Response to ‘Unions Must Yield in the Face of Growing Debt’

by Wade McGrath
Guest Columnist

In one of his articles, sophomore Lyman Stone talked about the hard times that everyone’s facing right now and how the public sector looks less “grim.” What he seems to be ignoring, however, is that many of the private giants that started to fall (which was entirely due to the greed found at the top of the private sector) laid off massive numbers of employees before granting tens of millions of dollars to its chief executive officers and paying no money in taxes.

For one such example, look at Goldman Sachs’ CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, who received a stock bonus of $12.6 million in 2010. This was an increase over his 2009 bonus of $9 million despite the company dropping a massive 38 percent in earnings. They also raised his salary by $1.4 million in 2010.

If you want the private sector to flourish, the answer isn’t in cutting the benefits of those who work for the state doing necessary jobs that give mediocre compensation for a decent living (at its best). These are compensation and benefits that should be given to everyone, and this could be achieved if the top 1 percent would relinquish some of the money that they claim to earn. No CEO’s job is 185 times harder than any of his subordinates’ jobs.

But even before that, you could tax U.S. corporations what they owe. Right now, two-thirds of all U.S. corporations don’t pay corporate taxes through loopholes in the system, costing us $100 billion in owed taxes every year.

Furthermore, Stone has made a grievous generalization on public salaries. The average teacher’s salary in Wisconsin isn’t $80,000, it’s $25,222 starting out and raises by an average of $5,000 after the first 10 years, capping at just over $40,000 late into a career. He’s trying to take benefits and pay away from honest, hardworking Americans when the dishonest 1 percent makes off with over 60 percent of this nation’s total wealth.

And Lyman, where do you get off by saying that police officers ($42,000 average salary) and fire fighters ($40,000 average salary) who risk life and limb for you don’t deserve benefits, bargaining rights or their mediocre salary?

If Republican Gov. Scott Walker was really concerned with his budget deficit in Wisconsin, he’d compromise by leaving bargaining rights until another day, since that’s the only point in contention here. Instead, he chooses to force the Democrats into a deadlock with this unreasonable legislation to service his own stubborn, right-winged agenda.

I’m not even going to address Stone’s ridiculous argument about unions needing to give up their right to bargain. Collective bargaining rights are something unions fought hard for so that workers could be treated fairly. Taking them away isn’t just a step in the wrong direction, it’s a long drive down the dusty road of regression.

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