I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More Thoughts On "Ed Reform 101 - Unions"

We took a day off at Ed Reform 101 today, so I thought I'd take an extra day to post my additional thoughts on the post about unions.

The post is actually as much about teacher compensation as it is about unions. The nonsense that we've seen at places like Fox "News" is really amazing. Its the sort of class warfare we see conservatives decry when anyone has the temerity to suggest that maybe Whitney Tilson and David Tepper should pay the same tax rate than a teacher - or, heaven forbid, even more.

The "Cadillac" benefits part is the thing that really kills me; I guess we've hit the point in America where taking your kid to the doctor without running up the credit cards is equivalent to driving around in a fancy car. But better to blame teachers and cops for runaway taxes than actually take on the insurance companies and their outrageous cost increases.

Same with the pensions; I'm very happy to see the unions taking this garbage to court. The plain truth is that pensions save taxpayers money, because they are essentially deferred compensation. If this state had been making its payments like it should have, we'd be in a lot less trouble, and we could ride out the recession by skipping payments and doubling up when things get better. That, however, would be rational...

Those of you who read the blog know I have problems with the unions from time to time. I think they've played Christie terribly, mostly because they haven't developed one or two credible media presences to stand up to this guy and put him in his place. It shouldn't be that hard: we have the facts on our side, and people like teachers.

That said, I can't blame the unions much for getting caught with their pants down. Their job is collective bargaining, lobbying, and providing services to individual teachers; now we're asking them to be a media operation. Well, it's 21st Century America, and if you ain't on TV, you don't count. Christie gets this; the unions need to as well.

There's a patronizing streak when Christie and others talk about the unions as being distinct from teachers; like we can't judge for ourselves whether the union represents our interests. These days, I'd argue unions are some of the most democratic organizations we have. They certainly don't have the gerrymandering issues that state houses do.

So we can take care of ourselves, governor, thanks very much. And we see through you like a patio door when you say you love teachers but hate the union. You've made your feelings about teachers very well known.

Tomorrow - charter schools and vouchers. More mendacious crap has flowed from the corporate "reformers" about these issues than just about anything else. Time for some facts.

Until then, Jon Stewart's got something to say you greedy, overpaid teachers:

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