Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nick Schweitzer Is A Darn...Denialist!

As I pointed out in the previous post, my friend Jay Bullock received a campaign email from Scott Walker's team.

In that email, it was asserted that Walker would never sacrifice our jobs for political points, which is of course, utter bull dung.

However, another friend of mine, Nick Schweitzer, took umbrage at Jay's post, and countered with his one of his own. Nick made some outlandish claims in his post, which I am taking umbrage with, hence this post. Nick wrote, in part:

That's a lot of jobs. But wait a second. Does that mean that the courthouses have no security at all? I can just take a gun in there right now and go crazy? Am I to assume that no county owned buildings are being cleaned? If I walk into one this morning, will trash be piled everywhere? Is food not being served anywhere? You mean county employees are starving?! And the parks... aren't being taken care of at all? You mean the Award Winning Milwaukee County Park system?!

Of course not... because those jobs were not lost! Union jobs were eliminated, and were replaced with non-union jobs from a private firm. For example, security at county facilities is now provided by G4S Wakenhut. Housekeeping was similarly privatized last year. And guess what... the companies hired to provide those services didn't have staff just sitting around waiting for work when they got hired. They actually had to go out and hire people to fill the new work they were contracted to do.

Apparently, my absence from Drinking Liberally for the last couple of months has led to Nick losing his memory of the things I've tried to teach him.

Now, I will concede that Nick is correct that there is still a security force, food service and housekeeping services throughout the county. But that is about where any correct statements end.

Nick cites that Wackenhut was hired to provide security at the courthouses. He is, of course, correct in this. But Nick fails to tell his readers that there have been a number of problems with Wackenhut's quality of service. I've also learned of complaints of Wackenhut guards being, shall we say, too enthusiastic in their pat downs of come courthouse visitors, especially if the visitor is an attractive woman.

In regards to the housekeeping crew, especially at BHD, they are simply not cleaning the entire facility like the former public sector workers did. They are leaving a large part of it untouched, so I would imagine that there is garbage and grime building up, as was highlighted in a recent survey done by the state, which found the facility to be in "shoddy condition," which will cost up to $15 million to straighten out.

And if Nick wants to talk about the cost, I would point out to the security guards at BHD. The force is smaller than before, and the workers don't get paid as well, nor are they part of the county's pension plan, but the contracts are still costing more than before. That is not what anyone in their right mind call being fiscally responsible.

Another error which Nick made was assuming that the private agencies had to scour the earth for workers. As is often the case when public sector jobs are privatized, the private agency gave the current, about to be laid off workers, first consideration, for a reduced salary and reduced benefits. This way, the private agency is spared the cost of advertising and extra training, since they are receiving an already trained work force delivered to them on a silver platter. Even then, as I just mentioned, not all of them get hired by the agency, so there is still a net loss of jobs and an even larger net loss of available income to help keep the economy going.

The facts in the above two paragraphs highlights the fallacy of privatization being a money saver. Tax payers end up paying more for less services. The extra money is not going to the workers. So where does it go? Well, to the CEOs , who are obviously not using it to create more jobs or to help stimulate the economy.

And do I really need to point out that many of these private contractors that Walker signs on, not coincidentally, happen to be campaign donors?

Oh, and before I forget, about the award-winning video about the parks: Does Nick think they include the multitude of repairs and deferred maintenance needed, totally in the hundreds of millions of dollars? Or the recent tragedy that stems from said neglect of the park systems?

So, yes, Nick, Jay was correct. Walker has cut jobs for nothing more than scoring political points. Not only has he done so, but he has also stuck Milwaukee County citizens with the bill for the all too predictable problems stemming from it.

To say otherwise would be just living in denial.

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