If they step back, many of my soon-to-be-ex-friends who are bashing Wisconsin's public employees will see that their real angst isn't at the men and women who sacraficed increased pay for those benefits but rather with the elephant in the room: uncontrolled health care costs.
I'm hearing from people who say it cost them $1800 a month for their health insurance (which can be deducted from their taxes if they are self-employed or part of a corporation, by the way, unlike employees who have to meet unreasonably high threshholds before a deduction becomes available). Ironically the state pays that much and more for family coverage for its employees, particularly in southeast Wisconsin where we have some of the most expensive health care costs in the nation.
This is the elephant in the room they're missing. The real beef isn't with the workers but with the outrageous cost for health care that simply isn't being held in check. Say what you want about "Obamacare" but its biggest flaw is that it dodged cost containment. Without costs in check the bill is a disaster, even if you like the concept.
I lived in Canada so I'd like to tell you about the Canadian system which, although not perfect, is a starting point. Canadians see their doctors, just as we do. Instead of having a gazillion different insurance companies with a gazillion different sets of costly rules and procedures, there is a single payer: your province. There are no hospitals across the street from each other using your health care dollars to run ads on TV and in the newspapers. Drugs aren't covered but drug costs are a fraction of what they are here. The only real problem is that you don't get instant elective surgery. The system isn't perfect but it works and Canadians zealously defend it.
One tremendous aspect of the Canadian system that we don't understand is that it spreads the cost of health care. This is important because it allows small businesses to compete for employees as the cost of health care is borne by all taxpayers. There are no $1800 monthly premiums.
So, if this system works, why isn't it available here? Good question.
Let's see. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is part of Journal Commuinications, a conglomerate that also owns other newspapers and broadcast outlets. Even the Kenosha News does. Do you think editorial writers are going to bite the very hands of the advertisers? And the health care industry contibutes mightily to politicians so good luck getting anything done there.
So, here's my take. Take away my insurance benefits and give me the Canadian health care system. I'll gladly pay for my supplemental policy to cover dental, vision and drugs (as many Canadians do or their unions negotiate).
My friends, your beef isn't with fellow workers. It's with a corrupt health care system that's run amok and the corrupt politicians and institutions afraid to do anything about it.