As next Tuesday’s primary approaches, it would be wise to take heed of the warning from Ann Coulter. In today’s article, GOP Whistling Past the End of America, Coulter writes about the Wisconsin recall and the danger to America if the public employee unions manage to defeat Governor Scott Walker.
Ann Coulter takes to task the “princely, taxpayer-supported lifestyles” of the overpaid teachers, police officers, and firefighters of Wisconsin. Coulter alludes to one way to reduce wages, at least for firefighters. She mentions snowplow operators who get overtime when they work outside their regular hours. “Isn’t the whole idea of snowplowers to have them work when it snows and not during specific, pre-set hours of the day?” she asks. We should pay snow plowers only when it snows. Likewise, we shouldn’t have firefighters sitting around fire stations playing cards and collecting salaries even when there are no fires. Volunteer firefighters don’t work that way. Have them on call, and pay them only when there’s an actual fire to fight. This would result in a huge saving to taxpayers.
The insidiousness of unions is evident in the WEA Trust issues she raises. While she doesn’t get it exactly right–there was no requirement that all school districts purchase health insurance from the same provider–nonetheless the non-profit WEA Trust provided insurance to about two-thirds of school districts, and several school districts have saved money by switching, or by having teachers pay a larger portion of the premiums.
The article does have a provocative assertion, that “Most of the stimulus money went to shore up public sector employees’ salaries and perks.” Nationwide, this is not quite true; it seems that about 15% ($120 billion out of $800 billion) went to states and local school districts to use to retain employees; but as Rush Limbaugh pointed out and Media Trackers validates, 80% of the stimulus that Wisconsin received did go to maintain teachers and other public employees on the payroll. Noting that everyone else was subject to belt-tightening, the fact that school teachers and other public employees were spared the unemployment that so many other taxpayers had to endure seems unfair.
Which brings us to the solution to the public employee union stranglehold on our government and our taxes: privatization. If we could eliminate public education at taxpayers expense, privatize it, and leave it to the efficiency of the private sector, we would all have a smaller tax bill to pay. If we could eliminate public firefighters, and have individuals contract with private firefighting outfits to protect their homes, we could get fire safety without the taxes. This should be particularly attractive to the liberals in the country: instead of those too poor to have assets to protect paying taxes for their wealthier neighbors, the cost would fall where it belongs, on the wealthier whom firefighting actually protects. Privatizing police protection is a harder nut to crack, but with a bit of creativity and ingenuity, I’m sure a solution can be found which saves the taxpayers their hard-earned wages.
The biggest hurdle to sanity, though, as registered in the passion the union supporters are poring into this contest, is the fact that the unions are allowed to spend unregulated amounts of money in ways which threaten our well-being as a nation.