Friday, February 18, 2011

Teacher "Insurrection" in Wisconsin - Vive le Revolution!

REALLY?!?! (stepping up on soap box now)

Not to get all Glenn Beck crazy about revolutions and such, but I am glad that ordinary, hard-working, middle class Americans are making a stand in both Wisconsin and Ohio. These public workers (primarily teachers) have normally taken the worst of punches when it comes to correcting the fiscal irresponsibility of government leaders. However, the cuts are too much, off-setting the balance between mediocre pay and decent benefits. Protest SHOULD happen.

There are arguments, though, that claim that public sector workers must "share the burden" of financial strain with their private sector counterparts. Granted, no one wishes to see financial suffering take place in either sector, but let's look at the whole picture:

When the economy is booming, the private sector is the first to feel the ramifications of increased capital. Theoretically, private sector workers' salaries raise (as long as the growing profits aren't entirely pumped into the CEOs pockets), bonuses increase, and these workers enjoy the benefit of choosing to work within the private sector. During a similar economic boom, it is much slower (and entirely dependent on policy makers and government leaders) for public sector workers to get a piece of that economic boom pie. Government leaders must CHOOSE to increase government salaries and benefits from the increased tax base from a booming economy. And what government wishes to raise taxes during a boom to compensate its workers for rising inflation? No one. Therefore, public sector workers will never fully receive the benefits of a booming economy as private sector workers do.

So why should such public workers have to suffer the same risks and fate as private sector workers? Why should public workers deal with all of the costs but receive little of the benefits. Think of this when many of the politicians and talking heads bring this argument up.

I heard Bill O'Reilly state on his "Talking Points" segment of his show (Thursday, Feb. 17), that those (within the public sector) that feel that they cannot financially make it (after the budget cuts), then those individuals should attempt to make it in private sector, so that they CAN experience the benefits during a booming economy. Some issues with that:

Bill, I cannot make it far in the private sector with a History Education degree. Yes, you will probably tell me that I should have had a back up plan and that I may have made a stupid decision. However, this country supports the ideology of "making something of yourself" and "using your talents to make this world a better place". It is a Christian principle, and I feel that I am doing something that is very beneficial to society. Our president even stated that teachers are doing "a service to this country" in his State of the Union address. I, along with any other public worker (ESPECIALLY teachers), should never, ever, be penalized for giving a service. I understand that some of the right-wing, libertarian, free-market capitalists shun the idea of creating services for people, but I feel that our jobs fulfill the U.S. Constitution by promoting the general welfare of the people. Don't every minimalize the service we give.

Finally, I am still surprised at the audacity of ignorance that educated (and uneducated) people have of teachers. Even some of my close friends assume that all "vacation days" (from summer to Christmas) are paid. They are not! Most teachers are only contracted for 180 days of work, although the work load of good teachers (which are most) easily comprises 10 hour days and sometimes a 6-day week. These teachers know that they are not compensated for their time, but they are truly service oriented. Benefits packages have guaranteed that mediocre pay for so much time isn't a non selling point, allowing for a steady stream of new educators to enter the field. But there is always a breaking point...there is always a breaking point.

The last argument that will probably come up is that "if the teachers (in Wisconsin or Ohio) really cared about the children, they would go back to work." Stop with the guilt trips! This line is overused and is a last resort! Again, the vast majority of teachers are service-minded--or else they would not have gotten into such a field. But they are not slaves. There is a breaking point.

I applaud those teachers who have protested in mass. I hope that teachers and other public sector workers in other states also rally to cause in solidarity. We must stand on a united front! I dare governors to use National Guard soldiers to coerce teachers back to the classroom. How would it look, politicians, to have photos broadcast around the world of a soldier pointing a machine gun at Mrs. Smith, the 50 year old kindergarten teacher? Bring your threats. They will do no good, for you have hit a breaking point.

Thanks for listening. I am stepping off the soap box now. Solidarity is key. Teachers unite.