Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Call For Arbitration

Occasionally, possibly rarely, some ordinary person who is not a mover and shaker among the Controlling Heights comes up with an idea that's so good, and so right, and solves so many problems, that it needs to be implemented right away. Unfortunately, because that person's not in any sort of position of power, he can't get his idea voiced, the idea never gets implemented, problems don't get solved, disaster ensues, and people suffer.

I have such an idea. All I hItalicave is a blog and you seven readers. But I need to get this idea implemented, because I think this idea will end the impasse between Republicans and Democrats over the governor's budgetary bill. I need your help! And if our Democratic Senators don't hear this idea through the din, I fear the worst. Just hear my idea, and if you like it, join my voice in trying to get our lawmakers attention over it. Please!

I also have a second idea, to be heard by union leaders. I'll get to that later.

BUT FIRST, an observation:
I know not everybody reads the Shepherd Express. But I picked up a copy this past week, just to see what it said regarding the crisis over Walker's bill. The crisis apparently is still too new for any in-depth reporting to be done by a weekly rag, because only one editorial comment covered much about it, and it was merely an op-ed. However, what really got my attention was a cartoon, called This Modern World. For those who aren't aware, This Modern World is a cartoon that features stylized 1950's-style fatherly faces, the kind one might see on an old-fashioned public service message. Sometimes it features commentary from a penguin wearing welding goggles. Well, this week's Modern World cartoon took aim at President Obama. Slamming him for trying to have it both ways with everything, it depicts him as a jumpsuit-clad superhero named "Middle Man," whose superpower is taking the middle ground with everything. In this case, he tries to take middle ground while turning on his post-cold-war ally, "The Strongman" (a.k.a. Hosni Mubarek).

In a way, the "Middle Man" slam is as pivotal a moment, in my view, as when Doonesbury attacked President Bill Clinton by depicting him as a gigantic waffle. It's one thing to be attacked by the political opposition, but when a normally liberal-leaning cartoon starts lampooning its own president, its a sign of severe disappointment within the left. And for good reason. Most of us who voted Democrat thought we'd get the most liberal president we've had in 50 years, and to hear the right-wing A.M. radio shows and FOX News, that's exactly what they accused him of being. They insisted, again and again, that he was more liberal than Hillary Clinton. Boy were they ever WRONG! Little did we all know that he was actually Mr. Compromise. Mr. Capitulate. Mr. Be-A-Nice-Guy-To-Those-Who-Treat-You-Like-Dirt.

You know, I might be wrong here, but I think it's fair to say that the Republican party may have gotten more out of President Obama than they would have from John McCain! And they still think he's the Antichrist.

As if the Antichrist would ever have let himself get stomped on by the likes of Joe Liebermann!

Which brings me, finally, to my BUH-RILLIANT idea!

The Democrats of the State of Wisconsin need to call upon President Obama to arbitrate in this matter. Right now, we're on the verge of a deadline for state financing, and if a resolution can't be reached, there will be thousands of forced layoffs due to lack of funds. Then, inevitably, the blame-game will begin, with Walker blaming Senate Democrats and Democrats blaming Walker's bull-headedness. By calling on Obama to arbitrate, Democrats look as though they wish to bring speedy resolution regarding their compromise. If Walker refuses arbitration, then, come time for the forced layoffs, he assumes 100% of the blame, even if he tries passing the buck onto the Democrats. If Walker accepts arbitration, we have a balanced budget. And it's likely that Obama will give Republicans even more concessions than the unions have surrendered so far, since that's what Obama does these days.

Middle Man to the rescue!

There is precedent. POTUS has involved himself in labor disputes ever since Teddy Roosevelt got involved in the Coal Strike of 1902. Reagan dismissed striking air traffic controllers in 1981. George Bush, Sr. refused to intervene in an American Airlines Strike in 1989, but the mere threat of his involvement helped broker resolution. Clinton intervened in an airline attendant's strike in 1993. The list goes on and on.

Of course, there are no airlines in this case. This isn't business vs. labor. It's government vs. labor. But isn't that even more reason our President should be involved? Education is a top priority for Obama, and this bill directly affects how educational quality will be determined. It may just be (I can only hope!) that he will insist MPS drop its residency requirement and that all Wisconsin public schools implement a results-based pay structure.

Here's where I need help: I'm e-mailing, calling, and writing physical, hand-written letters to every Congressman and Senator I can think of. They need to hear this idea! If you join me in writing and calling, this little voice turns into a megaphone. I haven't contemplated going to Madison before, but I just might make up a sign that reads: "Have Obama Arbitrate!" and march around with it, just to make sure as many people have this idea as possible. This is the right move, at the right time!

And now, my idea to help union leaders, in the form of a letter to them: *Ahem!*

Dear leaders of the Milwaukee Public School Teachers' Union,
Walker's Budgetary Repair bill is but the first volley of a series of attacks which are coming your way. Our new governor has only been in office for barely two months, and already he has you locked in a desperate arm-wrestle. So far, it looks like your side has gone over the top -- for now. But even if you win, it will only be the end of the first wave. He has four, long years to plot against you. Walker will keep attacking and attacking.

The only way to put an end to this is to make sure that Walker has no excuses to attack you. He sees your presence as a hindrance to quality education in Milwaukee, and (let's be honest) the track record is not on your side. To upend this, you'll need to improve the quality of the education in your city, immediately and decisively, and there are two ways you can do this with swift results.

One is to end the residency rule. This has historically been very difficult for you, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You need the best teachers from every nook and cranny you can scrounge them from, and limiting yourself is as foolish as going into battle with your hands tied behind your back. You simply must remove this rule or die, it's that simple.

The other is to implement results-based pay for teachers. Again, there will be strong opposition to this, but if such a structure is suddenly put in place, Walker has no excuse to attack, and you win in the court of public opinion.

These changes are absolutely essential, and are the only means the Teachers Union can survive. Need I remind you all that Mayor Tom Barrett could take over administration at any time? It is in your best interests to implement these changes immediately if not sooner. Please do so.

We will all be very grateful for it.


Eric Hildeman

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