Our first last-stand?

All eyes are on Wisconsin as battle for fiscal sanity shifts to state
Andy Manis/AP Photo
On the sixth day of large-scale protests, opponents to the governor’s bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers demonstrated in the rotunda of the Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Sunday.

ABC's Christiane Amanpour looked at the Tea Party movement and saw "extreme." Now she looks at the union protest in Wisconsin and sees "people power."


We hope the people of Wisconsin and other cash-strapped states are smart enough to see past such incredibly biased reporting and discern the truth: The Battle of Madison is a fight for the taxpayer's wallet, pure and simple -- a fight between greedy and inflexible unions and new Republican leadership at the Capitol that truly is fighting for the people.

It's not just about the fact that public employees in Wisconsin (and most other states) have grown fat on sweetheart benefits provided by private-sector taxpayers who have had their own benefits shrink to near-nothing in recent years.

Rather, this battle is for the real systemic change that is necessary to save the states and the country.

Public-sector unions are eating the country alive.

If this society is going to survive the leaner times that are surely ahead, it absolutely must shed the very nice but overly burdensome and unrealistic benefit cushions in the public sector.

Just one example: Increasingly, private-sector workers, if they have any retirement program at all, are enrolled in "defined contribution" plans -- 401(k)s -- which are, as the moniker implies, defined by how much money is contributed to them. That's how much you have to live on in retirement.

Many public employees are enrolled in "defined benefit" programs that, again, are defined by the benefits: They get a certain amount per month for as long as they live, without regard to how much money is available.

That's why so many pension plans are "underfunded" for a growing population of retirees who may expect to live longer than previous generations -- driving up pension costs all the more.

It's not sustainable. And even if it were, it would still mean that private-sector employees would, in the future, be asked to do with even less in benefits and wages in order to support the unchecked wages and benefits of public workers.

So, to media liberals like Amanpour, those backbreaking, out-of-step demands of public workers on their "friends and neighbors" who support them with taxes are some kind of heroic "people power."

Meanwhile, in the case of the teachers' unions, it's becoming clear that throwing all that money at public education hasn't resulted in soaring results. Indeed, the unions, despite all the talk about "doing it for the kids," exist to protect teachers, good and bad.

They certainly threw the kids under the school bus to take time off to protest.

We may see in Wisconsin just how much power the people really do have. They need to rally behind their state leaders in the fight to take back control of the public purse.

The rest of the states are counting on it: With the federal government even more out of control, and a former "community organizer" in the White House blithely backing the unions, the war to save America from financial ruin has shifted to the state capitals.

Wisconsin could be our first last-stand.