So next week, I'm going to take myself over the UIHC and vote in a Union election. Which is a weird moment for me personally because, up until recently, I haven't really be all that into unions. I haven't really seen the point of them. They seem to focused on what labor has done for the workers in this country in the past rather than what they're going to do for them tomorrow. (Those 'THE WEEKEND: BROUGHT TO YOU BY A LABOR UNION' bumper stickers never fail to make me roll my eyes.) I see the merit in the arguments that teachers unions and public sector unions can be stumbling blocks to necessary reform. I remember in the throes of auto bailout, with GM hanging by a thread, watching agog as the UAW pretty much said they weren't going to budge on a damn thing and thinking, 'talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.'
I'm not a moron. Our benefits are incredibly generous. Our pension system probably would benefit from a switch from defined benefit to defined contribution at some point in the future. I'm expecting to pay more our insurance as the years go by and remain incredibly annoyed that AFSCME traded away four years of cost-of-living raises in an inane attempt to keep it's members from having to pay for insurance only to have us end up paying a little something for it anyway.
But at a certain point, you get tired of the hypocrisy. At a certain point, you get tired of getting screwed over. And with the Republicans running the show down in Des Moines, I find myself increasingly wondering whether or not Iowa is a state I want to live in for the long term.*
"But we're just trying to give taxpayers a better deal."
I always love that. Like I'm some sort of sub-category of citizen because I happen to work in the public sector- guess what? I pay taxes and I vote, just like everyone else does. And despite the barely concealed condescension that's generally flung toward the public sector by people in power, I like my job. It's not worthless. It serves a purpose and just every so often now and again there's some dignity in it.
I'm loathe to give up on this state. It's really not a bad place to have a family and raise your kids. I grew up here. The Parentals are still here. It's home, in many ways. But in many ways, increasingly, it's not. Iowa doesn't have a sprawling, expensive state government, Our pension system is relatively robust and things run here. Maybe not smoothly every second of the damn day, but you look next door at Illinois and think, by and large, Iowa's not that bad.
But it's changing. And I'm not sure it's changing for the better. Someone pointed out to me the other day that politics is a team sport these days. It shouldn't be, but it is- and so, when one party takes power, they swing that power around like a cudgel. They slash and burn where they could prudently trim back- in general, it doesn't matter which party is in charge any more- I'm tired of ducking the cudgel.
I'm prepared to make a sacrifice or two. The days of budgetary wine and roses seem to be over and if that's the way it is, then so be it. All things being equally, if it comes down to a choice between my job and anything else, I'd sort of kind of like to keep my job. And while shit always rolls downhill, true sacrifice and true leadership should always start at the top of the food chain.
When the Legislature gives up their generous, taxypayer funded health benefits for their part time job. (Hey, what a gig! Bennys with a part-time job? Who knew!) then we can talk about how generous my health insurance is.
When the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Legislature sacrifice their salaries for the year- something that CEOs do from time to time, then we can start talking about me giving up my raise.
But until then, I'm voting no. And if you're an AFSCME member in Iowa City, you should get yourself over to the UIHC next week, February 7th and vote 'No' as well.
* Well, the Missus has already figured out that she can make more money doing what she does now in pretty much any other state- and not just like a wee bit more money, but a significant chunk of change. When I see Republicans in the legislature coming for my health insurance and my salary and pushing horse shit like this, it makes me want to move to any other state.
People are entitled to their opinions about vaccines. Even if their opinion is based on complete garbage science. What they're not entitled to is to expose my children to diseases that we stamped out decades ago because they're dumber than a box of rocks. Freedom, you say? Well, you have the freedom to educate your kids literally anywhere else.