Our home-grown, newly-minted presidential hopeful, Scott Walker, is a guy you either swear by or swear at.
To his groupies, he's the conservative crusader. To many others, our governor is the devil incarnate destroying Wisconsin, our heritage and our economic future. They say he's a fraud -- and worse -- and that he got where he by deceiving people. Walker's supporters obviously don't buy this. Each side will cough up some tidbits to justify their position so I'm not going to jump into that quicksand. Statistics are not necessary here. After all, you don't need a meteorologist to tell you it's raining. You can use your own noggin and some good common sense. And maybe that's the problem as well as the solution.
Let's make this manageable and take his signature piece of legislation, Act 10 which, among other things, stripped most public employees of collective bargaining rights. To sell this Walker and his minions did the Wizard of Oz thing and fanned the flames of angst and prejudice that public employees and their unions were evil, greedy thugs robbing the taxpayers blind. The sky was falling and critical action was needed immediately.
Depending on your own bend Walker was either a savior preaching the gospel truth or a sinning demagogue lying through his teeth. How do we know -- definitively -- what the truth is?
If you take a few moments to think it over it's not that hard.
Now each side of this dispute will unleash at us a barrage of statistics, arguments and beliefs purportedly supporting that side. Regardless of how you feel, let's assume for a moment that the public employees and their unions were overpaid with outrageous benefits. For a moment let's assume Walker's mantra was spot on.
OK, are you ready? Here's the indisputable truth.
No police officer, firefighter, teacher, prison guard, driver's license examiner, game warden, university professor or stock clerk ever fattened their own wallet or purse. That's right. They didn't raid the piggy bank. Not once. Never. None of them ever had the power or authority to do any of that. As a matter of fact and a matter of law that claim was purely false. A lie.
If any of these folks had been overpaid it wasn't their fault. The school boards vote the salaries of teachers and their fringe benefits. Neither the teachers or their union has any say. Ditto for the county, town and village boards, city councils and even the state legislature. Nobody got a dime without their approval. Not a dime.
So, if you assume that these employees and their unions were hogging it up at the public trough, remember who was solely responsible: elected officials. The unions have every right and duty to ask for the moon but it's elected officials who decide whether to give it to them. If they did, who was at fault? Where and when did we forget ninth grade civics?
So Walker lied. He blamed the wrong people. That makes me wonder who duped him? It had to happen somehow. When you peel away at the argument the fallacy is big enough to drive a train through. Who sold Walker that bill of goods -- and why? And why did Walker take the bait?
Now let's apply simple business management to this mess. If your business is losing money because salesmen are "giving away the store" you don't blame the customers for negotiating good deals -- you fire the salesmen and managers who made them. But if the store was given away Act 10 never held accountable any of those who did so. In reality, the wrong "villains" were punished. The governor said that Act 10 gave government employers the "tools" they needed to get things done. Really? Truth is they already had the ultimate took. As Nancy Reagan so aptly said, "Just say no."
Now that we're on a roll the Walker mantra is that collective bargaining was the problem. Really? Remember, it wasn't the bargaining that broke the bank, it was the elected officials who said yes. Walker's solution? Take away collective bargaining rights regardless of whether it was necessary. So now a nurse working for University Hospital has fewer rights than a nurse working at a local hospital. Where is the wisdom and fairness in that? The public employee shouldn't have more rights at the bargaining table but should he or she have less? Rather than collective bargaining being the problem maybe it was the solution and one that was never tried. So why? Why the lies? Why the inept actions that defy common sense, good management principles and fundamental fairness? Who duped Walker? And why did he give in?
And last (for now) but not least what's with selling out traditional conservative principles? Things like local control and less government intrusion. Now Big Brother in Madison is telling local governmental bodies what they can and can't provide to their employees. Excuse me, but since when is that the state's business? If the city councils and school, county, town and village boards gave away the store the voters already had the power to give them what they richly deserved: the boot at the next election. Even a recall one.