They Don't Have It So Rough

I've been having a rather lively discussion with one of my regular readers/commenters about the ongoing battle in Wisconsin between the governor, GOP legislators, a majority of voters, and the public sector unions. She seems to think it's just fine for the taxpayers to fund an unsustainable entitlement (she really likes the great pensions the state and local union employees will be collecting), while ignoring the facts of what she's supporting and what it really costs.

Robert Costrell gives us a breakdown of just one part of the public sector compensation in Wisconsin: teachers.

The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools. When I showed these figures to a friend, she asked me a simple question: "How can fringe benefits be nearly as much as salary?" The answers can be found by unpacking the numbers in the district's budget for this fiscal year.

You never see that in the private sector. Why? Because businesses couldn't afford it and it would make them uncompetitive both in the domestic and world market, assuming they would even survive.

As I mentioned to her in a comment to this post, quoting from Costrell's piece, Wisconsin teachers pay nothing towards their pensions. Not a penny. The taxpayers pay for it all. How is it they get away with this? I can explain it in two words: collective bargaining. Hold on to your hats (or should I say wallets) because there's more. Lets' take a look at health care benefits:

Under the current collective-bargaining agreements, the school district pays the entire premium for medical and vision benefits, and over half the cost of dental coverage. These plans are extremely expensive.

This is partly because of Wisconsin's unique arrangement under which the teachers union is the sponsor of the group health-insurance plans. Not surprisingly, benefits are generous. The district's contributions for health insurance of active employees total 38.8% of wages. For private-sector workers nationwide, the average is 10.7%.

I wish my employer paid 100% of my health care benefits, but I know that won't happen because they can't afford it. They can't tap the taxpayers to pay for it all. And even if they could, the taxpayers couldn't afford it...hey, wait a minute! That sounds almost like...ObamaCare! And it won't work for the same reason.

I could go on and on, but it might be better if you Read The Whole Thing yourself.