February 22, 2011

February 22nd, 2011

Dear Sofia,

Wisconsin is a big ol' protesting, fake-sick-note-writing, hiding-out-in-Illinois mess.

Our governor, Scott Walker, wants to curb negotiations with the teachers' union. A union, baby, is a big group of people who use their power and influence to scare people into joining their ranks so that they can demand benefits be paid for them by someone else. What this means is they get their health care, pensions (money you get after you've worked a long time) and other benefits at virtually no cost - while most working people have to pay for theirs out of pocket (or, pay part while their employer pays the other part).

So, lots of public school teachers (motivated by self-interest) and ignorant University of Wisconsin students (whose class absence is ok'd by profs who are urging them to protest) are skipping school to hang out at the capital, scream in the faces of elected officials, carry signs with obscenities which compare Gov. Walker to Hitler and generally cause a nuisance to anyone trying to work downtown. Their signs also intimate that people who want to refuse Unions their bargaining rights for huge compensations are "anti-family." Protesters have also been roaming the halls of the capital building, smashing windows. Oh, and several UW-affiliated doctors were on site to hand out fake sick notes to anyone needing one (a teacher is required to have a valid reason for taking a sick day, which is the excuse most of them are using for their absence).

You would think the University Police, standing watch over the protest, would intervene and prevent these crimes. But.. they haven't. Could it be because the UW has a huge union, too, which includes teachers and police staff?

You would also think the elected officials in Wisconsin would decry this kind of behavior. Yes, it's ok to protest, but not when it's violent, damages public property and is a violation of one's workplace rules. But what are Wisconsin Senators doing to squelch the mob? They've taken to the hills, because they want to prevent Gov. Walker's vote from taking place. Yup, instead of attending their jobs (which they were elected to!) they've fled to Illinois and refused to come back, effectively stalling the vote because their numbers are needed to take it.

Thankfully, these behaviors have been noticed by many, and will receive punishments of varying degree. Outraged members of the medical community have demanded that the sick note-writing doctors be levied with a charge of gross misconduct, and the teachers who accepted them will be docked pay for the days they faked. Idiot UW students will not, of course, be punished (unless you consider a mid-life realization of just how moronic you acted to be a punishment; pending that self-awareness they'll continue to think their actions are righteous). And the missing Senators? So far they will need to pick up their docked paychecks (for every day they're M.I.A.) in person. Nor are they allowed to vote over the phone anymore:

"The Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections made significant changes to the photo ID bill in a meeting that was at tunes bizarre because of the Democrats’ absence. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) participated in the meeting by phone, but Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the committee chairwoman, refused to let him vote.

Senators routinely participate in committee meetings by phone and are allowed to debate, offer amendments and vote on measures. But Lazich said she wasn’t allowing Erpenbach to vote because he had an invalid reason for being absent.

“I won’t extend courtesies for unethical behavior,” Lazich told Erpenbach.

Do you want the headline to be, ‘Republicans won’t let Democrats vote,’ even though we’ve allowed that many, many times?” Erpenbach said.

This coming from someone whose fellow democrats are doing exactly that by hiding in Illinois!

Sofia, your dad and I both believe in the right to protest. But when it is an argument against entitlements, it is not justified because no one is entitled to anything beyond the basics laid out in the Constitution (which is commonly misinterpreted to mean "you are entitled to be happy and well-insured").

And the teachers union cry of "It's all for the kids!" couldn't be further from the truth. Madison public schools had to close for two days because of the teacher shortage. How did the kids benefit from that? Even in the long term the union has a hard time justifying their claim; teachers make far above a living wage and have plenty of opportunity for affordable health care in Madison.

They probably make more than the single parents who had to miss work because their kids' schools were closed. Lastly, if teachers are doing this for kids they should be expecting kids to be watching and taking notes. So, is a sign like this really appropriate? Sadly, it's not the worst I've seen. Hopefully the kids ARE taking notes... of just who seems like they're going off the deep end...

A pathetic display...but not unexpected. Teachers should be ashamed.

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