Should it be surprising that 62% of American’s oppose the elimination of collective bargaining for unions? Without this tool, young children would still be working in factories, people in factories would not be paid as well, and today’s health care costs would be much much higher on families. While most American’s don’t seem to be lost in the madness, I haven’t seen one article or report trying to explain what the problem is.
Two weeks ago, Governor Scott Walker said on Meet The Press: “For us to balance the $3.6 billion deficit we have — but not only now, but to ensure we can continue to do that in the future so our kids don’t inherit these same dire consequences — we’ve got to have assurances. And over the past two weeks, even after they made those promises, we’ve seen local union after local union rush to their school boards, their city councils, their technical school boards and rush through contracts in the past two weeks that had no contributions to the pension and no contribution to health care.”
Besides the fact Wisconsin’s budget office said the state would be fine, Walker is playing politics (and losing), while he tries to make it sound like unions have been the problem. But really, no one has been responsible. Unions will always ask for more money because it’s their job. And it’s the Governors job to negotiate those costs down. But I don’t believe the system is the problem. As Walker points out: “Under Barack Obama, he presides over a federal government where most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for, for benefits, nor for pay.” But federal workers have some of the best benefits and get paid more than private employees. Plus, if public unions are the only problem, why have private sector health costs almost doubled in the past ten years?
States are facing fiscal problems mainly because of pensions and benefits which can’t be paid for. It is a problem that was seen coming (whether the financial crisis occurred or not) and no one did anything about it. The stimulus package allocated money for companies like IBM to develop programs that would allow doctors to share information on patients. This would allow them to compare and figure out which treatments work best, thus reducing costs. Plus, it saves money on paper work, trees, and you won’t have to worry about not being able to read your doctors handwriting anymore. Obviously, this hasn’t been implemented yet, but experts agree it would be a step in the right direction.
The vote taken by Wisconsin’s legislature last night was a bad political and policy move. It won’t solve the problem of rising costs, and it pins one person, one party, against another, which voters never like to see. Walker may think he’s winning, but instead he’s acting like a putz.
So now that you have my opinion, what’s yours? How would you lower health care costs? Or do you think collective bargaining is a problem?