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Big Labor and their allies in the Democratic Party can see the writing on the wall and are desperately trying to nip this issue in the bud. Labor rallies held across the nation in support of the Wisconsin teachers union this weekend were very sparsely attended, which would seem to indicate that the rank and file’s heart really isn’t in this battle. It should be obvious to public sector union workers that change has to come, whether union leadership and the political party they support likes it or not. “The private sector for years has been making sacrifices to keep people working,” Governor Walker observed. “We should expect the same from government.”
The Heritage Foundation laid out the reasons why states have to trim the fat in very clear terms. Overall, state spending has increased by about 80% in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last ten years. A good deal of that spending is associated with health benefits and pensions, two areas where public sector employees contribute far less than their private sector counterparts. Combined state deficits are estimated to total about $125 billion by the end of the fiscal year. There is no way that states can stay solvent – especially in the current economic climate – unless they face reality and make deep spending cuts. And, as anyone who has been involved in business knows, the single biggest expense on the balance sheet of any large organization is the cost of labor.
In Wisconsin, some public school teachers complain that they have already taken pay cuts and that they can barely afford to feed their families as it is. Yet, the fact is that public school teachers make much more than teachers employed at private schools and have much more in the way of benefits than their private school counterparts. No doubt such tales of woe will continue to be told as state after state faces the fiscal realities of 2011. But, the brutal fact of the matter is that there’s nothing left for states to give, nor can they make any more extravagant promises. Whether we like it or not, we live in an age that demands austerity. The left can complain and can continue to employ the most reprehensible tactics in order to get their way, but it won’t matter in the long run. There’s no getting around reality any longer, no matter how desperately the left wishes we could all live in their fantasyland.
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