March 12, 2011- Via one of our Tumblr chums, Positively Persistent Teach, here's an open letter from one high school social studies teacher, Eric Brehm of Endeavor, Wisconsin, to Gov. Scott Walker, asking about the impacts of his "budget repair bill." It's lengthy and worth reading—and passing on—in its entirety. You can also read up on Brehm at his blog, Bang the Bucket. In his own words:
On Saturday, February 19, 2011, I sent the following letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It has since been reposted and blogged a number of times, for which I am grateful. However, this blog would not be complete unless I included a copy of it here. And so, here is where it all began:
To the Duly-Elected Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker (and anyone else who gives a hoot):
It has only been a week, and I grow weary of the political struggle that your Budget Repair Bill has caused. I am tired of watching the news, though I have seen many of the faces of those I hold dear as they march on the Capitol. I am tired of defending myself to those who disagree with me, and even a bit tired of fist-bumping those who do. I am tired of having to choose a side in this issue, when both sides make a certain degree of sense. And so I offer you this desultory (aimless or rambling) philippic (angry long-winded speech), because at the end of the day I find that though this issue has been talked to death, there is more that could be said. And so, without further ado, here are my points and/or questions, in no particular order.
1. You can have my money, but… Ask any number of my students, who have heard me publicly proclaim that a proper solution to this fiscal crisis is to raise taxes. I will pay them. I have the great good fortune to live in a nation where opportunity is nearly limitless, and I am willing to pay for the honor of calling myself an American. Incidentally, Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the nation (and a Democrat) agrees with me. Your proposed Budget Repair Bill will cost me just under $3000 per year at my current salary, with the stated goal of saving $30 million this year on the state budget. I say, take it. You can have it. It will hurt me financially, but if it will balance the budget of the state that has been my home since birth, take it with my blessing. But if I may, before you do, I have some questions.
According to the 2009 estimate for the U.S. Census, 5,654,774 people live in the state of Wisconsin. Of those, 23.2% are under the age of 18, and presumably are not subject to much in the way of income tax. That still leaves about 4,342,867 taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin. If you wished to trim $30 million off of the budget, that works out to about $6.91 per Wisconsin taxpayer. So I must ask: Is it fair that you ask $3000 of me, but you fail to ask $6.91 of everyone? I know that times are tough, but would it not be more equitable to ask that each taxpayer in the state contribute an extra 13 cents a week?
Would you please, kindly, explain exactly how collective bargaining is a fiscal issue? I fancy myself to be a fairly intelligent person. I have heard it reported in the news that unless the collective bargaining portion of this bill is passed, severe amounts of layoffs will occur in the state. I have heard that figure given as 6,000 jobs. But then again, you’ve reportedly said it was 10,000 jobs. But then again, it’s been reported to be as high as 12,000 jobs. Regardless of the figure, one thing that hasn’t been explained to my satisfaction is exactly how or why allowing a union to bargain collectively will cost so much money or so many jobs. Am I missing something? Isn’t collective bargaining essentially sitting in a room and discussing something, collectively? Is there now a price tag on conversation? How much does the average conversation cost? I feel your office has been eager to provide doomsday scenarios regarding lost jobs, but less than willing to provide actual insight as to why that is the case. I would welcome an explanation.