spending like there’s no tomorrow, of borrowing to fund profligacy and of providing obscene benefits to government workers have caught up with State finances. The chickens are coming home and are finding their roost has collapsed.
President Barack Obama ginned up the stakes in Wisconsin when he said the budget battle, in which Governor Scott Walker is looking to make up a shortfall of $3.6 billion over the next two years, is a battle against unions. That’s not it at all, but Obama seldom lets facts stand in the way of an opportunity to stoke the class warfare argument. It’s what Marxist community organizers do best.
Walker’s proposal would require some State employees to pay about 5.8 percent toward their own pension (they currently pay nothing) and about 12 percent of their own insurance premium (they currently pay about 6 percent, and 12 percent is about half what the average private sector worker pays) and relinquish their rights to collectively bargain their benefits (not their wages).
For this, teachers called in sick or just didn’t show up for work and schools were closed. Union thugs were bused in from around the country to protest. Race hustler Jesse Jackson showed up to get his scowl in front of news cameras. Democrat State legislators — rather than do their jobs (they must be union workers) — ran away and hid in other States in order to deny the Legislature a quorum.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who knows a thing or two about living the high life at taxpayer’s expense — expressed solidarity with Wisconsin teachers. Unethical physicians handed out sick notes to teachers like they were penny candy.
The irony is Obama, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have themselves to blame for this fiasco. In 2009 and 2010, thousands of average, everyday Americans interrupted their lives, took off from work, temporarily suspended their businesses and found babysitters for their kids in order to travel to Washington, D.C., or to a city nearby, to gather in protest of big government spending bills — that paid off elite-favored corporations — and Obamacare.
But Obama, Pelosi, Reid and company ignored the wishes of a majority of Americans and continued to spend and steal liberty from an electorate that was clearly fed up with big government antics. Had this Axis of Evil and their progressive cohorts not run roughshod over the wishes of the American people, Democrats would probably still be in control of both Houses of Congress and most State governments and State worker benefits probably wouldn’t be the target.
Oh, State budgets would still be in dire straits. But Democrats would be tackling their deficits some other way; probably by raising taxes. If history is a guide, Democrats — and for the most part Republicans as well — rarely tackle deficits with spending cuts.
But voters in November swept most Democrats out of their Houses (governor’s mansions and legislative buildings) and installed new governments. They showed they wanted a change to more frugal governance from one that had no compunction over enriching favored constituencies (unions and certain industries) on the backs of taxpayers. They elected men and women who said they understood what the electorate wanted.
So Walker is making the hard choices his voters sent him to make. And other governors are facing some of the same choices about spending.
According to The Washington Post, State and municipal governments have about $2.4 trillion in debt. That’s 15 percent of the national gross domestic product. Across the country, from California to New York, state pension obligations are crushing state budgets.
Heavy taxes and burdensome government regulation have stymied business growth and run jobs out of the country. Private sector workers have given up raises, endured lay-offs, salary cuts and loss of benefits and have borne the brunt of the financial crisis. Now it’s time for the public sector to accept the reality that the gravy train fueled by bubbles resulting from the Federal Reserve’s money printing policies has jumped the track.
Public sector workers’ salaries come exclusively from taxpayers. Public sector workers’ salaries are used to pay union dues. Unions use those dues to campaign for Democrats who then raise the salaries and increase the benefits of public sector workers.
In other words, if you are taxpayer you have contributed money to support Democrat candidates and Democrat initiatives whether you agreed with those candidates and initiatives or not, as The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone pointed out in a recent column.
The stranglehold unions have over the Democratic process has to be broken. Wisconsin is ground zero of the battle between some sort of fiscal sanity and the status quo. State budgets are in deep trouble and cuts will have to be made. And those cuts are inevitably going to have greater effect on those who mooch off government.
And public sector employees — with salaries and benefits far and away above that seen in the private sector — have mooched off government for too long. Taxpayers are tired of paying for lucrative pensions and health insurance for public sector union employees when they can’t afford to contribute to their own retirement plans or provide adequate healthcare coverage for their own families.
We’ve seen the result of austerity measures in places like Greece and France. We’ve seen protests against tyranny in the Middle East and North Africa. Sometimes these protests turn violent.
In America, we’ve seen college kids protesting rises in tuition costs at State colleges. In some cities, near riots have broken out when public housing and other public assistance didn’t meet demand. Now we’re seeing protests against meager government cuts in Wisconsin and Ohio. California Governor Jerry Brown is trying to put a plan to reduce the State’s public pension obligations on a June referendum.
Public employees from Bell, Calif., to Clarkstown, N.Y. have been caught looting their taxpaying citizens with salaries exceeding $500,000.
In Washington, spineless Republicans are cowing to Democrats and backing off their pledge to make “deep” cuts, even though they only pledged to cut a meager $100 billion from a budget that tops $1.4 trillion. Democrats are playing games — pledging to make cuts but proposing higher taxes and cuts on children’s aid programs in an effort to gin up the class war.
Political elites, public sector workers and those who’ve made a career milking the system in order to avoid personal responsibility are parasites. They’ve sucked the host dry and the host is ready to end it.
But, as evidenced by the squawking going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, the parasites aren’t about to go quietly.
Walker has all but threatened to use the National Guard to replace State workers — or quash protests. Walker was also was caught on tape saying to prankster who called him and claimed to be billionaire David Koch that he had thought about using troublemakers to infiltrate the crowd in an effort to delegitimize the protests. An Indiana deputy attorney general urged police to use live ammunition against Wisconsin protesters.
Democrat politicians are telling the parasites, “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary” (Massachusetts Democrat Representative Mike Capuano). Union thugs — apparently having forgotten the calls for civility in the wake of Representative Gabrielle Gifford’s (D-Ariz.) shooting — seem to be following his orders as you can see here, here (the fracas starts at about 7:30 on the video) and here. They’re waving signs comparing Walker to Hitler, using vile language and intimidating and assaulting pro-Walker supporters.
Are these really union supporters validating the stereotype of thuggish behavior, or are these provocateurs?
That’s not clear. But in the run-up to the bailout and Obamacare votes, Tea Party activists were accused of using slurs and intimidation. There was never any evidence to back it up, but the mainstream media ran with the false accusations anyway. When acts of violence did occur, it was revealed the culprits were liberal provocateurs.
But the use of slurs and violence by those who support Leftist policies is never mentioned on the alphabet soup networks or the major papers, and there was scant mention of the duplicity when perpetrators of violence turned out to be Leftists rather than Tea Partiers. That wouldn’t fit the agenda of the mainstream media.
Whether you like it not, changes are coming. The parasites are unhappy. The elites are worried. The collapse is underway.