Roman Holiday!

I’m leaving in THREE HOURS for Rome, and even though I won’t have my scooter over there, I will be getting to see my darling daughter – who’s spending a semester in the Eternal City … yay!!! We’ll also be spending A Weekend in Tuscany at my sister-in-law’s villa, which is meant to be fabulous –so I couldn’t be any more excited.

Except now I really DO feel like Nero a bit, considering what is going on in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker, finger puppet of the Koch Brothers, has apparently decided to set the stage for another Norma Ray film, by trying to strip collective bargaining rights from the state’s public workers. At first he cloaked his union-busting intentions by demanding concessions from the public workers to finance health care and pension plans – which the workers agreed to, cutting their take-home pay by 8 to 10%. He asked the workers to “share the pain” of a billion dollar shortfall – but somehow asked for “no pain, just capital gains” from the richest people in his state.

If I’m not mistaken (and I’m not) when President Obama suggested that the wealthiest 5% of Americans “share the pain” and begin paying their fair share of taxes, Republicans screamed that he was instigating class warfare .. and a socialist state. Now when Republicans talk about “sharing the pain,” it’s code for “wear the pain, middle class schmucks.” It makes me sick to think that teachers making an average $51,000 a year are taking a 8% paycut – and people like me get to traipse off to Rome without being asked to contribute an extra dime. I’m ashamed at this iniquity.

Governor Walker was true to the Koch’s Real Thing in his budget presented last night: no new taxes or fee increases, an end to public workers’ collective bargaining rights, an 8% (1.5 billion) cut in aid to local schools and governments, and a call to restrict any property tax increases.

In other words, Governor Walker is going to balance the budget by sticking it to public workers without asking a single thing of the wealthiest Wisconsin citizens. That sucks – and because four of my seven siblings and two of my stepchildren are teachers and public workers, I have to tell you, if I were in Madison, I would be picketing like crazy.

Ciao, bella –Go UNION!

11 thoughts on “Roman Holiday!

  1. Betty, Betty, Betty,

    This is distressing and I’m not talking about that schmuck Walker. I mean this line “…and people like me get to traipse off to Rome without being asked to contribute an extra dime. I’m ashamed at this iniquity.”

    What is that nonsense girl? You and your husband work hard for what you have and it is your right to enjoy it! There is NO inequity from where I stand.

    Didn’t you just GIVE AWAY MONEY for 365 days? Didn’t you give what you wanted and whenever you could years before and will continue to do so?

    Shame has no place here! It is very negative and can only result in more negativity. Everyone has their role to play and we all play it to the hilt, including the union, union workers and Governor Walker, and everybody else he’s riled up!

    Upheavals are essential just like pain, for growth. Try not to take it all so seriously because bet your bottom dollar, another big change is around the corner.

    Never ever put yourself down like that again. Nothing good ever comes of it and I sure as heck hope you didn’t let this situation prevent you from having a FAB time in Rome. I love Italy.

    Nuff said!

    • Wow — I love your passionate defense of my vacation!!! I was not really feeling shame about going or taking a vacation (I’m an inveterate traveler
      and it’s an indulgence I happily embrace, and have for years!) — what I was inexpertly saying was that I feel ashamed that in this society that the
      most affluent among us are asked to contribute less to the government than the middle and lower class, and that feels incredibly inequitable.
      Since Reagan’s era, the percentage of income the top wage earners pay in taxes has gone down something like 50%. AND we are in two wars… which is
      something that we never talk about when we talk about the deficit (in fact – the whole ISSUE of the two longest wars we’ve ever fought barely even
      came up in the last elections, which I find criminal). The idea that the wealthiest Americans should pay less and less in taxes is obscene — particularly
      given how desperately some people are struggling. But p.s. I AM having a totally fabulous time in Rome!!! yay!!!!~!

  2. Betty, Betty, Betty. I hate to be the naysayer in the bunch, especially as you are likely enjoying a cappuccino and not caring a hoot about blog comments, BUT, where I live, and in many communities around me, teachers and administrators make TOO much relative to what the town taxes can bear. My property taxes are divided into two segments – the real property and what I owe to the school district. I am interested in having a healthy school system as it increases the value of my house but when that segment of my tax bill has quadrupled, yes quadrupled, in a decade, then I must stop and think how much more I can give to “allow” our teachers life-long healthcare benefits, not to mention annual salary increases that are way above the national average. In New York, the towns have ZERO say in how much the school district can increase the residents taxes. Consequently, when the TOWNS need to increase taxes for their firemen, police and town road maintenance, the residents are double dipped to the point of breaking.
    To allow any segment of the population the ASSUMPTION that the PRIVILEGE of benefits must be paid for on the backs of residents, rich and poor, is completely wrong. It’s NOT human rights. It’s fiscal sanity, taking back control of a town, county, or state money, when the unions have previously guided the budget. I say GO WISCONSIN.

    • Oh, I’m just hanging out in Rome this afternoon having had my “american” coffee and my pizza, waiting for Lulu to get out of class — but I just read a really
      interesting New Yorker article about Garrison, NY and Putnam County (is that near you??) — and the big brouhaha over raising property taxes and the salaries of the teachers, some of which were in the 6 digits. And I was really surprised to read that in NY the school district can increase taxes without the approval of the towns… so I’m wondering who IS approving those increases. I’m hardly a huge fan of public employee unions, per se, I agree with the NY Times editorial that public and private unions are not the same, and it is the responsibility of the government & communities to control over-the-top increases in benefits and salaries–which clearly it sounds like you have in your town. I think it’s inevitable that almost every city and county is going to be slashing pensions hence forward, and asking public employees to pay for more of their health care … it’s just not sustainable to do otherwise. But I think taking away collective bargaining rights is a step in the wrong direction– ciao, Miss C!!!

      • Who is approving the increases? The unions, of course. They have the largest lobbying faction in the state of New York.

        There’s an article in TODAY’s NYT that is similar in focus to what you alluded to in your response, about the town of Bronxville: here a quote about Bronxville’s particular woe but it could be any town in Westchester County (where I am):
        “The cost of health insurance and pensions for teachers and other school employees is $6 million, or nearly 14 percent of the $43 million budget, up from $2.1 million, in 2000-1, or 9 percent of that budget. The pension portion alone — a mandatory payment to the New York State pension fund — is projected to be $3 million in the coming school year, or 7 percent of the proposed school budget. Teachers and other village employees, nearly all of them unionized, pay only a small amount of this cost. Property tax revenue covers almost the entire outlay, and this at a moment when the pension will have risen by nearly 25 percent in the three years through June, according to the superintendent’s office.”

        And in today’s Wall Street Journal, this:
        “There are thousands of teachers in states with forced unionism, including Wisconsin and Ohio, who would rather not be represented by a union and do not want to pay exorbitant dues.

        There’s nothing fair, transparent or democratic about the current system. No teacher should be forced to pay a union to have employment, and especially not when that union takes political positions that clearly conflict with many teachers’ personal views and beliefs.

        Teachers who do not agree with the militant labor behavior being displayed, and who are members of a union, should reassess their membership and know that they have an option. There’s nothing wrong with giving teachers a choice—unless, of course, you are a union leader.”

        Gary Beckner, Executive Director, Association of American Educators

        I’m just saying Betty that this story has two sides. Everyone wants teachers to have a fair wage but when the unions determine that wage and benefits without regard to the fiscal soundness of the state or county, that’s when protests begin.

        Enjoy the rest of your vacation. You lucky girl you.
        XO, EOS (aka C)

  3. You couldn’t be more right in your statement about the Republicans and their “Oh Well” gestures to the middle and lower class. My last child who’s 17 is in high school and you couldn’t pay me enough to deal with all the drama.

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