If you fell asleep in front of the TV news during the 1960?s and remained asleep until February 2011 you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see that there was still a bunch of self-focused spoiled brats protesting in Madison, Wisconsin.
What would surprise you is that today’s self focused, spoiled brats are not University of Wisconsin students. Today’s protesters actually have jobs. In fact, they have great jobs. These unhappy people have the pay and benefits everyone wishes came with their jobs.
The 1960?s “Madison Malcontents” insisted that the government needed to conform to “their ideals” of peace and freedom. Those young idealists believed life should be a continuous party.
They desired to be left in peace so they could feel free from “all” sense of responsibility. But it soon became obvious that someone actually had to pay for their party. Realizing that only responsible people can keep having parties because they can pay for them, most of them grew up.
The “Madison Mob” of 2011 is already old enough, and responsible enough to know that not only is life not a continuous party but that someone has to pay. Someone’s paying alright. According to the non-partisan Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), in 2007 the lifetime pensions of those working for Wisconsin it’s municipalities and school school districts cost Badger State taxpayer’s 1.3 billion dollars.
Remember that’s 1.3 billion for state pensions only. That doesn’t take into account state workers current compensation, or health care costs. But for some strange reason these numbers exclude the city and county of Milwaukee. Hmm ! And those are only the available numbers from 2007 !! Gee, ya think that number today might be higher or lower ?
WRPI also reports the “guaranteed pension” for an employee receiving maximum retirement (25-years service) within the Wisconsin Retirement System, depending on the position they held, can expect to receive 70-85 percent of their final salary for the rest of their lives. That of course doesn’t factor in the “guaranteed” Social Security benefits they’ll be able to claim at age 62.
Let me play a hunch here, and if you can prove me wrong I’ll admit it. I’m going to assume that the majority of the 2011 “Madison Malcontents” are teachers. I have my reasons. The website teacherworld.com reports that the average teachers salary in Wisconsin for the 2009-10 academic year was $ 52,644. By no means radically excessive but nice pay for an 9-10 month gig with holiday breaks, snow days, and first class benefits.
Data from the same website, teacherworld.com shows that among Wisconsin’s five major metropolitan areas Kenosha teachers are the most highly paid at $68.400.
Green Bay teachers come in second with an average of $55,110. Which begs the question that perhaps the best way to determine if Wisconsin teachers are underpaid might be to investigate how many of them hold Packers season tickets.
If you’re on the side of fiscal sanity you need to look no further than the current state of Wisconsin’s largest public school system. In Milwaukee with all pay and benefits included the average cost for one teacher (FY 2011) is projected to be 105,000 per year. If you’re an adult, you no doubt realize that’s unsustainable. If you’re still unconvinced, consider the median private sector income in Milwaukee is $ 42,900. No calculator required there.
Unlike their Madison Malcontent” counterparts in the 1960?s, the Madison Mob of 2011 aren’t quite so idealistic or even as mature. Though it’s now blatantly obvious that someone else can no longer continue funding their lifelong benefits they refuse to grow up !!
Will they “ever” grow up ?? Maybe. Maybe not. But if they don’t one thing that will continue to grow is Wisconsin’s debt.
These are not same unions that went on strike in Milwaukee in 1886 for an 8 hour work day. These are middle class to upper middle class “public servants” who seem to believe Wisconsin taxpayers just aren’t grateful enough !!!
With Wisconsin’s current budget shortfall of 137 million, and a long term debt approaching 4 billion, it’s quite apparent Governor Walker needs to start cutting somewhere. The best place to start is where the pain will be felt the least. Obviously that’s in the over-bloated state employee system.
Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, no real friend of conservative Republicans admits that Walker is telling the truth when he claims “Most state employees could pay half as much toward their health care premiums and it would be less than half the national average”.
Governor Walker’s proposed legislation is not an attack on Unions. It’s an attack on the state’s debt. Even with his proposed cuts, Walker’s proposal leaves all government jobs intact. But, talk about slashing Wisconsin’s debt is not new.
The Madison Mob was nowhere to be found in 2009 when then Governor Jim Doyle, threatened to layoff up to 1100 workers, enact furloughs, suspend raises, and and cut the budgets of local governments and school districts. Perhaps they knew that Democrats like Doyle only talk of fiscal responsibility when they’re courting the “grown up” vote.
Because most people realize that grown-ups usually intend to do what they say, there’s always adolescent whining when grown-ups like Governor Walker somehow manage to get elected.
Most of the Madison Malcontents of the 1960?s grew up and had to face reality. The Madison Mob of today will have to do the same thing. It’s time. The “big government” lifetime party is over. In Wisconsin, and everywhere, it’s time to grow up, again.