Wisconsin Madness as Seen by the ‘Little People'

Yesterday a good friend who lives in southeastern Wisconsin sent me an email telling me how embarrassed she is to be from Wisconsin. The recent protests and the pathetic escape of the Senate Democrats to the nearby People’s Republic of Illinois have both angered and shamed my friend Margaret. She simply cannot believe that while she and her neighbors have been financially crippled over the past two years, these supposed public servants continue to grow fat while feeling no ill effects of the Obama recession. No longer basking in the glow of the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl victory, my friends on the other side of the border are positively beside themselves at the insane behavior of their public servants.

Another friend could only shake his head in disbelief. He wondered why Governor Walker’s “budget repair bill” has triggered so many clearly un-civil protests in the state capitol. As an accountant he understands that the Wisconsin Constitution requires a balanced budget and that union concessions would prevent massive layoffs. With the economy in shambles, isn’t it better to make a few concessions than sacrifice several thousand jobs? “It just kills me that we are expected to make so many sacrifices to pay for these people who don’t care one bit about us,” he added.

This morning I spoke with a co-worker named Jason who hails from the Dairy State. He said that “Walker should do like Reagan did with the air traffic controllers and fire their a**es!” His anger was focused on the Madison and Milwaukee public school teachers who called in sick to attend the protests at the capitol which caused the cancellation of classes in their districts. Wisconsin’s public school teachers are well compensated and receive lavish health and retirement packages that far outpace what similarly educated citizens could earn in the highly competitive private sector, a point not lost on Jason, who struggles to make do on half that amount while buckling under the weight of an oppressive property tax bill.

The general consensus among those people I spoke with is that they fully support Scott Walker and the Republican legislature and they appreciate their willingness to stand up to the public sector unions and endure the rhetoric and angry crowds that have assembled in Madison. To a person, there was no sympathy for the public school teachers who they regard as overpaid and unproductive. Unlike Mr. Obama, who is not familiar with the proposed legislation, the Wisconsin residents whom I talked with know that the proposed “budget repair bill” does not affect either police or firefighters, nor do they bear any animosity towards those public servants.

The appearance of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and fellow agitator Jesse Jackson in Madison on Friday merely served to prove to my friends and co-workers that Governor Walker and the Republican leadership were doing the right thing for the state and its overburdened taxpayers. My friend Bruce said: “If Rev. Jackson and that union thug Trumka are going to fire up the crowd, they must be scared.” Jason added: “Jack-ass Jesse Jackson? That proves we’re right. I just hope Walker doesn’t cave.”