At least $63 million wasted. That’s good money that could have been used to create jobs, open businesses, invest, but instead it was flushed down the proverbial toilet.
I’ll go ahead and skip to the end today. I’m talking about the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Not only did he defeat the recall vote, he actually increased his percentage of winning from the 2010 gubernatorial election. On November 5, 2010, Scott Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Burnett by 52% to 47%. Yesterday, Walker won by a margin of 53% to 46%. While that seems insignificant, it is actually a really big deal. More on that later.
Real quick… The intrepid reporters here at CentsToChange do believe in the freedom to recall an elected official. That is the ultimate check and balance within a representative Republic. It is also the belief of this organization that regular elections occur often enough for a bad politician (I know, redundant) to be booted from office. Therefore, a recall should be held in case of criminal activity or complete, outright mismanagement. Disagreement with a platform or legislation is not just cause for a recall.
But I digress…..
On January 3, 2011, Scott Walker was inaugurated as the Governor of Wisconsin. A month later, February for those keeping score at home, Gov. Walker outlined his plan to get Wisconsin finances in the black and out from at $3.6 billion shortfall.
It’s at this point that I share a little history with you. In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to unionize public employees. The typical union mantra is that it takes a union to speak for the individuals. That’s really at the core of unionization. Individuals will never be able to get a fair deal and only through the collective will the worker be compensated properly. Now, we could argue the need for unions in today’s society all day long. I believe that in the early 20th century, unions gave workers the confidence to stand up for themselves. Once the individual believed they had a choice in their own future, the economy of the USA skyrocketed. As did personal wealth and standard of living.
Unions are no longer necessary. Period. Everywhere unions have a strong presence, you will find higher costs, lower standards of living, and less ingenuity. You see, from a social aspect, modern unions have completely undone all the good they did initially. Unions of today have made the “members” believe that they are worthless without the union; that outside of the union umbrella of protection, they cannot achieve a fair deal.
I put “membership” in quotes because, generally speaking, when someone is a member of something, it’s voluntary. I am a member of several organizations because I choose to be a member. In a lot of states, union membership is required by law. In Wisconsin, union membership was required to the tune of $1,100 a year.
Back to Gov. Walker….
He recognizes that unions are crippling the government of Wisconsin. He also recognized that the benefits package for public employees was way out of line compared to private industry. Additionally, Walker saw that collective bargaining was stifling local districts from making decisions that were in the district’s best interest. Lastly, he found it wrong that a teacher was required to join the union through the force of law and have union dues taken out of their paycheck even before taxes..
You got to wake up really early to beat the taxman to a paycheck withholding… Really early….
So what doe Gov. Walker do?
He outlines a plan where government union (redundant) employees will actually contribute to their own pension. Up until now, a pension was simply a benefit given based on years of service. He asked that the employee put some skin in the game to the tune of 3%. Keep in mind that very few, if any, private companies provide pensions anymore. In the “real world” people are required to plan their own long term investment strategy. So the mere fact that they get a pension at all is a benefit way beyond private industry.
If you get a wild hair, do some searching on pension fraud and double dipping. You’ll see that it is not uncommon for people to work to a certain point, retire for a day, get full state pension, and start working in a new position racking up a new pension. Seriously…
Gov. Walker also saw health care as a possible way to save money. State employees only had to pay 3% of their insurance premiums. Not 3% of their health care bills, 3 points on the insurance premium. That’s a sweet deal… Gov. Walker proposed making that 6%.
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!!!
Actually making people pay for things…. Remember to cue the “teachers are never paid enough” song in the background… I’d say full pension and pretty much free health care adds quite a bit to what is already a decent salary. The average salary for a teacher n Wisconsin is between $45,000 and $50,000. Add in the pension and free health care and that turns into a pretty generous compensation package.
Just for grins, let’s do some simple math… A general rule of thumb for saving is 10% of your gross. If you do that, you will have a comfortable self financed pension. So let’s say the pension benefit is $4,500 per year. A typical family health care insurance policy can run $1,000 a month. I know. So that’s another $12,000 per year. Add it all together and your salary is now $61,500 to $67,000. Add in the fact that you only work 9 months out of the year and that prorates to $82,000 to $90,000. Not to shabby for a profession that has the easiest major in college.
As far as the collective bargain goes, Gov. Walker saw that individual districts should be able to make decisions for themselves; that the local school boards know what’s best for their schools, not the union goons in Madison. Think about like this… You have a school, K-12, all under one roof. The principal make a decision for the curriculum for the entire school, every grade. These classes and material are taught irrespective to the age and knowledge level of the individual grades.
That’s how things were in Wisconsin under the goon based collective bargaining agreement. Now each grade is allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to class material, schedules, and how to interact with the students. Put the decision power in the hands of the people involved on a daily basis. Makes too much sense….
Now… I saved the best and most important reform for last. Voluntary vs. compulsory union membership. This got the least attention, but is by far the most important reform when it comes to union membership… By far…
Here’s how it works. Every single teacher in the Wisconsin school system is a forced member. It costs $1,100 per year to be a member of this exclusive organization. According to TeacherPortal.com there are 59,552 teachers in Wisconsin. That means that every January 1st, the union goons count on $65,507,200.00 in their bank account. They turn right around and donate huge percentages of that money to liberal and democrat causes because it’s the left that always gives unions more power.
Follow the money….
If teachers are allowed to opt out of the union, that’s $1,100 per member the union loses. Read this op ed piece from a teacher in Wisconsin. Pretty revealing.
So those are the reforms Gov. Walker proposed. As expected, Armageddon was predicted by the left. Union goons organized protests. Teachers walked out of classrooms. And the Democrats ran away to Illinois to hide. Classy.
Remember all the while that Wisconsin voters elected a Tea Party candidate that ran on a platform of fiscal reform. And won. Handily.
So, Gov. Walker simply does what he said he would do and the left goes nuts. I mean, hide in Illinois? Really? To avoid a vote? And how old are you?
My elementary school age son acts more adult than that… Really.
The left predicts a financial implosion and that all learning will cease and children will die in the streets begging for knowledge. Well, maybe not that far. But pretty close….
So the left does what the left does best; organize…. In June of 2011, a federal lawsuit is filed against Gov. Walker for his collective bargaining reform.
The left continues to whine and formally announces a recall effort in November 2011. Now, let’s put this in historical perspective… Since the formation of our good ole United Sates of America there have only been two gubernatorial recall elections. Two. In 1921, Lynn Frazier was booted out of the governor’s office in North Dakota, just like Gray Davis of California in 2003. Think about how many governors there have been and only two were so bad that they deemed a recall attempt.
So the left organized and this is where union goons showed what makes them union goons….. The petition effort was enormous. By January 2012, enough signatures had been collected. Democrat leaders claim that one million signatures had been collected. I have no idea of the actual amount. You are welcome to count them yourself here: Wisconsin GAO. My gut says that the same accounting firm was hired for the recall petition signature count as was hired to count the participants in the Million Man March.
Regardless, there were enough for a recall vote.
The entire Wisconsin world was put on hold and the media descended like a flock of vultures (not seagulls, Dennis) for the recall election on June 5. Actually, that would be a venue of vultures. Sorry. So the state of Wisconsin was really a state of limbo as is the case in an election year.
Enter in usual politics… Mud is slung, truths and half-truths told… Dire predictions and empty promises… Oh, and Gov. Scott Walker campaigned as well as the Democrats.
Tuesday was the big day. National political pundits went on record as claiming victory before the first ballot had been cast. The same pundits also said that this election will be a foreshadow of the general election in November. Other pundits said it has no bearing on November. Everybody picked a winner. Now it’s time for the voters to choose their elected officials. Again…
The recall efforts for the Governor and Lt. Governor failed, along with three of the four State Senate seats. The fourth is still being counted and may result in a runoff.
In other words, nada. Nothing. Zero change. And yet $63 million (at least) spent. And that, my friend, is the true definition of the word waste. To expend effort and energy with zero change.
The Democrats thought this was a slam dunk based on the number of signatures they collected. Yet they lost. Here’s a little explanation… You see, the petitions were collected in person. Someone with a clipboard told you that you needed to sign this petition to recall a herd of politicians. Or is that a gaggle? Never can remember. Regardless, you are making a declaration at the direction and under the eye of someone else. If you are a teacher or other public employee, you sign just to prevent the backlash of not signing.
Then….. In the privacy of a voting both, with no one watching, you share your true feelings. You vote your conscience. This is why we must keep union formation elections secret ballot. If it were up to petitions alone, then strong arm tactics would win. If unions are really good for a group of people, then it will pass in a secret ballot. If not, it will fail.
Back to a comment I alluded to in my opening paragraphs. The margin of victory. This is a big deal. When Walker first ran against Burnett, it was a general election. Your run of the mill, every four years deciding on a obstinancy of politicians. Or is that a battery? I still can’t remember. I guess you’ll have to look here and decide for yourself.
But anyway… The recall, was a mandate from the irate masses. Voter turnout is what wins elections. You have three kinds of voters:
- Always vote regardless
- Vote when they are passionate
- Never vote regardless
It’s the middle that change the course of elections. If one side is very passionate about a cause, they will turnout in much higher numbers than those that see it as a typical vote. No big deal. It’s all about voter turnout.
In a case such as this, with as many signatures as was collected, you would think the passionate side would win handily. Yet they lost. And by a wider margin than when they lost in the general election. The left, so rabid about removing this awful man from office, lost ground to the side that put him there in the first place.
In Other News of the Ironic, if a teacher opts out of the union, and spends the union dues on the added pension and health insurance premiums, they still have a net gain and more disposable income.
Interestingly enough, the reforms put in place by Gov. Walker are already working. The Milwaukee School District is already forecasting an $11 million surplus thanks to the reforms. Of course, Walker was challenged by Burnett, a former Mayor of Milwaukee.
Lastly, the city of Madison, a very heavy left-leaning district, is reporting (unsubstantiated at this time) a voter turnout of 119%. That’s odd because if every eligible voter voted, it would have been 100% turnout; which has never happened. I bet if they checked for identification the numbers would be a lot more believable. Except there is no such thing as voter fraud, so there’s no need to check ID. I forgot.
Anyway…. $63,000,000.00 wasted on a recall attempt that failed. A state deadlocked into inaction. Tens of thousands of man-hours wasted because the union goons got their panties in a bunch.
Here is my biggest fear and my biggest hope resulting from this recall attempt. My fear is that we will have a never ending stream of elections. When one side loses an election, they will promptly begin petitions for recall. That will completely cripple the government. Which, really isn’t a bad thing. hmmmm. My hope is that when a group talks of recall, they think twice. They really remember, or recall if I may, this attempt and base the effort on a real, substantiated just cause. And not simply on the grounds of disagreement.
What would you do with $63 million?