LETTER: My apologies Telegram readersTo the Telegram: Robert White of Waukesha and I have recently exchanged several emails regarding our letters that appeared in the opinion section of the Superior Telegram.
To the Telegram:
Robert White of Waukesha and I have recently exchanged several emails regarding our letters that appeared in the opinion section of the Superior Telegram.
He recently sent another letter requesting an apology from me to him and the readers of the Telegram, and though I am weary of debating Mr. White, I feel obliged to respond.
When Mr. White first contacted me, he claimed everything he had written were “facts.” To make my point to him that many of his statements were opinions and inferences, I sent him several dictionary definitions of the word “fact” such as: “a thing that is indisputably the case” or “chiefly Law: the truth about events as opposed to interpretation.”
Concerning his first argument regarding “overpaid public employees not contributing anything toward health or retirement plans,” I asserted that we had, in fact, contributed through years of sacrificing pay raises to keep health and pension benefits intact — called deferred compensation. Mr. White replied, “In the real world people were getting very small pay raises, if any. Secondly, when they did get an increase a portion of the increase went toward their health care and 401Ks. In the real world employees were also seeing significant increase in their health care contributions.”
I informed Mr. White that I believed that he had just validated my argument. I also informed him that “I live, work, and pay taxes in the real world.”
In a subsequent email, I informed him of my feelings about his repeated condescension implying public employees somehow do not live in the “real world.”
Teachers, police officers, firefighters, custodians and engineers, prison guards, city workers, college professors, judges, district attorneys and other public employees don’t live in the real world? Really? I guess I have a major difference of opinion with Mr. White on this “fact.”
I also disputed Mr. White’s contention that it was a “fact” that public employees had caused the vandalism at the capital. I pointed out the evidence he presented to me was flawed. There was a YouTube video showing young people who claimed to be high school students, and another newspaper article that mentioned the thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as public employees, private sector union members and others who had come to Madison to protest or see the protests. Not all of them are public employees. How could he say that it is a fact public employees were the vandals when there were so many people present who were not public employees?
Anyone present could have caused the vandalism.
I also told him that it could even have been caused by Republican plants, which Walker referred to in his infamous “Koch impersonator phone call.”
I told Mr. White I doubted this was the case, but I was trying to make my point that it was not a “fact” that public employees caused the vandalism. I am not aware of any legal prosecution on any public employees, which I would certainly think would have happened had anyone had factual proof.
Several of Mr. White’s claims were true in some cases, regarding some, but not all, public employees. Several districts did have to cancel classes because of large groups of teachers who called in “sick” to attend the protests. School district employees in Superior, and many others from other districts around the state, did not choose this option out of respect to our professional obligation to our students and our community.
Mr. White also stated “WEAC, the teacher’s union, set up an insurance company and then forced local school districts to purchase their health care insurance from this company and then drastically inflated the cost of this insurance.” Once again, this is true of some, but not all, local school districts in Wisconsin. Many local school districts belong to WEAC and bought health insurance through the organization.
In Superior, and many other districts, we do not belong to WEAC. We have worked collectively and cooperatively with our school board for years to try to save money wherever we can on health insurance costs. Most, if not all, of the health insurance programs around the country have been rising in costs at a very rapid rate.
Mr. White has made many broad and sweeping negative generalizations vilifying all public employees. These do not appear to me to be based in fact, but based on his inferences and biases, or on the actions of a few. Would he also generalize that all Republicans stand behind and support the actions and words of Rush Limbaugh in his recent attacks on the young female law student? I certainly would not think so. His rhetoric brings to mind my son Nick’s favorite quote:
“Those who undertake to set themselves up as supreme Judges of Truth and Knowledge are shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” — Albert Einstein.
Mr. White requested an apology from me to him and the readers. The only apology I have to offer is to the readers of the Superior Telegram. I apologize that my letter of rebuttal subjected you to yet another dose of Mr. White’s biased and bigoted perspective on public employees.
We are your neighbors, and we are taxpayers. We are not the enemy,