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Teachers Unions and Issues Explained

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 9, 2011

The video below will be viewed as funny by some and sad by others.  Those on the receiving end,  teachers unions, will see neither humor nor logic in it.  This is understandable as no one wants to give back what they feel is theirs.

While teachers are not blameless it the battle ragging in Madison, Wisconsin, they are also not the direct cause of it.  They, like many in all businesses and professions, received gains in the bubble years that could not have occurred during  more normal economic times.

Private sector employees were hit quickly after the economic meltdown occurred with job losses and wage and benefits cuts.  Public sector employees, especially unionized ones, were shielded from economic realities by incompetent governments and unionized contracts.  In addition, the Obama Administration’s Stimulus Package gave funds to the states that allowed them to kick the can do the road a few years.  Now, with Stimulus funds running out, the day of reckoning is here.

Peeling back the layers of this economic mess, the culprits behind the “us against them” mentality growing between public sector unions and taxpayers is incompetent government.  Beginning decades ago, governments offered public employee unions benefits that were unsustainable in a real economic environment.  They also used unrealistic projections to hide the oncoming financial calamities created by the compensation packages offered.  In addition, the federal government and Federal Reserve promoted an easy money policy that led to the various bubbles, including housing.  When the bubbles popped, an instant calamity was created for states and municipalities, forcing them to go to battle with the public employee unions after decades of acquiescing to their demands.

Now the states are scrambling to balance their budgets, since they cannot print money like Washington.  Irrespective of this, it is not reasonable to expect the public employee unions to just rollover.  They have watched one special interest group after another being bailed out by the federal government.  They demand no less for their group.

It will take a more strategic approach to cutting spending by the states to get buy in from the many constituencies required.  This will ultimately have to include participation and pain for all.  Unfortunately, the economic problems will have to get worse before the overall public will accept the required sacrifices.



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