21 February 2011

A Few Photos From The Capitol Protests

Lots more at http://rickwayne.zenfolio.com/

19 February 2011

Why We're Occupying the Capitol

There are a couple of common misconceptions about the protests. Perhaps the most pernicious is that they're about cuts to benefits or salaries -- they're not. The unions already offered serious concessions in December, in a deal that Walker rejected. This on top of the lack of even COLA raises for four years, 3% pay cuts for the past two, etc.

The reason we're on the streets is because of the abrogation of the basic mechanism for negotiations: The bill essentially strips the unions of any bargaining rights other than the "right" to try for raises less than or equal to the Consumer Price Index. In perpetuity.

Not to mention the underhanded way they tried to slide the original hearing through: No notice was given except some papers tacked up inside the Capitol building, yet several right-wing groups somehow managed to get wind of it in time to organize busloads of demonstrators. When the Dems had all three branches, they did not use these cheesy banana-republic tactics.

Finally, there's a sort of "no true Scotsman" dynamic to opinions about how hard we work and what we get for it that's multilayered, thus hard to shake off, despite its falsity. We earn less than the private sector. No one disputes that, but it's because our benefits more than compensate for it, right? Wrong. Factor in the benefits, and we're 8.2% behind. Yeah, but you don't work as hard, right? Well, I'd dispute that, but it's true that, overall, public-sector workers average fewer hours than private sector. OK, factor that in too. And the difference in educational attainment. Minority representation. A dozen different factors. We still come out behind. Not by a lot, it's true, but the idea that we're overcompensated in any way is manifestly false.

Here are the numbers.

I don't mind this, frankly. Although I could be making a lot more on the outside -- I'm a software developer whose track record includes teaching at conferences, dozens of articles for our trade press, yada yada yada -- I want to make a difference, and between the apps I write supporting environmental education, the water-quality Web apps I build, and supporting our Department scientists' biophysical research, I do just that. So being a little behind is OK.

But the implication that I'm some sort of lazy doofus sheltering from reality while fattening on the public dole...that does get my dander up. My wife and I proved we could be successful professionals in the private sector, thank you very much, before both of us entered public service.