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Wisconsin unrest

Posted: February 22, 2011 11:39 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Most people here in Kershaw County and across the country believe that despite political differences, there’s a sense of fair play that should come into effect when philosophical problems arise in government. We certainly haven’t seen much of an atmosphere of compromise in the last few years, but the brouhaha in Wisconsin over the governor’s efforts to end a portion of public unions’ collective bargaining rights has prompted two actions that we believe most people -- even those who don’t agree with Gov. Scott Walker’s plan -- will think violate a sense of fair play.

The first is the hightailing out of town of Democratic senators in order to prevent a quorum in the Senate, and thus deny that the people’s business gets done. Fourteen members of the Senate, facing near-certain defeat in a bill they oppose, fled the state and have been staying in Illinois, just across the border. That’s pretty sleazy, though it’s not the first time it’s ever happened in this country. Leaving the state to avoid being hauled in to attend a legislative session simply isn’t the way lawmakers should conduct themselves.

The second is the granting of “sick excuses” by doctors to teachers and other public employees who failed to show up for work in order to attend protests. Such excuses were obtainable by virtually anyone, with no questions asked and no “illness” needed. We don’t know that physicians are prohibited from doing that by the Hippocratic oath to which they swear, but it certainly violates every sense of fair play.

Like many states, Wisconsin is facing enormous financial problems. Walker ran on a platform of reforming the budget, with part of the process being ending a portion of the collective bargaining rights of public unions. Wisconsin voters elected him knowing that’s what he intended to do. The mere fact that one of the most liberal states in the union would elect a Republican governor is evidence that people there are tired of business as usual. Those who react to the governor’s efforts by fleeing the state or falsifying excuses are aren’t being forthright in dealing with it. There’s certainly no sense of fair play.

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