Wisconsin Is No Egypt

Wisconsin Is No Egypt

Published: Feb 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm

By Anthony Oleck.

It’s amazing to me how many liberal pundits are attempting to draw parallels between Egypt and Wisconsin. Other than the fact that people are protesting in the streets, the two have nothing in common.

Egypt’s revolution at first glance appears to be a quest for freedom; Wisconsin is a protest more in line with what we saw in Greece and France. In those two countries, we saw powerful public sector unions trying to protect and preserve overly generous health, retirement and pension benefits — benefits the people paying their bills neither have nor can afford.

Wisconsin’s Governor is doing exactly what he was elected to do. Chris Christie was the first Governor to lead the way on this difficult but necessary path. When first elected, he announced his intention to seek reductions in public sector benefits the bankrupt State could ill afford. He quantified the overly generous retirement and healthcare benefits enjoyed by State workers. He gave facts and figures of benefits the average taxpayer could only dream about. He gave examples of State workers “double dipping on taxpayer funded pensions.”

Shortly after Governor Christie made his intentions known he was asked to speak to the firefighters union. As he walked into the room, he was greeted with loud booing by the angry union crowd. His response was classic Christie: he said for years Governors were lying to the firefighters, the past Governors agreed to terms they knew we could not afford, and they kept kicking the can down the road. The previous governors’ strategies were appeasement and re-election with union support. Their hope was that the day of reckoning would be on some future Governor’s watch. Then Christie hit them right between the eyes with this question: “These Governors were all lying to you. I’m the first Governor to stand here and tell you the truth…so why are you booing me?”

The dirty little secret that is beginning to become abundantly clear is that there has been a very unholy relationship between Governors (mostly Democrats, but sadly some Republicans) and the Public Service Unions. Generous salaries, lifetime health benefits, early retirement and guaranteed pensions were the gifts given to these powerful unions in return for votes. The Unions received benefits far in excess of what taxpayers in the private sector were getting. The Unions were happy, the Governors got re-elected and the taxpayer was handed the bill.

What you are seeing in the Wisconsin protest is more Greece and France than Egypt; what you are seeing in the actions of newly elected Republican Governors in States like Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey is something called bold leadership. They are doing exactly what the voters elected them to do in the face of Union opposition that is ugly, uncivil and unprofessional – complete with Democratic legislators in hiding, Hitler posters, and teacher job actions that bring shame on their profession. (I thought we were going to be more civil after Arizona?)

Let’s hope the President is watching, because these courageous governors are lighting the path to fiscal responsibility. The President would do well to follow their lead.

Now wouldn’t that be some hope and change we could believe in?

Anthony Oleck is a patriot from Kennett Square, PA, and a regular contributor to the PACC.