Unless your head is buried in the sand or you've been on another planet, you can't help but take notice of the battle raging in Wisconsin these days over their state debt & governor Scott Walker's desire to break collective bargaining in his state. However, as someone who works with employers & employees, I have been peppered with a lot of questions so here's my take. It's near impossible to clearly favor one side or the other on the issues. Why, because BOTH sides are being disingenuous when it comes to telling the whole truth. Having said that, I think there are 3 things that most people [who are being intellectually honest] can agree with: 1- these are tough times & sacrifices along with some very tough choices are going to have to be made in order to get our fiscal house in order at both the state as well as the federal level; 2- again, assuming that people are being intellectually honest, collective bargaining by itself did not create this problem so "breaking it" won't guarantee a solution. Most people don't realize what happens in collective bargaining. It is through this kind of bargaining, that you get safe workplaces, a framework for how to resolve grievances, & a ton of other workplace related measures having nothing to do with pay or benefits; & lastly, 3-while the unions did not steal their benefits, which is to say that they negotiated for them fairly, there have been circumstances where they have taken advantage of the taxpayer's generosity.
On the merits of fiscal solvency, it is really hard to defend a governor who will not take "yes" for an answer because the unions have already said they understand that when it comes to money, the cuts have to be made. At this point, they are fighting for a "seat at the table" over all other workplace issues. That seems like a fair request & one thing we voters like to see is "fairness." Another problem for the governor is that his rationale has changed. He started out saying that this is strictly a budget issue but since the unions have yielded, he can no longer make that claim & is now fighting an ideological battle. Fairly or unfairly, this last point was driven home when he was publicly caught in a fake conversation with one of his ideological & financial backers [at the time, the governor thought the conversation was legitimate]. Politicians of all stripes miss the mark when they fight an ideological war instead of "solving the people's problems." It should be noted that while the current battle is being fought in Wisconsin, other governors in the "rust belt" [nearby states] are considering similar measures adding to the seriousness of the debate.
In My Opinion
When a state like Wisconsin [& this is also true for my own home state of CA] finds itself in dire financial straits, cuts have to made & that is just fact. However, the cuts should start top down in areas & with people who will feel the pain the least although it will have to be experienced by all in order for it to be fair. If the government is going to cut the pay & benefits of public employees, he & his administration should experience those same proportionate cuts. There are also other nice little perks that come with administering government that he should trim whether they make a financial difference or not. Why, because such sacrifices even when they are only symbolic count when you are asking people who make far more modest money to make significant cuts. I was listening to a pundit this morning comment about the Wisconsin democratic state senators who have fled Wisconsin so that a vote cannot be cast on the governor's bill. He said that such behavior goes against the covenant that these officials have with the people. Well, the government made a covenant with the public union members too. They said to public workers if you do these necessary jobs to run the state for modest wages, i.e.; teach our children, keep us safe, put out our fires, etc, we in turn will be sure that your health insurance & retirement is secure. Right now, it almost seems as if no side has kept their word.