Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The People Of Wisconsin Have Spoken

And they came out solidly against public sector unions. That this could happen in Wisconsin, one of the early supporters of workers rights, is a sign both of the irrelevance of unions in today's workforce and how incapable we are of dealing with the slightest bit of subtlety in our political discourse.

When we talk about public sector union employees, we're mainly talking about teachers. Just think for a minute about what happens when teaching jobs don't pay as much, have little job security, and lose retirement and health care benefits. Will bright, dedicated high school graduates still want to get a 4 year degree plus a 5th year and probably a masters degree in order to get a teaching job? What will we do for teachers? Will we drop the requirement of a College degree? Of course thinking of a teacher with no degree is ridiculous, but if you don't have a pool of educated applicants what else could you do?

This is the sort of discussion we should have before we vote to break the public unions. Yes, there are problems with unions, they need to get their head out of the sand and make some concessions for the good of the system; but take them away and there is no check on the sort of cutbacks I describe above. Do you really think those things won't happen?

It comes down to this: what kind of a society do we want to live in? Do we want children to grow up with a good education and be able to give something back? We could ask a similar question about many other issues; one of the benefits of paying taxes is being able to live in a beautiful, innovative, vibrant, well-functioning community.

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