Why Wisconsin Fights

by Deroy Murdock

As Wisconsin voters head to the polls for Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election, they and citizens across the country will confront an enduring myth that has fueled public spending and debt from coast to coast: Government workers, Americans have been led to believe, sacrifice for the public good, earning less money than if they quit their posts and entered the vastly more lucrative private sector.

While this meme may have held water at some point, it does not now. 

A website and quiz developed by the Independent Women’s Voice provides a quick education on how this left-wing lie turns the facts almost pristinely upside down:

  • Wisconsin’s government workers averaged $50,774 in wages and benefits in 2009. Private-sector workers typically saw some $1,800 less.
  • On average, Wisconsin’s private-sector employers pay 5.3 percent of their payroll expenses into their employees’ pensions. Before Republican Governor Scott Walker’s reforms, Wisconsin taxpayers spent 10.55 percent to 13.3 percent of payroll costs on the government workers’ retirement system.
  • In 2010, Wisconsin taxpayers poured $1.5 billion (with a B) into the government workers’ pension scheme. What was the government workers’ collective share? A whopping $12 million (with an M). In other words, taxpayers coughed up 99.2 percent of public servants’ pension costs while those who serve taxpayers contributed just 0.8 percent of this obligation.
  • Pre-Walker, taxpayers were on the hook for 94 percent of government workers’ healthcare premiums. Thanks to Walker, taxpayers now are on the hook for just 87.6 percent of government workers’ healthcare premiums. For this incredibly modest (and still highly generous) re-balancing of this equation, Walker’s critics have compared him to Adolf Hitler, author of Auschwitz.

The IWV website, IsThatReallyFair.org, includes a quiz that allows readers to see how much of this information they absorbed and retained.

Why did IWV launch this website?

“We noticed that, to the extent people tended to be upset by government-union reforms, it tended to correlate with their having a seriously out-of-date understanding of public-union compensation relative to the private sector,” IWV CEO Heather Higgins told me.

So that IWV’s light can drive out the unions’ darkness, concerned citizens should check out this website. Next, spread the word among Wisconsin voters so that they, too, can give this a look before they cast their ballots in this nationally momentous state election.

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