Invoking the spirit of Maggie Thatcher at the Madison School Board

Yes, the Madison School Board needs a good haunting.

Any company that hiked prices by 7.4% would meet massive customer resistance unless it faced a shortage caused by some natural disaster. What is the disaster facing the Madison School District – unless it is of its own making?

Yet we know that’s how much school property taxes could increase, thanks to the excellent reporting of Wisconsin State Journal reporter Matthew DeFour. Schools are typically about one-half of your total property tax bill, so pay attention!

Did you get a 7.4% pay raise this year? State employees have forgone a pay raise the last couple years. They had to reach in their pockets to pay new health insurance and pension co-pays. Annuitants covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System have been treading water since 2009. Those who retired nine or more years ago are facing a 9.6% reduction in their pensions. Many of those, ironically, are retired teachers.

Yet the Madison School Board proposes a 1.5% across-the-board pay increase. Actually, reporter DeFour underreported the proposed pay increase. Add another 1% for the “step” increases to account for longevity to equal a 2.5% increase. Almost uniquely among taxpayer-supported employees these days, the district’s teachers still would pay nothing toward their generous health insurance benefits. Job security is nearly guaranteed. Meanwhile, the district acts as bagman for union boss John Matthews, deducting dues from teacher paychecks.

Can we expect the district to end that statutorily forbidden practice when the current contract expires after June 2014? Let’s hope so, unless the district hides behind Dane County Judge Juan Colas’ Act 10 ruling.

What would get the axe? Parent-teacher conferences. So much for addressing the achievement gap.

Here’s the budget developed at the Blaska Policy Research Center and Tanning Booth: Freeze wages, require 12% co-pays on health insurance, end union dues payroll deductions, institute merit bonuses for exceptional results, extend the school year, advertise for charter proposals.

With this union-dominated school board? A boy can dream, can’t he? See you at today’s school board meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Doyle Hdq., 545 W. Dayton St., where new board members T.J. Mertz and Dean Loumos will be sworn in. Both are union-approved. A draft of the 2013-14 district budget will be presented tonight but will NOT receive final action, so there’s plenty of time for your voices to be heard.

With apologies to The Economist.


Austerity is next to Hungary and coming to Denmark

Yes, the state of Wisconsin is cinching its belt – unlike nearly bankrupt Illinois, a fiscal Ponzi scheme. Wisconsin state government is practicing “austerity,” the socialist echo chamber would call it. That’s a bad word for our Lefty friends, believe it or not.

“I’m not shedding a tear for Margaret Thatcher,” cries Matt Rothschild. “With Ronald Reagan, she ushered in our current era of austerity,” damns The Progressive’s Rothschild (surely a misnomer).

Socialist political organizer John Nichols damns the “austerity agenda” despite record federal deficits in his daily diatribe against Paul Ryan. (It’s one of the few that does not praise that self-outed socialist from faraway Vermont, Bernie Sanders.)


When several trillion dollars of Keynesian pump-priming fails to do the job (half a million workers gave up looking for work in March – only 88,000 additional jobs created, according to the BLS), turn up the tax spigot some more, our redistributionist friends suggest. Turns out Denmark is looking at a little austerity.

Is the welfare state undermining the work ethic? asks The New York Times.

It began as a stunt intended to prove that hardship and poverty still existed in this small, wealthy country, but it backfired badly. Visit a single mother of two on welfare, a liberal member of Parliament goaded a skeptical political opponent, see for yourself how hard it is.

It turned out, however, that life on welfare was not so hard. The 36-year-old single mother … had more money to spend than many of the country’s full-time workers. All told, she was getting about $2,700 a month, and she had been on welfare since she was 16.

[Denmark is] deeply engaged in a debate about whether their beloved welfare state, perhaps Europe’s most generous, had become too rich, undermining the country’s work ethic. …

“They think of these benefits as their rights. The rights have just expanded and expanded. And it has brought us a good quality of life. But now we need to go back to the rights and the duties. We all have to contribute,” says Denmark’s minister of social affairs.

Denmark needs a Maggie. So does Madison.

Just as an aside: Has there been a more riveting story than the Boston Marathon terrorist attack? Only 9/11 itself, “shock and awe” in Iraq, the Florida Bush-Gore recount, and O.J. Simpson come to mind to rival it in recent years.

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