Wisconsin, Continued.

I tried to avoid dabbling in this aspect of the topic before, just because I knew I would spend forever blogging if I did, but it pained me so much to try to make any kind of excuses at all for Gov. Walker that I eventually discovered I couldn’t really go back to concentrating on my homework. Here’s one last thought; let me try to be brief.

You are entitled to believe that unions undermine capitalism, or that public employees should not be allowed to unionize because they do not compete in a capitalist system, or that this particular union has too much power. Those are all reasonable arguments to make. I disagree, but I definitely think those points are worth discussing, and I can understand why you might think so, depending on your ideology and basic beliefs.

What I’m sick of, however, is hearing people talk like teachers are a bunch of lazy fat cats who are just greedily seeking more handouts.

Public school teachers, as a general category, deserve more respect than that. They are performing a public service, accepting modest pay and taking on difficult challenges because they have to be done, even though not many people would be willing to put up with the frustrations and the setbacks they face. For Scott Walker and his brethren to suggest that most of them are somehow in it for the money and the cushy benefits, and that they’re all just trying to freeload off the taxpayer’s dime, is rude, uncivilized, ignorant and disgusting. As rude, uncivilized, ignorant and disgusting as if I had said “Soldiers get all kinds of perks, great pensions and healthcare, regardless of whether they ever see combat or leave American soil. Maybe it’s time we put an end to their leeching off of society and started asking them to share the burden that we’re all feeling. Most of them are just in it for the free tuition and the chance to play with guns anyway.”

Are there some soldiers who don’t do what they do for nobel reasons? I guess there must be a few. But the vast majority are valiantly serving a cause they believe in, sacrificing for the good of the country and taking on a challenge most of us wouldn’t face. So we have understandably decided to celebrate them en mass, in that as a society we’ve decided that they deserve our praise and support. I really can’t see why public teachers, especially those who brave the poorest, most dangerous neighborhoods in America, should be treated any differently. Granted, most teachers don’t get shot at and literally risk life and limb. But then, they’re not asking for their own cabinet office just to oversee their welfare when they retire, either. They just want a voice in the system that determines their pay.



About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

2 Responses to Wisconsin, Continued.

  1. atymins13 says:

    The Wisconsin protests have brought up a fight that hasn’t been debated in a while: the right of the poor to collectively protect themselves against the rich. The Democratic party hasn’t been completely with the working man for a while, and it is good to finally see that they are coming around. The word union has taken on such a negative connotation. Americans are overwhelmingly in favor in favor of collective bargaining in an abstract way, but are against “unions”.
    I wrote an article about the Wisconsin situation here…

  2. Brendan Long says:

    I’m conflicted about unions.. On the one hand, teachers really are seriously underpaid. On the other, unions tend to demand things that have nothing to do with that (mainly removing competition from the job by protecting bad teachers and promoting age-based promotion). I don’t see how getting rid of the union for one of the worst paid jobs out there is going to help budget issues though.

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