Monday, February 21, 2011

Could the Media Please Give us the Facts in Wisconsin

The disruption in Madison, the state capitol of Wisconsin, is now continuing into its second week with no apparent end in sight.  Yet as much as I watched, listened and read about the events, I still don't get a clear picture of what is causing the state workers to complain.

The situation in Wisconsin provides a clear example of what is wrong with our modern day news media.  We have so many advocates and so few journalists in the press these days that it is almost impossible to get the facts from a single source.

I really haven't been able to get much from the mainstream media outlets other than useless emotional soundbites that put nothing in perspective.  Nevertheless, by researching on the Internet, here are some important items I have found out, but I am not exactly sure if all this data is correct....frustrating!!!

It appears that the average Wisconsin public school teacher makes about $51,000 in salary and $38,400 in benefits for a total package of roughly $89,000 per year, and that is just the average.  In addition, Wisconsin public teachers contribute only one percent of their salary toward pension benefits and only six percent of their very good health care benefit package.  As someone who has paid more than $600 a month for family health care coverage, roughly 50 percent of the benefit's cost, when I had a full-time job, I find this amazing.  By the way, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin would like the teachers to contribute up to 12 percent of the cost of their health care insurance, which is still a phenomenal deal by today's standards.

Keep in mind that between summer vacation and other vacation periods throughout the year, Wisconsin public school teachers get about 13 weeks vacation.  During the summer, they could get another job to supplement their income, but why?  They already receive better money and benefits than the average worker in the private sector, and that average worker is not getting 13 weeks of vacation.

The complaint of the demonstrators that the Wisconsin governor is trying to take away collective bargaining rights might be really the only legitimate complaint there is.  However, when you are dealing with employees who happen to be paid by the tax payers, you find that roughly 24 states do not allow for any collective bargaining with public employees.  The new Wisconsin measure would allow collective bargaining for salary, but not benefits, at least I think that is the case from the contradictory stories I have been reading about the Wisconsin situation.

What many people may not realize is that even liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned against public employee unions, saying that "a strike of public employees manifest nothing than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government." looks as though the public school teachers in Wisconsin are doing everything they can to obstruct the education of Wisconsin children, an education they are apparently being very well paid to provide. 

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