LETTER: Can’t Spend What You Don’t Have

By Beacon Staff

I’d like to offer a counter viewpoint to Mike Jopek’s column (March 23 Beacon: “Failed Rhetoric”) regarding the recent budget struggles in Wisconsin. This isn’t about political parties. It’s about logic.

First, he points out that Michael Moore, the filmmaker, “challenged the network news to just once iterate that the richest 400 people in America have as much wealth as 155 million of its citizens.” So what? When did it become ethical for any of us to tell people or companies that they don’t deserve the money they make? I think that was the Soviet Union, wasn’t it? Yes, there are some dubious people out there in business. No doubt. They’re in all walks of life. But casting this wide net across the “rich” isn’t accurate. It’s demonizing. Most of these people have worked hard to create either a product or service that the public wanted and was willing to pay for. That’s America. It’s our freedom and free markets at work. There isn’t another country on earth that has our standard of living across the board.

Second, yes the unions are partly responsible for the middle class, the two-day weekend, 40-hour workweek, child labor laws, vacation days and Social Security. The people in the unions do risk their lives, teach our children, work in restaurants, etc. The non-union sector works just as hard and have similar struggles.

Let’s address the current challenges with public unions that Jopek fails to address. Wisconsin’ governor and majority-led Congress is doing what every sensible citizen does when they are out of money, they stop spending it. The public unions are driving most state governments’ broke. That’ a fact. Through collective bargaining the unions get large retirement and health plans well above the average citizen – in big business or small business. That’s a fact. Through collective bargaining the unions leverage their power and one of two things occur: One, the services being provided like trash pickup, teaching, road maintenance, etc. stop because the unions go on strike. Two, the government craters and agrees to the contract for either votes or fear the services cripple the state. Neither are good outcomes.

You can’t solve the issue by demonizing the productive and taxing them more just because they’re “rich,” when they create all the private sector jobs. At some point, they leave the state. Do the research: the states with a growing economy are not increasing taxes. Unions also protect the unproductive, lack-luster employees that should have lost their jobs and prevent those who are stellar employees from getting better pay raises.

One final point, the Declaration of Independence states that our Creator endowed us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “Pursuit” is a key word. We’re not guaranteed in life of any outcome – that’s a sense of entitlement. But we are guaranteed that government should get out of our way and allow us the opportunity to seek happiness, whether that means through wealth, a great golf swing, or being a couch potato. That’s up to us. We either want to work for it ourselves through education and hard work, or chose not to.

P.S. You can’t spend what you don’t have.

Dan Graves
Whitefish

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