Armstrong Williams

Some startling revelations have come out of the fracas going on in Wisconsin over Gov. Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature facing off against public sector unions, namely the teachers’ union. From 2001 to 2010, Wisconsin taxpayers paid more than $8 billion for state employee health care coverage, while state employees contributed only $398 million, less than 5% of the total costs. From 2000 to 2009, taxpayers paid $12.6 billion for public employee pensions, while the employees only contributed $55.4 million, less than 0.5% of the total cost.

Public employees are guaranteed those final salaries for life. Not only that, you get to add on other positions for mega-pensions. So if you were a firefighter and a teacher, you get two pensions at your last salary in both jobs. Retired public employees regularly receive pension in excess of $100,000 - again, guaranteed for life. And who pays for these folks not to work? You and I, the taxpayers. We are their meal ticket for their entire lives, yet when times are tough and we ask them to share the burden, they yell and scream that they are entitled to every penny they never had to contribute.

And many will claim the disparity between private and public sector pay as a reason that public employees should receive such largesse. However, study after study is showing that government employee are now making more than their private sector contemporaries, especially on the lower/mid end of the economic scale. So not only do they get paid better, they get an annual cost of living increase, locality adjustments, inflation adjustments, full medical, and of course the obscenely great pension.

Most people should be horrified and shocked by this terrible imbalance. Unions need to be cut down to some level of normalcy and reality. It's not that we're anti-union and they're bad people, it's just that taxpayers can ill afford to foot this bill.

The other issue the protests have helped to shine a light on is the inherent problems when public sector unions negotiate with government. Public sector unions give major contributions to elected officials with whom they negotiate. This is the same as if the Teamsters bribed and helped appoint the CEO of Southwest Airlines in order to then negotiate a better deal that would actually harm Southwest.

Armstrong Williams

Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He is the author of Reawakening Virtues.
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