Two quick items today. This first comes from Mark Steyn, the Canadian-born scribe and commentator. I’ve read his book America Alone, and I’ll say this for him; he calls it like he sees it, and draws some uncomfortable conclusions. Here he comments on the debt crisis, calling out Nancy Pelosi for a particularly stupid comment in the process: ‘Life on this planet’ about to change. Excerpt:
That thoughtful observer of the passing parade, Nancy Pelosi, weighed in on the “debt ceiling” negotiations the other day: “What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.”
It’s always good to have things explained in terms we simpletons can understand. After a while, all the stuff about debt-to-GDP ratio and CBO alternative baseline scenarios starts to give you a bit of a headache, so we should be grateful to the House Minority Leader for putting it in layman’s terms: What’s at stake is “life on this planet as we know it today.” So, if right now you’re living anywhere in the general vicinity of this planet, it’s good to know Nancy’s in there pitching for you.
What about life on this planet tomorrow? How’s that look if Nancy gets her way? The Democrat model of governance is to spend four trillion dollars while only collecting two trillion, borrowing the rest from tomorrow. Instead of “printing money,” we’re printing credit cards and preapproving our unborn grandchildren. To facilitate this proposition, Washington created its own form of fantasy accounting: “baseline budgeting,” under which growth-in-government is factored in to federal bookkeeping as a permanent feature of life. As Arthur Herman of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out this week, under present rules, if the government were to announce a spending freeze – that’s to say, no increases, no cuts, everything just stays exactly the same – the Congressional Budget Office would score it as a $9 trillion savings. In real-world terms, there are no “savings,” and there’s certainly no $9 trillion. In fact, there isn’t one thin dime. But nevertheless that’s how it would be measured at the CBO.
In other words, things are a whole lot worse than our “political leaders” are letting on. I suppose trying to hide your incompetence under a bushel is a common impulse, but the bushel’s wearing thin.
There is good news in at least one state, though; that state being the formerly-blue Wisconsin. Excerpt:
After being held hostage by 14 AWOL Democrat senators, Walker succeeded in passing his budget repair bill, “Act 10,” which instantly fixed the $137 million deficit by requiring public employees to contribute just a little bit toward their pensions and health care, and by limiting their ability to collectively bargain. Wisconsin also ended the ludicrous automatic pay and benefit increases for public employee unions each budget year — closing a cash sinkhole which is eating states like California and Illinois alive. Last month the Wisconsin legislature passed its biennial budget, which Governor Walker promptly signed in a no-frills ceremony.
The repeal of much of Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law has already improved the quality and lowered the cost of Wisconsin government exponentially. There are approximately 275,000 government employees in the state of Wisconsin. About 72,000 such employees work for the state, 38,000 for cities and villages, 48,000 for counties, 10,500 (full time equivalent) for technical colleges, and 105,229 for schools.
While only half of state employees are unionized, virtually all school district employees are unionized. Until recently, almost all conditions of unionized public employee employment had to be delineated in a collectively bargained agreement. Consequently, it was very difficult to remove bad teachers and to reward good teachers. It took an Act of Congress to remove even the worst teachers, and doing so could cost a community millions in attorney fees. A high school teacher in Cedarburg was fired for viewing porn at school while working on his school district computer, in violation of the high school’s computer use policy which strictly prohibited “accessing, sending or displaying offensive messages, pictures or child pornography.” (Among other images, Robert Zellner had retained photographs of female students of the district wearing bikinis while on a school-sponsored trip to Hawaii that Zellner chaperoned.) Zellner was a union activist, so the teachers’ union dug in and resisted the personnel change, filing suit in federal court and taking the matter all the way to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The union eventually lost, but in its nearly three-year effort to keep fired teacher Robert Zellner from returning to Cedarburg High School, the school district spent roughly $267,000 on legal expenses — enough to pay the annual salary and pre-Walker benefits of four teachers.
Maybe Washington should be looking to Wisconsin for answers.
Off to spend Sunday exploring America’s own little Caribbean paradise, one and all. Watch this space for more.