While the common consensus of global opinion places the blame for the recent recession at the door of high level banking and investment operatives, its continuing effects are most significant amongst the working classes of society. Even as we continue along the steep and well worn paths of economic recovery, governments are still being forced to make budgetary cuts and modifications to combat the remnants of their financial deficits.
In Wisconsin this week, 15 educational facilities were forced to cancel classes in the midst of a staff protest at the state, in reaction to a proposed bill that would impinge their collective bargaining rights and reduce the governments contributions to their benefits. While the protest is perceived as one that is concerned with the financial implications, it is clearly more focused on worker rights and the punishment of staff for federal errors in judgement.
A Countrywide Issue
This issue is part of a larger picture, in which budgetary restrictions are being replicated and contested in many of the poorer US states. Put simply, the proposed legislation will implore workers to invest more in their individual health care premiums and pension contributions, while removing the burden from government institutions. Also, workers would default on their right to have dues deducted straight from their weekly or monthly salary.
From the workers point of view, this is less a bill motivated by budgetary restrictions and more one that is a calculated attack on workers and labor organizations. It is also perceived as the government targeting bodies and individuals who are vulnerable in the current economic climate. Quite aside from this, there is a growing concern as to why workers and laborers should pay the price for the mistakes of government and lending institutions.
In terms of the governments perspective, the bill is designed purely to ease the states burden and reduce the countries financial deficit. In addition to this, they predict that this temporary legislation can minimize damage to the economy in the short term and ultimately save and help to create job opportunities in the long term. This is a consistent feature of recent government legislation throughout the western world, with a view to repairing the economy and moving forward towards prosperity.
The Motivation Behind the Bill
The key issue with this scenario is not necessarily the legislation itself, but the motivation behind its inception. Regardless of the governments claim that the bill is necessary to facilitate the process of economic recovery, there is a strong argument that the working class faction of society are being targeted to compensate for a deficit that is beyond their control. Given the perception that the global recession was the result of reckless government spending and poor financial decision making, it is fair to surmise that penalizing public sector workers and unions is an act of sheer convenience to federal bodies.
This situation highlights a strange anomaly in democratic government, as it is often the voters who are forced to make sacrifices in order to reduce an economic deficit. Though the government itself creates budgets and policies to manage the economy and also regulate independent lending organizations, when these fail it is the working individuals in society who are required to take on the subsequent burden of a financial shortfall. The argument of hard working tax payers is that financial organizations should be forced to take more responsibility for their actions, and target other methods to reduce the national deficit.
Governments ‘Taking the Easy Option’
One of these options may be to divert money out of welfare resources, which would ensure that contributing members of society are not so afflicted in the wake of a global recession. However, there is a strong argument that governments choose to target public sector working organizations as an easy and safe option, as they can rely upon the perceived logic that this faction of society is both employed directly by the state and able to bear the financial sanctions without encountering poverty.
While this opinion may have a basis in fact, it is also a vast supposition about an individuals personal finance and their ability to maintain an acceptable standard of living. While raising income tax and reducing the governments burden of health care contributions for public sector employees maybe the easiest and most effective way to reduce a financial deficit, it is not particularly fair on these individuals who are not responsible for the economic problems of the US.