Your Letters: Wis. Democrats On The Run

We had a conversation last week with Jon Erpenbach, one of 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate who left the state to be able to duck voting on a bill that would strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. In response, we received many comments from state employees. Host Scott Simon reads listeners' letters about the Wisconsin protests and last week's commentary.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

We had a conversation last week with Jon Erpenbach, one of 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate who left the state to be able to duck voting on a bill that would strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

We received many responses from state employees, including this one from Cindy Kernahan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Senator Erpenbach, she writes, is right that the main problem of the bill is the curtailing of collective bargaining rights. What he didnt say, was that those rights will be completely repealed for some state workers - not just limiting them. More importantly, paying into our pensions and paying twice as much for health care is a huge pay cut for most of us. I am tired of being demonized, as a state worker.

Jason Myers(ph) of Billings, Montana, says: I was disappointed you gave Mr. Erpenbach a platform to voice his opinions. Whether one agrees with the state's proposed legislation, these men have deserted their state and failed to serve out their required duties.

Last week, we visited Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan at his Capitol Hill office, which is also where he sleeps when Congress is in session.

Representative BILL HUIZENGA (Republican, Michigan): I'm following a gentleman, Pete Hoekstra, who very famously slept on his couch for 18 years when he was out here. And this is the God's honest truth; the three most commonly asked questions when I was out on the campaign trail. One, what are you going to do about health care? Two, what are you going to do about the deficit? Three, are you going to sleep on your couch like Pete did?

SIMON: Byron Brown of Springfield, Virginia, writes: It seems like all the freshmen congressmen are bragging about sleeping in their offices. As a government worker, I couldnt live in my office in a federal building. Why can a congressman?

But Raymond Turner in Texas likes the idea: The problem with most of our elected representatives is once they get to Washington, they forget why they are there and who sent them. I have to commend the congressman for trying to stay in touch with his constituents, instead of socializing around town.

And in my essay last week on Watson - the IBM supercomputer who won a round of "Jeopardy!" - I said a human being is the only animal that has a sense of humor.

Jessica Barron, a veterinarian from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, disagrees: I know of one parrot who would delight in tormenting the family dog by calling her name, then yelling, bad dog, then laughing uproariously. Their humor may be juvenile but I think you'd have to admit they know they're funny.

Okay, let me try this one. A dog says take my cat, please.

We welcome your comments. Go to NPR.org, click on the Contact Us link. You can also post a comment on Facebook or Twitter @nprweekend. You can send me a tweet @nprscottsimon.

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