Robert Knight

“I’m not going to lie to you, this is going to get ugly.”

So predicts “Goldfish,” a Daily Kos blogger who boasts of spending two weekends in Madison, Wisconsin “on the Front Lines of the Class War.” Now, “Goldfish” is predicting a general strike, like the ones in Greece whenever the bankrupt government tries to cut ruinous spending.

A bigger fish, film director Michael Moore, announced on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on March 9 that, “This is war. This is class war,” and that a national walkout of public school students would happen March 11. Well, the nation’s schools apparently were untroubled, except for some schools in Wisconsin, mostly around Madison. The kids were taking a cue from their teachers, 40 percent of whom called in sick on Feb. 16 so they could join the union mobs at the Capitol.

Jesse Jackson told Fox News that public unions will retain collective bargaining or “you’re going to have it through the streets. People here will fight back because they think their cause is moral.”

Moral? Public employee unions are bankrupting local and state governments, including Wisconsin’s. They have it cushier than the folks who are taxed to pay for it all. A Spectrum Research Group report found that public employees make up 15 percent of the workforce but lay claim to more than a third of the nation’s $9.3 trillion in pension assets. Many retire in their 50s and then double-dip with new jobs.

Union members have been demonstrating in Madison for days, but became enraged on March 9 when the Republican Senate finally bypassed the 14 AWOL Democratic senators holed up in Illinois and voted to send GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s budget reform bill to the House. The law, which the House quickly passed and Walker signed, requires state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to pensions and 12.6 percent to health care benefits, which is still less than most private employees pay.

The part that ignites the mobs is the end of collective bargaining for most public employee unions. This fixes a glaring conflict of interest: Unions use workers’ dues to elect politicians who give them more and more. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, it’s a great scam – if you can keep it.

After the vote, screaming demonstrators broke into the Capitol and occupied it until police ousted them Thursday. Republicans returning to vote had to have police protection. Apparently, the civility memos that the Obama Administration and the media sent to peaceful Tea Party activists didn’t make it to the union mobs.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.