It is not surprising that the Durango Education Association supports the teachers in Wisconsin for their “courage and determination” (Letters, Herald, Feb. 25). The manager for financial planning of Wisconsin public schools reports that the average teacher’s salary plus benefits is $100,500 for nine months’ work. That is not too bad during a recession. It is a direct result of collective bargaining agreements that increase the size and power of the unions.
As New York Times columnist David Brooks recently noted, private-sector managers have incentives to oppose union demands. Public-service managers have an incentive to grant them. Individuals may vote with their wallet. They may choose to patronize union-dominated businesses. They may choose not to. Taxpayers don’t have this ability. We must pay taxes.
Local and state taxpayers currently are stuck with $3.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities for pension and health plans alone.
The private sector certainly had a part in the mortgage crisis that led to the recession. The criminal thievery began, however, during the Carter administration when left-wing activists accused mortgage lenders of racism because blacks were turned down for mortgages more often than whites. That led to the Community Reinvestment Act, which punished banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority and distressed neighborhoods.” Lenders responded by loosening credit standards and making increasingly meretricious loans.
Given several decades, virtually free dollars from the Federal Reserve, worse than sloppy standards of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and increasingly aggressive government policies for the “disadvantaged,” it is not surprising that clever people on Wall Street obliged and found ways to “make it happen.”
Unions have had and continue to have a role in America’s economic and social development. Nonetheless, simply put, unions did not build America or the American middle class. Capitalism, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and hard work built our nation.
Perhaps the Durango Education Association should begin searching for teachers of modern Greek. With the collusion of public-service unions and the Obama administration, we can turn Washington, D.C., into Athens and the United States of America into Greece.
Michael Lubin, Durango