Wisconsin Gov. Walker is still playing his "I won't budge" game of chicken with the lives and well-being of thousands of Wisconsin employees and all the others that depend on them, from family to local businesses, not to mention schools and other public services. In the phone call a few days ago, he noted that they planned to lay off 5-6000 employees but might "ratchet that up" to blackmail Democratic senators into making the union-busting vote possible. Today he is threatening to fire 12,000 state workers. See Wisconsin Governor Threatens to Trigger Layoffs for Thousands of Public Workers, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2011.
The argument is that unions get too sweet a deal, but that argument doesn't hold water, since it compares apples to oranges and disregards the fact that the state made a contract with the worker on pension and health care, through which workers gave up higher wages. The GOP that proclaims its belief in personal responsibility, the importance of property and contract rights shows that it really means that it values those only for the wealthy when it intentionally tries to break contracts for public employees.
Besides, the unions have already conceded that in tough financial times they should be willing to give up some of the benefits they have won in bargaining in the past. Walker doesn't really want that--he wants to break the unions and be a national hero to the Ayn-Rand/John Birch Society branch of the Republican party (which seems to be most of it these days).
This is not "equal sacrifice." Walker has pushed through and signed a series of tax cuts for business. That's robbing Peter --the ordinary wageearners who happen to work for the state as janitors and teachers and carpenters-- to pay Paul --mostly the big businesses that elects GOP politicians. The Democratic Senators should stay away rather than assist Walker in his union-busting economic crisis-causing legislative gambit.
In Michigan, the GOP-led legislature passed an "emergency financial manager" bill that lets the GOP politicians in office appoint their cronies who weren't able to get elected and take over the jobs of elected officials. It is privatization run amok, as schools are being closed and then leased (cheaply) to private for-profit schools. Services for janitors and maintenance are being contracted out and those persons with 18 or 20 years of service are being fired and told that they cannot work for the new, privatized services else they will forfeit any pension rights that they have. The claim is that this is for security reasons.
Don't these GOP politicians realize or care that they are creating a new class of poverty-striken people who were in the middle class just a few decades ago?
I know a family of five who are living on the (about to end) unemployment compensation of the wife, the odd jobs that the carpentar husband can get (about $500 a month at most), and the meager wages that the son gets working as the cook at a pizza bar, and some income from a daughter that is a part-time dental assistant with a young child. The family gets just enough income that they've been turned down for money to assist with buying food. They are afraid they will lose their home, on which they have a $102,000 mortgage. What then? What prospects for that young child? For the father being able to work if he loses his garage workshop and his tools? For the mother to find a new job if she is struggling to eat or buy a warm jacket?
This is what the GOP mentality is doing to this country. Throwing decent people out of jobs, because they won't raise taxes on the wealthy and big businesses. This has got to change.