Saturday, February 20, 2010

Walking Off A Cliff

Scott Walker's idea of governance seems to be simply getting rid of government. And, whatever is left of it, he wants those jobs to be low-paying, pension-free employment.

As our crumbling infrastructure will attest - you get what you pay for.

Walker's attempt at running Milwaukee County has been merely passing the buck and cutting services, while (in typical Republican style) claiming superior vision, leadership, and accomplishment.

As Steve Schultze wrote in the Journal Sentinel, "Walker...favored parceling out county functions to the state, municipalities, private firms and independently elected parks and transit districts." His idea of County governance is having someone else do the work. If governor, what entities would he have do the work of the State? Obviously he doesn't want to actually govern.

His latest proposal calls for replacing County pension plans with a 401(K) system for new employees. Let's ask those whom were planning on retiring in the last few years how their 401K's held up during the 2007 downturn. Some plans lost over half of their value due to the mismanagement of the economy by these same hucksters that claim privatization will save us all.

Just imagine: we're still operating in this casino capitalism economy; defined benefit (pension) plans are now defined contribution (401K) plans; Social Security has been privatized; and booms and busts are as regular as the sun rising and falling. During the next downturn, millions of would-be retirees would have to find work to supplement the huge losses of their 401Ks. This would be compounded by the losses of the privatized (market driven) Social Security accounts. A massive double whammy for would-be retirees. Such a roadmap - such a change in how we fund and care for our our retirees - would subject a majority of them to impoverishment. I hope the aged remember this when they vote for our next governor.

The whole looming budget crisis meme being pushed by Walker (and many other self-serving politicians and business leaders) would be laughable if so many living wage jobs weren't at stake. We seem to always find the money for private projects, yet supporting our citizens with good paying jobs is too much.

Public employment should be the floor - of labor standards - for the entire labor force. A living wage, decent health care, and the assurance of retirement after a certain period of service, should be the goals of all employment. The Walmartization of our workforce is a competitive disadvantage and a sure path to ruin. And that's the path Scott Walker wants us to join him on.

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