Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It Doesn’t Bode Well

It seems to me that most of the month of March the news has centered on the Legislative issues of Wisconsin. This, on certainly not "slow news" days. We have a major calamity in Japan, with more than 10,000 expected dead and nuclear reactor rods glowing hotter by the minute. We have Moammar Gadhafi resisting the will of Libyan people clamoring for change. We have the rest of the Arab world being more successful in having their demands met.

And we have thousands of protestors in Madison Wisconsin.

I have two sisters-in-law who teach school in Wisconsin, one whose husband recently ran for a Republican state Senate seat. They both have at least moderate support for Scott Walker, the new Governor of the state. They are essentially ostracized at work. At issue, in case you have been in a cave for the last month, is a long-standing union affiliation of Wisconsin teachers. Union dues are collected by the state and the unions consequently have significant monies to support politicians who support the unions. Long-standing collective bargaining agreements mean that not only salaries are issues of employment, so is tenure, and health benefits, and retirement.

Over time this has led to significant budget issues that Governor Walker believes need to change so he can balance the state budget. The unions and the Democratic Senate members say “no”. The Senate, as a political tactic had 14 Democratic members leave the state so there would be no quorum to vote on a law that would strip the unions of their collective bargaining powers. The Republicans took the fiscal elements out of the law and voted it in.

The Democratic Attorney-general filed suit because 24-hour public notice of the fiscal element change was not given. Republicans said they only needed two hours’ notice. A Democratic judge agreed with that legal position but said the 2 hour notice wasn’t honored. She stayed the law and went on a week’s vacation before reviewing the legal brief.

It seems to me that eventually the budget will have to be balanced, with concessions or taxes. We are faced with the same issue in California, as are many other states.

I am in healthcare, and there are lots of changes in the wind about health entitlements. Hard choices are going to be made and no one will be completely satisfied with the results. The inevitability of this seems so obvious to me that I would think we could all work together.

But I’m not seeing it. Not in the budgets, not in the NFL negotiations, not in the Arab world.

I would like to see some indication of collaboration, but what I see does not bode well for success.

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