Thursday, March 17, 2011

Possible Dissent?

I received the following email today:

Joe, I read your blog from New From Eau Claire, and we'll ahve to agree to disagree on your comments there, but take a look at this article as just an FYI.

The article talks mainly about the financial impact of public employees on our state's budget, as if they provide no redeeming value. Teachers, snowplow drivers, prison guards, cops, and firefighters: you are not an asset. You are a liability to our state. You are our collected pool of labor costs. Along with you, we also have to pay for salt for the roads, blacktop, cement, paint, etc. When we discuss you, we will not discuss you as people, we will discuss you as if you were another pallet of cinder blocks or another truckload of cement. Yes, we need less paint, and less blacktop, and see if you can get us some cheaper teachers this year! Those old ones cost a lot of money.

edit - 20 minutes after this initial posting:
I feel like I need to chime in again here. Of course, seeing the press release, the above response was my immediate reaction. And it makes me wonder if the person who emailed me has that same reaction, looking at members of the community that are protesting. I've certainly heard some vehement outbreaks against union members. Did it make me more sympathetic to the case they presented? Definitely not.

I have a feeling this, in itself, will be a struggle for us, for a long time. How do we come together as one city, one community, one county, one state, and solve our problems? Especially when our immediate reactions are so polarized? Do I really believe that this person who emailed me thinks of a teacher as a line-item on a budget? Does he or she really think that we're ignorant of the fact that we are in a deficit, and we need to make sacrifices?

When we say "Wisconsin will be ours," do we mean everyone? I think so. I'd like to think our community is strong because we all serve a vital role. We've got musicians, businessmen, cops, plumbers, teachers, bankers, doctors, nurses, software engineers, guys like The Dude - we all live here. My main problem here has been the villianization of one group - public employees. I think they deserve a living wage, and I bristle at the idea that we need to take from them while giving money back to people who already have loads of cash. Some of us will always own that sense of protectiveness. We get fired up. How we use that fire is up to us.

When we take our Senate back, we need to make sure we elect prudent, wise people who will listen to everyone in Wisconsin. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the current Republican senate is listening. But we do need to hold our officials accountable, and expect that the service the next Senate gives us is equally as heroic as the service our Wisconsin 14 is providing right now.

Let's keep moving, one step at a time - recalls now, April 5th elections, talking to our neighbors politely. One step at a time - Wisconsin will be ours!