They’re sucking us dry |

They’re sucking us dry

Dear Editor:

Having viewed Mr. Westcott’s letter on the Tea Party (“The Tea Party machine,” Feb. 25, The Aspen Times), I must offer my thoughts: First and foremost, contrary to his characterization, both Republicans and Tea Party members do not consider teachers, nurses, and government workers to be “lazy, tax-avoiding scum.”

Short for “TaxedEnoughAlready,” their platform includes lower taxes (therefore limited-size government), individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets, states’ rights, individual involvement. A pretty benign set of principles and certainly representative of all backgrounds and political persuasions. Of course, workers and professionals of all sorts are members.

Second, the reference to breaking the economy deserves further comment. You can view the budgets of Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and on and on, to see without a doubt how public unions contribute to deficits. These long-term contractual liabilities are wreaking havoc that leaves the administrations scrambling for cutbacks, increasing taxes, and risking lower bond ratings and potential defaults. Then witness the significant budget reversals in states that have reduced/ restricted/ eliminated aspects of the “collective bargaining” mechanism. Indeed, some states never had it at all, and still function OK.

But what we really need to address is that quiet elephant in the room, the clear conflict of interest presented by the mandatory collection of union dues which then goes into massive war chests for distribution to support the very people who negotiate those favorable salaries, health care, pensions. Political contributions from public sector unions (the list is long, so just among the usual suspects: AFSCME, AFT, NEA, firefighters, postal workers, air traffic, police, etc.) … more than $200 million over the last two decades. Over $28 million in ’09 and ’10 alone, and that’s not including affiliates and other “leadership PACS.” Over $16 million from the top three, and it’s some 98 percent democratic, and I am rounding down.

All this is simply a redistribution of dollars from taxpayers to union leadership to their political favorites … leaving us with two classes of workers: one relatively small group that receives rich benefits, the remaining majority left to pay for them.

Look, it’s a free country, the public sector unions can (and did) negotiate for the best deals they can get, but it’s been a gravy train and it’s time to ante up.

I, for one, can’t afford it anymore.

Rich Wontor