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The Real Meaning of Shared Sacrifice in Shorewood

Keith R. Schmitz of Grassroots North Shore gives his views on the state budget.

Editor's Note: Keith R. Schmitz is chairman of Grassroots Northshore, a progressive political group, and a Shorewood resident. The views in this letter are his own and not in anyway representative of the views of Patch or its staff.

The issue is hot in the North Shore. On the blogs, on Facebook and no doubt in our many coffee shops the talk has spin around the urge to boycott or not to boycott those local businesses owned by supporters of Governor Scott Walker.

It’s not just happening here. People in other parts of the state are talking boycott.

This one has me a little torn. Boycotts have been a tool for political change as long as there have been politics and businesses owners that have been politically active.

Some would say that boycotts have dubious effects and can harm the wrong people. But history shows that though many poor South Africans suffered through the boycott of their country, Nelson Mandela thanked the United States for doing it and for the boycott’s role in throwing off apartheid.

On the other hand, Scott Walker has done what I was afraid he was going to do. In exchange for running Milwaukee into the ground, Walker stirred a lot of rancor within the county. Now that he has taken his act statewide, his right-wing talk show-driven agenda is causing people in this normally cordial state to go at each other’s throats. What a legacy.

That is why when it comes to the notion of boycotting people who I normally get along with, I hesitate. Guess I’ve seen way too many Twilight Zone episodes where an alien force descends on a quiet small town and sets neighbors against neighbors. It can’t happen here.

We are going to need each other. Scott Walker has set off an economic tsunami as we learned Monday night at the . Not only are we going to see the poor, the sick, the elderly and children denied needed government service that the private sector cannot or will not provide, but our public employees will take massive hits, all on the altar of business growth, with out the messiness of shared sacrifice.

It is not that we haven’t seen private business employees take massive hits before. But the reduction in disposable income of between 6 to 8% that will go to paying for benefits will affect hundreds of thousands of employees across the state, an unprecedented loss all in one fell swoop.

Sure we all hate taxes, but that percentage in disposable income loss will equal or exceed what people in this income bracket pay for state income taxes. But will you see your income taxes reduced by that amount?

Now look at Shorewood. Thanks to our proximity to UWM, Shorewood has enjoyed the economic benefits of having a number of decently paid residents who work there, either as faculty or on administrative staff.  Add in the many others who work for the government. There are hundreds of families here in the Village who will see their income shrink over night.

That means we will be seeing fewer of our friends and neighbors in the grocery stores as often as usual and probably more rarely in the number of new restaurants that have just opened and in the Village’s other fine establishments. Less money will be tossed in church collection plates.

There will be fewer people frequenting the many coffee shops and styling salons, some owned by Walker supporters and some that are not. You won’t have to be in a public employee union to feel the effects of Walker’s plan to punish those “lazy” and “overpaid” workers in the evil government.

I don’t have to participate in a boycott here in Shorewood to make an economic impact. Scott Walker has done it for me.

Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Michael: that can best be answered by the "haves" is anyone having $1 more than you and the "have nots" is everyone else.
Michael Schwister March 29, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Dean, I'll post here to avoid pursuing past posts to answer. Your rant towards me leaves me wondering what your point or points are. You said nothing fact based. Didn't argue issues and called me names. If you read my posts carefully you would realize that I could care less about somebody else's money. Anyone is entitled to die with as much money as they can accumulate. Right? Best man wins.!Great! You win. All I am trying to say is that MY TAX DOLLARS are for EDUCATION. Not PROFITABLE BUSINESS. If you have a problem finding some of your money, perhaps you should be looking in a different basket.
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Shorewood has always "had the tools". The problem is that the unions and boards of shorewood have always taken the easy way out by using our children and education to put us on a guilt trip. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to hire SEVEN people at the village hall for inspections with salary and benefits much higher than what is needed to attract qualified employees. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to pay 7 years of a retired teacher's salary. There has never been a law that forced the boards to spend the way they did. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to preserve its "diverse" architecture or to bring back brick in the streets that can't even last one winter. Frugality of the government used to be a given fact, now it is just a dream. We have "had the tools", our leaders have chosen to maximize our extravagance at the law's edge and minimize frugality at the hope someone else will bail us out.
Joe Peterlin March 30, 2011 at 01:59 AM
G.M. headed down this road several times (refinancing union pensions) to try to outrun their liabilities. I think we all know how it worked for them.
Michael Schwister March 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Dean, I have no argument with government waste. I agree that government should lean and there are many ways to reduce the waste. I have no argument of reigning in abuse of the system. My argument is that education along with most of the infrastructure society has built serves a purpose. Banks tanked the economy. Many of us have had a hard time dealing with the fallout. Everytime the economy dumps the first thing every one looks at is their property tax bill. Those dang teachers are sucking up all the money. Not so. If you have ever read the book"Who Moved My Cheese" you may get what I'm getting at. The taxpayers cheese has been moved to the room of profitable business at the federal level and has a direct impact on how much cheese the rest of us mice get. I can provide the proof of my statement if you like.

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