Thursday, March 31, 2011

An open letter to USA Today and the Gallup organization

Published at 3.31.2011

Dear Madam or Sir,

I take issue with the way Dennis Cauchon (and others in the media) have reported upon public opinion in Wisconsin, and summarized results.  Consider your USA Today/Gallup poll asking, Would you favor or oppose a law in your state taking away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers union?” 

Apparently, 61% of your respondents answered “oppose” and so Mr. Cauchon’s February 23rd piece blared, “Poll: Americans favor union bargaining rights”

Not so fast.  In the first place, “right” is an emotionally-laden word and also an inaccurate one when used to reference collective bargaining, since no such right is enumerated in either the U.S. Constitution or Wisconsin’s Constitution (or any other state constitution that I have yet to discover) . 

A more accurate and reasonably framed question would have been, “Would you favor or oppose a law in your state that substituted some collective bargaining privileges, including those of the state teachers union, with local bargaining at the district level?”

Your poll also indicated that 71% of us do not favor any tax increases as a means to reduce state deficits.  Another problem with the USA/Gallup poll and those who like to seize only on the flawed question mentioned above, is that they fail to ask respondents to choose between tax increases or spending cuts.  Assuming that Wisconsinites want present government employee staffing levels, it is an either or proposition. 

Our governor and Republican lawmakers have taken commendable steps to help taxpayers permanently reign in outlandish benefits costs.  They have chosen and they were chosen - at the polls which mattered – last November’s elections.

John J. Maddente