Wisconsin and Labor

Picture snurched from Talking Points Memo (click photo for link)

They’re having an exciting time up there in Wisconsin at the moment, where the current rumor is that every single Democratic state senator has left the state in order to deny the state senate Republicans the quorum they need to pass a bill that essentially guts the right of collective bargaining for state workers. Meanwhile thousands of state works and sympathizers are have been protesting for days over the bill, which the Republicans, including the governor, say is essential in order to bring the state budget back in line.

Well, no. The bill may or may not bring the state budget back in line, but let’s not pretend that breaking the backs of the unions is not also what this bill is about. And it’s a fine test case for it, because if you can crack the unions in Wisconsin, which has a strong labor and union history, then chances are pretty good you can crack them elsewhere. It’s also a fine test case for the proposition of advancing a social and philosophical agenda under the cover of budget constraints — i.e., “we just can’t afford to support [insert thing Republicans don't like] anymore, we have to tighten our belts.” The economy is the stalking horse for ideological ball-cutting, and what we’re seeing here is whether Republicans can get anyone to believe that this is not in fact what they hope to do here.

Should the Wisconsin Republicans be doing this? Well, why shouldn’t they — or, to put it somewhat more accurately, why wouldn’t they? They did get elected, have majorities in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, and as far as I can tell neither Governor Walker or anyone else on his side was particularly ambiguous about their political goals to roll back state employee benefits. I’m sure as far as they’re concerned, union-busting is just part of fulfilling their mandate to the people; nor, given the low levels of support unions have these days, are they entirely politically foolish to think so.

I’m not saying that I personally think it’s just fine for the Wisconsin GOP to ball-cut the unions; I don’t. I am saying I can certainly see why they’re making the attempt now; there will likely not be a better time. We can could get into a long discussion about how we got to this point — indeed I expect people will be getting into that discussion in the comments — but for right now I’ll just say this is where we are at the moment. If the Wisconsin Republicans are successful in stripping away a substantial amount of collective bargaining rights from the unions, and they may very well do it, then you’ll see similar attempts elsewhere. Count on it.

432 thoughts on “Wisconsin and Labor

  1. btw yes many in the private sector lost their jobs but whats being the main point of contention here is taking away all bargaining rights from here on out even when the economy turns around. I wonder if the governor gave up his salary?

  2. It’s difficult to say it because it hurts so many people but, in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. I wonder how many of those protesting about these cuts voted for Republicans.

    It’s not like these right wing politicians didn’t tell voters what kind of government they wanted if they won.

    And, yes, we are still a democracy.

  3. The conservative party in Australia (who call themselves the Liberals) implemented similar policies here a few years ago (so-called ‘Work Choices’). Across the whole country. The lost government as a result. Which you might see as cause for hope, except that not all of the nastiness they put in place has been undone by the slightly-less-conservative Labor party. We still have, for example, an oversight body for the hailing industry which has the power to compel witnesses to appear and testify, on pain of detention wit charge or trial. Fabulous.

    Resist or serve.

  4. Geoffrey Kidd:

    If your definition of “one of the best economic blogs on the Web” means “cranky right-winger mouthing cue-card ideological points,” then yes, it is. Otherwise, meh.

    Even if one is of the belief that state workers are over-benefited, positing that stripping them of their ability to collectively bargain is the only option in response seems a bit precipitate.

  5. @8 – well no, strictly speaking it’s representative democracy or a republic. But the “people get the government they deserve” is false in any case. They get the government that 50%+1 votes for. “The people” aren’t a single thing.

    Aside from the overt anti-union issue in this specific example, much of this comes down to what people feel the proper role of government is, what they want to pay in taxes, the perceptions of people (Washington state residents will complain about our high taxes but we’re 35th out of 50 in tax burden) and who it affects. A person who doesn’t work for the state in Wisconsin, knows no one who does and has no ties to a union might well look at this and shrug their shoulders. Doesn’t affect them or theirs directly they think, so they don’t necessarily care.

  6. Wrenlet@6:

    If you believe ANY state budget was really, truly in balance for the past several years, I’ve got a great offer on a bridge that runs from Marin County into San Francisco. It’s beautiful and I’ll even let you collect the tolls.

    As for public employee unions, they want nothing more (and nothing less) than the right to balance THEIR budgets on MY back. The working public pays their salaries, and if you haven’t noticed, the “working” public has been getting thinner and thinner on the ground.

  7. One of the more annoying factors to me is that generally, politicians stand for more than one thing — “I’m for breathable air, against toxic beer”, or whatever. But then, when deciding to do something particularly painful, they ring in the ol’ ‘we have a mandate”. While it’s likely true that the governor and the Republicans made no bones about the fact that they would address the issue, how can they accurately determine that that (and only that?) was the key to latch on? That gutting the unions was what the populace wanted? Wouldn’t you think there would’ve been some cause / effect analysis there? “Gee, we told people we’d lower their taxes, therefore we can’t make good on agreed-upon commitments to the union”. And in perfect “let’s not consider the concenquences”, avoid pondering the possibility that this might drive up unemployment, as it’ll be either a “cutback on benefits or cutback on people”?

    It’s a poor thing when any entity (person, government) can’t be held to their word. If they wanted to change the benefits process (believe me, coming from a state where approximately 33% of the jobs are state jobs, I am constantly comparing gov’t benefit packages to what’s available out in the industry), if they want givebacks, the mechanism to get them is through collective barganing. Not the governmental version of eminent domain.

  8. Good post. Sums up my thoughts quite nicely. What a wonderful thought summing-up service you run here. How would you like payment? :)

    Seriously though, I’m glad to see the people out fighting this thing tooth and nail. The conservative “business” types already have the private sector middle class in a squeeze. Now they want the public sector to join in the race to the bottom. These are the same types who believe minimum wage is bad, and business would be so much easier if we could get away with paying people a bent quarter per hour. Or better yet, forget money, and pay in company-scrit! good for anything at the company trading post, after a slight convenience mark up, after all.

    *Sigh*

  9. @14

    “As for public employee unions, they want nothing more (and nothing less) than the right to balance THEIR budgets on MY back. ”

    Of course they’re paid with public tax dollars. That’s a given. I get that you and your ilk view all public emplyees with contempt, but you see to want to use the services they provide. I’m not sure of your point.

    Do they want to get the best deal for their employees that they can? Sure. That’s called the market. You negotiate to your advantage – the other party does the same. Ideally, you get a deal that serves both parties. It’s intriguing to hear ‘conservatives’ argue against the ability of employees to band together and represent their interests in a free negotiation.

  10. Millions in the private public sector lost their jobs. Millions more took pay cuts. Public union workers have the gall to think they are special deserve the right to collective bargaining. This country has a severe problem with mountains of public union workers who think they are better than everyone else just as worthy of respect as private sector workers.

    FTFY.

    Public sector unions have already participated in givebacks and seen their pensions slashed. How’d YOU like to see YOUR retirement cut because other people thought it was too high?

  11. I don’t care to stir the pot much in regards to whether collective bargaining is good, bad, or whatever. I do find it somewhat funny that there has been such little discussion about how the democrat side of the assembly just up and disappeared. What does it say about any of them that they have so flippantly dismissed their duties as representatives of the people? You can’t just participate in the process whenever the result might go your way and then choose to not participate at all when it won’t. It’s not part of the deal to up and walk out of the building with your tail tucked between your legs. It’s the legislative equivalent of kicking the ball into the river so you don’t have to finish the game you’re losing.

  12. Migraine (#9) above already told the story of Australia’s recent history with such legislation. I would like to emphasize one point, which is that this work relationship item was the main discussion point of Australia’s 2007 elections (more than, say, global warming). The Australian conservatives lost power after 11 years, and have also lost the following federal elections of 2010.
    My point is simple: many people can be fooled a lot of the time, but not so blatantly.

  13. WI Teachers have, since 1993, been subjected to the Qualified Economic Offer, which limits their bargaining abilities to a maximum 4.8% increase in total compensation. This has left very little room for salary increases after health care was taken care of. Revenue caps were also placed on local governments to keep them from choosing to increase taxes above a certain level to, you know, pay for what they found to be the best education for their very own kids. Those revenue caps have WI school districts operating on tight margins right now. The QEO, very simply, did not allow the teacher’s unions to extort the state of WI – unless you consider giving up pay increases for benefits some sort of nasty extortion. Seems to me this is exactly the way the negotiations for a private sector worker would go, if there were actually jobs for private sector workers to fight over.
    The $140 million in tax cuts for businesses that Gov. Walker rammed through in his first month would have helped that deficit, too.

  14. Shane Ede:

    “What does it say about any of them that they have so flippantly dismissed their duties as representatives of the people?”

    I would imagine their argument is that by denying the Republicans a chance to ramrod through a change in the law that drastically changes the ability of unions to collectively bargain for their members, they are in fact doing their jobs for the people they represent.

    “It’s not part of the deal to up and walk out of the building with your tail tucked between your legs.”

    I doubt they believe their tail is between their legs; I suspect they believe their middle finger is up in the air. Beyond that, quite evidently it is part of the deal that they can do this. And inasmuch as Democratic senators are probably elected by Senate districts which on balance support collective bargaining, I’m not sure you can say their act is not representing the views of their constituencies.

  15. By gum Scalzi, you are a genius.

    After two years of 3% pay cuts via furloughs, public employees in Wisconsin were fully prepared to have (more) cuts to their to their compensation. The rumors were more along the lines of 10% cuts rather than the 7-8% in Gov. Walker’s bill. The teachers’ union (WEAC) accepted a merit pay plan that education reformers had been pushing for years to address teacher quality concerns.

    You would think that if Governor Walker were a true small government guy, he would have sat down and made the hard decisions about which State agencies to close, which services to cut, and which positions to eliminate. Maybe he still plans to do that, but he has been less than forthcoming with his rationale. Indeed, none of the supporters of the bill can offer a stronger rationale than “unions are bad” (I’m paraphrasing).

    For historical context, the first public employee union (AFSCME) was founded in Wisconsin in 1932 to protect against the patronage-style employment scheme rampant in Illinois.

    My point? Wisconsin has done very well for almost 80 years with public employee unions. If the extraordinary move of gutting them is a good idea for Wisconsin now and for the next 80 years, then let’s hear the convincing argument.

  16. I’ve bought a ticket to the States. I’m off in three weeks.
    No!
    Yes! To a fantastic place called Wisconsin.

  17. The alternative is to return the Democrats, but get the state workers to engage in a massive collective strike. Imagine people working for public utilities companies off the job.

  18. I’m always disgisted at the for-me-but-not-for-thee attitude of people like Geoffrey Kidd. I’m sure if he was told that he would lose the right to any negotiation, in perpetuity, when it came to his job and benefits he’d be up in arms. But since it’s people being paid by “his” money, they deserve to not have any rights at all.

  19. John @24

    Uh, yeah. Do you think the Democrats who voted for them are accusing them of “flippantly” dismissing their duties? Or do you think they are manning the underground railround to get those legislators the hell out of the badger state?

    I think it is safe to say that a Venn Diagram of “People who voted for the absent Wisconsin senators” and “People complaining that the Wisconsin senators are absent” would not have much overlap.

  20. I’m curious how everyone feels about tactics and rhetoric coming out of the unions. In the wake of the Tuscon shootings I thought we were all going be more civil.

    I see signs equating the Governor to Hitler. The unions have been showing up at Republican legislator’s homes. At least one leading Republican senator had to move his family out of his home because of the harassment.

  21. I’m a former Wisconsinite (and teacher) but I’m currently a North Carolinian. Since the great state of NC is a union-busting place, collective bargaining is completely verboten. We’ve not got a cost of living pay increase in 2 years, and in fact pay has been frozen for that same time. Our incentive bonus was taken away (an extra $1,500 for getting the kids past the state test… which may not sound like much, but is equivalent to 2 weeks pay). We’ve been furloughed, and I could go on and on about how we’ve had to adapt. And adapt we have. We’re still doing the best we can, with the limited resources. Usually in the form of a second, part-time job. I know very few teachers in NC who don’t have a second job. but it’s worth it for a job I love (and let’s face it. I’m only employed 10.5 months a year).

    So as much as I love my Wisconsin people and friends who teach, part of me just wants to say grow up.

    my two cents, for what it’s worth.

  22. Scalzi:

    “I would imagine their argument is that by denying the Republicans a chance to ramrod through a change in the law that drastically changes the ability of unions to collectively bargain for their members, they are in fact doing their jobs for the people they represent.”

    I’m sure that is exactly the argument that they’ll use. But, just like there are other ways that the republicans could probably meet the deficit, there are other things that the democrats will likely want to do to represent their constituents, and they’ll have to come back eventually. To go back to my game reference, just because the team is beating you soundly doesn’t mean you get to just walk off the field and not finish the game. No self-respecting athlete would do that. And no self-respecting legislator should either. It’s a nice show of unity with their fellow legislators and with the union workers, sure. But, in the end, they were elected to do a job, and it isn’t getting done if they aren’t actually legislating.

    From: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/116381289.html
    “Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said that Democrats were “not showing up for work” and that police were searching for them to bring them to the floor.

    “That’s not democracy. That’s not what this chamber is about,” Fitzgerald said of the boycott to reporters.

    Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) said senators will wait until about 5 p.m. to see if Democrats return. If they do not, the Senate will adjourn until Friday, he said.

    He said the state constitution says lawmakers can be compelled to be present for floor sessions, but he did not know what authority that gave law enforcement to bring back Democrats.”

    Can they really say that they are directly representing the beliefs of their constituencies when they aren’t even there? I completely see where you’re coming from, but if the WI constitution can compel them to appear and there are police looking for them, that tells me that what they are doing isn’t necessarily legal. So much for the lawmakers setting a good example for their laws to be followed…

  23. I must say that I find it amusing that a group that’s so good at groupthink, and has such a storied history of “you support my ridiculous international military crusade, and I’ll support your whackdoodle anti-fun jihad back here in the homeland” gets up in arms about people leveraging the power of working together towards common goals…

    It is definitely a case of the pendulum swinging too far to the right, in my opinion, and it will cause problems in the future if the republicans succeed in Wisconsin.

  24. Billy, I thought we were all going be more civil

    has anyone said someone needs to be “taken out” or voters should resort to a “second ammendment solution”? Has anyone’s gasline been cut? Punched in the face? Recieved death threats? Windows shattered? distributed images of Republicans with crosshairs on their heads? Made their campaign rally center around a shooting range? Openly display firearms at a rally as a political message?

    If not, then they are more civil than the TP folks.

  25. Billy Quiets @36

    I dunno dude. The blog entry that links to is pretty suspect as far as credibility, and the only other entries I found when searching for “wisconsin” and “hitler” on google news are similar fox news op-ed blog pieces that wear their political leanings on their sleeves. So far, this doesn’t pass the smell test.

  26. Billy @ #36:

    “Your Source for Conservative News, Cartoons, Issues, Blogs & Magazines”

    and that video didn’t show any such thing. I really hope you can do better than that.

  27. @Jas #35 Personally, I think teachers deserve a heck of a lot more pay than what they get. If you ask me, the administration should be cut a bit in order to do that. Our kids are in your hands, the least we can do is pay you well for it. Unfortunately, you’ve got your hands tied in more ways than one. Standardized testing is one. How much could we save by eliminating that, and rerouting that money into the teachers pocketbooks?

  28. We still have, for example, an oversight body for the hailing industry which has the power to compel witnesses to appear and testify, on pain of detention wit charge or trial.

    The hailing industry?

  29. Governor Walker as Hitler can be seen on Althouse.

    I wouldn’t personally draw inferences about the protestors (10s of thousands of Wisconsinites) from this example, but Althouse seems to be drawing contrasts between this and the Tea Party protests (which had no Hitler posters, and apparently involved an anti-littering policy). I’m not sure how to compare what is essentially a labor action to the Tea Party, other than they both have a lot of people on the Capitol lawn.

  30. The opening line from Billy Quiets “proof” of Democrats acting uncivilized:

    “As Wisconsin Republicans move to restore some semblance of fiscal sanity[1] to the Badger State, the professional Left[2] is reacting predictably, which is to say, poorly. ”

    [1] because Wisconsin has been paying insane fucking salaries to its workers up until this point.

    [2] because Republican politicians donate their time for fucking free….

    Well, shit, that golden nugget right there puts this article about three days to the right of Saturday.

    Fork me.

  31. A couple of points :

    Although it is “illegal” for the democrats to leave like that, it is in the same sense that it is illegal for you to not plug the meter. It is essentially inconsequential to the debate. Moreover, this is rare, but not unheard of.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorum#Call_of_the_house_.28compelled_attendance.29

    I live in Madison, and Senator Risser is my senator. He is absolutley representing my interests by leaving and if he needs any support at all, it’s his for the asking.

    This whole budget thing is a whitewash, cooked up by walker. He had a balanced budget and it is only imbalanced now because of tax cuts he gave to his contributors. In any event, the shortfall is such that if he raised taxes on every employed adult in Wisconsin we would only have to pay ~45 dollars more in the next year.

    This isn’t the union crushing budget shortfall you are after. This is political grandstanding by a soon to be recalled ex-governor of Wisconsin.

  32. Billy:

    Yeah, I saw that video. It looked well-edited. But I’ll give you points for actually looking at the video this time.

  33. Kevin, It was well-edited. I’m sure the raw footage is out there, too. Anyway, I just wondered if some of the same people that had such a hard time with Conservative imagery would step up and condemn the unions. That’s all.

  34. What does it say about any of them that they have so flippantly dismissed their duties as representatives of the people?

    Perhaps by depriving the move to hose public sector workers of a quorum, they’re fulfilling their duties as representatives of the people.

  35. Up front, I confess that I am in a union in California. Specifically, a local union of the California Teachers Association

    I can tell you that these days my salary is going in the other direction. This year I took a pay cut. Next year, it will be a larger pay cut. Perhaps 8%. This is very common in California, but doesn’t get reported much.

    While what some folks describe may have once been true, it no longer is. I have been busy putting money into a 403b because it’s unclear to me how secure our retirement system is.

  36. Shane Ede:

    “But, in the end, they were elected to do a job, and it isn’t getting done if they aren’t actually legislating.”

    The counterargument here is whether it’s more important for them to legislate or to make sure the they best represent their constituents. If they believe that showing up just to let the Republicans railroad through something that a) they vehemently disagree with and b) does not represent the views and interests of their constituents, then by absenting themselves they’re doing the job to which they were elected.

    “Can they really say that they are directly representing the beliefs of their constituencies when they aren’t even there?”

    Yes, if by their absence they block the passage of something their constituencies oppose.

  37. I’m a state employee of Kansas and we’re getting hit ourselves. So far as I know there aren’t any unions amongst us (it’s a red state), but we’ve not gotten a cost-of-living adjustment for a couple years (which amounts to a pay cut, due to inflation) and we keep having to pay more for our medical insurance. Even before this, we couldn’t offer competitive salaries for skilled workers, so (for example) we searched for a Windows sysadmin for two years before finding someone, and it’s been impossible to find an experienced network administrator.

    This is in a part of the state with a really low cost of living, too.

  38. Billy Quiets @49
    Fair enough. The part of my brain that would like to believe that this video is a tea-party hoax isn’t being especially convincing. So I’ll grant you, there are protesters out there with poor taste, who are not adding to the debate in an especially positive way. What you do not see, however, is Prominent liberal commentators or, indeed, politicians adding to it.

  39. @32 So what I’m reading is that since you live and work in a state that is anti-union, no one in Wisconsin should have unions? You’re telling WI teachers to grow up? I don’t understand your feeling that union members are what, playing at being adults? Sorry you have it shitty in your state, I also haven’t had a raise in years and I work in the private sector. But you know what, it doesn’t mean that teachers, welders, grocery baggers, and other workers shouldn’t have the right to collectively bargain or demand better treatment at work.

  40. Also, Billy, I’m certainly not going to question why the /conservatives/ are reporting on this; as Our Host as pointed out, that’s pretty obvious.

    Shane Ede: Yeah, no. The Dems are best representing their constituents by not allowing the Republicans to ram through a bill that their constituents are most likely opposed to, and if the only way for this to be done is to deny a quorum, so be it.

    It’s an interesting conundrum for people who don’t like the idea of a senatorial filibuster, though: is a filibuster in general less evil than simply not showing up and denying a quorum, or are they about equal?

  41. The stated Number One goal of the RNC is to make sure Mr. Obama is a one-term President. As our Most Exalted Host notes, the Wisconsin Governor & state Republicans have an opportunity to emasculate the public sector unions in their state. If successful (and this seems to be the best chance they will ever have), every other union in the nation is at extreme risk.

    This ploy has nothing to do with what is best for the People of Wisconsin.

    I agree some radical changes need to be made with government (local, state & federal) but not at the price of removing a person’s basic rights. On the other hand, suckling from the public teat for years holding the same government job the whole time doesn’t mean I sympathize much with your whining about a lack of pay raises and benefit increases.

    It would very nice if the 2 biggest political parties would do something that is good for the People just once.

  42. still trying to come up with a sinister name for the unions that can be said with a straight face…
    Big Learnin *snirk*, ok no… let’s see here…

  43. OK, for those who lack perspective, here’s a little primer on the spectrum that is violent actions on one extreme and mean metaphors on the other.

    1) physical actions such as: cutting someones gas line, throwing bricks throw windows, leaving guns on front doors, shooting out windows, physically punching someone, physically shooting someone in the head at a political meet and greet.

    2) direct threats to perform physical violence: phone calls that say “I will fucking kill you”. letters that say “you are a dead man”. radio announces that offer $100 to anyone who will punch some politician in the face.

    3) indirect threats to perform phsical violence: references to “second ammendment solutions”, saying someoen should be “taken out”.

    4) violent rhetoric: political rallies that have people shoot guns at opposing politicians initials. POlitical rallies centering around shooting at ranges.

    5) demonizing images and metaphors: Putting Hitler mustaches on the politcial opponent. Calling them Musilini. No reference to violence against the politician, just equating them with someone evil.

    Now, the facts have already shown that the TP contains a lot of nutjobs quite wiling to take things all the way to #1 on the political violence spectrum, and #2. multiple TP politicians ran campaigns at the level of #3 and #4 political violence.

    What Billy Quiets has thus far accused is that the big mean nasty lefties have equated a republican politician with #5 on the spectrum, equating the man with Hitler, and if I am to take his post @31 “I thought we were all going be more civil.” as a serious question rather than teh “concern trolling” that my initial reaction would bin it as, then I would say “Dear Billy, please to show me your public criticism of the TP for their behaviour ranging all the way up to #1 on teh politcial violence spectrum”.

    But as a general principle, I think anyone who wishes to criticize behavior landing at #5 (bad though it is) as if it were undistinguishable from behavior landing at #1 is, well, playing fast and loose with some fairly obviously different behaviors in a rather thinly veiled attempt to commit a false equivalence.

    So, again, unless there have been a number of people behaving at #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5, then they really are behaving better than the TP has behaved. And yeah, comparing someone to Hitler isn’t something I approve of,but its not the same as literally punching someoen in the face, shooting out their windows, or cutting their gas line.

    And if you simply cannot see the difference, by all means start your post by saying there is no difference between #5 behavior and #1 behavior. That way, everyone can clearly see wehre you are coming from with the rest of your post.

  44. @ Caitlin

    I’m saying that life goes on, even without unions to collectively bargain. Some of the things WI teacher’s unions have demanded in the past have been excessive.
    Personally, I believe there needs to be a balance between no unions and overwhelming unions, and Wisconsin’s teacher’s union is of the overwhelming variety. That’s why I’m an ex-Wisconsinite, in part.
    I don’t think i have things “shitty” in my state. I included that to show where I was coming from.

    Perhaps “grow up” isn’t the best phrase, but I’ve been listening to my friends in WI make like this is the end of the world, and I’m tired of being a horrible person and taking the brunt of it, because I’m both a teacher and a republican.

  45. Geoffrey Kidd wrote:

    As for public employee unions, they want nothing more (and nothing less) than the right to balance THEIR budgets on MY back. The working public pays their salaries, and if you haven’t noticed, the “working” public has been getting thinner and thinner on the ground.

    And who’s fault is that? Hint: It’s not the public employee unions. It’s the greedy and incompetent bastards who are running US corporations who are increasing their bottom line on your back. Of course you’ll never, ever say a bad word about your corporate masters, you’ll just keep tugging your forelock every time they pass you by and bitching about the public employee unions. You’re such a perfect little slave Geoffrey. If I ever win the lottery I’m going to buy a whole bunch of guys like you, very cheaply, and have you parade around telling everyone how wonderful I am and how horrible the government is for wanting me to pay any taxes.

    Oh, and Geoffrey, I’m willing to bet that a lot of those public workers work harder at your jobs than you do at yours, whatever it is.

  46. Scalzi:

    “The counterargument here is whether it’s more important for them to legislate or to make sure the they best represent their constituents. If they believe that showing up just to let the Republicans railroad through something that a) they vehemently disagree with and b) does not represent the views and interests of their constituents, then by absenting themselves they’re doing the job to which they were elected. ”

    And that is a valid argument. But, let me put it this way. Let’s say you have a contract to write 3 books in 2011. Except, there’s one little problem. You’re blocked and you can’t write anything but drivel. Is it better for you to send in 3 books of drivel to satisfy your contract? Or to not send in anything because it’s drivel? By not sending anything in, you would be doing the “will” of your readers in that you wouldn’t be just sending it in to send it in and we wouldn’t get drivel. But, do you think that your publisher will see it that way? The legislators have a contract with the voters. They were elected to legislate. Not disappear. They aren’t just absenting themselves. They fled the state so that law enforcement couldn’t bring them to work!

    “Yes, if by their absence they block the passage of something their constituencies oppose.”

    Unless they never come back to the floor, the bill will be voted on at some point. They’ve only temporarily blocked the vote in hopes of swaying some of the republicans to vote with them against it. Will that happen? That remains to be seen. Perhaps they’ll get it both ways and it will be looked upon as a master stroke of legislative action. Time will tell, I suppose.

  47. Folks:

    I really do find the “let’s look at what the insensible outliers do and use it as proof the people on the other side are horribly unreasonable” and the inevitable response of “nuh-uh, your people were unreasonable first” to be pointlessly derail-y and evidence that the people perpetrating it aren’t actually interested in discussing the subject at hand, so let’s not do that any more, because I will probably Mallet it.

  48. I’ve not looked for fear that my worst nightmares would be revealed – but has anyone on the union side of this experiment – anyone with any sort of credibility that is – tried to equate what they’re doing to what’s happening in North Africa? I sure hope not…

    It’s not so much sad that we get the government we deserve, as it is that we deserve the government we’ve got…

  49. I also live in Madison, am a non-union employee, and have attended the protests the last three days. I just wanted to add a couple of things.

    First, the absentee senators are not just screwing around for no reason. They are buying time for citizens to lobby their elected officials and possibly to work out a compromise with several Republican senators who are openly uncomfortable with the current bill. If Governor Walker hadn’t gone out of his way to circumvent the normal process of legislative debate and negotiation, there would have been no reason for them to leave.

    Second, some additional information about the budget. The shortfall is $137M and didn’t exist before Governor Walker passed $140M in new spending last month. Furthermore, it will be more than covered by another proposal in the budget, a state-debt restructuring expected to save $165M. This is about union busting, not the deficit.

    Finally, yes, there are inappropriate signs at the rallies. I was extremely upset to see that and so were the vast majority of attendees. In fact, all the inappropriate signs I saw were taken down at the request of other protesters, usually within a few minutes. Their views are not representative, as I expect the rogue Tea Partiers’ signs were not.

  50. Shane, you picked a hell of a day to give up overextending your metaphors, eh?

    Talking about the police arresting these guys for “failing to legislate” and comparing their behavior to breech of a book contract is dealing in unreality.

  51. Greg:

    There actually are police out looking to bring the missing legislators back to the legislative hall. I’m not “talking” about it, it’s actually happening. They can’t bring them in, because they can’t (or won’t) find them, but it is technically happening. And, if you’ll look closely at the book contract bit, you’ll notice that I didn’t pick a side there. But, thanks for jumping on the wagon anyways!

  52. I’m not going to weigh in on things going on in Wisconsin because it’s their business not mine, but I do have some complaints to air.

    Firstly, at least in my own state, officials such as commissioners and various other public official’s salaries are well beyond what the average grade school teacher makes and the amount of work they do, although important, is considerably less hard than what a third grade teacher has to manage in a day’s work.

    The folks that teach the children of our nation are some of the most important folks in our society and we rely on them to produce successive generations that are productive, literate, and law abiding. Why is it then, that all official’s salaries not gauged against theirs whether they be union or not?

    I suppose my question would be: Are those senators who are voting absent, as well as the ones who are present, making a lot more than the teachers and if so, why?

  53. tls@60: I’m saying that life goes on, even without unions to collectively bargain.

    So, it is about busting up the union, versus, say, their actual negotiating positions are too unreasonable.

    Some of the things WI teacher’s unions have demanded in the past have been excessive.

    links or didn’t happen.

  54. Shane Ede:

    “The legislators have a contract with the voters. They were elected to legislate.”

    In fact, the Senators don’t have a contract with the voters, in the manner that I have a contract with my publisher, and this is just one reason why your analogy is probably not as good as you think it is. Beyond that, if the voters are unsatisfied with the performance of their senators, they have various manner of recourse, including elections and recalls. Beyond that, however, legislators are free to do their job how they see best, and in this case, it appears the Democratic senators have decided this is how best to do their jobs.

    “Unless they never come back to the floor, the bill will be voted on at some point.”

    Possibly but not necessarily in its current form. It’s quite possible the Democrats could force changes regarding collective bargaining. I do suspect that’s one of the reasons they’re doing what they’re doing.

  55. A couple of things to point out:

    1) the Unions only have the right to collectively bargain because it was given to them by the State legislature in the first place
    2) the agreements that gave them these rights have expired
    3) if the majority of those currently in the State legislature have the ability and mandate to change things, then they will be changed

    http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_c814c77a-3600-11e0-b9e0-001cc4c03286.html

  56. Shane: There actually are police out looking to bring the missing legislators back to the legislative hall. I’m not “talking” about it, it’s actually happening.

    Well, according to an article dated today, it says: Fitzgerald said at some point, if needed, Republicans will use the State Patrol to round up Democrats to bring them to the floor

    But, thanks for jumping on the wagon anyways

    maybe I could borrow one of yours. You seem to have a few.

  57. @60 tls Yes, unions get rights that can be excessive. But ending those rights for everyone? That’s the right answer? There just can’t be a middleground so we just do away with everything?

    Yes, people adapt to new situations. If the bill passes, your teacher friends will probably remain teachers. But some might find the new financial burdens too much. And others may be convinced that being a teacher just isn’t worth it.

    Your post sort of makes it sound like you’re just tired of listening to your friends complaining and that can certainly get tiresome. But, please consider that change can be incredibly stressful for people, even the threat of change and that’s what they’re dealing with right now.

  58. Yeah, the new Government here in the UK has been up to this same thing for the last year. Funny how it is all things they ideologically opposed for years that are absolutely essential to be cut for “purely financial reasons”.

  59. @greg, et al
    Feel free to misinterpret my comments as you see fit. I can’t get the link on my blackberry, but google the wi teacher’s union contract.
    I personally find it excessive. Hence the whole “not working there” thing.

  60. “Some of the things WI teacher’s unions have demanded in the past have been excessive. Personally, I believe there needs to be a balance between no unions and overwhelming unions, and Wisconsin’s teacher’s union is of the overwhelming variety.”

    No. The Qualified Economic Offer that was the law of school district bargaining/negotiating from 1993 until 2009 made it impossible for the WI teacher’s unions to get anything approaching overwhelming. QEO revenue caps have made it almost impossible for WI school districts to pay for the services that they would like, and schools have been making cuts for at least the last 3 years to programs. This argument that the WI teacher’s union is excessive only works if you want to argue that what they “demanded” is excessive and overwhelming. The reality of what they’ve actually gotten themselves is different. They have kept their good benefits, more or less, at the expense of salary stagnation.

  61. I’m with Shane Ede, and his argument that Democrats are essentially not doing their jobs. It is an appalling bill, and any reasonable legistator should vote against it, but I would rather have the vote actually take place. Put your vote down on paper, and I will decide if that makes you worthy of my vote come next election. If you refuse to show up for work, then I know that you aren’t worthy of my vote come next election. Alternatively if you sabotage the legislative process to avoid having to vote on a bill (by fillibustering, or stalling a bill with unpopular amendments, or other byzantine tactics) then I likewise know that you are unfit for a position in the legislature.

    Congress is only the antonym of Progress as long as we allow it to be. The do nothing strategy of governing forces us into a corner where we suddenly find that our lack of action has consequences as great as those of any action we might have taken. How many issues do we have to allow to boil over into relative crisis (immigration, debt, social security, health care, financial regulation, just to name a few), before we wise up and start electing representatives, that do their job by making marginal changes along the way that prevent such crises from developing in the first place, and don’t spend most of their time gumming up the works?

  62. It seems to me, that the State and Federal legislators are the problem, not the unions and other working class people. My 92 year old uncle sent me the following, a couple weeks ago. It might go a long way towards leveling many problems. Hope it isn’t too long.

    No matter where you stand on the political issues, this makes sense for our country.

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

    I’m asking you to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on your address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

    In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. Term Limits.
    12 years only, one of the possible options below.
    A. Two Six-year Senate terms
    B. Six Two-year House terms
    C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

    2.No Tenure / No Pension.
    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

    4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.
    The American people did not make the current contract with members of Congress. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves .

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.

    MUCH OF WHAT WE FACE IN TERMS OF PRIVILEGE AND SELFISHNESS IN THIS COUNTRY MIGHT BEST BE CHANGED STARTING FROM THE TOP DOWN. If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete
    I INVITE YOU TO KEEP IT GOING. WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE — THANKS!

  63. Here in Austin, Texas they are talking about cutting 1017 teachers and closing elementary schools in the AISD alone, because of budget shortages. School districts have had a drop in sales tax and property tax revenue due to thousands of private sector jobs being lost and house foreclosures. If these public sector jobs are cut, all that contributes to more loss of sales tax and property tax revenues, more house foreclosures, more small businesses closing, and another round of private sector job losses. Where does it end? This affects middle class Independents, Republicans and Democrats alike.

  64. Feel free to misinterpret my comments as you see fit.

    You asserted they were “excessive”, I asked for one specific example. You now twist me asking for just one specific example as me trying to “misinterpret” you? God, what do you teach? Political speaking?

    I can’t get the link on my blackberry, but google the wi teacher’s union contract.

    Yeah, no.

    I personally find it excessive. Hence the whole “not working there” thing.

    So, you’re union got you too cushy of a job as a teacher, so you left? I’m having a slightly hard time believing that was the end-all-be-all reason for you leaving your old job and the state. Which makes it slightly more difficult to believe the other stuff you’re saying too.

    Actually, now you have my curiosity. If you left your job and the state because the Union was too excessive, that would be something that I’d say 99% of the human population would remember if they experienced it. So, you must remember what was too excessive, right? What was one thing that the union actually won for you and your fellow teachers that was teh “straw that broke the camel’s back”, the one thing that had you go “oh, no, I can’t accept THIS”, pack your bags and leave?

    Surely you must remember if you lived through this turmoil and everyone else was telling you that you were “being a horrible person and taking the brunt of it”.

    Did they give you too many days off? Too much salary? what was the final thing they actually secured for you as a teacher that made you say “I have to go to another state”?

  65. Jim Barker, can we draft something like that and apply it to CEOs and anyone else who thinks that it’s a good idea to take home obscene bonuses while employees are either laid off or asked to take pay cuts, furloughs, etc. to keep their jobs?

    If there is a so-called entitlement mentality in this country, I’m pretty sure that it’s not from anyone trying to make ends meet, unionized or not. Unless you count a desire not to see working conditions go retrograde.

  66. If you follow the link to Wikipedia’s Quorum article offered earlier and scrolled down a few screen you would read all about the Texas Killer Bees (not Ds-another Wikipedia error). Same thing happened here. Our absent TX legislators headed off to Ardmore, Oklahoma (nice place with Turner Falls) to be out of the reach of any Texas law enforcement. Their tatic worked. Things cooled down and compromises ensued when they finally returned. So Kudos to the WI Dems who have temporarily dissappeared into the mist.

    A place for unions and collective bargining exists. Yet at times the power can shift to heavily to one side or the other. The Iron Lady UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher broke the back of the British Trade Unions during her time as the unions had amassed way too much power and were destroying the UK’s ability to compete on the world stage and impoverishing the majority of the British who were not on the union payroll. IF, and it is a big if, if the WI public sector unions have in fact amassed overwhelming power, then maybe the WI Republicans are trying to be Thatcherites. In my view they may be going ove-the-top though eliminating collective bargining for the public sector in perpetuity. How about for, say, five years to get the State budget into a surplus for a few years.

    Oh, and you guys should be in TX this legislative session. Our school district budget where I teach is $154 million per year. Best case scenario for next year is state funds drop from 25% to 10% of that figure or abouut $20 million. Worst case at the moment is a $32 million cut for our district educating some 23,000 students. 80% of the budget is payroll. The unemployment offices in TX are going to need a lot more staff come August. This has little to do we WI collective bargining, but State budgets are on the chopping block everywhere this season it appears. Hey! anyone for Fox’s O’Reilly’s suggestion the Feds just adopt the 2008 budget again for the 2012 budget year? Yep, this be governmental budget cutting season. This is nation with some of the lowest taxes on the planet because we don’t like paying taxes for government services. We just want them free. When did so many of our fellow citizens become so adverse to the common sense idea that you get what you pay for.

  67. tls wrote:

    Perhaps “grow up” isn’t the best phrase, but I’ve been listening to my friends in WI make like this is the end of the world, and I’m tired of being a horrible person and taking the brunt of it, because I’m both a teacher and a republican.

    Wow, a Republican with a government job complaining about other people with government jobs. Reminds me of my days working at the University of Washington listening to to the Republicans and Libertarians with government jobs who worked there complaining about the government and other people with government jobs. I went out and got a job in the private sector, most of them are still working for the government and still drawing a salary paid for with my tax dollars and probably still complaining about the government and other people with government jobs. I’d like to say that “I used to be disgusted, but now I’m just amused” but the fact is that I’m still disgusted by their hypocrisy.

    Look tls, just because you like being an underpaid teacher in a festering dump of a state like North Carolina doesn’t mean that the folks in Wisconsin want to emulate you.

  68. Ah shit. sorry. Since I can’t edit old posts, just pretend #81 looks like this:

    You asserted they were “excessive”, I asked for one specific example. You now twist me asking for just one specific example as me trying to “misinterpret” you? [REDACTED] I am at a loss as to how my “provide a link to support your assertion” ends up at trying to “misinterpret” you. A complete yargle-blarging loss.

  69. tls wrote:

    I personally find it excessive. Hence the whole “not working there” thing.

    Hey, I personally find the state of North Carolina, outside of the Research Triangle and the beach areas by Wilmington to be a stinking, festering cesspool infested with lazy, fat, uneducated, parasitic bigots. Hence the whole “not living there” thing.

  70. Democrats flee Wisconsin in an effort to subvert democracy (or fight against a measure they say most voters are opposed to). I wonder what the reaction would have been if Republicans had done the same thing last year during the healthcare debate (assuming the procedural rules were close to being the same). I seriously doubt the reaction would have been the same.

    Part of belonging to a representative democracy is that sometimes the people who represent you don’t do what you want and sometimes as a representative, you’ll be in the minority. Behaving appropriately in those situations is what used to separate the United States from paper democracies.

  71. Erick:

    “I wonder what the reaction would have been if Republicans had done the same thing last year during the healthcare debate (assuming the procedural rules were close to being the same).”

    Am I led to understand that you’ve were not aware of the massive increase of the use of filibustering in the Senate, then?

    In both cases, it appears the situation was basically the same, i.e., a majority was stymied by a motivated minority.

    Wile E. Quixote:

    Hey, now. I like North Carolina.

  72. @67, Billy Quiets: I’d like to point out that our Dear Governor made the first threats: he mentioned bringing in the National Guard almost simultaneously with announcing his budget plan, long before anyone had a chance to react to to the plan. That really scared a lot of people, and brought on the comparisons of him to various dictators. To my mind, it was an inappropriate and heavy-handed action, and it clearly signaled that Walker was preparing for violence rather than civil discussion.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-wi-budgetwoes-nation,0,771747.story

    Also note that there are a lot of smart people in Madison who like to use irony to make a point–one that you clearly aren’t getting. Use of crosshairs on pictures of extreme Republicans recalls the political ads and websites run by Sarah Palin, and the completely urelated tragedy in Arizona.

    I live in Madison, and from what I’ve seen, the protesters have been extremely civil. Loud, but civil. Mostly people seem to be in a state of shock.

  73. People in this thread seem to be making a bigger deal of this Wis Democrat flight than it is. It is accepted practice for a minority party’s members to ‘flee’ the state capital when there is a heinously bad (in their opinion) bit of legislation up for a vote. I’m not certain if this is equivalent to the US Senate’s filibuster rules. In these cases, the Governor can order the State Police to ’round up’ the missing legislators but it’s more like making sure they get to the Capitol building not arresting them for not doing their jobs. The absent legislators have no intention of abandoning their sworn duty, they just wait until the other side is willing to make the bill more palatable. It does make for some nice headlines.

  74. I strongly support the filibustering in the Senate. A 50% majority is pretty slim. Look at it from the other way around: if the bill can be filibustered: 40% don’t like it.

    40% of US Americans is something like 152 million people. That’s easily enough to win a civil war if we weren’t so civilized. (In relation to the recent Egypt events, I’ve read about worries that a well organized 10-20% could overthrow Egypt and take over.) So, it doesn’t do to stomp all over other people just because you have 51% of the vote this week.

    I really believe we’d be better off if laws required 66% to pass and 33% to repeal. We should even have an entire third portion of legislators who do nothing but write bills to repeal laws.

  75. Wisconsin is only a start, just wait until California heats up.

    I usually refer to Reason.org for commentary on matters such as these, they do a pretty good job of laying out the facts, but aren’t hesitant to throw out a lot of opinion and spleen.

  76. Zan: or if that 40% is bullied into toeing the line by their leadership, but I digress.

    jakers4321: I forgot about seeing the threat to call up the National Guard to disperse the protestors in the news earlier today. That puts the protestors’ actions into context.

  77. Gary@84: Iron Lady UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

    Anyone who says “there is no such thing as society” and then gets into politics in some perverse attempt to strip away society (government is, in a sense, a direct outcome of the synergy that is many individuals working together to become society) is, in my completely non-medical opinion, fucking nuts.

    I don’t know if the unions in the UK were too excessive or not, but I would have a hard time taking Margaret Thatcher’s word for it that they were.

    I’m just saying…

    Kind of like the republicans who have as their short term goal “small government” so that they can achieve their long term goal of making government small enough to drown it in a bathtub

    This whole anti-union thing comes down to one thing: Someone scared shitless that someone else might be getting just a little too much than they deserve, even if they’re really not getting near enough. And they’re so scared fucking shitless that they’re willing to burn the whole fucking house down, drown the world in a bathtub, or choose your metaphor of convenience here, to make sure it doesn’t happen.

    Seriously. We are still having the same fucking conversations over and over again because of moronic assholes that sound like this:

    “Holy Shit! Did you hear about the stupid old lady who got fifteen billion dollars sueing McDonalds because they put too much cream in her coffee!!!! Too much CREAM!!!! We must end all lawsuits!!!!”

    Never mind the amount is wrong, the reason is wrong, the story is wrong, that every other fucking word out of their mouth is wrong. They don’t care. SOMEONE MIGHT BE GETTING SOMETHING THEY DON”T DESERVE!!!! END OF THE WORLD!!!!

    I confess not being completely up to date with all the details of the educational system in America, but I don’t know of any teachers living large at the trough of public teaching. But anyone paying attention can hear the bullshit : OH MY GOD DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE TEACHER WHO DRIVES A LAMBORGHINI TO WORK! AND GETS A SPECIAL PARKING SPACE SO NO ONE SCRATCHES IT!?!?!?!?! END TEH PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM!

    The problem is that something like public education is complicated and is goign to require a lot of back and forth and a lot of negotiations and a lot of adjustments. And these fucking assholes have the attention span of a hummingbird on crack, and the depth of a puddle in Death Valley so rather than deal with the complexity, they decide the best solution is to burn it all down, drown it in a bathtub, [insert metaphor here].

    Jesus Mother Farking CHRIST!

  78. Jakers #90, I’m not going to respond because John asked us to leave off on this aspect of the discussion.

    On the topic, I have heard that the collective bargaining rights of the teachers for salaries are not being cut as part of this legislation, only other aspects of their collective bargaining power, like the pensions, sick days, etc. I’ve also heard that the legislation ties those aspects of the contract to voter approval. Does here know if that is correct?

  79. I do find it interesting that the new head of the Wisconsin state police (appointed by Gov. Walker) is the father of both the Senate majority leader and the Speaker of the Assembly.

  80. I haven’t gone through all 92 comments here, so I’ll just say my peace and risk that someone else may have said the same thing.

    1) I despise Unions. They served a purpose 100 years ago, but no longer. At least no purpose of value to anyone but themselves.

    2) That said, I fully support people unionizing if they so wish. Of course, if any company I ran became unionized, I’d immediately close the doors, sell off all the assets, and walk away. But that’s just me.

    3) That said, under no circumstances should government employees EVER be allowed to unionize. At least private sector unions pretend to work toward accomplishing something of real value. Government never does anything remotely close to that. It’s already beyond ridiculously difficult, nearly impossible, to get rid of misbehaving, incompetent, or extraneous government people. Add to it the fact that government employees at this point make substantially better than private sector folks, and there’s a HUGE problem with the government labor force.

    So have at it, Wisconsin Republicans. Best thing that could happen to the state is to crush the public employee unions. God willing, the rest of the country will follow suit.

  81. #99 said, “Add to it the fact that government employees at this point make substantially better than private sector folks,”
    [citation needed]

  82. I’ve worked a public sector job for the last ten years. My salary is probably 20 – 30% lower than I could make doing the same work in the private sector. When I signed on, I figured it was a fair trade off: lower salary w/ a pension vs. higher salary and responsibility for my own retirement fund.

    I like my job. The work I do is important–not fire fighter, cop, teacher important–but still . . . because I do what I do, in my own small way, I’m contributing to the public good. The same work in the private sector . . . it would be the same job tasks, but it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying.

    Sure, cut my pension. That’s fine. But can I have ten years of back pay to invest in a 401(k)?

  83. Greg@96: Take a chill pill dude.

    I was in England when Arthur Scargill (leader of the National Union of Mineworkers in the UK in the mid 80s) took all the British coalmines on strike. The Thatcher government called his bluff and broke the back of the heavily communist trade unions. The battle was as significant as the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States (and Reagan called their bluff too) and was about ideology as well.

    Mrs. Thatcher also said something to the effect that the problem with Socialist governments is that eventually they always run out of other people’s money. The point being, working people in the private sector can only support so many public workers. I’d say some places are finding that limit (California being the most obvious).

  84. A TEACHER DRIVING A LAMBORGINI FOR GAWDS SAKE!!!
    WITH THEIR OWN PAID-WITH-PUBLIC-TAXES SPECIAL PARKING SPACE!!!
    AND A PAID-WITH-PUBLIC-TAXES SECURITY GUARD TO PROTECT IT!!!!
    AND HE”S GOT ….TENURE!!!!!
    ITS ALL PART OF THEIR UNION CONTRACT WITH THE STATE!!!!!
    ITS ALL TRUE!!!!

  85. Greg, Yeah Dude, shouting at everyone and belittling them doesn’t help your point, whatever it is.

  86. I don’t know what planet young Mr. Kingswood @99 lives on, but where I live a whole swathe of state employees got a 20% pay increase four years ago to bring them up to 50% of the wages for an equivalent private sector job. The bottom two pay ranges of our civil service pay scale (steps A and B) had to be vacated when the structure dropped them below the state minimum wage after year after year of no COLA increases. I live in Washington, and the state health plan is now more expensive and covers less than that for permanent employees at Boeing, Microsoft, and Intel; state employees also get fewer paid days off.

  87. your behavior is getting really old

    Well, I suppose I could go through the made up “facts” in, for example “Michael Kingswood”‘s post:

    1) Unions ” no purpose of value to anyone but themselves.”

    2) “Government never does anything remotely close to” “accomplishing something of real value”

    3) “the fact that government employees at this point make substantially better than private sector folks”

    But I’m pretty sure pointing those out to him won’t change the part of his mind that holds they are true.

    But in all seriousness, I will wager you a sawbuck (to the non-profit org of your choice) if you can change his mind on one of those “facts”. Go.

    I don’t think it possible. So, I figured it would be more interesting to attempt a parody (or satire, I always get them confused) of all his untruths summed up as “A lamborgini driving teacher”. But it was kind of funny, timing wise, for me to talk about people who are so afraid someoen might get smoething they dont deserve that they hold onto a bunch of things that aren’t true, only to have someone do exactly that just three posts later.

    But hey, if you think you can reason with him and change his mind on one of his “facts”, there’s a token ten dollars in it for your charity.

    Me, I’m getting a sinking suspicion that nothing we say changes anything that anyone believes.

  88. Greg:

    “Me, I’m getting a sinking suspicion that nothing we say changes anything that anyone believes.”

    Part of the reason we have discussions is not to change the minds of the people who are talking, but the folks who are reading.

  89. I wonder which state in our union will go bankrupt first, this is assuming that they can actually file for bankruptcy, which I am not entirely sure they can, but my money, is on California. Since there is no way California republicans would be even willing to try and pull something like what Wisconsin republicans are at least willing to try to do. Its my personal opinion that there is a fundamental flaw between the relationship of public sector unions and governments they work for, which generally leads to the tax payers in a less than desirable position.

    Its also interesting to note here that public sector unions have out paced private sector unions in size and don’t look to be stopping any time soon either with the TSA (65,000 people) hoping to gain collective bargaining rights and union representation. I am not necessarily against public unions, I am against the high jacking our democratic government to public union interests at the expense of the rest of us. We are experiencing one of the worse economic recession in my, oh so short lifespan, with the private sector experiencing 9% unemployment, what is the unemployment like in the public sector?

  90. Billy@108: your point, whatever it is.

    Oh Billy. My point to you was quite simple: That your attempt to falsely equivocate that a picture of some Republican as Hitler is just as uncivil as a Tea Party member cutting someone’s gas lines, throwing bricks through windows, threatening someone’s life, having a campaign rally at a gun range, or referencing “second ammendment solutions”.

    When you said@31: “In the wake of the Tuscon shootings I thought we were all going be more civil.“, you were implying that we were NOT more civil than before Tuscon, which means you were saying that Repub-as-Hitler signs are JUST AS uncivil as cutting a gas line.

    This rather simple point is something you are now trying to dodge with your “your point, whatever it is” retort. You know exactly waht my point is.

  91. Paul@112, the unemployment rate in the private sector is the same as it is in the public sector. People don’t become a different species when they work for the government

  92. @Spirit03:… You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. A coal miners union is the same as the USSR? Really. So people who dig in the fucking ground, getting respiratory illnesses(not to mention caveins and other dangers) are evil empire communists?

    Whereas in the real world they’re the people who dig up power for the majority of the people in the United States(and Kingdom at the time) with little to no thanks. You pretty much chose the worst example of “cushy pinko government workers” of all time. Nice try, though.

  93. Greg @106

    What exactly is wrong with a teacher driving a Lamborghini? Are you under the impression that they have taken a vow of poverty? Not everyone who teaches has their teaching salary as their only income.

  94. Paul:

    “this is assuming that they can actually file for bankruptcy,”

    They can’t.

    Everyone else:

    I notice that people here are starting to be less than respectful when addressing each other, so I have placed the Mallet of Loving Correction in its special Warming Chamber. This means that I will soon start Malleting people who I believe have begun to lose their shit. I am already eying some of you. This is your fair warning.

  95. Congressional Reform Act of 2011
    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

    Congress past (mostly), present, and future already participate in Social Security. They have done since 1983.

    I’d also argue against your other points. Term limits? Those work so well in California. The legislators never learn to work with one another and the only people with any experience are the lobbyists.

    Congress loses their health care system and participates in the same one we do? Are you serious? 70% of Americans get their healthcare from either the government or their employer. In Congress’ case it’s the same thing. What exactly would this change?

    I’ve seen this list floating around for a while and I have to conclude that the people behind it haven’t got the vaguest idea what is actually going on.

  96. Actually when Thatcher took on the coal-miners Unions their power was already slipped. What Thatcher did was out of nothing more than pure revenge for the 1970s (when the Unions really did have power and brought down the previous Conservative Government). She was quite open about wanting to destroy them utterly for that, and depopulate the Labour voting areas that they were strongest in. The people in unions realised they were going to be beaten at the start, but they had a choice between a desperate last stand, or just having everything dismantled under them bit by bit by someone whose sole political goal was to end the way people in the North of England (not to mention all of Wales and much of Scotland too). Now would you just let someone take your job, your house, your town, your history all without challenge? Neither did they. It wasn’t about the big mysterious faceless union, it was the individuals within it that took the stand for their own individual lives.

  97. AlanM @119
    You are definitely right about term limits being a bad Idea. Tennessee just got bit loosing a competent Governor to term limits. None of the people running to replace him were worth a darn.

    I am not wild about Public Unions, but isn’t trying to ban them the same as saying that you do not have the will to stand up to them in a negotiation?

  98. Eddie: What exactly is wrong with a teacher driving a Lamborghini?

    Oh nothing,if it were true. But I was talking about the myth of a teacher driving a lamborgini due to a teachers union with Jabba the Hutt like influence and power and this myth is then used as justification to end all teachers unions. It is similar to the myth of that little old lady who got billions of dollars in her lawsuit against McDonalds because they put too much cream in her coffee and that myth is used as justification to do away with lawsuits entirely. Or the myth of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen used to justify ending all welfare.

    There is a flavor to this “teachers union” story that is quite familiar. It just doesn’t have a specific myth to it that I know of. Not like the “welfare queen” or “mcdonald coffee” myth. Teachers might be able to chime in with some specific myth they keep having to fight about themselves that isn’t true. I just made up “lamborgini driving teacher” becuase the specific myth (lamborgini, cadillac, porsche) isn’t as important as pointing out that this whole thing is based on a myth in the first place: That teachers are so grossly overpaid that their unions must be broken.

    It isn’t true. It is a myth used to justify otherwise unjustifiable action. One could, I suppose, attempt to point out the smaller myths (pay raises were 20% a year. No actually they were 2%). But that leaves the big white elephant in the room that no one is talking about but is driving the entire story: Teachers are grossly overpaid because their unions are all-powerful: therefore we must wipe out all unions. No they aren’t, no they aren’t, and no you don’t.

    But sure, if there were a lamborgini driving teacher who bought their lamborgini through their private sector income, I’d give hime/her the thumbs up to keep up the great work and public service.

  99. Both sides – Dem and Repub – are doing their job, which is to try to get their policies through, and thwart policies they don’t like. The Dems are using a novel and extreme strategy, one that can only be used rarely, but influences legislation so it counts as “doing your job”

    The problem is not the politicians behaviour; it’s that this is an emotive and polarising issue.

    FWIW, unions have done many good things, hats off to unions! Other times they can degenerate into thuggery and nepotism.
    Ultimately though, they don’t act in the public interest, and have no obligation to do so. They act in their own interest, which usually coincides with their members’ interests.

    On the other hand, the right to free association (including unions) should be a fundamental right. As emotive as it is, I’m a fence sitter on this one.

  100. Eddie not Eddie C,

    The goal is probably to make Wisconsin a “right to work state” rather than any specific benefit to State government.

  101. A side note: The “call of the house” arrest function of the Sergeant-at-Arms of a legislative body is not even remotely new. It’s standard in every legislative body I know of specifically for deterring quorum-busting, including in both houses of the US Congress, and has been for centuries.

  102. @ Marc Moskowitz #115,

    I am not saying the people who work for the government (like me) are in anyway different from people who work in the private sector, what I am pointing out is that two labour markets (public and private) are different markets, one is very much responsive upon the ups and downs of the economy (ie. customers and investment) and the other is not, in fact the other doesn’t even have customers it has tax payers, which are fundamentally different.

    The point being, when revenue or demand is down things need to change, and one of the things that all employers can do is lower costs, like payroll, is to cut back salary or eliminate jobs; thus 9% unemployment in the private sector. The government response and has responded very differently to much lower than expected revenue than the private sector, it has either incurs more debt or it has raised taxes. This brings up an interesting point because both massive deficits and higher taxes hurts the tax payer, so why is government or specific groups within the government who represent the tax payer, unwilling to cut public sector (pay and benefits) to balance budgets and bring some needed stability to the private sector economy?

  103. @ 127

    Because “the rich” can always pay more, of course. “Rich” being defined on a sliding scale, of course.

  104. @Paul: I appreciate that you didn’t go to the “public workers aren’t human” route, but I disagree that gutting collective bargaining is the way to go forward. If the government wants to negotiate with their employees then they have the power to do so, but state governments right now are basically pulling an Enron on their employee’s pension without the same level of outcry from the public. Defaulting on your pension as a first resort constitutes a fraud in my mind.

  105. @ John Scalzi #118

    Interested in what makes you so sure, cause I don’t think it is out of the range of possibilities that a state government might file a Chapter 11, and ask the courts of the space needed for a reorganization, in much the same way that companies do. I don’t think a liquidation would be possible but a chapter 11, I think would be possible, unless there is something that I don’t know or understand that would prevent it.

  106. Paul: thus 9% unemployment in the private sector.

    Please privide a formula for calculating the unemployment rate of the “public sector”.

    Please provide it in the form of a equation, and define your variables. For example, your definition might look like this:

    Ups = Npn / Npe

    where:

    Ups is Unemployment of the Public Sector
    Npn = Number of Public sector employees currently employed Now
    Npe = Number of People who have Evah worked in the public sector.

    I think once you try to define this formula/equation, you will find that there is no objective way to do it. Which goes back to what Mark@115 was trying to tell you: there is no way to define “unemployment for private sector”, there is only “unemployment for the entire population”.

  107. @ Sean H 130

    Their pension plans are just unfunded, there is no way a state, like California to meets its pension obligation (something like $500,000,000,000, that suppose to be 500 Billion if there are not enough zeros), their pension system is broken. Workers are paid too much, are retiring too early, and with too much of their pay, the whole system needs to be restructured and re-evaluated, but the ability to do so is hampered by how much political capital is tied up in public works pay and benefits; public unions pay campaign contributions, their members vote, and certain politician really like that support. California is a good example at how dysfunctional the system has become, and will continue to become if nothing changes.

  108. Sean H #130, As I understand it, the state government is asking them to pay about one half of what a private employee pays toward their pension, as opposed to nothing at all. Their salaries would still be negotiated through collective bargaining.

    Quite unlike Enron, the people paying for the public employees salaries and benefits are losing their own homes and their own jobs. It is the neighbors of the union workers who are saying that that they should not have to 100% of public employees pensions when they can’t pay for their own.

    When people voted for this governor, who said up front he was going to do this, they did so because they were tired of paying for better benefits than they themselves have.

  109. @ #132 by Greg

    I believe that the figure of 9% unemployment, that I used describes the state of private sector labour market, while I am not sure if this excludes public sector employment, I believe it accurate or at least a mostly accurate way to describe and point out the differences between the two markets, mainly because they are two separate markets that are behaving very differently from one another. Also there are ways of calculating the different between the two markets, although I am not entirely aware of them at the moment, I have read about them, and from what I remember reading public sector pay and employment is up despite the lack tax revenue while private sector is down because of the lack of demand and revenue. While it is not entirely surprising that public employment is up, because the demand for services is also up due to the down economy, but the growing disparities between public sector pay and benefits and the private sector, is a cause for alarm, due to the fact that the public sector is entirely dependent upon the private sector for its revenue. If that weren’t true, that we would have lost the Cold War, and not the Soviets.

  110. @Paul: Public Unions weren’t able to give direct contributions pre-Citizens United and I doubt many of the same people complaining about public unions giving money complain about BP doing business with Reps on the energy comittee.

    Should it be restructured? Probably, but that’s why you *negotiate* in the first place. Union busting because it’s what you like to do isn’t the reserves of responsible policy makers.

    @Billy: Again, the state government has the power to negotiate with Union members *collectively* which is actually less time-wasting than individual one on one where everyone gets screwed over for having the temerity to reject feudalistic ideas on a regular basis. I don’t think negotiations are bound to be fruitless(unless the government acts in bad faith, which is a definite possibility when you have free market fetishists in office), but preconditioning it with “but first you need to give up the only tool you guys have besides a general strike” is ludicrous.

  111. I’m changing back and forth on unions. A couple of years ago, I hated them – any interaction with them was with the thuggish side. Friends being assaulted, threats of violence, that sort of thing.

    Since then, I’ve seen the other side, where they stand up to bullies (literal office bullying).

    I’ve personally been slapped around by a corporate who exploited the fact that they knew the law better to screw staff out of money and intellectual property. It was wrong, and they broke the law. Still, it cost me money (not being a union member) to get representation to tell them to get lost. I came extremely close to starting a union drive in the office – which for me was a shocker.

    I don’t think de-registering the union is the right thing to do, nor removing the right to bargain collectively. If people want to get together and negotiate, more power to them.

    Does that mean that the budget can’t be balanced? That there can’t be wage cuts, pension cuts or anything else? No. It just means that you have to talk to the unions, negotiate, and probably have a few long running strikes. In other words, the state governments need to do it the hard way, not the weasel way.

    I particularly love how the law exempts the police and fire departments. Yeah, because when people talk about bloated public pensions, they never, ever, include the police and fire departments.

    In other words, they might be overcompensated (compared to the rest of the market), but removing their bargaining rights is the wrong way to fix it.

    Jason.

  112. Ah, he’s specifically going after the teachers, without saying “teachers”.

    There are roughly 175,000 public sector employees – including state and local government workers and
    teachers – who are union represented in Wisconsin, according to data maintained by Georgia State University
    professor Barry Hirsch and Trinity University professor David Macpherson. Of those, roughly 39,000 are state
    employees and more than 106,000 are teachers.

  113. @132

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2007 to 2010 the average Unemployment rate was 8% in the Private and 3% in the public sector. Thats a National Average though. State and local government employers spent an average of $39.83 per hour worked ($26.24 for wages and $13.60 for benefits) in total employee compensation in 2009. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $27.49 per hour ($19.45 for wages and $8.05 for benefits). Those are 2009 numbers though, and I suspect the 2010 numbers may come down from that some, but not drastically, and nowhere near close to parity.

  114. Kevin @ 56

    I’d say this is far less evil than the filibuster, since they have actually had to physically inconvenience themselves to do it. Unlike the filibuster, which is now a matter of “hey, we’re gonna use” and then head home to the wife and kids.

  115. Andrew @ 139

    Please explain to me how there can be private and public sectors of unemployment. Unemployment means that one does not have a job and therefore is a member of neither the public nor the private sectors of the workforce.

  116. Paul:

    “Interested in what makes you so sure”

    Because I know the law in this matter. Municipalities are able to declare bankruptcy (it’s called Chapter 9) but there is no provision in the law for states to do so. Congress would have to authorize such a thing, and that’s highly unlikely.

  117. Paul—Two observations about California (my home and current state):

    1. I saw somebody suggest that if California tries for bankruptcy, the federal government should accept… on the terms that California revert to territory status, and only to be granted statehood (or statehoods*) again when it can prove it can operate under fiscal solvency. Don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a fun scenario to play with.

    2. Governor Jerry Brown took one look at the numbers and proposed far deeper across-the-board cuts than former-Governor Schwarzenegger ever did—and he’ll likely get them, just because he has a (D) after his name. That sounds snarky, but I’ve seen far, far less vitriol expended on his proposals than I ever saw in past years. Don’t much care, because the budget has been spiraling the drain for over a decade now, so anyone who can make improvements has my blessing.

    On that note, a lot of the cuts are going to suck, and suck hard**. But I am of the opinion that California is in the seat of a homeowner who refinanced at the top of the bubble, ran up the credit cards, and bought a bunch of junk… and now they’re going to cut off power, water, and kick the state to the curb with no resources. I have no idea where it’s going, but my preference is that if it’s going to happen, let’s do it quickly, so we can figure out how to go forward.

    *Multiple states taking the place of California would make for many interesting things. For example, 60% of the state’s water is in the north, but 60%+ is used in the south. That’s one heck of a bargaining chip.

    **Some of them won’t. The ill-advised high-speed rail project ($6 BILLION voted in by people with more hopes than budgetary knowledge, and I’m looking at the general population here) is set to expend a lot of money on a leg that goes from nowhere to nowhere, because that part’s “shovel ready.” And the part that would have done some good has been committee’d into a bad idea, because everybody wanted a stop, so the line would barely be faster than existing trains.

  118. #136 by Sean H

    Public Unions weren’t able to give direct contributions pre-Citizens United and I doubt many of the same people complaining about public unions giving money complain about BP doing business with Reps on the energy comittee.

    It doesn’t stop them from spending money in support of a candidate.

    @ John Scalzi #142

    Thanks, I know more than I did before.

    So I wonder what happens than, if a state falls further and further into debt, and their bonds become worthless? Bail out or reorganization?

  119. Compensation comparisons come in two types: the ones where they don’t bother to say exactly what they’re comparing, and the public sector comes out way ahead; and the ones where they explicitly state that they are comparing similar jobs with similar requirements, in which public sector always comes out significantly lower than private (I know I need citations, but it’s bed time)

    I suspect this is due to the private sector including a ton of part time, minimum wage, no benefits jobs, and the public sector simply doesn’t have (many of) those jobs.

    So, as far as I can tell, apples to apples comparisons show private sector makes more, and apples to oranges where all your doing is looking at average compensation of all workers in the entire given pool, public sector makes more. The only reasons to even look at the apples to oranges version are to screw over public employees yet more, or to have something to bitch about.

  120. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2007 to 2010 the average Unemployment rate was 8% in the Private and 3% in the public sector.”

    This is meaningless, as others have tried to politely point out. The unemployed don’t belong to any sector, which is why they are unemployed.

  121. Kristin@65:

    Hang on…. Wisconsin’s entire budget deficit is a piddly $3 million? Really? SRSLY?!? Know of any good houses for sale? 

    As a resident of a (right to work, non-union, Taxpayer-Bill-of-Rights encumbered, Libertarian stronghold*) state with a $1.5 BILLION deficit…. Let me say to your (hopefully STBX) governor… “Suck it up and walk it off, son. Call me when you’ve got a real problem.” Because really, $3M is chump change when it comes to state budgets. That can be found in the sofa cushions. Obviously this guy is unfamiliar with actual state governance. 

    Also, please let us recall that indeed, the public sector workforce represented by unions are first and foremost *citizens*, who have First Amendment rights just like every other citizen, including the right to assemble, associate and protest. Jeezly crow, some of you act like they’re an invasion force from Alpha Beta Tri, bent on planetary annihilation. 

    * Our decade long flirtation with “fiscal responsibility”… Yeah, it’s working REAL well.

  122. Not a bad discussion all told.
    Unions have a bad rap but they have brought about almost every single labor protection law we now have. 40 hour work week. Child Labor Laws Paid Sick time. Overtime. Holiday pay. FMLA. The Union members paid in blood, sweat and tears for workers to have these protections. Non-union workers benefit from the struggles of Union workers, if only to keep their work places union free they will keep competitive.

    We already have some people up thread saying, “but that’s history”. Yes, thankfully, it is history. Rolling conditions back to the pre-organized labor era, seems to be a the new ‘it’ thing.

    http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/missouri-senator-wants-repeal-child-labor-laws/

    Plus, public unions have the added benefit of being an excellent scapegoat. They’re civil Servants, right? Who cares about the help? They feed off of my taxes! Except, they live in the community, they pay taxes, and make government work for the people.

    The 2/3 of corporations in Wisconsin that pay no taxes should be a better target. We’re not talking about Mom and Pop businesses, we are talking multinational companies.

    http://www.dylanratigan.com/2011/02/17/david-cay-johnston-on-radio-free-dylan-2/

    Public Unions understand hard times. They have given up negotiated pay increases. They have had to accept layoffs and furloughs. They already accept lower pay in exchange for the benefits of public service. The stripping of Collective Bargaining rights is an admission that the governor has no respect for public workers or the difficult jobs they do. It is a calculated political move that hurts working families and hurts the services they provide. The fact that this bill is being ramrodded through the legislature in less than a week from its presentation is a sign that the governor does not want to have a discussion about any ramifications. The irony is that the ‘justification’ for this bill is the budget shortfall. The budget process is ongoing, it will not conclude before June or July. Removing bargaining rights from the unions is the first step? What’s next, raiding the pension fund for more tax breaks to already profitable companies or the top 10%? This is not the way to govern, this is a way to destroy government.

  123. I think it should be possible to get some idea of “public sector unemployment” if you looked at how many public sector jobs there were, say, 1/1/2008 and how many there were as of 1/1/2011. Do a similar deal with private sector. This tells you nothing of the quality, pay, etc… of those jobs, but you might be able to at least get some numbers to wrap your head around so people can go “oh, both groups are losing jobs pretty fast. Guess it sucks for everyone.”

    I know that at least among us teachers, jobs are indeed disappearing quite fast. Retirees positions are left empty, large (and sometimes not so large) districts shutter buildings and send all the kids across town to (now overcrowded) schools. All I have is anecdotal evidence, but it’s happening everywhere.

  124. Quite apart from the merits of the debate, you cannot imagine what a thrill it is to be here. I still get goosebumps from yesterday’s syncopated chant: “THIS is what democracy LOOKS LIKE!” People who were here in the sixties say they’ve never seen anything like it — there’s anger, sure, but it’s more the exuberant determination of people who have decided that this time, they’re going to take charge. When the firefighters marched through tonight, people were screaming like they were rock stars. I want to live in a world where 30,000 people take direct civic nonviolent action to determine how they’ll be governed, and where honest-to-God heroes get the treatment we customarily reserve for phony celebrities. You know what? We got it, right here.

    Some photos from yesterday and today: http://rickwayne.zenfolio.com/p975982187. I’ve got some video, too (look for “redbird247″ on YouTube), but it really doesn’t do the visceral experience justice. Come on down to Madison! I’m sure we’ll still be here.

  125. Part of the reason we have discussions is not to change the minds of the people who are talking, but the folks who are reading.

    YES!!!

  126. @Paul: I’m aware of this, but if you don’t like it then you should probably lobby congress to pass a law on this if non-citizens(namely, business and unions) having a hand in the financial bits of politics bothers you. If it’s only the union part that bothers you then you should know that this particular knife cuts both ways. Pre-Citizen’s United law wouldn’t have let what you dislike to happen even if you liked the idea of private business getting into the game(I’m not crazy about either, but I’m pretty consistent in that). Hooray conservative wing of the Supreme Court, I guess?

  127. @124 DA Munroe! Yes! “they don’t act in the public interest, and have no obligation to do so. They act in their own interest”.

    No-one in capitalism acts in the public interest! Not You, Not Scalzi! No-one! We act in our own interest, and the accumulated effect of our self-interested actions *is* the wealth of the nation and the increase of the market.

    Why is it a horror when I do it in a union?

  128. @155: The answer usually boils down to “Unions don’t typically support republicans” if we’re being honest.

  129. Joel @144. I expect the demand for, and hence supply of, services increase in bad times. Public sector, church charities and anyone else. So a straight comparison of numbers should be misleading.

  130. Plenty@148: This is not the way to govern, this is a way to destroy government.

    I’m pretty sure that’s their point.

    Rick@151: Come on down to Madison! I’m sure we’ll still be here.

    Go Madtown! Woot!

  131. Sean H@116:

    I didn’t say the coalminers themselves were communists, I said the British trade unions (and Arthur Scargill) were. People who spend all their lives underground don’t really have much time for politics. The miners themselves were fighting for food on their tables (quite literally). Mr. Scargill had political aspirations. He was THE poster boy for why unions are bad and makes Jimmy Hoffa look like a saint.

    Nice try though.

    As a point of reference, at that time the typical British wage earner with 10 years experience was paid about £200 per month. Then as now, the exchange rate was about US$1.50 to £1. I assume union mineworkers made somewhat more than that in exchange for the inevitable health issues.

    If you recall your Karl Marx, he believed the ideal breeding ground for communism was post-Industrial Revolution England due to the exploitation of the working class. Frederick Forsythe wrote a novel about how the Soviet Union could overthrow the British government and make it a puppet state (the Fourth Protocol, also a movie starring Micheal Caine & Pierce Brosnan). The scary part was the scenario described was not all that far-fetched at the time.

    Mrs. Thatcher’s government, with the full approval of a majority of British citizens, ended the communist threat in the UK once and for all. A side effect of the 84-85 strike is that there is now NO British coal mine industry. (I believe there are still 2 mines in all of Great Britain still open and both of them are in trouble financially.) The bonus for the people not living underground is that you can now see all the way across most British cities, especially the ones up North that used to be heavy coal users.

    Here’s another bit of history for the woe is me public employee union crowd: About the same time the British coalminers were on strike, the London newspapers were starting to run into trouble as well. In an effort to cut costs, newspapers moved out of their decades-old presses on Fleet Street to brand new computer controlled presses in a different part of London. The exodus may even have been started by everyone’s bestest friend Rupert Murdoch moving The Sun. The newspapers gave the press unions a choice: accept the fact that there will be fewer jobs and with less pay on these new presses or stay home. The unions, being unable and unwilling to accept any concessions chose the 2nd option (rather, they went on strike). The outcome of that strike was the same as the coalminers': there is no newspaper union in London any more and all of the presses on Fleet Street are gone.

    So here is the crux of the issue here before us today: It is plain to all that the Wisconsin Republicans have shifted the focus away from the real issue: the working people can no longer afford to fill the public trough. A bunch of public employees have to go. They can either go voluntarily now and begin contributing to the economy and thus save the jobs of their coworkers or wait for somebody to grow the cajones to swing the big axe and shut down whole agencies. Personally, I’d like to see the bureaucrats and political appointees (the folks I am actually thinking of when I say “public employee”) take the hint and leave so we can continue to enjoy the services of the public employees that really matter but end up taking the brunt of the punishment: fire, law enforcement and teachers (locally), the military, consumer protection and emergency services (nationally).

    Let us hope the Republicans and Democrats will hear the voices of the people before the 2012 election and save us all from a lot of heartache (and wallet-ache).

  132. Zan Lynx wrote at #93

    I strongly support the filibustering in the Senate. A 50% majority is pretty slim. Look at it from the other way around: if the bill can be filibustered: 40% don’t like it.

    40% of US Americans is something like 152 million people. That’s easily enough to win a civil war if we weren’t so civilized. (In relation to the recent Egypt events, I’ve read about worries that a well organized 10-20% could overthrow Egypt and take over.) So, it doesn’t do to stomp all over other people just because you have 51% of the vote this week.

    Please tell me that you don’t vote, because the idea of someone as completely and totally ignorant as you are exercising the franchise is just too depressing to contemplate. Seriously, are you so incredibly ignorant as to think that the US Senate is apportioned based upon population? It isn’t. Each state gets two senators, regardless of population, so you can have a situation where 40 senators oppose a bill and those senators only represent 11 percent of the population. The twenty states with the lowest populations, as of 2008, are Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, NewMexico, WestVirginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire. Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. The total population of these states is around 32 million people. 32 million people who get 40 senators. The state of California has a population of 37 million people, and has two senators.

    The twenty-five states with the lowest populations are Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa and the twenty states listed above. These twenty-five states control 50 senators and represent roughly 49 million people, or 16 percent of the US population. To put this into perspective the states of Texas and California have 62 million people between them, 62 million people, 20 percent of the US population, and four senators.

    So saying “if a bill can be filibustered 40% don’t like it” just means that 40 percent of the Senate doesn’t like it, and 40 percent of the US Senate does not equal 40 percent of the US population. I suggest that you put down your copy of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, from whence you stole your idea about “… an entire third portion of legislators who do nothing but write bills to repeal laws” and pick up a basic civics textbook.

    If knowledge of how the US government works were a requirement for voting you wouldn’t have the franchise and you’ve just demonstrated that you couldn’t pass the citizenship tests that new immigrants have to take.

  133. @Spirit: I’m sorry, but I reject your basic premise that “unions are bad” right out the gate. A previous poster actually gave historical context for the incident you mentioned and pointed out Thatcher’s goal to depopulate entire Labour leaning districts for electoral purposes and for the collapse of the previous government. Which, by the way, is pretty much evil.

    Unions are the reason we have minimum wage(or do you think we could get by at .18 cents an hour?), among other things and while a member of one they took care of me when I needed it and left me alone when I didn’t.

    You’re essentially glorifying bad corporate behavior as it relates to their employees and casting aspersions on anyone who’s ever organized to get what was rightfully theirs(like the SFWA, WGA, UAW, SAG, etc.).

  134. Shane@155: the accumulated effect of our self-interested actions *is* the wealth of the nation

    Not for nothing, but the “prisoner’s dillemma” is an extremely simple Game Theory scenario that clearly demonstrates that individuals acting in purely self interest can produce the worst possible outcome for everyone involved.

  135. So here is the crux of the issue here before us today: It is plain to all that the Wisconsin Republicans have shifted the focus away from the real issue: the working people can no longer afford to fill the public trough.

    Why is that the real issue, given the tax cuts earlier in the year?

    Personally, I’d like to see the bureaucrats and political appointees (the folks I am actually thinking of when I say “public employee”)

    Generally…whenever I hear someone use the term bureaucrats like that, I get the feeling they really don’t know how large organizations actually operate and the “bureaucrats” are actually necessarily for large organizations to work on a day to day level. (And don’t fool yourself; even with just teachers, fire fighters and police, the organizations will be large, even without counting elections officials, safety inspectors, health inspectors, etc.).

  136. 1) I believe some of this may be a dead horse issue, but those trying to make out the Senators’ absence as being sinister are missing the entire point of a legislature: it’s a place where we negotiate to settle our differences. If the other side makes an offer that is insulting, walking away from the table is a legitimate tactic. In many ways, they are doing their job, just like an agent who walks away from a bad deal would be doing their job.

    2) There’s no way to spin this as anything other than union busting. It’s magical thinking to believe that, just because a guy doesn’t have a union representative, he or she will be willing to work for free, or for dramatically less than the market value. The unemployment rate may be 9% for the majority of people, but it’s less than half of that for people who have a bachelor’s or better (which would be 100% of the teachers, and equally higher rates for the rest of the public sector).

    So if you want to make education and government service even worse, I think insulting your employees to the point where the really good ones who can leave, start heading for the door, would be a really good start. But obviously, the people proposing this don’t care, because they’re short-term thinkers who rode in with a wave of angry people at their backs.

    3) Regarding the bankruptcy point someone made, Sr. Scalzi is correct, but more to the point, a large number of states absolutely don’t want to be allowed to have the option of taking bankruptcy because this could start bondholders getting worried and maybe wanting a higher interest rate.

  137. One other thing that bothers me about this, and it’s not just about the budget situation in Wisconsin, but about the entire narrative here: the cities and states with real problems with their public employees aren’t in Wisconsin, or Kansas, or pretty much any other place with an actual functioning legislature. It’s invariably California, or New York, or other places with much larger governments that have been tinkered with and gerrymandered to pieces. I get tired of hearing this BS about how “liberals are ruining my state” when there aren’t any here, or at least there aren’t any in elected office.

    People need to stop taking the Cable news narrative at face value and start looking at what’s actually going on in their state if they want to see the real reason why we have some of these problems.

  138. Being a former Wisconsin resident and current federal gov’t employee, I’d like to add my 2 cents to the discussion. I don’t think parts of the current bill that Gov Walker is proposing are wise; those parts being the restrictions on collective bargaining to negotiating pay raises and having to vote every year to keep the union in place.

    I’m generally not in favor of public sector employee unions because, like their private sector counterparts, they act like they are entitled to pay raises every year with minimal contributions to pension/health benefits and imposition of work rules that stifle productivity. However, I don’t think removing the right to collectively bargain, no matter how legal it is, is a wise decision because the financial issue facing the states isn’t unions per se, it is the failure of the unions to recognize the inability of the states to pay higher and higher salaries and benefits.

    Public sector unions, like the teacher unions in Wisconsin, tend to play nasty hardball when it comes time for contract negotiations. I went to Whitefish Bay High School in the 1990’s and I remember the local teacher’s union refusing to do things like give students’ written college recommendation letters, participate in after school activities where they were the advisor or telling students they weren’t available to tutoring/help after class. This is in the era of Qualified Economic Offers that the commenter above talked about.

  139. It is plain to all that the Wisconsin Republicans have shifted the focus away from the real issue: the working people can no longer afford to fill the public trough. A bunch of public employees have to go. They can either go voluntarily now and begin contributing to the economy and thus save the jobs of their coworkers or wait for somebody to grow the cajones to swing the big axe and shut down whole agencies.

    Actually, until the Governor took office, there was no deficit to make up.

    In part, this was because public employees had taken a pay cut in the way of stagnant wages and furlough days.

    So, this nonsense about the public not being able to afford the public employees is a fiction generated by the governor. It simply did not exist.

    Until he gave a bunch of tax cuts to his political contributors. Now because of a measly 167 million dollar shortfall, he feels he needs to remove the unions right to bargain collectively.

    His conclusions don’t follow from his premise, and even at that the premise is flawed.

  140. Sean H@161: Wrong again, boyo. I apologize for not making it clearer that Mr. Scargill was (is) a communist ass and that there is nothing wrong with a union that properly represents its rank and file members. Unlike the AFL-CIO at times, the Teamsters at times, the UAW (at times & in certain places) and various teachers’ unions. It’s all about who has the power and what they do with it. Individual employees rarely have sufficient power to influence negotiations with management so unions are necessary in some situations.

    Ever notice that the best companies to work for don’t have union members?

    There’s a lot less socialism in the UK now so how is what the Thatcher government did evil?

    gwangung@163:
    How are a few token tax cuts the solution to the inability to fund the current levels of government (at all levels)?

    Are you implying that every single public employee on the payroll today is vital to our country’s very existence? That perhaps the very large organization doesn’t need to be so very large? I posit that there might, in fact, be a few people that don’t need to shuffle papers any more.

    Wile E. Quixote@164:
    Well, Mr. High & Mighty, you will likely be shocked to learn I served in the US Air Force for 20 years saving your pompous ass from having to learn Russian. I was blessed to spend some quality time with some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in such lovely places as Panama, Africa, the Middle East and Korea. While Air Force Special Operations doesn’t have quite the cachet as our more grounded brothers in arms (the SEALs, Rangers, Airborne and Force Recon) we did have our share of hard work on occasion. Just dodging Iraqi Scuds in full chemical protection gear for a week is likely more work than you have ever done in your entire life. Try building 20 foot high revetments for a dozen or so transport aircraft by hand. Try living on MREs (the original kind) twice a day for 4 months.

    I know all about public ‘servants’ and how much they contribute.

  141. DJN@168:
    You are mistaken in thinking this is just about Wisconsin and its state budget. It’s not. Your Governor and State Republicans are working as part of the RNC plan to make Obama a one-term President. They want to break a union at the home field of public employee unions. What follows will be as described by our Fearless Host in his original post.

    With some effort, the people of Wisconsin may just prevail and do some good this month to the detriment of both Republican and Democrat plans.

    Wisconsin may not be in dire straits, public employee quantity wise yet but there are way too many states that are (California being the leader). Any government agency with a budget problem has too many people working for it, whether local, state or federal. My comment was directed at the public sector overall, not specifically Wisconsin.

  142. Well, with Spirit@153 explaining history through the lense of Frederick Forsythe’s novel about how the Soviet Union could overthrow the British government and make it a puppet state, as justification for Thatcher’s union-busting in the 80’s, perhaps it is time to bring the discussion of Wisconsin/2011 back to reality and… Wisconsin/2011.

    From the first link in #5:

    In January 2011 the Wisonsin Fiscal Bureau (the state’s equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office) “determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.
    … Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit …It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.”

    And The governor says they must pass this bill that strips state employees of collective bargaining because of this budget deficit… that the governor himself created.

    So, while the libertarians are rallying their troops to fight the communists in someones fictional novel or movie, and rewritign history so that Margarat Thatcher saved England from the Soviet Union and Communists (and probably Hitler too), the simple facts remain:

    This bill to strip state workers in wisconsin of their right to collective bargaining is not only based on the myth that unions are evil, the myth that state workers don’t produce anything, and the myth that the state is just one big trough, this bill is also based on a simple, clear lie manufactured by the asshole trying to ram the bill through. The state will end the fiscal year with a surplus. It will end the fiscal year with LESS money than it would have, but only because the LYSING ASSHOLE pushing this bill gave away a massive tax break to corporations in Wisconsin his first days in office and now he wants to say there is a “fiscal emergency” that just happens to equal the amount of his tax break that can ONLY BE PAID FOR by breaking the state employees unions.

    Anyone defending this ASSHOLE governor or his bill or his tax cut to be paid for by cutting state workers can only defend it by buying wholly into the myths and the lies and by ignoring some very simple facts about the budget. People who want to bust unions wherever they see them will buy into the lies and the myths. People who think their myths about the world override the facts of the world will continue to defend this fuck-tard of a governor.

    People who support the truth have to acknowledge that most of what is coming out of the governors office is bullshit, and have to acknowledge that this fiscal “emergency” is completely manufactured by the governor himself, that the state will end the fiscal year with a surplus, and that the missing money could be recovered by getting rid of the tax cuts the governor just signed into law last month.

    But hey, lets blame the teacher’s fucking union.

    Give me a break.

  143. Spirit: My name’s not Boyo, son. The worst place *I’ve* worked didn’t have unions. The best did. Britain’s run to cut back on socialism has shrunk their economy, those jobs won’t come back. Sooo… fail then? UAW pretty much just made sure we didn’t get overworked in our processing plant in Kokomo. The plant was a pretty hazardous place and if it wasn’t for my union rep insisting on an OSHA review we may’ve had a few explosions. Mainly because the supervisors didn’t give a shit about safety and I was an 18 year old kid out of high school who didn’t know my rights, my union did and they protected me.

    Out of curiosity what was your spec? My dad was at one point an AF radar specialist in Germany. Later joined an electician’s union(gasp) while working for the Navy.

  144. Spirit: Any government agency with a budget problem has too many people working for it

    or a problem with giving tax breaks to corporations, reducing the money coming into the state.

    You know what the weird part is? That’s what caused the budget issue in Wisconsin right now. Not a teacher’s union, not coal minors in england, and certainly not communists in the Soviet Union. The governor gave a present to corporations and now he declared a budget emergency and blames the teachers union for the money shortage that resulted from him giving money to corporations.

    You know what’s even weirder? Republicans and Libertarians are usually the ones talking the loudest about personal responsibility for their actions. And the governor is blaming everyone but himself for the effects of his actions. Always a classy move.

  145. No-one in capitalism acts in the public interest! Not You, Not Scalzi! No-one! We act in our own interest, and the accumulated effect of our self-interested actions *is* the wealth of the nation and the increase of the market.

    Why is it a horror when I do it in a union?

    It’s not. I’m just calling a spade a spade. Unions can be good and bad. This is a showdown between competing interests, caused by a perception of diminishing resources. Nothing more.

  146. I have a suspicion that when Scalzi checks in on this thread, that mallet is going to look like whack a mole at the state fair.

  147. @174: Kind of but not really, this isn’t an instance like California where unions have run amok. Wisconsin’s governor had a 121 million dollar projected surplus. Then he cut 140 million dollars of business taxes that kind of coincided with his donors. The three unions he singled out that he’s NOT trying to bust all endorsed him. This is less a fiscal emergency and more an ethics textbook example of when it’s a good idea to recall an elected official. The equivalent would be if Obama had sought to label the NRA and Club for Economic Growth as terrorist organizations after he was elected because, hey, they didn’t support him.

  148. What confuses me is that those who dislike unions think this is a good way to weaken them. Unions are not particularly popular right now, and creating an occasion like this, with a clear threat and an opportunity for coordinated protest, seems like a great way to regalvanize them.

  149. Rob:

    There’s irony to complaining about an “echo chamber” here and then linking to Real Clear Politics.

    Beyond that, if you think the conversation here equates to an echo chamber, you’re simply not paying attention.

    Stop condescending to the people here.

  150. More and more rights are being stolen from americans, little by little. At what point does America no longer become “the land of the free”? Jobs and manufactuing have gone oversees, and now, even third world wages are too high for these jerks, when will Americans wake up?

  151. Thatcher did not enjoy the support of the majority of the UK in over how she treated the miners, she enjoyed the majority support of her own party, their electoral areas and the Rupert Murdoch owned era. However huge swathes of the country opposed that, in fact you could draw a line about a quarter of the way up England and that would be where her support ended. Oh, and socialism is not bad in and of itself, it is how it is implemented that makes any ideology good or bad. How Thatcher implemented her own ideology was certainly bad, and some areas are now into terminal decline due to her actions. We are still living, here in the UK with her mistakes, and still paying through the nose for them.

  152. People who think those getting paid by the states are leeches who do nothing but suck tax money should learn what it’s like when these people simply walk off the job, and go on strike. Unions still have that power in WI. They should use it, because the other side has raised the stakes to that level. If someone threatens to take away your right to engage in collective bargaining, you show them why you have that right. You shut down the state. Not just schools. The entire state.

    The Republican tactic here is to keep escalating until the opposition is dead. Fine. The other side should play along and escalate back.

  153. @141, and others,

    It has to do with how a worker represents themselves when filing for unemplyment. If a person who has been an autoworker for 25 years loses his job because the factory is closed and fills out the unemployment paperwork for benefits, his previous occupation will be listed. Likewise the Office manager who was let go after 15 years, and so on.
    Going through such data allows the BLS to determine how many people claiming unemployment used to have a Union job, and compare them to people on unemployment who didn’t have a Union job. While the final percentages are not hyperaccurate to withinin “N’ths” of a percentage, they are representative.

    Andrew

  154. What Wisconsin’s governor is attempting to do seems dangerously short-sighted to me, especially if he succeeds and his actions are copied by other states. I’ve spent the last twelve years working in the public sector, on and off, and I’ve had a front-row seat from which to witness the impact of the current economic crisis on that sector. Most of the people I’ve worked with are hard-working individuals who chose their careers for one of two reasons: they love what they do, and the (relative) security of a public sector position. I don’t know anybody who ever went into these jobs expecting to get rich. As others in this thread have pointed out,salaries in the public sector are rarely if ever competitive with the private sector.

    So my question is, if Wisconsin’s governor succeeds, what is going to happen in a few years when the baby boomers who currently occupy so many positions in the public sector start to retire in droves and need to be replaced? With the example of Wisconsin in front of them, who in their right minds would choose to work in the public sector? The pay’s never been great, and now the factors that served to compensate for that (security, pension, etc) are being stripped away.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, because I was one of the state workers who got booted in the last round of cuts. It wasn’t too hard on me, since I’m young, healthy, have no dependents and plenty of working years ahead of me. But what if I wasn’t? I know people who were forced out in their late fifties, or who aren’t in the best of health, and they’re now facing some very bleak prospects. Seeing what the state was willing to do to these people, who’d served well and faithfully for many years, has forced me to seriously reconsider a career in the public sector…and if Governor Walker and his friends succeed, I doubt I will be the only one.

  155. I wonder if the magnitude of the response to the governor’s intentions was inspired by the success of peaceful (well, relatively) protests in Egypt? The Egyptians demonstrated quite clearly that it is possible to make change without using guns if people have the will to sit things out. Take heed, governor.

    It’s hard to imagine that anything could force an end to labor unions given their history in America. Workers could now make a united force with or without an official union thanks to technology. Time to get serious and negotiate.

  156. You shut down the state. Not just schools. The entire state.

    I don’t think thats needed right now. It seems to me that the protestors are getting the attention they want on the problem i.e. the governor is a lying sack of shit who gave away tax breaks to donors and now wants to pay for them by cutting employees benefits and dismantling their unions that opposed him during election.

    I think the image of selfless state workers getting paid less than they could get for a similar private sector job, working while the govornor tries to cut their benefits, is more marketable than, say, they shut down the state and the governor and right wingers proclaim “See! They’re nothing but lazy no good no accounts and they throw a tantrum when we even mention cutting benefits. This is why we need the national guard ready to fill in their jobs”

    I think the way to play this would be keep working, keep putting the spotlight on a lying sack of shit governor, and let *him* run the state into the ground if anyone is going to do it. cause, I think voters will turn quite rapidly against whoever takes their services away first, regardless of the reason. So let the governor run the state out of money, and he’ll get the heat

  157. @ 78: It is an appalling bill, and any reasonable legistator should vote against it, but I would rather have the vote actually take place. … if you sabotage the legislative process to avoid having to vote on a bill (by fillibustering, or stalling a bill with unpopular amendments, or other byzantine tactics) then I likewise know that you are unfit for a position in the legislature.

    Are you kidding? The legislative process is chock full of veto points that can prevent a bill from coming to a vote beyond even the ones you mentioned: having it die in committee, having it tabled, omitting it from the agenda, and a host of others. That isn’t sabatoging the legislative process; that is the legislative process. Plenty of bills never get votes, which is a feature, not a bug.

    I might add that legislators are often very well aware that a proposal won’t become law and are only too happy to bring it up for a vote anyway; for example, the recent House bill to “repeal” the ACA. The House knew the Senate wouldn’t pass it, and that if they did it wouldnt’ survive a presidential veto, but now lots of Republican congresscritters can make ads proudly noting that they “voted to repeal,” when their vote actually accomplished no such thing.

  158. Spirit03 @169: Unions are a big reason those non-union companies are “the best companies to work for”. If your employees are unhappy, they might unionize – that’s a great incentive for a company to give its workers a better deal than a union would give them. Take away the ability to unionize, and you get a race to the bottom. There’s a reason that unions have the saying “a bad boss is the union’s best friend.”

    Really, this isn’t about the budget; it’s about ideology. Unions interfere with businesses’ decisions to do whatever the shit they want, therefore they are evil.

  159. OK, first there’s a LOT of partisan hyperbole in John’s post (I wouldn’t expect it any other way). They’re not “rolling back” benefits; Walker wants to increase the contribution a public employee makes to their retirement to 3% (Oh NOOOOOOES!!!) and double the amount they contribute to their health care to 12% (THE SKY IS FAAAAAALLNG!!!!!). Also, Walker’s bill does not “strip away collective bargaining rights” it takes a non-right away from a non-person: the unions. You see, for ages if you wanted to work for the state you had to join a union and pay dues. Not just any union (you couldn’t join the Muslim Teachers Union of Greater Wisconsin for example) you had to join THE union, the one that pays the Democrats the most.

    Then, of course, is the union’s “right” (remember that argument that lefties make about corporations being non-people cannot have “rights”? Funny that it doesn’t apply to unions in their mind) to card check. You see, card check is the ability for the Union bosses to know how you vote; yes, it means a death of the secret ballot and, through intimidation, the death of the freedom of conscience any democratic system relies.

    What this is about is you have a few massive unions (who pay the Democrats buckets of money for trucks of taxpayer money) who want to secure their power.

  160. What I would point out is that the Union lost their right to negotiate the moment the Gov. put out the bill. All the bill will do is formalize it. When the Gov. simply states that they will have to pay this and that, then he is simply dictating benefits that are supposed to be negotiated under collective bargaining.

    I have heard it asked “will the bill be accepted if the provisions about the collective bargaining are removed?” It shouldn’t, because by doing so the Union is saying the Gov. can simply dictate the employee’s wages & benefits to them without any collective bargaining process. See above.

    A simple solution, which will never happen in my opinion, would be for the Gov. to take the provisions about collective bargaining out of the bill and say to the Union “We need to cut this amount of money out of the budget and give a figure. Then say to the Union that you have X number of days to come up with a plan that through wage & benefit cuts or furloughs or whatever will meet X amount as I have laid out. The Union then has the goal set by the Gov. yet has the freedom to determine how to implement it. The Gov. shouldn’t care how the money is saved, just that it is.

    But therein lies the problem, that would be collective bargaining and this bill is about the money to be saved it is about eliminating collective bargaining and killing the Unions.

    There are also double whammys in store for the employees under this bill. I’ll lay one out. Employees would now need to contribute 5.8% to their retirement plan. (In many previous bargaining sessions over the decades the Unions have negotiated and forgone salary increases in lieu of the State paying that money to the retirement system instead. Now in one fell swoop those previous concessions going to be wiped away.)

    Anyways, back to that 5.8%. That money is now going to be coming out of the employee’s Gross salary. That means they are going to have to pay social security and state & fed taxes on it right off the top and then pay it into the retirement fund. Whereas before when the State paid it the amount was, off the books in a matter of speaking, as it did not appear as income on the employees pay stub nor affect the employees yearly taxes. So not only do they have to pay into the retirement account they are going to have to pay taxes one that amount as well. And, correct me if I am wrong, pay taxes on it again when they receive it as income when they collect it in retirement.

    Sheesh…

  161. And before you attack me for being a “anti-union” lackey, you should know this: I support the right of workers to unionize. In fact the reason I am against the Wisconsin Union strike is because I support this right. Every worker should have the right to join a union, not join a union, form his or her own union, or join an alternate union; and they should have the right that goes along with this right to make the decision individually: the right to a secret ballot. What Big Union has done in this country has been to strip workers of their basic rights to decide which or whether the join a union, and to strip them of their right to vote their conscience in a secret ballot.

    The biggest threat to workers’ rights in this country is Big Union.

  162. I think there’s something to be said for a prohibition on collective bargaining by public employees. Private sector businesses at least face competition, which results in industry standards that the union has to be aware of in negotiations. The government is a monopoly and essentially sets its own standards, as a result of which union negotiators get something of an unfair carte blanche. Also, and more importantly, unions heavily influence the political process, so when public workers bargain collectively they are to a certain extent negotiating against themselves. This last point is exacerbated by the fact that unions have a more direct and obvious interest in their own contract than the rest of the voters, so they will be more motivated to lobby on that particular point and as a result have an outsized influence on how the government negotiates their own contract. The result is a terrible conflict of interest.

    Maybe these are not the best arguments, but they are at least not crazy or evil, and I do wish people on the left would give a little more thought to addressing arguments like these on their own terms rather than dismissing them as empty rationalizations for some kind of corporatist attack on working people.

  163. Scorpius: when a company – say, Dell, or perhaps Scott Paper – sells large quantities of a product to a company, they are allowed, as part of their sale contract, to stipulate that they will be the exclusive provider of that product. For certain types of arrangements, this is common.

    Why should Dell be allowed to do this, but a labor union not be?

  164. Scorpius@189: OK, first there’s a LOT of partisan hyperbole in John’s post

    and a lot of lies coming out of the Governor’s office as to how Wisconsin got into this budget “crisis”.

    Then, of course, is the union’s “right” (remember that argument that lefties make about corporations being non-people cannot have “rights”? Funny that it doesn’t apply to unions in their mind)

    Except what you’re complaing about there isn’t what’s happening in Wisconsin.

    Most progressives oppose the idea that corporations have first ammendment rights, which translates into corps being able to donate unlimited amounts of money into politcial campaigns. I don’t have a problem completely eliminating political contributions (and soft money and all the other loopholes) from the “rights” of corporations and unions. The only ones who should be able to contribute to a political campaign are actual individual people, and even that ought to have some financial limts so a billionaire can’t contribute so much money that it outweighs the contributions of ten thousand poor voters.

    But this “crisis” in Wisconsin isn’t about limiting a unions ability or inability to donate to a political campaign. This is about the Gov fabricating a budget “crisis” because he gave away tax breaks to corporations that the state couldn’t afford, and then the Gov using that “crisis” to go union-busting.

    So, yeah, lots of hyperbole. Just not so much where you’re saying it is.

  165. It has long seemed to me that Unions often cause Problems at least as bad as those they try to solve, but that’s not an uncommon situation in politics (or elsewhere). I’m definitely not a reflexive Union supporter.

    Sometimes, however, it seems to me that the current situation is not so much that Union Workers get paid too much as it is that not-Union Workers don’t get paid enough. (But note that I have considerable reservations about calling people who get paid more than about $100,000 (including perks) per year “Workers”.)

  166. Scorpius:

    “Also, Walker’s bill does not ‘strip away collective bargaining rights'”

    Well, except for the part where union members will no longer have the right to collectively bargain on certain benefits which the currently have; and I certainly see collective bargaining as a benefit, which Walker, et al are very much in the process of rolling back.

    All of which is to say your complaint here, Scorpius, boils down to me using words in a way you don’t like.

    “In fact the reason I am against the Wisconsin Union strike is because I support this right.”

    I don’t think that’s true at all, as your litany of complaints about unions has really nothing to do with what Walker, et al are currently trying to do. Thus, like him, your solution to any problem you have with unions appears to be “break their backs.” Mouthing that you support the right of people to unionize while at the same time encouraging an action that is transparently designed to strip away the benefits of unionization means you don’t in fact support the right. You should stop pretending that you do, because it’s utterly unconvincing, and it makes you look silly.

  167. @193 Andy: A discussion on collective bargaining rights for public workers would be very beneficial to have. I have questions about it myself.

    But WI has had collective bargaining for 50 years and this bill, introduced and then attempted to be voted into law in 6 days days later with only I believe 17 hours of public input before the combined members of the Joint Senate Finance Committee is not what I would call a discussion.

    @192 Scorpius: As to your comment on secret ballots. I wonder how the vote would turn in the WI Senate if the Senators were allowed to vote secret ballot on this issue. Some of the Republican members have indicated concerns about this bill. But I think if they were follow their conscious and were to vote publicly against this it would be the end of their support from their own party and most politicians are notorious for not biting the hand that feeds them.

  168. Andy@192: The government is a monopoly and essentially sets its own standards, as a result of which union negotiators get something of an unfair carte blanche.

    You’re saying that a union has an unfair advantage when it is dealing with a monopoly???

    so they will be more motivated to lobby on that particular point and as a result have an outsized influence on how the government negotiates their own contract

    You’re saying that a union of governmetn employees has more influence in the political process than regular voters???

    Hey, if you want to support the idea that corporations and unions can’t make political contributions, I’m all for that. But I don’t see how they have unfair influence simply because they are “more motivated” than some other voter.

  169. Government is a fickle beast. Just because it’s always fed you doesn’t mean it won’t bite. Contracts with government … I try hard not to do that. They keep changing the contract.

    Prof. Althouse, a Wisconsin law prof, is conflicted. http://althouse.blogspot.com/

    (Not to derail, but I’ve long thought that legislation should have to be voted on and accepted by both public and secret ballot — and that there should be at least as many secret ballots in favor of a measure as there are public — for it to pass. Publicly voting for something popular, privately voting against it because you think it’s a bad idea. Or vice versa, against publicly, for privately, because you think it’s a good idea that’s unpopular. )

  170. Sean H@172:
    I never said all unions were all bad all the time. When management consists of people who see employees as just another resource to be plundered (like the industrialists of coal and steel country 100 years ago) unions are good. When the people running the union start enjoying the fruits of the rank and file labor at the expense of the members (like the Teamsters did around WWII), not so much.

    For the record I was in Electronic Warfare (radar & missile jamming).

    As for Navy electricians unions, the only thing better than being in a union with a DoD contractor is being in a union and a Federal employee. The depot people I met at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (south of Atlanta) are some of the most highly skilled and professional people I have ever worked with. And harder to fire than Mike Madigan. :-)

    Greg@173:
    Sometimes the only extra body in an agency is the fool(s) making the budget.

    Mythago@188:
    Indeed, bad bosses are the only reason unions even exist. I’m pretty sure the “best companies to work for” are that way because they treat everyone and everything with respect and dignity and not through the fear of unionization.

    Union-busting 2011 isn’t about budgets or even ideology, it’s about breaking the back of the Democratic Party to make Obama a one term President. The RNC is too fractured to have even a basic ideology.

    Aphrael@194:
    Vendors always try to get their customers on exclusive contracts. That’s why you can only drink Coke products at most restaurants. The incentive is economy of scale. Bigger purchases = bigger discounts. Manufacturers always try to get multiple sources so they get the lowest prices possible for their raw materials. Scott Paper doesn’t get all their pulp from one mill, they play all the mills against each other to pay the minimum amount possible. It also insures a ready supply. What happens if Mill A shuts down for some reason? Scott is dead in the water. Instead, they just buy more from Mills B & C to make up the difference.

    Unions have no right to be the sole source of labor for a particular skill. They have the right to bargain collectively for the rights of the workers who choose to be members.

    It may be in some cases that a labor union also serves as a certification for that skill. This would be like comparing an IBEW membership for electricians to a mechanic’s ASE certification, for instance. (I don’t know that is the case in real life.) One would like to think one is getter a better product from the higher paid/certifiably skilled union members. (I hope all those bad wiring jobs on Mike Holmes’ TV shows on HGtv are not done by the Canadian equivalent of the IBEW. Some of that work is flat out criminal.)

    htom@200:
    As representatives of the people, politicians have no right to secret ballot. If they were voting for themselves (as union members do) then secret ballots are a must. The only reason Big Union takes away secret balloting is to retaliate against those who do not toe the party line.

  171. #189 Scorpius: John’s post didn’t have a lot of partisan hyperbole in it. Believe me, I know what “a lot of partisan hyperbole” looks like after living in this town for the past three days.

    Secondly, please don’t resort to the old saw of making fun of the state workers, with the wink-wink subtext that we’ve got it good and fat and should damn well pull our share of the load. We’re behind private sector compensation. “Oh, but your benefits are better.” OK, factor those in. Still behind. “Oh, but you lazy state employees don’t work as hard.” All right, control for fewer hours worked. And for educational attainment, everything else you can think of. We still come out behind, by about 5%. I’m willing to accept that, as a price of doing public service instead of working to fatten some guy’s wallet. Fine.

    This pernicious meme that state workers have it better is simply false, but people use the “no true Scotsman” dodge on it every time.

    Here are the numbers.

    But you know, that’s not why 30,000 people showed up at the Capitol yesterday (the news media’s number, not mine). The state employees’ unions had already agreed to cuts, in the plan rejected by Walker in December. State workers didn’t hit the streets when our raises got frozen in the previous biennium (inflation may not be much, but it’s still a cut). We didn’t when we got furloughs over the past two years, for 3% cuts on top of that.

    What got people good and pissed was when Walker concocted a deficit with giveaways (again, don’t take my word for it, see the WI Leg Fiscal Bureau’s report), then used the resulting manufactured crisis as an excuse to try and break the unions. It’s not the concessions (though I don’t see too many private-sector workers volunteering for 20% pay cuts), it’s the naked attempt to demolish the unions for partisan political gain. This isn’t about money, the $142M in corporate giveaways since January pretty well make that clear. It’s about constructing a permanent Republican majority in the post-Citizens-United era, about emasculating the only large institutions that do support Democrats, about attempting to ensure that government heeds absolutely no one but large corporations and wealthy individuals.

    Because, you know. It’s not like those entities have enough clout yet.

  172. The government is a monopoly and essentially sets its own standards

    Which is exactly why you need public sector unions.

  173. Just FYI, the reason state bankruptcy is murky, at best–is that the States are sovereign but for the powers they seeded to the federal government. And while the States agreed that bankruptcy was a federal matter–for persons and corporations–they never addressed the fact they, themselves would go bankrupt.

    There is no law on the matter of states going under.

    I wish I were closer to WI than NY to show my support.

    Like any other power structure, unions can (and do) become corrupt–but at this point in our history union power isn’t anywhere near a problem.

    And do you know why WI state employees unionized in the first place? To avoid the patronage system of employment that Chicago had.

    And just why would the recession of labor rights stop at unionizing, on this push from the right/business? How doesn’t the right’s whole anti-regulation stance lead to rules that we now consider basic–like the 40 hour week and overtime to start.

  174. Spirit03 @201: And the best companies to work for treat their employees well because it’s good business for them to do so. Part of that good business is that if your employees perceive they are treated poorly, they may unionize in order to have more say in how they are treated.

    Union-busting is not new in 2011; it’s been going on for a very long time and in very ugly ways. Check out the recent history of the NRLB if you’re curious about how seriously the federal government has taken unfair labor practices (answer: not) lately.

  175. As I understand union history, its been more or less open season since “Saint Regan” broke the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981. So recent = at least 30 years.

  176. @Gregg 199 and Gregory 204

    Yes, I think a union has an unfair advantage when it represents government employees, because the government is a monopoly and does not have to worry about competition. The bottom line is a strong motivator for a private business to keep to certain market standards, which are more likely to reflect the actual value of the services rendered. The government, on the other hand, because of its monopoly power will just extract as much value as is politically feasible, which has ultimately nothing to do with what the services are worth.

    Not sure why you view this as an argument _for_ public sector unions. I think it matters that the government monopolist does not have to worry about whether its services can be produced and sold at competitive prices. This means that whoever is negotiating on behalf of the government is not adequately motivated to cut a good deal on behalf of the taxpayers.

    As for the comparison to corporations, I’d be surprised if any single corporation would ever have as much influence over the government of an entire state as that state’s public sector union. Corporations have to address a national (or global) market, so their influence is spread thin. Each Public sector union has one employer, which is essentially captive. So I don’t think a prohibition on collective bargaining by public employees necessarily leads logically to the conclusion that we also need to prohibit campaign donations by companies and/or unions.

  177. Yes, I think a union has an unfair advantage when it represents government employees, because the government is a monopoly and does not have to worry about competition.

    Sorry, but this makes absolutely no sense. You’re trying to put a check on governmental powers by acting on the object of said power. You’re comparing apples to oranges here. And you’re coming up with plum sauce.

  178. YuriPup @207: Yes, PATCO was kind of the breaking point. Whatever one thinks about air-traffic controllers having the right to strike, that marked open season on unions. And by open season, I mean “Employers, do whatever the hell you want; the NRLB doesn’t care if you break the law.”

  179. A case against public sector unions by Prof. Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA School of Law) can be found at:

    http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2011/02/the-case-against-public-sector-unionism.html#tp

    It includes a good quote by a noted union opponent about the dangers of unions striking in fields where government is the monopoly provider of an essential service (schools, police).

    “[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

    The union opponent?

    F.D.R.

  180. @gwangung 209

    Well I guess government power is being applied against two separate objects: employees and taxpayers.

  181. Andy, are you familiar with the concept of “not even wrong?” Your decription of the interaction of state governments, public employee’s unions, and corporations is so very unrelated to any empirical observations as to be not even wrong.

    First of all teachers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and corrections officers do not have other employers competing for their services: part of the government’s monopoly power is that its employees cannot look to other employers to sell their labor to.

    Secondly: the sad truth of public employment is that, unlike employment by an industry whose productivity is measured by the bottom line, success in government is measured by arbitrary and capricious voters whose will can be manipulated by the loudest liar (my state has producet two of the loudest, Glenn Beck and Tim Eyman), especially in off-presidential-year elections, when voter turn out plummets. Highly motivated political movements have much more power than public employee unions, both through the legislature and, in states with progressive era constitutions, through the initiative process.

    Finally, in some states at some times single large corporations or industries have more political power than any union. It varies with time and economic change, and is more likely in small states than large ones (although legislation unfavorable to the oil industry is hardly the hallmark of Texas politics) but any familiarity at all with the real history of American politics at the state level will produce a myriad of examples.

  182. Interestingly, every time I try to source that partial FDR quote all I get is an approving cite from a conservative web page. A pity, as the context would be useful to know.

  183. I’ve briefly looked through the above arguments and would like to add my opinion as a state employee in Ohio where we are about to lose our right to collective bargaining. First, I work for a publicly funded University that actually accepts less state funding than many “private” institutions where I am not part of a union. My wife works for a state agency that is approximately 99.5% self funded and is a part of a union. Neither of our salary or benefit packages is funded by general tax revenue. While I am not certain about this, I would suspect there are several employees in the state of Wisconsin who are in the same situation. Secondly, despite providing valuable public services while not causing a drag on the state debt we are in jeopardy of losing our rights to collectively bargain. This means that our respective employers will have the right to cut our pay back to whatever they want and strip our benefits and pensions to the bone. Third, as it stands we do not make nearly as much money as our counterparts in the private sector but continue to work in the public sector because we both care deeply about the welfare of our state and its citizens. In fact, we have agreed to benefit cuts, pay freezes and furloughs as a way of helping the budget problems in our state. In addition we have watched our deferred compensation investments and state pension funds wither as a result of being sold bad investments by our current governor and his ilk. If we are asked to endure much more of this we will both be headed back to the private sector (yes, I said back – I’ve experienced both sides of the coin). Finally, once skilled and intelligent – I know that sounds arrogant but tough – people such as my wife and I leave the state system the only people left will be either incompetent or apathetic. This will most likely result in a state system that is either unable or unwilling to look after the rights of its citizens, lacks the skilled personal to expertly run vital programs and promotes a corporate culture moving into the state that runs roughshod over the rules and regulations that attempt to keep our state clean and livable. This is the problem as I see it and I hope this adds something to the discussion.

    Also, if the the politicians are allowed to weasel out of contracts that they sign with their employees, how long will it be before they attempt to disregard their duties to the citizens at large?

  184. Zanzibar @215: Thank you!

    The FDR letter doesn’t say “public unions suck”; it cautions that strikes by public employees, and militant tactics, are detrimental to government and should not happen. Astonishingly (okay, not really), Bainbridge takes a partial quote verbatim from yet another public-union opponent to suggest not only that public-employee unions shouldn’t strike but that they should not exist at all.

  185. As an object lesson, several years back, our union conceded the right to strike and traded it for binding arbitration. During the late 90s, the union had several arguments with the state government over COLA and raises, at least a couple of which went to binding arbitration. Despite the arbitrator (who is supposed to be impartial, BTW) ruling in favor of the union’s requests, the state managed to drag out the raises for 2-3 years with appeals and delays before finally funding them.

    I also participated in one strike, which lasted 2 weeks. The gains we eventually got were offset by 2 weeks without pay. Anyone who thinks striking is fun has rocks in their head; it’s a last resort.

    All the folks who are buying into the OMGYOUFOLKSMAKESOMUCHMOREMONEYTHANTHEPRIVATESECTORYOU GREEDY&(*^^!! meme, what would you propose that wouldn’t gut the reasons unions came into being in the first place?

  186. (Spirit03@201 — they are representatives, they are sworn (or affirm) that they support and defend the State and Federal Constitutions, and to do their duty as elected. They’re not mere echos of popular poll results, they’re supposed to consider and think and then vote; otherwise, there’s no need for them, simple polls would suffice. That they so rarely seem to do so is part of the problem in this country; the primary interest on both sides seems to be in being re-elected, which is almost always not in the public’s long term (decades or centuries) best interest. This is off topic, and I’ll not continue unless Scalzi approves.)

  187. Spirit@201: When management consists of people who see employees as just another resource to be plundered (like the industrialists of coal and steel country 100 years ago)

    Uhm, yeah, see, if the best you can do for coming up with a justification for unions is to go back a century in time before you can find a good example of corporatists plundering resources, well, then, that just pretty much demonstrates you’re a lost case.

    Cause, you know, every employer around nowadays is fair and kind and generous and gosh darnint, good enough, and we don’t need those mean, nasty, overbearing unions anymore. Sure, maybe a century ago, but that was then.

    So, uhm, no. I don’t think so.

  188. Three things that are not currently making the news about the Wisconsin Budget Bill;

    1) There is language in the bill that would allow Medicaid to be dismantled by a small committee rather than through the legislature. With many state facing budget woes, this could set a precedent that would further limit access to Health Care across the nation.

    2) Unions historically donate large amounts of money to Democratic candidates, remove union money and corporate money to Republican candidates goes further.

    3) A recent poll in WI shows that the general population feels that Governor Walker has gone “too far” with the language in this Budget Bill. This poll would seem to indicate that the Republican State Senators are not acting with the mandate of their constituents.

  189. They have the right to bargain collectively for the rights of the workers who choose to be members

    Sure. And this means that they have the right to propose, as part of the negotiation, an exclusive provider contract; and they have a right to hold an employer to it, if the employer agrees to that contract.

  190. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate@211:

    I don’t think it’s fair to categorize FDR as being anti-union. I believe you’ll find that one of his closest associates was the head of the Teamsters Union (Dan Tobin).

    Roosevelt was a Democrat for crying out loud.

    Mythago@217:
    You are leaving out the reason Bainbridge thought that public employee unions should not exist at all is because it can create a conflict of interest. Public employees are voters too and therefore have a hand in electing their ‘bosses’. At some point, might they not seat persons biased in their handling of future collective bargaining negotiations? How is this good for the citizens?

    Greg@220:
    It’s not the best I can do but it is the best I’m going to do for you. Did you have a point?

  191. Spirit03 @223: To bolster his argument, Bainbridge offered a partial quote from an FDR letter and claims “leading labor and political figures long recognized that public sector unions were a bad idea”. The nicest spin I can put on that is that he liked DiSalvo’s comments enough to uncritically repeat them. Offering false facts to support an argument brings the validity one’s argument into question.

    As for the argument about a conflict of interest, why doesn’t that apply in the private sector, where employees can be shareholders of the corporation they work for?

  192. heck out the recent history of the NRLB

    Mythago, this isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but it really gets under my skin for some reason: It’s NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). “NRLB” is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  193. Spirit03:

    I think you could extend that logic to deny serving members of the military the vote, or denying the vote to public employees.

  194. Mythago@224:
    A private corporation is a closed system. If employees are shareholders, their wages and benefits negotiations directly affect the company’s bottom-line and its value to its shareholders. I don’t think you’re going to find a union in a company that is owned by the employees.

    However, Bainbridge went on to say:

    Private companies therefore are self-correcting.

  195. Actually Bainbridge said this: “With very few and very unique exceptions, no workplace in which the employees elect the supervisors functions well for long.”

    My HTML-fu lacks awesomeness.

  196. At the very least, this event will be a vivid recent image in people’s minds if there’s a federal government shutdown over the budget.

  197. The breaking news is that the Gov. is not going to release his 2011-2013 State Budget next Tues. as previously planned. He will still give a speech but not release his budget proposal.

    No why is that? Is his Budget proposal going to be as radical is as this legislation? Is he concerned that if this current issue isn’t wrapped up that the two combined just might open a few more eyes across the state and doom the current legislation?

    Hmmmmmm…

  198. Spirit: Did you have a point?

    Yes. That your motivation is idealogical union busting rather than based on any of the facts on the ground in Wisconsin.

    And you keep making that point for me by talking about coal miners in England and Margaret Thatcher and teh Soviet Union and Karl Marks and everything else that is completely far removed from the 2011 state budget for Wisconsin and the “crisis” that was caused by the Govorner’s tax breaks to corporate donors.

    All there really is to say is “keep up the great work”

  199. So the facts I learned from this thread (and vetted through other sources–newspapers etc)

    1. New WI gov came into office last month and convened a special session of the legislature to implement tax cuts/reductions ~$140M (cuts/reductions are targeted at groups/organizations that supported his campaign; may/may not be relevant. Could be that cuts/reductions are just really smart things to do and these groups benefit, or that this is a case of same political view of needed actions by the Gov/beneficiaries. Doesn’t HAVE to be payback).
    2. Said cuts/reductions took a balanced budget and placed it into a deficit situation, causing a “fiscal crisis”.
    3. To resolve above self-created crisis, Gov is now proposing to reduce personnel expenses enough to replace lost revenue.
    4. As part of reducing expenses Gov also includes in bill provisions that effectively permanently gut most public unions in the state (except for those unions that supported his campaign, strangely enough–they’re OK. I haven’t read anyone condemning unions explaining why those few are good while the rest are evil; still hunting for that bit of enlightenment).
    5. Rs hold majority in state legislature so bill would pass on up-or-down vote; Ds steal page from national R leadership that worked so well in DC to block the party with the legislative majority and take tactical steps to keep bill from coming to a vote.
    6. WI is a state with a long and storied industrial past, one with a history of unionism/union support. People show up by the tens of thousands to demonstrate against proposed legislation and support concept/existance of unions.

    Any facts I missed?

  200. FL Transplant,

    In regard to your #4: The fire and police unions were exempted according to Walker, because he did not want to risk a walk-out. The state fire and police associations backed his opponent. He received small amounts of funds from his local police union, but nothing from fire. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article

  201. Scorpius, you need a little fact checking.

    The net effect of the bill is to reduce compensation of all state workers by 7-8% in perpetuity regardless of how much of their compensation comes from state tax revenue.

    The bill also removes the right of faculty and academic staff to form unions. A right that was granted in 2009. Since that right was granted faculty on three campuses voted to form unions. Votes that will now be be invalidated. If you believe in the right of workers to form unions, how does that square with you?

  202. Mr Scalzi ….

    You talk about the election of Republicans in Wisconsin as if it was a random event. It wasn’t. The size of the public sector and compensation were central issues there as here in Ohio. This fact gives the advantage to Republicans when debating the legitimacy of their tactics, as opposed to the Democrats. The wisdom of those actions is a separate issue. Voters know which side favors unions and which doesn’t, Wisconsin included (perhaps especially so given their history).

    Also you seem to conflate public sector collective bargaining rights with private sector rights. Surely you are aware there are important differences?

    I am just a visitor to your blog, but I am surprised by your partisan treatment of this topic.

  203. Well, I’m in Florida and we (i.e., certain unspecified State employees) have NEVER had the opportunity to unionize (there are aspects of state employment that have been allowed to, but us legal beagles haven’t, probably because we are supposedly involved in public safety); we now have one of the most right-wing Governors in the US (who threw millions of his own money, first into the Republican primary, beating a not-too-moderate foe, then into the general election, beating a Democrat when only about 25% of the electorate bothered to vote and even then winning only by 1%, which he takes as a mandate) and an extremely right-wing Legislature, both intent to make government workers the blame for ALL EVIL in the world (if not in Florida). We’ve been told that our pitiful Pension System (which is one of the healthiest in the US) is going broke (with no evidence to support that contention) and is now wanting us to contribute 5% of our salary annually to it, when there have been no across-the-board raises for five years. We’ve also been told that our health insurance may be placed on a par with “the private sector”, forcing us to pay substantially more than has ever been previously required, along with increases in co-pays and prescriptions payments, since, as one of our Senators said the other day, “there is no free ride”.

    It’d be nice to have someone able to yell back across a table at our Governor and his Legislative lackeys and tell them that State employees are more than happy to sacrifice with everyone else in tough economic times as long as we’re not having to wear a scarlet letter on our suits everywhere we go, but we can’t even have that satisfaction.

    We’re moving back into the Robber Baron Era, where the business of America IS business and the public sector be damned, no matter how hard it works or how much it contributes back in payroll taxes, property, sales and income taxes.

  204. StevenJ:

    “You talk about the election of Republicans in Wisconsin as if it was a random event.”

    I have done no such thing. There is nothing in what I’ve written to suggest that the Republicans somehow got themselves elected under any other circumstances than winning their elections fair and square.

    “I am just a visitor to your blog, but I am surprised by your partisan treatment of this topic.”

    Why? How on earth can you possibly be surprised if you’re “just a visitor”? If you’re “just a visitor” then you have no actual basis by which to be surprised.

  205. Spirit03@223

    In characterizing FDR as anti-union I was being ironic. Irony takes up a lot of bandwidth, though, and does not always come through as intended.

    John@237

    My dog is surprised EVERY DAY that the magic dog dish can go out to the garage and come back _full_ of dog food.

  206. FL Transplant@232:
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson has appeared at the Wisconsin State Capitol demonstration today so everyone can go home now, the situation is under control. */sarcasm*

    From what little actual facts I can glean about the demonstrations, the protesters seem to be mostly (union) teachers, students unable to attend class due to ‘sick-outs’ by the teachers and persons against the ‘no collective bargaining’ provision of the proposed bill.

    One thing I’m not hearing is a big hue and cry from the People of Wisconsin about how their duly elected (Republican) Governor is mistreating the poor public employees. (Whose plight, is neither as dire as Democrats would have you believe nor as quite as rosy as Gov. Walker has painted it.)

  207. How on earth can I be surprised? I have read several of your books, and credited you with the wisdom and perspective to get outside the usual partisan points.

    Republicans have proposed a similar law in Ohio. Is that a sinister move? I don’t think so. They were not elected by random chance; there is a greater context. You might (tendentiously) say they probably think union busting is part of their mandate. Of course they do. Should they drop their ideas and propose a high speed rail project instead?

  208. Thus, like him, your solution to any problem you have with unions appears to be “break their backs.”

    Wow, John, I didn’t know you had invented the Amazing, Super-Duper mind-reading viking helmet…. Only that you didn’t. And that device-aided ability is just like your belief that I want to “break their backs”: pure and bad fiction. But consider the source…

    I support the right of workers to unionize, I just don’t support Big Union which says if you want to work then you have pay dues and join the union or you don’t work. And you have to let us inspect your ballot.

    But absolute right of individual workers to unionize is something I support for the private sector; something which (the whole “absolute” thing) you and Big Union obviously don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t support Card Check and would support the Right to Work. Forcing someone to exercise their right in the way you want robs it as its status of a right.

    Now as to public workers. Don’t you find it extremely troublesome that at the “bargaining” table one side is the union bosses and on the other side are the politicians Big Union has fund-raised for, campaigned for, and “got out the vote for”? Don’t you think it’s troublesome that the group footing the bill (the Taxpayer)isn’t at the table and is increasingly non-represented because public workers are allowed to collectively bargain and stick their noses collectively in the election process? Don’t you think it’s wrong (as the president of the AFL-CIO once did) that public workers strike against the public good? Don’t you find it frightening the idea that the people who have government-enforced monopolies in some areas (firefighters, police, etc) could hold you and your family’s safety hostage to “get a better deal”?

    If you don’t then you’re like most “progressives”: you believe that a government of the public workers unions, by the public workers Unions, and for the public workers unions shall not perish from this Earth.

  209. StevenJ,

    Don’t be surprised. You also shouldn’t be surprised that Keifer Sutherland isn’t someone right-of-center. Not being sarcastic or trying to belittle you. It’s just people like John and Keifer work in the arts. And the arts takes putting on another person’s personality, opinions, and ways of seeing the world.

  210. FL Transport@232, #4: Gov also includes in bill provisions that effectively permanently gut most public unions in the state (except for those unions that supported his campaign, strangely enough–they’re OK. I haven’t read anyone condemning unions explaining why those few are good while the rest are evil; still hunting for that bit of enlightenment).

    I too anxiously await satori.

    Spirit? Scorpius? Stand tall behind your convictions and publicly call for the governor to gut police and fire unions as well.

    Cause for us unenlightened folks this certainly looks like a political whack job to reward donations and punish opposition than any kind of principled, reality-based decision to deal with a budget “crisis”.

  211. Scorpius @241: If your workplace is unionized, you need only pay the union the cost of representing you; there is no obligation to pay dues that go towards the union’s political activities, say. This is true whether or not the union is Big.

    Spirit03 @227: Bainbridge’s argument is that we don’t want public-sector employees influencing their supervisors. That’s equally a problem in the private sector. I’m not really following your distinction; employees who are shareholders have every incentive to put in place officers who will serve their interests (wages, benefits, job security) rather than the pure profit motive of a non-employed shareholder.

    aphrael @225: It bugs me too, even when it’s me making the typo. Thanks.

  212. The reason why the public sector is overrepresented in unions these days is because our Corporate Overlords have shifted traditional union manufacturing jobs overseas.

  213. I am sympathetic to those forced to join unions who don’t want to, just to work somewhere.

    I am sympathetic to saving government money – which comes out of my pocket, as a private taxpayer.

    I am sympathetic to fixing schools, and I believe that teachers unions bear some responsibility for what’s wrong there (and before someone knee-jerk complains that this is naive, my mother was a teacher, several friends of mine are teachers, etc. They agree on this).

    That said – This is a particularly nasty and clumsy action by the new-Republicans, with whom I share little sympathy. The new-Republicans / tea partiers are doing things in the name of conservatism and fiscal responsibility that don’t resemble either of those, and are populist in the “… But I have a screaming mob with pitchforks and torches supporting me!” sense.

    I don’t pretend to understand Wisconsin’s particular dynamics (I have an aunt and cousin and his family there, but don’t visit or follow it much). But this is yet another reason why I no longer even vaguely want to be associated with the name “Republican” and why I keep wanting to form a new non-insane little-l libertarian (social as well as governmental) conservative party, though my wife threatens me every time I broach the subject at home, believing that touching the evil that is modern politics is simply unreasonable.

  214. mythago.
    “If your workplace is unionized, you need only pay the union the cost of representing you”

    Compulsory unionism is wrong. The clue is in the word “compulsory” or “need”. It violates my right to freedom of association and essentially is a form of cartel.

  215. Scorpius:

    “I didn’t know you had invented the Amazing, Super-Duper mind-reading viking helmet…”

    I don’t have to read your mind, Scorpius, I just have read your words. You appear to have a problem with the logical disconnect between the things you say you espouse, but I don’t have that same problem. And, again, if your solution to what you see as structural problems with the unions here is to legislate away their right to collectively bargain in any real sense, your blather about how you’re for the right of workers to unionize is complete nonsense.

  216. In Idaho, public University employees aren’t allowed to unionize. Well, the faculty at one (Idaho State University) just voted no-confidence at something like 72% in the University President. The State Board of Education’s response? Disband the Faculty-Senate.

    I’m not sure I approve of public-sector unions, but neither do I approve of this sort of behavior on behalf of elected and appointed public officials.

  217. DA Munroe @248: How does it violate your right to freedom of association? You are free to vote to decertify the union, or to be represented by a different union if you like.

    I may have a Congressional representative for whom I did not vote, yet Senator Smith represents me and votes on my behalf. Is that a cartel? Does that violate my freedom of association?

  218. Scorpius: Like how house republicans are overseeing the very companies they took money from in the midterm elections? Or is that different because they’re conservatives?

  219. Oh, there’s no “logical disconnect” to what I believe and what I espouse. I believe in a worker’s right to unionize, not unionize or form a union which is more focused on their needs (hence the Muslim Workers Union suggestion)*. I believe in this absolutely for the private workforce where each side is really looking out for their own interests.

    I am merely pointing out the problem in having public workers unionize and be very influential in picking their own bosses. Which results in both sides in the bargaining process looking out for the Union’s interests, and no one looking out for the taxpayers’ rights and interests.

    But as current polling shows your truly radical beliefs aren’t supported by the Wisconsin people. The thugs who dragged other people’s children to these protests (the teachers taking their clases) to be around astroturfing thugs from other states are being seen for the scum they truly are.

    * And no, I don’t believe if my workplace is unionized that I “owe” it to that union to pay dues. Inherent to the right to organize is the individual right to opt out. If I don’t want to pay dues then fine, I don’t get union protection and representation but I should be absolutely allowed to continue working in that workplace and not be harassed about opting out. I really don’t understand why people are so against this, this is absolutely a basic human right.

  220. “How does it violate your right to freedom of association?”

    Compulsory unionism is just the mirror image of banning unionism. In both cases, I don’t have any say on whether I want to participate in a union.

  221. Scorpius @253: Hm, where have we recently heard that “outside agitators” are causing all of the trouble…..

    DA Munroe @254: Again, how does that violate your Constitutional right to the freedom of association? If I am a Republican but (over my vote) my Senator is a Democrat, do I get to pick an extra Senator, because it violates my “freedom of association” to have a Senator belonging to a party which I oppose?

  222. “how does that violate your Constitutional right to the freedom of association”

    If you tell me I must associate with a union, then in what sense am I “free” to do so?

  223. you might respond “go get another job.” But that’s exactly the same rhetoric used by those who want to slash wages and reduce working conditions. Like I said, they’re mirror images.

  224. DA Munroe @257: If you’re going to fill in both sides of this conversation, I’ll leave you to it.

    Were you unable to answer my second question in @255?

  225. Scorpius @253

    “The thugs who dragged other people’s children to these protests (the teachers taking their clases) to be around astroturfing thugs from other states are being seen for the scum they truly are.”

    Thugs? Teachers? Maybe something less ridiculously exaggerated would be more helpful to your point. Unless ridiculous exaggeration is your point.

  226. Scorpius:

    “Oh, there’s no ‘logical disconnect’ to what I believe and what I espouse.”

    Oh, but there is, and it’s a big, fat, wide and obvious logical disconnect. I do recognize you choose not to acknowledge it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Your late attempt to make a distinction between public and private unions in order to mitigate that position is just another attempt to drag in an unrelated condition to draw attention away from the simple fact that you appear think it’s just fine for the government of Wisconsin to strip workers of their right to collectively bargain, which is to say, to engage in union-busting. The additional boiler-plate anti-union blather of your most recent comment is just a light frosting to your cake of complete horsepucky.

    Scorpius, basically, when you’re asking me or anyone else to believe you’re anything but anti-union, based on what you’ve written here, it’s like you’re trying to convince me that you’re a vegan when your mouth is full of the meat-lovers pizza you have clutched in your hand. You can say it all you like, and you may even convince yourself of it, but I’m not obliged to share your delusion, and I don’t.

  227. One of the things that doesn’t get said enough (and I thought it had been mentioned upthread but I can’t find it) is that one of the reasons Jane Working-Stiff gets all riled up about public employee compensation (pay scale, health benefits, snow day pay, whatever it is) is that while upper-tier private sector compensation outpaces what comparably skilled and educated public employees receive for similar work, at the bottom of the scale the public sector does better by its grunts on all fronts.

    Take two hypothetical call center workers – Jane Working-Stiff works for a private catalog-sales company making $8.00 an hour (time and a half over forty, when she can get it), no paid sick or vacation time, four paid holidays per year, and while she’s eligible for her employer’s group health plan it would cost $650 per month (when her weekly gross wages are around $320), so she’s opted out. Her cousin, Mary Working-Stiff, does comparable work in their state’s unemployment department call center. She gets union pay scale, which started at $11.75 (there’s been a pay freeze since she started, so she hasn’t actually gotten a raise, but in theory she could have one some day), employer-paid medical insurance valued at $650/mo, state holidays and paid sick/vacation time. Mary’s division’s not considered essential so she’s not allowed any overtime hours and due to the last budget cut they’re taking one day of unpaid furlough time a month.

    Mary’s gross annual wages are $24400 (including her holidays and any other paid time off she takes); the value of her medical insurance is $7800 making her gross compensation (before taxes) 32,200 annually.

    Jane’s gross annual wages (assuming no overtime) would be $16640 if she took no time off other than her four paid holidays. But she was out sick for a week, and took a couple of personal days, and hasn’t had enough overtime to make up the hours, so last year she only made $16,100.

    I don’t think Mary’s getting overcompensated in this scenario; but is Jane’s labor really only worth half as much?

  228. @Thena: No, but Jane also has a weaker bargaining position as she’s an individual against a corporation. Unions are important and when we vilify them to fetishize the free-market like the Tea Party has we end up shafting the private worker and then certain people wonder why union members don’t get shafted as well.

  229. Isn’t it interesting how the fringiest, most partisan posters (hi Scorpius!) are so quick to accuse others of hyperbolic partisanship? One supposes said posters even think of themselves as moderates.

    DA Munroe: we could also respond “move to another congressional district”, one whose leadership you approve of more.

  230. Thena: what comparably skilled and educated public employees receive for similar work, at the bottom of the scale the public sector does better by its grunts on all fronts.

    So, the people causing all the resentment towards the total unfairness and overexerting power of state employee unions are the poeple earning just above minimum wage who would be makng just-at minimimum wage at an equivalent private sector job?

    I guess the first question would be, is this pay difference backed up by some sort of (nonpartisan please) statistics?

    ANd if true, I am still a bit flummoxed by the idea that proof of the more-power-than-they-deserve state employee unions are poeple getting min-wage-plus-one where they should be getting min-wage.

    I mean, seriously?

    The only thing I could possibly see to explain that would go back to where I said tihs whole thing is driven by some people’s totally irrational fear taht someone, somewhere might be getting something they don’t deserve, so burn the whole thing down.

  231. @264,

    Reagon once remarked “We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one.” Perhaps this recent action against unions is of similar thought?

    Andrew

  232. This is a reply to #89, way back when, but when the owner of the site responds, it feels rude not to write back…

    There’s a huge difference between using the rules of the Senate to filibuster legislation and fleeing the state whose citizens you represent to avoid participating in a vote you know you’re going to lose.

    On the most simplistic level, they accomplish the same thing. The difference is that in the former, legislators are doing the job they were elected to do, using the rules of the body to which they were elected (how well they’re doing that job is a different discussion), and in the end, when there were no rules left to use in their own advantage, they voted and accepted defeat, vowing to fight another day. In the later, the legislators don’t like the rules of the body to which they were elected so they’re fleeing their responsibilities to avoid a vote they know they’re going to lose. Our representative government won’t last much longer if elected representatives are only willing to vote on issues where they know they’re in the majority.

  233. Sean H wrote:

    Wile E. Quixote@164:
    Well, Mr. High & Mighty, you will likely be shocked to learn I served in the US Air Force for 20 years saving your pompous ass from having to learn Russian. I was blessed to spend some quality time with some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in such lovely places as Panama, Africa, the Middle East and Korea. While Air Force Special Operations doesn’t have quite the cachet as our more grounded brothers in arms (the SEALs, Rangers, Airborne and Force Recon) we did have our share of hard work on occasion. Just dodging Iraqi Scuds in full chemical protection gear for a week is likely more work than you have ever done in your entire life. Try building 20 foot high revetments for a dozen or so transport aircraft by hand. Try living on MREs (the original kind) twice a day for 4 months.

    Oh dude, you so missed out. I mean this paragraph would have been perfect if you had ended it by writing “You want the truth! You can’t handle the truth!” That was so cool when Jack Nicholson did that in A Few Good Men. I’m sure that there are people who would be really impressed with your 20 years of service in the Air Force. I’m not one of them. I grew up in a navy town and joined the Army when I was 17 and spent 13 years in the National Guard as an M60 and M-1 tanker. Army basic training was easy, too easy, the worst thing about it was that you didn’t get enough sleep, but as easy as it was it’s still a lot harder than Air Force basic training. So no, I’m not shocked that you served in the Air Force for twenty years because pretty much every Air Force guy I’ve ever known who served in the Air Force but wasn’t a pilot was incredibly arrogant and had a massive chip on his shoulder.

    Your claim that “you kept me from having to learn Russian” is every bit as ridiculous as my claiming that thanks to my valiant efforts the United States was spared invasion by the bloody red hordes of Godless communism. I’m also unimpressed by the fact that you were with AFSOC. Big deal. When it comes to tough duty and training the average Army or Marine leg infantryman has you beat hands down, when it comes to smarts and knowledge you don’t even come close to navy Nukes and despite the “special” in your name you don’t have that much in common with the real special forces such as the Rangers, the SEALS, the Green Berets, Navy EOD divers or Marine Force Recon.

    I’m also unimpressed with the fact that you dug aircraft revetments by hand. What, don’t you Air Force guys know about bulldozers and backhoes? I have friends who were in the Corps of Engineers and the SeaBees and they would have used heavy equipment and knocked that job out in about two days. Do they not trust you with heavy equipment in the Air Force? I mean I can see why, what with you guys losing track of nuclear weapons and sending weapons triggers to Taiwan but I’m sure that if you had asked nicely that you could have gotten an Army engineering unit to come over and do some bulldozing for you. And your claim that you dodged scuds while wearing MOPP gear, drama queen much? I’m sure that you think that having to wear MOPP gear for seven whole days is some sort of superhuman feat of endurance, but you might be surprised to learn that MOPP 2 is SOP for most Army units when they’re training out in the field. We loved that stuff in the winter, because when you’re sitting in a tank with a broken heater out in Yakima in February or March it gets really cold, really fast, all that metal just sucks the heat right out of you, but hated it in the summer, because when you’re sitting in a metal box in Yakima in July it gets real hot, real fast, especially when they start using CS and you have to go to MOPP-4. As bad as that was I felt that I had it pretty easy compared to the infantry guys we trained with, who were humping their gear up and down hills and digging foxholes while wearing that stuff. The fact that you spent seven whole days in it leaves me unimpressed and “dodging scuds”. Please, do you realize how silly it sounds when you say that? Yeah, 28 Americans were killed when that one barracks got taken out by a Scud, but 35 Americans died in friendly fire accidents. Dodging Scuds, yeah right, those things are so inaccurate that you’re almost in as much danger when they’re not aimed directly at you as when they are.

    Oh, and you had to eat MREs for four months. You poor, poor thing. I’d love to see you say this to someone who went through Ranger school. Have you ever seen someone who just graduated from Ranger School? I have. A friend of mine from college got a Ranger school slot as an alternative to going through Army ROTC advanced camp, which is a seriously big deal. He was a body-builder and runner who easily maxed every APRT he ever took and who had breezed through Airborne school the previous summer. I saw him the week he got back from Ranger school and he looked like a cancer victim and told me that if Ranger school had been one week longer that he wouldn’t have made it. I’d always respected Rangers and knew that they were tough, but seeing my friend after he graduated showed me how tough they really were. He would have loved to have had two MREs a day. Heck, MRE’s weren’t that bad. OK, the omelette with ham and eggs (abortion in a bag) was disgusting but the rest of the entrees were pretty decent, if somewhat monotonous, and whoever came up with the idea of putting a bottle of Tabasco in every MRE deserves a place in Heaven right next to Jesus. My favorite entrees were the the chicken ala king, which tasted pretty good if you mashed up some crackers and dumped the entire bottle of Tabasco into it and the dehydrated pork patty, which was like a big potato chip made out of pork and tasted better dry than it did rehydrated. Other than monotony the biggest problem with eating MREs for a long time was constipation. One year the loader on my tank went nuts and ate nothing but pork patties for a week, any MRE he got he’d trade for the pork patty and just gobble those things down dry. Not only was he eating dehydrated food but he wasn’t drinking enough water and it was over 90 degrees every day, so he was sweating a lot. So after about seven days he had to go on sick call because he was so constipated that he was in severe pain and could barely walk. The medics at the hospital had to do a lot of work involving an enema nozzle and what is euphemistically referred to as “digital manipulation” (and which has nothing to do with computers) to remove a massive, dehydrated pork patty stool from his colon. When he got back to the unit our CO welcomed him back and in front of the company informed him that there were easier ways to go on sick call and then handed him a box of Ex-Lax. From the way you go on though it appears that you think that having to eat two MREs a day for four months is like undergoing the Bataan death march. Dude, it ain’t that bad.

    Do you know what you remind me of? When I was in college there was a guy who lived in my dorm who was in an Air Force reserve air transport unit. Brad’s job was to load and unload aircraft. One year me and him and an acquaintance of mine who was in a Marine Corps Reserve unit our annual training experiences. I went over to Yakima in April and spent two weeks living on an M60 tank. Eric went over to Yakima in July and spent two weeks out in the field doing Marine infantry training and Brad, the Air Force guy spent two weeks in Alaska loading and unloading planes at Elmendorf and was, livid, absolutely livid about the fact that they made his unit stay in the barracks on base instead of getting them hotel rooms like they had the year before and that they only got one day off on their middle weekend. He was even more livid when Eric and I started laughing at him because he thought that having to sleep in a barracks was a real hardship.

    If I could do it all over again I’d still join the Army, except I’d go active duty because I was a terrible student my first few years of college and in fact didn’t learn to study until I was about 30, or maybe join the Marine Corps, just to see if I could make it, or maybe join the Navy and try to get into nuke school but I sure wouldn’t join the Air Force, and reading your post only reinforces that (hypothetical) decision.

  234. mythago @258

    If I am a Republican but (over my vote) my Senator is a Democrat, do I get to pick an extra Senator, because it violates my “freedom of association” to have a Senator belonging to a party which I oppose?

    This isn’t the same thing at all.
    In the case of unionism, you’re saying it’s okay to force people to join a particular organization, just because that organization has demanded it. There’s no justification for that at all, and I note that you haven’t attempted one. In the case of electing officials, you follow the standard procedure of elections, which may result in your choice of representative not getting in. I fail to see the parallel.

    Again, lest I be accused of being a union hater, I support people’s right to join unions and have unions represent them, and have been a union member myself.

  235. DA @268: But I’m still having a member of the opposite party speak for me and act on my behalf in Congress. As for elections – as you know from being a union member, unions have elections too; the person who doesn’t want to join a union is free to vote against unionization, or to be represented by a different union. How is that different from my getting stuck with the evil Senator Smith?

    (As a lawyer, in my state I must be a member of my state’s bar association, whether I like it or not, or I cannot practice. Is that a violation of my First Amendment rights?)

    More to the point, what is the specific “freedom of association” you mean, and how does requiring union membership violate that right, given that a) membership may be limited to that necessary for representation and b) unions may be instituted, changed and removed by election?

    Thena @261: In other words, we’re comparing non-union private-sector workers to unionized public-sector workers. I suspect Jane’s salary, benefits and working conditions would be a lot closer to Mary’s if she were a union member.

  236. This is all such bullshit. If the union workers really think they are getting screwed, they should quit and join the private sector employees to see what a real fucking feels like.

    Out here in the free market economy, employees are paid based on their value to the business enterprise that they’re part of. The more valuable you are, the more you are paid. That’s why a lefty pitcher with a 2.54 era gets $20 million a year, and a utility infielder gets $2 million a year.

    On a more pedestrian scale, Let’s say I run a golf course. I pay $38,000/year to a guy who can fix anything, drive anything, work the sales counter, run a tournament, repair the pool pump, mow the greens and generally just do everything that I might need done. And I pay the guy who pulls out, cleans, and parks the golf carts $ 8.5/hr.

    They are both completely happy with their jobs. Employee turnover on a 22 man payroll is maybe two employees per year, the majority have been there for over five years.

    These guys get no health care and no pensions, and they are happy to have their jobs.

    Revenue for the course is down 20% because of the economy and inflation. People are working longer hours, paying more for food and gas, and not playing golf, because they have very little disposable income.

    But every time they pay their property taxes, which they pay whether they rent or own, at about a 2.5% rate, they are paying for the salaries, health benefits and pensions of all the public sector employees.

    Most of them never even thought about the public employees pay and benefits, until the economy went south and people started pointing out how badly the taxpayers were getting screwed by the politicians who gave these great contracts to the public unions in return for votes.

    Now my employees look at the teachers, and the average one in Milwaukee makes $46,000 in salary and $43,000 in health care and pension. Yes, $43,000 in health care and pension!

    And the guy paying for all of this is working his ass off for $36,000 with no health care and no pension.

    The unions can bus protesters in from across the country, and it won’t make any difference. The inequity of the situation, combined with the budget shortfalls will force the issue.

  237. More to the point, what is the specific “freedom of association” you mean, and how does requiring union membership violate that right, given that a) membership may be limited to that necessary for representation and b) unions may be instituted, changed and removed by election?

    mythago, rather than get tangled up in legal arguments about freedom of association, I’ll briefly mention that it was in the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to peaceable assembly and nobody may be compelled to join an organization. I’m not sure what the US constitutional position is (not being an American citizen) but I take this particular right seriously.

    Your basic point is that “Just like unions, politicians also represent me, and I don’t get much of a say in that either… so what’s the difference?”
    The difference is that elected officials are part of the functioning of government. Unions are not part of government, and therefore we shouldn’t let them insist on representing people against their will.

  238. Thena @261: In other words, we’re comparing non-union private-sector workers to unionized public-sector workers. I suspect Jane’s salary, benefits and working conditions would be a lot closer to Mary’s if she were a union member.

    One parting note on your comment: The difference between Mary and Jane’s situation is that Jane’s private sector company has to raise monies to pay her salary and provide her benefits by selling a product or service to paying customers. They do not have the power to seize monies from there customers just by saying “Hand over the cash or we’ll seize your property and throw you in prison!” If the business Jane works for is poorly managed and/or poor sales, it goes out of business and Jane loses her job. What we have in Wisconsin is a harsh reality. The era of unionized public sector workers with their platinum benefits and pension packages is coming to an end. The taxpayers are sick of paying for it and getting crap in return. Why are the employees (public sector workers) making more than the employers (the private sector taxpayers)? It is an absurdity to say the least.

  239. Billy @271: you lost me. If those private-sector employees are being paid directly according to their value, then how are they getting fucked? If they’re valuable, then they would be getting paid lots of money and receiving great benefits. If the guy making $36K with no health care and no pension (what, he’s not allowed to put money into an IRA?) is unhappy with his situation, well, by your lights that’s his own darn fault, innit? If he were more valuable to his employer he could command a higher salary and better benefits. What you seem to be saying is that people who don’t deserve better jobs are jealous and resentful that somebody else is making more money than they do.

    You might also consider that there is a difference between a worker who is happy to have their job, and a worker who is completely happy with their job. The former is somebody who thinks even a crappy job beats starving and that many people are unemployed; the latter is someone who enjoys their work and believes they are fairly compensated.

  240. John,

    My post was not incoherent and you know it. Your bias is showing. I know that you are God on this board and I accept that. I met you at Kansas City ConQuest a couple of years ago and we got on quite well. I am not being a Troll as like to say. I was expressing my frustration at the constant contradictions that exist in the Liberal mindset…which appears in this blog all to frequently.

    Best,
    Rich (BigGuido)

  241. DA @272: No, that’s not my point; in fact it’s the opposite of my point, and if you’d prefer to hold up both ends of the conversation, please let me know and I’ll stop interrupting you.

    I do get a say in both my elected representative and in whether my workplace will have a union (and if so, which one). My opinion on that matter might be overruled by others. I don’t therefore get to say “Fine, I’m seceding from the 23rd District because it’s not fair to make me a member of a Democratic political district”. I also don’t get to say, in my state, that I disagree with what my state bar does so I choose not to be a member, oh and by the way I’d like to practice law here please.

    I take the UN Declaration of Human Rights quite seriously too (see, e.g., Article 23). But I’ve asked you what about requiring membership in an elected union – to the limited degree of being represented in collective bargaining, being protected by a collective-bargaining agreement, and owing dues to that union to the degree necessary to achieve those things – violates the freedom of association. You’ve told me, in essence, that you don’t care to explain how this happens because it would be ‘tangled up’ in legal arguments, but it just does. Am I misunderstanding something?

  242. Major League Baseball Players Association is the name of the union getting millions for some of the players.

    Wile — you should have joined the Corps. Boot camp isn’t impossible, but it is as hard as is possible, to teach you that you can do things you thought were impossible. Semper Fi!

  243. Mythago, The private sector employees are getting paid directly according to their value, but they are being OVER TAXED in order to pay for the public sector employees inflated value as determined by contracts negotiated by politicians who needed their votes.

    The private sector guy isn’t getting fucked by his employer, who is paying the most he can to get good employees and still stay in business. The private sector employee is getting fucked when his taxes are inflated to pay too much for a public sector employee’s golden benefits package.

  244. BigGuido:

    Actually, I know it was all the things you maintain it was not, namely, a big messy lump of incoherent trollage, which is why it got zapped. You are free to disagree, but as you correctly note, this is my site, and I get to make that judgement call, not you. Whether we got along when we met a couple of years ago was immaterial, as is whether you want to vent your frustration at the liberal mindset. I’m sure we did and I’m sure you’d like to, but that doesn’t mean you get to make a mess on my site.

    If you want your post to stick here, post something that’s relevant to the actual conversation, and not just a fat sloppy venting post about how awful those damn liberals are. Otherwise, it’s going to get the Mallet. My bias is toward people who are engaged and on topic, even if I disagree with their points, which is why — for example — Scorpius has not been moderated while you have.

  245. @263, @279

    Yes, precisely the point I’d like to make is that for large classes of work (notably clerical and manual labor; also to some extent retail and health care) the jobs in the public sector are likely to be union (and accordingly compensated) and the jobs in the private sector are overwhelmingly not union (and also accordingly compensated.) One can argue that it’s those poor minimum-wage-earning bastards’ own fault for not unionizing, but in an economic situation where there are two-to-six applicants for any opening, and a political climate where the radical notion that workers are human beings and deserving as such of basic human dignities including fair compensation for their labor….

    (What’s fair compensation for labor? I’d argue that fair compensation for a full time worker is AT LEAST sufficient to provide that worker adequate housing, sustenance, medical care, and other immediate necessities such as transportation, with enough left over for both savings and discretionary spending. Discretionary spending comes last, people, but it’s what makes the economy go round. If people don’t have money they can’t spend it. And if a worker’s compensation isn’t sufficient to cover the first part of that, then it’s not covering the real cost of that labor, causing Someone Else, like public assistance, to pick up the tab.) [Actually, full-time compensation should be enough to support that worker and at least one dependent - a stay-home spouse, a minor child, an elderly parent, whatever. Because not everybody can work full time, and a lot of the labor that goes into being alive doesn't get compensated by wages, but still needs to be supported. The breadwinner-homemaker model is kind of dated, but that's in part because stagnant wages require more labor-hours to keep up with costs of living...]

    I’m going to bed and I’m going to be scarce this weekend. I invite anyone who cares about my economic leanings to go (re)read the “Being Poor” essays which our host hasused to have linked from the side bar (but can be easily found through the search doohickey. Oh, here’s the damn link.) I am firmly of the conviction that nobody who puts in a full day’s work every goddamn day should have to go home and be poor. Or anywhere near it.

  246. John,
    Well perhaps there was some trollage…well actually there was some pretty inflammatory stuff, and I respect your wanting to keep things on topic. I apologize for my outburst and will do better in the future to contain my frustration. So far as our getting along well at the con, it may be immaterial, but I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed the time we spent talking after your panel discussion regarding the future of fanzines.

    Are we good?
    Best,
    Rich

  247. BigGuido:

    I accept the apology, of course, and look forward to future comments from you. Thank you.

    If I may make a suggestion, it would be to check out the site disclaimer and comment policy, which will explain a lot of things about how I run the comment threads here.

    And I’m glad you enjoyed our discussion! I had a wonderful time at ConQuesT, I have to say.

  248. Thena,
    Enjoy your rest, it sounds like you worked your butt off today! I will make a point of reading the essays you linked to. I can identify with being poor as I was there for a couple of years. It is not a good place to be at all. I was able to get myself out of it though. It was the most disheartening situation I have experienced in my life and makes it really easy to slip into the “victim mentality.”

  249. Billy Quiets @217:

    Your analogy is not only weak, it is completely unrealistic. Few golf courses have one guy to do all the things you want yours to do, especially not for the salary you are offering. In the real world there are any number of jobs. Caddies, golf pros, turf manager, tournament director, pro shop sales consultant, course superintendent, etc.. They are distinct jobs. Jobs that pay pretty well, actually. According to the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America – OMG! They have a *gasp* union! – the median salary for a golf course superintendent is $62,090 for a municipal, or ‘public sector’ golf course; the guys who work on the private ones – $87,000. (http://www.gcsaa.org/jobs/compensation/trends.aspx). Median – not average.

    My folks were public school teachers. Mom, for as long as I can remember taught reading, language arts and journalism in middle school grades, Dad ‘retired’ into teaching when I had just started high school. I recall it well because they took a huge pay cut that year. He taught civics, history and English to high school students for close to twenty years; Mom taught for 40+ years, ending up with double digit seniority in one of the larger school districts in the nation. Both have multiple advanced degrees, both could have – and did – make much higher salaries in the private sector, yet they had some silly notion that teaching is an important and honorable profession. So your comparison to your mythical golf course super worker? Rather insulting. But I am pretty sure you meant it to be that way.

  250. Billy @278: So…the problem is that the private-sector employees are paying a humungous tax burden entirely due to the increase in salaries and benefits created by public employees’ unionization – and specifically in the case of Wisconsin, the salaries and benefits paid to teachers? (Since as we all know, the road to riches is a public-school teaching position.)

    The private-sector employer, if he wishes to stay in business, is not paying “the most he can”; he’s paying the least he can get away with and still attract employees, and he has every interest in union-busting; even if his workers don’t themselves unionize.

    Thena @280: I hope I didn’t come across as saying that Jane Working-Stiff needs to unionize or STFU. For starters, she’s risking her job by doing so, given that it’s cheaper for her employer to fire her than to risk her efforts at joining a union bearing fruit; it’s way cheaper to violate the NLRA and risk a wrist-slapping in a few years than to deal with a union. What I am saying is that Ms. Working-Stiff’s resentment of those goddamn public-sector workers is a symptom of the old divide-and-conquer. Instead of asking why public employees are so special, she should be wondering why she’s not – and why the law designed to protect her right to organize, pretty much don’t.

  251. if you’d prefer to hold up both ends of the conversation, please let me know and I’ll stop interrupting you.

    It was funny the first time, mythago. Summarizing what I think is your position doesn’t count as “holding up both ends of the conversation.” It counts as trying to understand your position.

    I’ve asked you what about requiring membership in an elected union – to the limited degree of being represented in collective bargaining, being protected by a collective-bargaining agreement, and owing dues to that union to the degree necessary to achieve those things – violates the freedom of association

    Because when I have no choice about whether I get to join a union, I have no “freedom” to choose whether to “associate” myself with it.

  252. Because when I have no choice about whether I get to join a union, I have no “freedom” to choose whether to “associate” myself with it.

    You have no freedom to choose whether to be an American citizen, if you’re born in the U.S. You have no “freedom” to choose whether to “associate” yourself with it.

  253. You have no freedom to choose whether to be an American citizen, if you’re born in the U.S. You have no “freedom” to choose whether to “associate” yourself with it.

    Yes, you’re right. (Oh sure you can renounce citizenry but it is costly and difficult). But again, unions aren’t the state. Non-state entities shouldn’t be allowed to conscript members from the general population.

    So to take your position to the next logical step, because you can’t help being a citizen, we might as well let any group of people force everyone to join their group? Hey, I’ve noticed that Rotary International does a lot of great work. Maybe when you move into a new neighbourhood, the local Rotary if they exist should force you to join. Maybe every local NGO, club and charity should force you to join, for a small fee.

  254. Non-state entities shouldn’t be allowed to conscript members from the general population.

    See, now you’re just being willfully obtuse.

    Unions do not, and cannot, conscript anyone. Participation in them is entirely voluntary. No one is made to work in any field or for any employer.

    Every field and every job has certain requirements that must be met in order to participate in them – dress codes, professional organizations, certification and licensing requirements and so on and so forth. These are also completely voluntary.

  255. @ DA Munroe and Mythago

    I’m trying to track your discussion about freedom of association and unions, but my brain isn’t parsing it. Maybe cause I read every comment on this thread. What I am confused about – “Compulsory” unions. Isn’t that impossible in America? If you don’t like a job that requires you to join a union, you can choose to not take the job. This is different from a situation where you would be a “compulsory” member of a political party, and where you could be jailed by the government. I believe that was part of the motivation to protect freedom of association in America. You can choose to take, or not take, membership with any political party in America. Just as you can choose to take, or not take, any job that requires you to join a union. None of these choices will result in the government taking legal action against you, right?

  256. Billy This is all such bullshit. If the union workers really think they are getting screwed, they should quit and join the private sector employees to see what a real fucking feels like.

    This is the standard “Love it or leave it” trope. It is commonly expressed by people who don’t like complexity and prefer simple, almost mechanical solutions to problems. i.e. everything get binned into eat it, fuck it, or kill it. If it doesn’t fit into one of those bins, it should leave.

    You know what? You wanna talk about the real world, you’re going to have to accept that its a lot more complicated than “Bossman says jump, employee jumps”. You don’t get to hire only men. You don’t get to have whites only customers. You don’t get to demand that employees sign some completely insane contract to work for you. You have to deal with legal requirements for benefits, and unemployment. You have to operate within the legal restrictions of a corporation with shares of stock.

    And you sure as hell don’t get to say “I shouldn’t have to do any of this, if you don’t like what I do as bossman, go work somewhere else”.

    What I am starting to notice is that a lot of people who say stuff like that? Aren’t actually running a company. They just want the world to fit their simplistic mechanical view.

  257. But again, unions aren’t the state. Non-state entities shouldn’t be allowed to conscript members from the general population

    You’ll have to explain that to every major sport in America.

    Hey, I’ve noticed that Rotary International does a lot of great work. Maybe when you move into a new neighbourhood, the local Rotary if they exist should force you to join

    My homeowner’s association would like to talk to you.

  258. Anyone interested in why unions pretty much have to operate the way they do should look into the history of union busting by management. Unions evolved to have public ballots, and to create union only shops in response to companies who’d bring in union busters before they had these things. Without those tools, we’d have no unions worth the name.

    The Democratic party in the USA isn’t particularly great for unions, but the GOP is, and has been for ages, openly hostile to unions and the labor movement. The people pulling the strings – Chamber of commerce, Koch brothers, Donald Trump, etc. are all trying to kill the labor movement in the USA, because they stand to make more money by cutting benefits, keeping wages flat, abolishing regulations on labor that favor the worker, and so on.

    Walker has consistently rejected offers of negotiating on pensions, health care, or any other aspect of labor brought to him by the unions. He is specifically targeting collective bargaining because he wants to kill the unions.

    Earlier Friday, Marty Beil, head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said his members would agree to pay more of their pension contributions and health insurance benefits as Walker is demanding. But Beil said his union would never agree to give up decades-old bargaining rights.

    Beil’s union is part of AFSCME, the largest state and local employee union in Wisconsin, which represents 68,000 workers for the state, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and other municipalities. An AFSCME spokesman said Beil was speaking for all the group’s union locals in the state.

    “We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state’s budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union . . .  we will not – I repeat we will not – be denied our rights to collectively bargain,” Beil said in a statement.

    Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, said her group also would make the financial concessions to keep its bargaining rights.

    “This is not about money,” Bell said in a phone conference. “We understand the need to sacrifice.”
    No compromise seen

    Walker flatly rejected the offer.

    – Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

    This is the standard Republican tactic of going for the nuclear option before considering anything else.

  259. Whoops, my bad, my HTML is not what it should be.

    Josh Jasper wrote: This is the standard Republican tactic of going for the nuclear option before considering anything else.

    Josh,
    I think you are over generalizing here. There were numerous times during the 12 years of Republican control of Congress where the GOP could have resorted to using the “Nuclear Option” to break democratic filibusters and did not – despite outcry from their base to do just that. The continuous blocking of Bush judicial appointments comes to mind here.

    I believe that if you look into it, you will find that Republicans have a much better track record of being pragmatic and reaching across the aisle than the Democrats do.

    Compromise is a necessity if we are going to have a civil society. Unfortunately, things have deteriorated to such a state, that compromise has become less and less of an option. In many ways, I believe this has been orchestrated by radical elements (lookout, here come the black helicopters) perhaps unintentionally to some degree, but in many cases, deliberately – just read Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. Alinsky’s whole game plan for bringing about social change revolves around eroding the existing civil society by 1. undermining its economic base and 2. play factions and societal/economic groups against each other until each side views the other as “the villian” which cannot be compromised with.

  260. I think you are over generalizing here. There were numerous times during the 12 years of Republican control of Congress where the GOP could have resorted to using the “Nuclear Option” to break democratic filibusters and did not – despite outcry from their base to do just that. The continuous blocking of Bush judicial appointments comes to mind here.

    That’s because that particular nuclear option was known to have a backfire effect if they ever got out of power. They already hate Unions, and it’s not likely to ever change because they represent more corporations than the Democrats do. Which isn’t to say that the Democrats are not somewhat corporate friendly, but they also have union ties. The GOP does not, so anyone they’re not likely to get into the fold is fair game. During Bush, the National Labor Relations Board was a joke if you were on the labor side. When Obama took power, Republicans tried to literally delete it from the government.

    Where’s the negotiation there?

    I believe that if you look into it, you will find that Republicans have a much better track record of being pragmatic and reaching across the aisle than the Democrats do.

    That’s sort of hard to prove because it’s subjective what counts as “reaching across”. But I will note that when the GOP is in charge, they not only push for their agenda, but they punish the people voting for the democrats. But let’s take the *specific* instance we’re talking about here. Who did Walker reach across to? What negotiations were tried? There were none. You can argue I’m overgeneralizing about Republicans, but not about Walker.

    This particular post is about labor in WI, and the GOP has been viciously hostile to unions since before Reagan. You cite Saul Alinsky, because he’s been cast by the right wing as some sort of evil boogeyman. But he developed his hard nosed tactics in response to hard nosed tactics from anti-labor movements. Look up the Mohawk Valley Formula. It’s close to what the GOP is doing in WI. Walker is acting radically. Would you expect anything other than a radical response?

  261. I believe that if you look into it, you will find that Republicans have a much better track record of being pragmatic and reaching across the aisle than the Democrats do.

    You can believe that all you like, but the facts are simply not on your side. For starters, try a bit of light googling to compare how many of Bush’s nominees and appointments were blocked in the first two years of his presidency, versus how many of Obama’s have been.

    Also, 1) “Rules for Radicals” is forty years old, and 2) the Tea Party organizations have been all up into that lately.

  262. The main reason Alinsky gets traction as a liberal boogeyman is Glenn Beck.

    The fact is, Alinsky politics are way closer to Nader’s than Obama’s. The Koch brothers, on the other hand, are alive and well, and funding fake “citizens groups” designed to lobby for big business. They funded Walker’s victory. They’re deeply involved in the modern union crushing movement. This isn’t a Glenn Beck style cobweb conspiracy, it’s direct, public, and obvious.

  263. Greg @ 293
    Bossman, heh.
    Just love the turn-of-the-century agitation language, with all its frenzied angst; very Bill Haywood. Bravo, Greg, bravo!

  264. If the Republicans are so awful, how did so many of them get elected in Wisconsin? I don’t know the percentage of voter turnout there, but it seems that the majority of those who did vote, voted to toss out Democrats and elect Republicans.

    What brought that about, policy, ideology, conspiracy?

    As for the Real Clear Politics website, the article I linked was from the Denver Post via RCP. RCP aggregates from Mother Jones and the Nation as well as the National Review, so I don’t see the irony.

  265. In re 267,Eric went over to Yakima in July There’s a joke I first heard one July in Yakima. The punch line is “I was dead, and in Hell, but I came back for my overcoat.”

    In any case, about just-above-minimum wage employment and public vs private compensation:

    There has been structural unemployment at the entry level for more than a decade. My offspring are both in their early twenties, both with recent BAs, and both working in those non-unionized barely above minimum wage private sector jobs. In early 2008, my son’s employer was trying to hire at minimum wage and finding no takers; the company my daughter works for had a very small local operation and had trouble keeping those positions filled. Now his employer has ten applicants for every (rare) opening; hers has hired more people in the county than any other employer.

    It’s the latter company which is of interest to me; it’s a large call-center operation, owned by a famous, important, long-lived tech company. The business model seems to be to hire as many people as possible, work them to the point where they get disgusted and quit, and exploit the flexibility of communications tech to do business in places with the most empty commercial space and the highest unemployment. I suspect that people of my kid’s generation will reminisce about working for this company the way male boomers talk about being drafted.

    There may be people working at the “call center” level of skills at the State of Washington these days, but few to none of them were hired in the past two years. There aren’t many outgoing phone calls being made to people on unemployment that aren’t robocalls; incoming calls go through the worst kind of voice mail hell. Most tax forms and permit applications are filed online, and the paper ones are bar-code reader sorted. Car tabs, boat licenses, and fishing and hunting licenses are sold by private agencies or county offices through a computer system managed by the state Department of Licensing. Janitorial services are contracted out to the private sector except in the core of the State Capitol Campus. There’s been so many hiring freezes and cutbacks that what’s left is a core of educated, experienced people who stick with the job because they don’t want to start over in their late forties and fifties, or, in a very non-objectivist way, really believe that the jobs they do are important to society, or interesting, or otherwise truly worth doing.

    That’s the “bureaucracy” core, and it’s actually the smaller part of the public employment sector: most public employees are school teachers, firefighters, police and corrections officers. They are highly trained, or subject to personal danger, or both. They should all be subject to strict performance standards, of course, but the truth is that in all but the worst economies, there are more positions open than applicants to fill them. That’s actually pretty much true of all public sector jobs: in good times, people, expecially young ones, leave for private sector employment, and openings in public sector jobs go unfilled.

    Sometimes I suspect that part of the objectives of the union-busters is to create a permanent recession, where people live in terror of losing even bad jobs, and nobody raises a voice in protest of poor working conditions and worse compensation.

  266. If the Republicans are so awful, how did so many of them get elected in Wisconsin?

    So did Obama; thus I assume that you think he’s great, right?

  267. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinell editorial: http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/116355379.html

    “They insist this is the end of unionization in government, something to which they have as much right, they say, as anyone else.

    But they miss a bedrock difference. Unions in the private sector are a way of organizing private interests, those of employees, against other private interests, those of a company’s owners, for economic gain and for protection against unfairness. In government, workers are already protected against unfairness by civil service laws, and Walker has supported expanding those. Economically, government unions pit a private interest, that of employees, against the public’s interest, that of taxpayers and voters.”

  268. Economically, government unions pit a private interest, that of employees, against the public’s interest, that of taxpayers and voters

    I assume then that–not only do you love Obama (per 303)–that you disapprove of people lobbying for lower taxes, as they are putting their private interests above that of the public?

  269. “My homeowner’s association would like to talk to you”

    If joining is compulsory its wrong. Homeowners’ assocations, unions, whatever.

  270. “Economically, government unions pit a private interest, that of employees, against the public’s interest, that of taxpayers and voters.”

    This is a clever bit of wording that libertarian anti-government types love to roll out to use the definition of government against itself.

    “Economically, __X__ government action pits private interest __Y__ against the public’s interest.”

    Just remove the word ‘economically’ at the start of the sentence and read public interest as ‘those who pay taxes but don’t receive this specific benefit’ to read it for it’s intent.

    Or: “Government action pits their private interest against my, and people like me, interest.”

    When we’re talking about the well-being of public education this bit of verbal shennanigannery is just silly.

  271. Ref 307: “If joining is compulsory its wrong. Homeowners’ assocations, unions, whatever.”

    DA,
    I bought my home knowing well in advance that in order to live in my neighborhood, I was going to have to join the homeowners’ association. There were a number of neighborhoods I could have chose to move into that didn’t, but I chose this one because I wanted to live here. I had a choice. I also have the choice to get involved with it and run for a board position if there are policies I don’t agree with and wish to change. I also live in a right to work state where I have the choice of joining or not joining a union if I wish. It all boils down to choice. That is the wonderful thing about federalism. If you live in a state that has policies and laws you don’t agree with, you can either try to change it through getting engaged or simply move to another state that has laws that are more inline with your values and beliefs.

    This is the problem with an over reaching Federal government. The benefits and pressure escape valve function of federalism is being eradicated. The more the Feds encroach upon our ability to make free choices about the way we live our lives as well as how we live with each other, the more polarized and Balkanized our society becomes. When a government seeks to compel people to conform to laws that erode our personal freedom and take away our ability to choose, then you have what we are seeing take place not only in Wisconsin, but throughout the US.

  272. “This is the problem with an over reaching Federal government. The benefits and pressure escape valve function of federalism is being eradicated.”

    BigGuido @309

    How has the Federal Government caused the State Government of Wisconsin to attempt regulate local government employees to unionize?

  273. Ref 297:
    Josh,
    You make some good points. There would have indeed been a backlash if the Republicans had opted for the nuclear option, just as there was a massive backlash against the Democrats for the way they conducted themselves this past November. So far as Walker’s failure to reach across the aisle to seek compromise with the Democrats and the public sector unions, it is indeed another matter, but the difference this time is that the stakes are far higher than they were a few years back. Wisconsin is bankrupt, period. Walker is compelled by law to balance his budget and dig the state out of their 3.6 billion dollar deficit. He cannot print money like the Fed can and the people of Wisconsin are already paying some of the highest corporate, state and local taxes in the US. Businesses have been leaving Wisconsin in droves because of this tax situation, as are people who are in the position to do so.

    Raising taxes is simply not an option.

    The only answer to Wisconsin’s malady is to cut spending and cut it drastically.The benefit packages that public sector employees in WI enjoy aren’t just gold plated, they are platinum plated. Such benefit packages are virtually unheard of for private sector workers as they are simply unsustainable. This is why the public sector employees are getting so little sympathy from the people of WI.

    Walker is doing what he said he was going to do when he ran for office and the majority of the voters in Wisconsin put him in there (along with a Republican state rep majority) to do just that. As I said in a previous post, when things get this bad, people are less and less prone to compromise. The people of Wisconsin want action taken and they want it taken now.

    The Republican Party’s history of being at odds with private sector labor unions is not really relevant here as we are talking about public sector unions. Here’s an interesting quote: “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

    That quote wasn’t from Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan. Those were the words of former AFL-CIO President, George Meany, back in 1955. Originally, the labor movement thought the concept of public sector unions was ridiculous.

    The founders of the private sector labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they helped create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”

    Collective bargaining with public sector unions means voters are removed from having a final say on public policy. Instead, their elected representatives must negotiate public spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that labor unions once recognized.

    Governor Walker’s plan reinstates Wisconsin voters’ control over government policy. The people of Wisconsin’s elected representatives should decide how the government spends their tax dollars, not a public sector union.

    Here is another quote: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen.”
    This statement came from the AFL-CIO Executive Council in 1959.

    Two other things:
    1. I don’t like Glen Beck. I never listen to him or watch him.
    2. I read Rules for Radicals way back in 1981 when I was a big lib and it was recommended reading by my Poli-Sci professors. It was disturbing then and played a big part in my move towards the Right.

  274. #310/311: Yeah OB, I hate that darn Sheriff too. So far as the Fed goes, I was probably painting in a broader brush than just the Wisconsin situation. People are sick of Federal intrusion into their lives and as such, they are developing a good “Hate On” for not only the Fed, but also for their state and local governments…especially when they see the kind of monies and benefit packages their “employees” are getting versus what they themselves receive for their private sector labor.

    Wisconsin was one of if not the first states (1957, 1959?) to allow public sector employees to unionize. this which paved the way for other “progressive” states to follow suit. the capstone occurred in 1961 when JFK signed legislation allowing federal employees to unionize. Thus, the Ponzi scheme of public sector unionization was off and running and, as with all Ponzi schemes, critical mass is reached (2011) and they collapse in upon themselves.

  275. Regarding the whole “private sector unions, good; public-sector unions” bad business, a few points to keep in mind:

    1. There are other forms of discipline apart from the highly imperfect one that is labeled “the market” for keeping managers from being over-generous to employees–e.g., voters, budgets, and the like. Municipal officials that raise local taxes through the roof in order to finance exorbitant salaries will quickly find themselves turned out of office. In many jurisdictions, public officials face legal restrictions on exceeding defined budget parameters, and others must secure approval of their budgets from other officials who are directly accountable to the voters. It is simply unadulterated bullshit that public officials have free rein to go hog-wild with compensation.

    2. At the same time, public-sector managers have many of the same incentives to extract rents at the expense of their employees as private-sector managers do. Managers of a public agency with a 1,000 zlotny personnel budget can (and do!) divide up that budget in such a way as to take a disproportionate share of the zlotnys for themselves. And such managers have just as much power over the employees they manage as private-sector managers do. Indeed, they often have more, because public-sector workers are typically denied the right to strike.

    So in the public sector we have a situation where managers are subject to constraints on their ability to rain largesse on their employees and are brimful with incentives to screw their employees. Why collective representation is somehow unseemly in this environment is a mystery. Oh, wait a second, since the objection is really not about principles and facts, no it’s not such a mystery.

  276. @BigGuido

    … except for the part where the unions in question had already agreed to cuts in their salaries and benefits in their negotiation with the previous governor, and are on record as accepting the proposed cuts in Walker’s budget. What they are protesting is being stripped of their collective bargaining rights, which action generates no savings and balances no budgets.

    Walker’s entire purpose with this unnecessary proposal is to break the unions. He doesn’t “have” to do it, he just fucking wants to, and now he’s getting massive support from the Koch brothers and the Tea Partiers in his attempt to do it.

  277. Kathryne #284, My “weak, completely unrealistic analogy” was not an analogy. It was an accurate portrayal of my business.

    I have tried to use this forum to understand a more liberal point of view than my own. In a moment of candor, and perhaps a bit of inebriation, I tried to give you an honest appraisal from my point of view as a business owner and employer.

    If you never listen to the other side, you aren’t going to understand why we believe what we believe.

  278. Billy @ 316

    I did listen (or rather read), and found it wanting for the reasons I listed. But mostly it is this odd idea that the public sector is one that should a) lowball it’s workers on wages and b) is markedly different from the private sector where this great meritocracy reigns supreme.

    In my experience it appears that we want teachers and police and firemen and street sweepers and road workers, etc. to work for the lowest wage possible. The “my tax dollars pay your salary” argument. But then we complain when our kids are poorly educated, our cities have high crime rates, and our roads are dirty and filled with pot holes. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to attract good, competent, dedicated employees you need to compensate them accordingly or they will go elsewhere. Even if it is your tax dollars (and by the way, it is their tax dollars as well, since they own homes and buy stuff too) paying their salary.

    Secondly, this idea that everyone in the private sector gets ahead solely on hard work and know how is ridiculous. I know, I have worked in the private sector most of my life and I can honestly say that it is about both what you do and who you know, often in unequal portions slanted towards the latter.

    Look, I understand that as a private businessman you have a bottom line to worry about. I understand that you need to sometimes make tough choices to make a profit. I don’t doubt that you try to pay a fair wage to your employees. What I don’t understand is the willingness by some to cut education until it bleeds. Isn’t it in your best interest to have a pool of educated, competent citizens to hire from? I don’t think that is a liberal or conservative idea. I think it is just common sense.

  279. You make a lot of assumptions, how about you give an opinion?

    How about you stop avoiding the questions? The logic of your previous statements (that the Republicans were elected and that people shouldn’t lobby for private gain over public good) leads to the conclusions that you should love Obama and think that lobbying for lower taxes is a bad thing. Do you? You are avoiding the question in a way that suggests that you simply hold whatever opinions are necessary to oppose the unions and support Republicans in this particular case, logic be damned.

    If joining is compulsory its wrong. Homeowners’ assocations, unions, whatever.

    I assume then that you find the NFL Draft appalling as well?

  280. @ Sebastian on #314

    Did I ever say that I thought private sector unions were “good”? On the contrary, my experiences with them at Boeing, AlliedSignal and Ford Motor Company did nothing but create a deep loathing for them on a grand scale. For every worker that was putting in a hard day’s work I would have to say I witnessed first hand, on a daily basis, five to six screwing off and doing their best at finding excuses to avoid work of any kind. If someone put forth any extra effort to help me get the task I needed done, others would berate him as being a lap dog for management (my words – what they called him, I will not repeat).

    I set a personal record at Boeing for number of union grievances filed against an engineering aide in my department in a single month…when I got called into my manager’s office to go over the grievances, he laughed and lauded me for getting my job done. The union workers at Boeing worked really hard to piss me off to the point that I just went and did what I had to do to get my job done. At the time, I had never worked with union people before. I treated them with all the respect and courtesy I would any co-worker. They returned that courtesy with nothing but attitude and animosity.

    I have tons of first hand account stories I could tell, but that would be getting even farther off topic. I want to make sure I don’t get malleted again for being trollish.

    The negative image that private and public sector unions have garnered has been well earned on their own and I really can’t say that I have any sympathy for them going the way of the dinosaur.

  281. Funny, I have had very similar work experiences… with the exception of the union grievances, because I live in Texas and happen to have never been employed in a unionized workplace. Slackers can be protected by their friends (or relatives, ARGH) in upper management as easily as they can by union rules, the only lesson there is “Sometimes people get away with being lazy shitheads.”

  282. @ Kathryne #317
    If you want to attract good, competent, dedicated employees you need to compensate them accordingly or they will go elsewhere. Even if it is your tax dollars (and by the way, it is their tax dollars as well, since they own homes and buy stuff too) paying their salary.

    Well, given the current legislative (Fed & most States) economic balance sheets and education test scores in the US, I would have to say that we haven’t been getting the best and the brightest running the front office and teaching our kids – regardless of how much we paid them and how shiny their benefit packages were. In the private sector, the folks responsible would either be looking for another job or wearing an orange jumpsuit with matching soap-on-a-rope.

  283. Kathryne,

    Is asking them to pay 5% toward their pensions cutting them till they bleed? And we don’t want our children’s teachers, firemen, policemen etc. to work for the lowest wage possible. We just want them to be paid in line with the private sector. Actually, we were all pretty satisfied with them having better pensions than us, as long as we could afford it. But we can’t. And they are not being reasonable.

    I would love to give my employees the kind of compensation package that these teachers in Wisconsin are so spitting mad about right now.

    I think the vast gulf between our two opinions illustrates how serious the problem really is. It is so damn frustrating. I would be happy to walk a mile in the shoes of any teacher at any school in Wisconsin. And I would love for them to learn first hand what its like to not be able to make payroll when you aren’t the government. There are no deficits, there is only bankruptcy and unemployment.

  284. @320 Wrenlet

    The difference is, when I worked in a non-union shop, it was a lot easier to get rid of the dead wood than it was in the union shop. Actually it was nigh impossible at Boeing. The union guys used to say, “I could drive up and down D-Aisle in my Camaro, shooting at people, and not get fired!” I agree that family-owned businesses can be just as bad…especially if the slacker is a family member.

  285. Sebastian Dangerfield@314:

    Where has a union-run government reduced its budget or elected a non-union sympathizer before the 2010 election?

    After a decade of ‘management’ by Cook County (IL) President John Stroger (who managed to convince ‘his’ board to replace him upon his illness/death with his son Todd Stroger), several years of dramatic property tax increases and raising sales taxes to the highest rate in the nation to create 1000 new County jobs, the most Democratic group of people on earth elected Toni Preckwinkle (D) to the County President post. Presumably, being an Obama ally helped. (This is the Chicago political machine, after all) She had a spot of trouble in the handover from Todd Stroger because he insisted on making sure all his political cronies wouldn’t lose their cushy County jobs. She refused and is working on gutting $1 billion (with a ‘B’) from the county budget. I imagine she’ll be hiring a bunch of her pals to nice cushy jobs too but not nearly as many as the Strogers did.

    So that’s half of one for your team. (Only because Cook County hasn’t had enough time to come all the way clean yet.)

    What do we have for the other team? Perhaps its a bit presumptuous of me to claim all the federal, state and local governments and public school districts with out of control budgets to be the fault of the public unions. Pick a number that you think is fair.

    Certainly, public job categories like police and fire seem to need special rules as they don’t usually have the ability to go on strike like other workers do.

    Public employees (union or not) probably do not get to vote for their direct supervisor but they can and do vote for the people who create the budgets and determine what positions get filled and by whom. It’s not an instantaneous process (otherwise the electorate would’ve caught on a few months after the election). A lot depends on how clever the public unions are at bleeding their constituency. If Chicago has it tough here in the ’20 teens’ it must be really bad because they’ve had a century or so to learn how much the public can take.

    I’m willing to let you prove the public unions in California and New York aren’t the most powerful unions in the country and calling all of the shots when it comes to their budgets and numbers of jobs.

    Kathryne@317:
    You are conflating education budgets with classroom teacher salaries. While they are obviously related, bigger education budgets are not directly proportional to better educations for the students. I don’t know of anyone who thinks classroom teachers, generally speaking, are overpaid. The problem seems to be with the teachers’ union leaders and administrators (the ones that typically don’t work in an actual school building).

  286. @322: The WI unions have agreed to all of the proposed salary and benefit cuts, so they seem to be pretty reasonable to me. What they are holding onto is the right to continue to function as unions–someone needs to explain to me how that is considered to be obstinate unwillingness to deal with the current economic realities.

    I’ve been trying to understand where this uprising of discontent with public sector employees in general and public unions in particular comes from. I don’t recall any massive public union victories for increased wages and benefits in, say the 2004-2008 timeframe that at least partially led to the economic problems we’ve had for the past few years. I have never seen them blamed for the creation and abuse of CDOs, CDs, liar loans and mortgages for more than the property value; the stock market dump in 2008-2009 that devastated retirement savings; the loss of millions of jobs in the Great Recession; the decline in housing values and millions of foreclosures; or the federal deficit. The projected Wisconsin $3.6B deficit for 2011-2013–I’ve never seen it attributed to state workers’ salaries, benefits and pensions, but to rapid growth in Medicare spending. Why the hue and cry against teachers, social workers, prison guards, cops and firemen, and all the other public employees? Why not attack the problem and cut the Medicare to those parasitic old folks who are contributing nothing but demanding everything and solve the real budget problem?

    My conclusion is that there is a great amount of economic pain in this country today and people are hunting for someone to blame. We’ve given a pass to “capitalists” writ large–CEOs who if they were doctors would be paying enormous malpractice settlements (just follow the history of Borders Books march to bankruptcy as an current example), Wall Street financiers who put the blame on those who took the home loans they offered, federal regulators asleep at the switch. Instead, we’ve decided to blame the third grade teachers, state DOT supervisors, and social workers for our economic woes. Why them? I think the reason is that they’ve got something many don’t today–reasonably secure jobs, adequate pay, medical and retirement benefits that most used to take for granted but no longer have. And it’s easy to look at someone who hasn’t really suffered economically over the past few years and want them out of the boat and into the water with the rest of us.

    And if the Rs succeed in having them join everyone else aready in the water watching the sharks circling–will everyone else then be better off? Will there be massive tax cuts as a result? Will the economy improve as a result, giving everyone else jobs, pay raises and improved benefits? Will the truck driver I read quoted who joined the counter-demonstration today because he doesn’t have the same medical and retirement benefits the state workers do get the improved benefits if the state workers lose theirs?

  287. BigGuido@319:

    I was not addressing you, actually. Other posters here, you know. Some have voiced the argument that unions have a place in the private sector but not the public.

    Where has a union-run government reduced its budget or elected a non-union sympathizer before the 2010 election

    I’m afraid that with that comment, you have forfeit the privilege of having anything you write taken seriously. There is no such thing as a “union-run government.

    The notion that unionized employees can elect their bosses is quite silly. Even with micro-elected bodies like school boards, the number of people within a bargaining unit is a very small sliver of the relevant electorate.

  288. You are conflating education budgets with classroom teacher salaries. While they are obviously related, bigger education budgets are not directly proportional to better educations for the students.

    The wealthy seem to think so. In Seattle, they spend more than twice as much per capita.

    And, note, teaching is a labor intensive activity, by its nature. Better eduction HAS to mean bigger budgets (i.e. more people in the field).

    What you probably mean is that bigger budget is not sufficient (because trying to do it on the cheap means failture).

  289. The Madison County School Board has written a ltter to the Governor’s office regarding his proposed legislation and their dissatisfaction with it.

    http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/node/8834

    If you look at their statistics, you can see that they generated 62% of their revenue locally and received 23% from the state. There’s so much talk about cushy federal jobs that I thought it might be useful to demonstrate that this State bill impacts County employees and a system that generates 62% of its budget at the local level. (In Madison, for the 2008-2009 school year.)

    https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/sdpr/district-report.action?district=3269&year=yyyy-yy

    And that group of people – the one’s responsible for the budget there – doesn’t believe the Governor’s bill will help at all in terms of their budget issues. They also note in the statement that they believe it’s important for the local and state governments to work together on this issue.

    Most States and Counties have balanced budget amendments. SO, they generally can’t deficit spend. There are any number of examples of State and Local workers across the country being furloughed and/or having their pay frozen. I’m pretty sure they generally understand the feeling of tough times and smaller budgets.

    ALso, isn’t it a widely known fact how many teachers dip into their own pocket to provide school supplies for their students? Suggesting teachers don’t understand tight budgets and real world consequences is deliberately obtuse.

  290. The meme going around that Wisconsin had a lovley big surplus and that evil republican governer took it away has been exploded.

    The confusion, it appears, stems from a section in Lang’s memo that — read on its own — does project a $121 million surplus in the state’s general fund as of June 30, 2011.
    But the remainder of the routine memo — consider it the fine print — outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.
    The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.

  291. so, if the Governor *knew* they were going to be short 137 million and gave away 150 million in tax breaks, I fail to see how it falls back back on union busting. Me thinks if fiscal responsibility were the principle, then giving 150 million to corpoations when the state is short is the problem.
    b But I realize that cause and effect thinking like that will be missed by the unions are evil and the gvt workers are parasites crowd.

  292. The “NFL Draft” isn’t a draft.

    The NFL Draft is people being conscripted into an organization with no choice on where they’re sent. You said you opposed that. Do you oppose the NFL Draft?

  293. Greg @332:
    The tax breaks awarded to said companies were done to keep private sector jobs in Wisconsin. All of those companies were on the verge of moving out of the state of Wisconsin because it was becoming impossible to be profitable by continuing to do business there. Wisconsin has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the U.S. Despite what a lot of folks believe, the primary reason businesses exist is to make money, i.e. to be profitable, it is not to provide jobs. Jobs are a by product of the company’s success. If businesses are taxed to excess, they become less profitable and with a Marxist style punitive tax system, the incentive to grow the business is removed, as is the incentive to continue doing business in that state or country.

    It takes between three to four private sector jobs to enable the creation of one public sector job. If three to four private sector jobs go away, then logically, a public sector job needs to go away as well. Of course, this rarely happens. If there is a decrease in tax revenues, in the wonderful world of government finance, the solution is simple: RAISE TAXES! By awarding tax breaks to corporations, you are keeping them in the state or country and thus keeping the jobs and the tax revenue garnered from them in there. I hate to burst your bubble, but without the private sector jobs, there would be no public sector jobs…unless you are the Fed that is and have a printing press that keeps coughing out Hamiltons and Jacksons like there’s no tomorrow which, if they continue doing so, there will be no tomorrow for the U.S. economy and the civil society as we know it.

  294. The tax breaks awarded to said companies were done to keep private sector jobs in Wisconsin

    Assertion. Needs evidence.

    No doubt it’d be nice to give some relief, but that’s not the same as necessary. You need to show the claims aren’t in the same league as professional sports owners claiming substantial public subsidies were vital to keeping a team in a city.

  295. #335 and #336:
    Folks, I always know I’ve hit a weak point in your armor when you resort to screaming for the facts – I only wish you held your brother libs to the same requirements on a more regular basis. I have them and will post them later on. I have to go shopping with the wife right now (someone has to hold her purse).

    One nugget, though: So far as Wisconsin’s tax rate is concerned, according to the data I have from the Tax foundation, they are ranked 13th and go even higher when you figure in their taxes on gross receipts, corporate property taxes and franchise taxes. Wisconsin is way up there in league tax-wise with California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Massachusetts…all bright blue states that are going broke and have business and people leaving them like rats deserting a sinking ship. Besides, I said it was one of the highest, not the highest. Being ranked 13th in 50 states (51 if you count D.C.) puts you well towards the top of the heap – especially when you compare the rates side by side.

    Let me close with this bit of math…$147 million in tax cuts does not a 3.6 billion dollar deficit make.

  296. I always know I’ve hit a weak point in your armor when you resort to screaming for the facts

    If by “weak point” you mean “annoyance with people making things up” then yes, you hit it.

    And handwaving around it while promising facts “later on” just means you got caught making something up.

  297. BigGuido:

    “I always know I’ve hit a weak point in your armor when you resort to screaming for the facts”

    Asking for evidence that what one is asserting is based in fact is not exhibiting weak arguing skills, actually. It merely means that people want evidence that what you’re saying has some relation to reality. Also, if one can’t cite the basis for an assertion, one ought not assert it as if it were a fact.

  298. #340 John – you got me there. I got my reprieve from purse holding so I am writing up my fact filled response at this moment. I am not a fiction writer, as David is asserting and I can’t help but notice that the requests for substantiation of arguments weighs more heavily on right leaners than left leaners. Of course it appears that those with a lean to the left are more numerous here (which is fine by me) than right leaners so I guess this only makes sense as people (on both sides) rarely demand proof on something they already believe to be factual. I also enjoy being challenged on things as it keeps me honest and if anything, better informed.

    Also, David, I apologize for being a bit trollish on my snarky armor remark. I promise – as I did John, to behave in a more civil fashion as it only stirs up animosity and makes you less likely to actually consider the points I make and in turn, help us to find common ground upon which we can build.

  299. Folks, I always know I’ve hit a weak point in your armor when you resort to screaming for the facts

    Is this parody? Or perhaps performance art? I’m a little fuzzy on the logic of “Ha, fools, by pointing out that I pulled facts out of my ass or asserted things that are flatly wrong, you have fallen into my trap and have proven that I am right!”

    DA @330: The opinion piece you cited doesn’t quite say what you’d like. It disputes the idea that Wisconsin previously had a budget surplus; it doesn’t dispute the argument that Walker gave away tax goodies to his pay-to-play supporters, nor that he is using the deficit as an excuse for busting the teachers’ unions. “There is fierce debate over the approach Walker took to address the short-term budget deficit”, it observes, and points out that the tax cuts Walker implemented are going to make the deficit worse.

  300. #335 & 336: Hmmmm…I checked out your link to the Tax Foundation site to see where our facts differ. It appears that the rankings in your article are from 2007/2008. I got mine from an Excel spread sheet they had available for download based on 2010 numbers. Either way, Wisconsin is either in or just barely out of the top third highest corporate tax rates in the U.S. as such, they need to do what they can to keep and attract new businesses to their state to increase employment and as such, tax revenues.

    Business needs incentive to grow and take risks. The best way to do that is by lowering taxes, reducing business hostile regulatory constraints which result in exorbitantly high overhead costs. This will help to provide a stable, predictable economic and governmental environment in which business will once again enthusiastically seek to engage in commerce. The private sector is a powerful economic engine that is just waiting to be unleashed, if government would just get its boot off its neck.

  301. BigGuido @343: See, this is why people keep pestering you for those annoying facts. You’re not really offering any; you’re presenting a philosophy.

  302. #342: Mythago, Please see my comment at #341. I don’t pull facts out of my ass, I was just commenting on my observation that more weight is put on those on the right here to produce their sources than those on the left. It was snarky, but that is how my humor goes at times. Also, I am a bit jaded because in all my years of debating issues with people on the left, more often than not, I have been subjected to ridicule and outbursts of anger when I’ve ask them to produce the sources of their factual arguments or simply backed them into a corner. I will do my best in the future to not let the trespasses of others in the past to color my comments here on the board.

  303. @BigGuido:

    Your original statement “Wisconsin has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the U.S.” is revealed to mean that “Wisconsin is either in or just barely out of the top third highest corporate tax rates.” That would translate as either #16 or #17.

    I don’t pull facts out of my ass,

    That does not, in fact, seem to be the case, at least for the one example where we checked.

  304. #344: Mythago,

    I fail to see where I am offering merely philosophy when said economic theory has been proven to work in the real world time and time again. We came out of a major recession and reduced rampant inflation in 1983 due to the cutting of corporate and personal income taxes (as well as capital gains taxes) across the board. We saw the single largest increase in prosperity in the history of the United States as a result that lasted for the better part of two decades.

    In 2001/02, we got the Bush tax cuts (I know this will get everyone’s blood boiling) which helped us out of an economic downturn that resulted from the heavy taxation and regulation of the Clinton years, which was exacerbated by the 9-11 attacks. You want facts regarding this, here you go:

    Ten Myths regarding the Bush Tax Cuts:

    By Brian M. Riedl, Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    Myth #1: Tax revenues remain low.
    Fact: Tax revenues are above the historical average, even after the tax cuts.

    Tax revenues in 2006 were 18.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is actually above the 20-year, 40-year, and 60-year historical averages.[1] The inflation-adjusted 20 percent tax revenue increase between 2004 and 2006 represents the largest two-year revenue surge since 1965-1967.[2] Claims that Americans are undertaxed by historical standards are patently false.

    Some critics of President George W. Bush’s tax policies concede that tax revenues exceed the historical average yet assert that revenues are historically low for economies in the fourth year of an expansion. Setting aside that some of these tax policies are partly responsible for that economic expansion, the numbers simply do not support this claim. Comparing tax revenues in the fourth fiscal year after the end of each of the past three recessions shows nearly equal tax revenues of:

    * 18.4 percent of GDP in 1987,
    * 18.5 percent of GDP in 1995, and
    * 18.4 percent of GDP in 2006.[3]

    While revenues as a percentage of GDP have not fully returned to pre-recession levels (20.9 percent in 2000), it is now clear that the pre-recession level was a major historical anomaly caused by a temporary stock market bubble.

    Myth #2: The Bush tax cuts substantially reduced 2006 revenues and expanded the budget deficit.
    Fact: Nearly all of the 2006 budget deficit resulted from additional spending above the baseline.

    Critics tirelessly contend that America’s swing from budget surpluses in 1998-2001 to a $247 billion budget deficit in 2006 resulted chiefly from the “irresponsible” Bush tax cuts. This argument ignores the historic spending increases that pushed federal spending up from 18.5 percent of GDP in 2001 to 20.2 percent in 2006.[4]

    The best way to measure the swing from surplus to deficit is by comparing the pre-tax cut budget baseline of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) with what actually happened. While the January 2000 baseline projected a 2006 budget surplus of $325 billion, the final 2006 numbers showed a $247 billion deficit-a net drop of $572 billion. This drop occurred because spending was $514 billion above projected levels, and revenues were $58 billion below (even after $188 billion in tax cuts). In other words, 90 percent of the swing from surplus to deficit resulted from higher-than-projected spending, and only 10 percent resulted from lower-than-projected revenues.[5] (See Chart 1.)

    Why the 2006 Budget Surplus was 572 billion lower than projected in January 2000

    Furthermore, tax revenues in 2006 were actually above the levels projected before the 2003 tax cuts. Immediately before the 2003 tax cuts, the CBO projected a 2006 budget deficit of $57 billion, yet the final 2006 budget deficit was $247 billion. The $190 billion deficit increase resulted from federal spending that was $237 billion more than projected. Revenues were actually $47 billion above the projection, even after $75 billion in tax cuts enacted after the baseline was calculated.[6] By that standard, new spending was responsible for 125 percent of the higher 2006 budget deficit, and expanding revenues actually offset 25 percent of the new spending.

    The 2006 tax revenues were not substantially far from levels projected before the Bush tax cuts. Despite estimates that the tax cuts would reduce 2006 revenues by $188 billion, they came in just $58 billion below the pre-tax cut revenue level projected in January 2000.[7]

    The difference is even more dramatic with the pro-growth 2003 tax cuts. The CBO calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion, yet 2006 revenues came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline released in March 2003. This is not a coincidence. Tax cuts clearly played a significant role in the economy’s performing better than expected and recovering much of the lost revenue.

    Myth #3: Supply-side economics assumes that all tax cuts immediately pay for themselves.
    Fact: It assumes replenishment of some but not necessarily all lost revenues.

    Attempts to debunk solid theories often involve first mischaracterizing them as straw men. Critics often erroneously define supply-side economics as the belief that all tax cuts pay for themselves. They then cite tax cuts that have not fully paid for themselves as conclusive proof that supply-side economics has failed.

    However, supply-side economics never contended that all tax cuts pay for themselves. Rather the Laffer Curve[8] (upon which much of the supply-side theory is based) merely formalizes the common-sense observations that:

    1. Tax revenues depend on the tax base as well as the tax rate;
    2. Raising tax rates discourages the taxed behavior and therefore shrinks the tax base, offsetting some of the revenue gains; and
    3. Lowering tax rates encourages the taxed behavior and expands the tax base, offsetting some of the revenue loss.

    If policymakers intend cigarette taxes to discourage smoking, they should also expect high investment taxes to discourage investment and income taxes to discourage work. Lowering taxes encourages people to engage in the given behavior, which expands the base and replenishes some of the lost revenue. This is the “feedback effect” of a tax cut.

    Whether or not a tax cut recovers 100 percent of the lost revenue depends on the tax rate’s location on the Laffer Curve. Each tax has a revenue-maximizing rate at which future tax increases will reduce revenue. (This is the peak of the Laffer Curve.) Only when tax rates are above that level will reducing the tax rate actually increase revenue. Otherwise, it will replenish only a portion of the lost revenue.

    How much feedback revenue a given tax cut will generate depends on the degree to which taxpayers adjust their behavior. Cutting sales and property tax rates generally induces smaller feedback effects because taxpayers do not respond by substantially expanding their purchases or home-buying. Income taxes have a higher feedback effect. Nobel Prize-winning economist Ed Prescott has shown a strong cross-national link between lower income tax rates and higher work hours.[9] Investment taxes have the highest feedback effects because investors quickly move to avoid higher-taxed investments. Not surprisingly, history shows that higher investment taxes deeply curtail investment and consequently raise little (if any) new revenue.

    Yet, using the standard set by some, even a hypothetical tax cut that provides real tax relief to millions of families and entrepreneurs and creates enough new income to recover 95 percent of the estimated revenue loss would be considered a “failure” of supply-side economics and thus merit a full repeal.

    Myth #4: Capital gains tax cuts do not pay for themselves.
    Fact: Capital gains tax revenues doubled following the 2003 tax cut.

    As previously stated, whether a tax cut pays for itself depends on how much people alter their behavior in response to the policy. Investors have been shown to be the most sensitive to tax policy, because capital gains tax cuts encourage enough new investment to more than offset the lower tax rate.

    In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced from 20 percent and 10 percent (depending on income) to 15 percent and 5 percent. Rather than expand by 36 percent from the current $50 billion level to $68 billion in 2006 as the CBO projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.[10] (See Chart 2.) Past capital gains tax cuts have shown similar results.

    Capital Gains Tax Revenues Doubled Following the 2003 Tax Cut

    By encouraging investment, lower capital gains taxes increase funding for the technologies, businesses, ideas, and projects that make workers and the economy more productive. Such investment is vital for long-term economic growth.

    Because investors are tax-sensitive, high capital gains tax rates are not only bad economic policy, but also bad budget policy.

    Myth #5: The Bush tax cuts are to blame for the projected long-term budget deficits.
    Fact: Projections show that entitlement costs will dwarf the projected large revenue increases.

    The unsustainability of America’s long-term budget path is well known. However, a common misperception blames the massive future budget deficits on the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. In reality, revenues will continue to increase above the historical average yet be dwarfed by historic entitlement spending increases. (See Chart 3.)

    Runaway Spending Drives the Long-Term Budget Problems

    For the past half-century, tax revenues have generally stayed within 1 percentage point of 18 percent of GDP. The CBO projects that, even if all 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are made permanent, revenues will stillincrease from 18.4 percent of GDP today to 22.8 percent by 2050, not counting any feedback revenues from their positive economic impact. It is projected that repealing the Bush tax cuts would nudge 2050 revenues up to 23.7 percent of GDP, not counting any revenue losses from the negative economic impact of the tax hikes.[11] In effect, the Bush tax cut debate is whether revenues should increase by 4.4 percent or 5.3 percent of GDP.

    Spending has remained around 20 percent of GDP for the past half-century. However, the coming retirement of the baby boomers will increase Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending by a combined 10.5 percent of GDP. Assuming that this causes large budget deficits and increased net spending on interest, federal spending could surge to 38 percent of GDP and possibly much higher.[12]

    Overall, revenues are projected to increase from 18 percent of GDP to almost 23 percent. Spending is projected to increase from 20 percent of GDP to at least 38 percent. Even repealing all of the 2001 and 2003 cuts would merely shave the projected budget deficit of 15 percent of GDP by less than 1 percentage point, and that assumes no negative feedback from raising taxes. Clearly, the French-style spending increases, not tax policy, are the problem. Lawmakers should focus on getting entitlements under control.

    Myth #6: Raising tax rates is the best way to raise revenue.
    Fact: Tax revenues correlate with economic growth, not tax rates.

    Many of those who desire additional tax revenues regularly call on Congress to raise tax rates, but tax revenues are a function of two variables: tax rates and the tax base. The tax base typically moves in the opposite direction of the tax rate, partially negating the revenue impact of tax rate changes. Accordingly, Chart 4 shows little correlation between tax rates and tax revenues. Since 1952, the highest marginal income tax rate has dropped from 92 percent to 35 percent, and tax revenues have grown in inflation-adjusted terms while remaining constant as a percent of GDP.

    Chart 5 shows the nearly perfect correlation between GDP and tax revenues. Despite major fluctuations in income tax rates, long-term tax revenues have grown at almost exactly the same rate as GDP, remaining between 17 percent and 20 percent of GDP for 46 of the past 50 years. Table 1 shows that the top marginal income tax rate topped 90 percent during the 1950s and that revenues averaged 17.2 percent of GDP. By the 1990s, the top marginal income tax rate averaged just 36 percent, and tax revenues averaged 18.3 percent of GDP. Regardless of the tax rate, tax revenues have almost always come in at approximately 18 percent of GDP.[13]

    Tax Revenues Do Not Correlate with Tax Rates

    Tax Revenues Are Highly Correlated with GDP

    Regardless of Tax Rates, Revenues Remain Around 18 Percent of GDP

    Since revenues move with GDP, the common-sense way to increase tax revenues is to expand the GDP. This means that pro-growth policies such as low marginal tax rates (especially on work, savings, and investment), restrained federal spending, minimal regulation, and free trade would raise more tax revenues than would be raised by self-defeating tax increases. America cannot substantially increase tax revenue with policies that reduce national income.

    Myth #7: Reversing the upper-income tax cuts would raise substantial revenues.
    Fact: The low-income tax cuts reduced revenues the most.

    Many critics of tax cuts nonetheless support extending the increased child tax credit, marriage penalty relief, and the 10 percent income tax bracket because these policies strongly benefit low-income tax families. They also support annually adjusting the alternative minimum tax exemption for inflation to prevent a massive broad-based tax increase. These critics assert that repealing the tax cuts for upper-income individuals and investors and bringing back the pre-2001 estate tax levels can raise substantial revenue. Once again, the numbers fail to support this claim.

    In 2007, according to CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation data, the increased child tax credit, marriage penalty relief, 10 percent bracket, and AMT fix will have a combined budgetary effect of $114 billion.[14] (See Table 2.) These policies do not have strong supply-side effects to minimize that effect.

    By comparison, the more maligned capital gains, dividends, and estate tax cuts are projected to reduce 2007 revenues by just $36 billion even before the large and positive supply-side effects are incorporated. Thus, repealing these tax cuts would raise very little revenue and could possibly even reduce federal tax revenue. Such tax increases would certainly reduce the savings and investment vital to economic growth.

    The individual income tax rate reductions come to $59 billion in 2007 and are not really a tax cut for the rich. All families with taxable incomes over $62,000 (and single filers over $31,000) benefit. Repealing this tax cut would reduce work incentives and raise taxes on millions of families and small businesses, thereby harming the economy and minimizing any new revenues.

    Myth #8: Tax cuts help the economy by “putting money in people’s pockets.”
    Fact: Pro-growth tax cuts support incentives for productive behavior.

    Government spending does not “pump new money into the economy” because government must first tax or borrow that money out of the economy. Claims that tax cuts benefit the economy by “putting money in people’s pockets” represent the flip side of the pump-priming fallacy. Instead, the right tax cuts help the economy by reducing government’s influence on economic decisions and allowing people to respond more to market mechanisms, thereby encouraging more productive behavior.

    Many of the Upper-Income and Investment Tax Cuts Are Among the Least Expensive

    The Keynesian fallacy is that government spending injects new money into the economy, but the money that government spends must come from somewhere. Government must first tax or borrow that money out of the economy, so all the new spending just redistributes existing income. Similarly, the money for tax rebates—which are also touted as a way to inject money into the economy—must also come from somewhere, with government either spending less or borrowing more. In both cases, no new spending is added to the economy. Rather, the government has just transferred it from one group (e.g., investors) in the economy to another (e.g., consumers).

    Some argue that certain tax cuts, such as tax rebates, can transfer money from savers to spenders and therefore increase demand. This argument assumes that the savers have been storing their savings in their mattresses, thereby removing it from the economy. In reality, nearly all Americans either invest their savings, thereby financing businesses investment, or deposit the money in banks, which quickly lend it to others to spend or invest. Therefore, the money is spent by someone whether it is initially consumed or saved. Thus, tax rebates create no additional economic activity and cannot “prime the pump.”

    This does not mean tax policy cannot affect economic growth. The right tax cuts can add substantially to the economy’s supply side of productive resources: capital and labor. Economic growth requires that businesses efficiently produce increasing amounts of goods and services, and increased production requires consistent business investment and a motivated, productive workforce. Yet high marginal tax rates—defined as the tax on the next dollar earned—serve as a disincentive to engage in such activities. Reducing marginal tax rates on businesses and workers increases the return on working, saving, and investing, thereby creating more business investment and a more productive workforce, both of which add to the economy’s long-term capacity for growth.

    Yet some propose demand-side tax cuts to “put money in people’s pockets” and “get people to spend money.” The 2001 tax rebates serve as an example: Washington borrowed billions from investors and then mailed that money to families in the form of $600 checks. Predictably, this simple transfer of existing wealth caused a temporary increase in consumer spending and a corresponding decrease in investment but led to no new economic growth. No new wealth was created because the tax rebate was unrelated to productive behavior. No one had to work, save, or invest more to receive a rebate. Simply redistributing existing wealth does not create new wealth.

    In contrast, marginal tax rates were reduced throughout the 1920s, 1960s, and 1980s. In all three decades, investment increased, and higher economic growth followed. Real GDP increased by 59 percent from 1921 to 1929, by 42 percent from 1961 to 1968, and by 31 percent from 1982 to 1989.[15] More recently, the 2003 tax cuts helped to bring about strong economic growth for the past three years.

    Policies which best support work, saving, and investment are much more effective at expanding the economy’s long-term capacity for growth than those that aim to put money in consumers’ pockets.

    Myth #9: The Bush tax cuts have not helped the economy.
    Fact: The economy responded strongly to the 2003 tax cuts.

    The 2003 tax cuts lowered income, capital gains, and dividend tax rates. These policies were designed to increase market incentives to work, save, and invest, thus creating jobs and increasing economic growth. An analysis of the six quarters before and after the 2003 tax cuts (a short enough time frame to exclude the 2001 recession) shows that this is exactly what happened (see Table 3):

    * GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1 percent.

    * Non-residential fixed investment declined for 13 consecutive quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. Since then, it has expanded for 13 consecutive quarters.
    The S&P 500 dropped 18 percent in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32 percent over the next six quarters. Dividend payouts increased as well.
    * The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.
    * The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.[16]

    Critics contend that the economy was already recovering and that this strong expansion would have occurred even without the tax cuts. While some growth was naturally occurring, critics do not explain why such a sudden and dramatic turnaround began at the exact moment that these pro-growth policies were enacted. They do not explain why business investment, the stock market, and job numbers suddenly turned around in spring 2003. It is no coincidence that the expansion was powered by strong investment growth, exactly as the tax cuts intended.

    The 2003 tax cuts succeeded because of the supply-side policies that critics most oppose: cuts in marginal income tax rates and tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. The 2001 tax cuts that were based more on demand-side tax rebates and redistribution did not significantly increase economic growth.

    Myth #10: The Bush tax cuts were tilted toward the rich.
    Fact: The rich are now shouldering even more of the income tax burden.

    Popular mythology also suggests that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts shifted more of the tax burden toward the poor. While high-income households did save more in actual dollars than low-income households, they did so because low-income households pay so little in income taxes in the first place. The same 1 percent tax cut will save more dollars for a millionaire than it will for a middle-class worker simply because the millionaire paid more taxes before the tax cut.

    The Bush Tax Cuts Shifted the Tax Burden Further Toward the Rich

    In 2000, the top 60 percent of taxpayers paid 100 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 40 percent collectively paid no income taxes. Lawmakers writing the 2001 tax cuts faced quite a challenge in giving the bulk of the income tax savings to a population that was already paying no income taxes.

    Rather than exclude these Americans, lawmakers used the tax code to subsidize them. (Some economists would say this made that group’s collective tax burden negative.)First, lawmakers lowered the initial tax brackets from 15 percent to 10 percent and then expanded the refundable child tax credit, which, along with the refundable earned income tax credit (EITC), reduced the typical low-income tax burden to well below zero. As a result, the U.S. Treasury now mails tax “refunds” to a large proportion of these Americans that exceed the amounts of tax that they actually paid. All in all, the number of tax filers with zero or negative income tax liability rose from 30 million to 40 million, or about 30 percent of all tax filers.[17] The remaining 70 percent of tax filers received lower income tax rates, lower investment taxes, and lower estate taxes from the 2001 legislation.

    Consequently, from 2000 to 2004, the share of all individual income taxes paid by the bottom 40 percent dropped from zero percent to –4 percent, meaning that the average family in those quintiles received a subsidy from the IRS. (See Chart 6.) By contrast, the share paid by the top quintile of households (by income) increased from 81 percent to 85 percent.

    Expanding the data to include all federal taxes, the share paid by the top quintile edged up from 66.6 percent in 2000 to 67.1 percent in 2004, while the bottom 40 percent’s share dipped from 5.9 percent to 5.4 percent. Clearly, the tax cuts have led to the rich shouldering more of the income tax burden and the poor shouldering less.[18]

    Conclusion

    The 110th Congress will be serving when the first of 77 million baby boomers receive their first Social Security checks in 2008. The subsequent avalanche of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs for these baby boomers will be the greatest economic challenge of this era.

    This should be the budgetary focus of the 110th Congress rather than repealing Bush tax cuts or allowing them to expire. Repealing the tax cuts would not significantly increase revenues. It would, however, decrease investment, reduce work incentives, stifle entrepreneurialism, and reduce economic growth. Lawmakers should remember that America cannot tax itself to prosperity.

    Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    [1] The historical averages range between 17.9 percent and 18.3 percent of GDP, depending on the time horizon.
    [2] Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2007 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006), pp. 25–26, Table 1.3, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/pdf/hist.pdf (January 16, 2007), with final 2006 revenue figures added in.
    [3] According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the 1980s recession ended in fiscal year (FY) 1983 (November 1982), the 1990s recession ended in FY 1991 (March 1991), and the early 2000s recession ended in FY 2002 (November 2001). National Bureau of Economic Research, “US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions,” at http://www.nber.org/cycles.html (January 16, 2007).
    [4] See Brian M. Riedl, “Federal Spending: By the Numbers,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 989, February 6, 2006, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm989.cfm.
    [5] See Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2001–2010,” January 2000, p. xvi, Summary Table 2, at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/18xx/doc1820/e&b0100.pdf (January 16, 2007). The January 2000 baseline pro­jected that 2006 tax revenues would reach $2,465 billion, and they instead reached $2,407 billion. The same baseline projected that 2006 spending would reach $2,140 billion, and it actually totaled $2,654 billion.
    [6] See Congressional Budget Office, “An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2004,” March 2003, p. 36, Table 4, at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/41xx/doc4129/03-31-AnalysisPresidentBudget-Final.pdf (January 16, 2007). The March 2003 baseline projected that 2006 tax revenues would reach $2,360 billion, and they instead reached $2,407 billion. That same baseline projected that 2006 spending would reach $2,417 billion, and it actually totaled $2,654 billion.
    [7] While the March 2001 baseline was the last created before the tax cuts, it does not provide a realistic baseline for measuring subsequent policies. This baseline assumed that the stock market bubble would continue, and the CBO consequently pro­jected that revenues would stay above 20.2 percent of GDP indefinitely, even though that level had been reached only once since World War II. The January 2000 baseline more accurately reflected future economic performance.
    [8] See Arthur B. Laffer, “The Laffer Curve: Past, Present, and Future,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1765, June 1, 2004, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Taxes/bg1765.cfm.
    [9] Edward C. Prescott, “Why Do Americans Work So Much More Than Europeans?” Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Quarterly Review, Vol. 28, No. 1 (July 2004), at http://www.minneapolisfed.org/research/qr/qr2811.pdf (January 16, 2007).
    [10]For early projections, see Congressional Budget Office, “An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2004.” For actual figures, see Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2008–2017,” January 2007, p. 86, Table 4-3, at http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7731&sequence=0 (January 25, 2007).
    [11] Daniel J. Mitchell, Ph.D., and Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D., “What Is Really Happening to Government Revenues: Long-Run Forecasts Show Sharp Rise in Tax Burden,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1957,July 28, 2006, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Taxes/upload/bg_1957.pdf. This is based on data from Congressional Budget Office, “The Long-Term Budget Outlook,” December 2005, at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/69xx/doc6982/12-15-LongTermOutlook.pdf (January 16, 2007). These baselines do not assume that lawmakers will adjust the AMT threshold. If the Bush tax cuts are made permanent and the AMT is adjusted annually, the CBO’s 2050 revenue projections are 19.8 percent of GDP, which is still well above the historical average.
    [12] Congressional Budget Office, “The Long-Term Budget Outlook.” The CBO’s “low tax and intermediate spending” scenario projects that federal spending will reach 37.7 percent of GDP by 2050. Even that may be a large underestimate. See Brian M. Riedl, “Entitlement-Driven Long-Term Budget Substantially Worse Than Previously Projected,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1897, November 30, 2005, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/upload/86356_1.pdf.
    [13] Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, pp. 25–26, Table 1.3, and Internal Revenue Service, “U.S. Individual Income Tax: Personal Exemptions and Lowest and Highest Bracket Tax Rates, and Tax Base for Regular Tax, Tax Years 1913– 2005,” at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/histaba.pdf (January 16, 2007).
    [14] Figures include child credit outlays. Heritage Foundation calculations using Joint Committee on Taxation scores of the Eco­nomic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, and Tax Increase Prevention and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2005.
    [15]See Daniel J. Mitchell, Ph.D., “Lowering Marginal Tax Rates: The Key to Pro-Growth Tax Relief,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1443, May 22, 2001, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Taxes/BG1443.cfm.
    [16] U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis, NIPA Tables, Table 1.1.1, revised December 21, 2006, at http://www.bea.gov/bea/dn/nipaweb/SelectTable.asp (January 16, 2007); Yahoo Finance, “S&P 500 Index,” at http://www.finance.yahoo.com/ q/hp?s=%5EGSPC (January 16, 2007); and U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National),” at http://www.data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_tool=latest_
    numbers&series_id=CES0000000001&output_view=net_1mth (January 16, 2007).
    [17] Scott A. Hodge, “40 Million Filers Pay No Income Taxes, Many Get Generous Refunds,” Tax Foundation Fiscal Facts No. 6, June 5, 2003, at http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/207.html (January 16, 2007).
    [18] Congressional Budget Office, “Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates: 1979 to 2004,” December 2006, at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdoc.cfm?index=7718&type=1 (January 17, 2007).

    I think this article demonstrates that I am not merely preaching philosophy here, but proven economic theory.

  305. A reminder to folks that when you post really long messages with a lot of links in them, they are likely to be diverted to the moderation queue (it’s the large number of links that does that). Don’t panic when that happens; I’ll release them eventually.

  306. #346: David, Sheesh man, you are like Bill Clinton arguing over the meaning of the word “is”. The position of Wisconsin on the list isn’t really what is in question here. It is the tax rate. when there are only a few 10ths of a percent that keep you from being ranked in the number thirteen or number eight spot, there isn’t that much difference. Wisconsin has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the U.S. – get it? For example, I have a good friend who’s brother runs a business in Wisconsin and is on the verge of pulling up stakes and moving his business to Kansas (4% Corporate Income Tax vs WI’s 7.8%) because it will save him a ton of money. He will take a few key employees with him, but the rest he will probably layoff and hire locals to replace them. That is the real world. He is going broke in Wisconsin, but in Kansas he can be profitable.

  307. #349: John, sorry about the long post, but they didn’t seem interested in checking out my other link so I felt a bit compelled to post the actual article. If you want to hammer it, go ahead. I will re-post with just the link.

  308. BigGuido:

    The length is fine, I’m just pointing out that the commenting system here has an automatic moderation thing for very long comments and/or comments with lots of links.

  309. The position of Wisconsin on the list isn’t really what is in question here.

    BigGuido, you may wish that you hadn’t been wildly inaccurate in your assertion about Wisconsin’s tax rate, but that was not, in fact, the case. You were badly wrong. I am not required to cooperate in your failure in accuracy, nor am I required to be distracted by the smokescreen you are now trying to throw up.

  310. #352. David:
    I am at a loss here as to why I am failing to make my point clear to you. I am not attempting to smoke screen and I have presented the source of my assertion (from actually the same source you obtained your data, but from what appears to be more recent than your article) that Wisconsin has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the U.S. and why, regardless of its position on an ordered list, why I make that claim.

    It appears that no matter what I say or what data I set before you, you will not amend your accusation that I am intentionally misrepresenting the facts. As such, I guess the discussion is ended regarding this matter as we appear to both be wasting our time.

  311. I think that “regardless of it’s position on an ordered list” about summarizes the quality of the evidence here.

  312. I did some quick research on state economic performance and guess what–at the first level there’s a strong apparent correlation between state tax rate and average income. States with higher tax rates have higher average incomes. (I didn’t run a regression and calculate the R2, but basically state rank on income was wtihin a couple of places of tax rate. One reason I didn’t do the regression was I don’t think I could find a data set that everyone on here would agree with, and different data sets would give slightly different results.)

    And yeah, correlation doesn’t equal casuation. At the same time I can see that a state that funds good schools (both K-12 and university systems), good infrastructure (roads, water/sewer, etc) and pays to maintain that infrastructure, social services (drug treatment, programs to deal with juveniles tending towards a life of crime, remedial education, etc) and cultural amenities (parks,museums, lakes, public hunting/fishing access, etc) will have a strong advantage in attracting and keeping both human capital–smart, innovative, enthusiastic people–and businesses. Mississippi, Alabama, et al have really low tax rates–why didn’t the guy relocate his business there instead of Kansas and do even better? Why does NY continue as the financial capital instead of everyone moving to Crestview FL and enjoying the low tax rates of the Okaloosa County seat? Seems to me you get what you pay for, and Wisconsonites have been willing to pay for the underpinnings for high-performance as opposed to other states that are more concerned about keeping tax rates as low as possible.

    Two other point in response to issues raised above (1) Yeah, blue states are struggling to balance their budget–but so are red states. Bump out ND (very low population and an oil boom providing revenues–not something others have) and the WI budget problems are replicated everywhere,red or blue. To paraphrase Bill Clinton’s first campaigh internal message, “it’s the recession, stupid”. (2) So we’re now talking about tax rates–fine. Please tell me how busting the unions in WI will contribute to lowering the state tax rates. The unions are willing to provide the financial concessions demanded, so that’s not at issue–the turmoil is over the Gov’s attempt to break all of the unions except a few (and I still haven’t read anywhere why those few should be exempt. There have been some emotional ramblings about those brave police/firemen putting their lives at risk, but since this is all about economics I’m hunting for the economic reason why those unions should be preserved and not the others.)

  313. Sorry, folks, #354 is mine. Just to add value to the discussion and not have it devolve solely into a conversation about BigGuido’s handwaving, I should note that I figured the average of corporate tax rates for all 50 states (Excel is your friend!) and it’s 7.3%. Wisconsin’s, at 7.9, is higher than average, but not that much higher (standard dev is 1.9%, so…). Median is 7.4%.

  314. mythago @342

    DA @330: The opinion piece you cited doesn’t quite say what you’d like. It disputes the idea that Wisconsin previously had a budget surplus; it doesn’t dispute the argument that Walker gave away tax goodies to his pay-to-play supporters, nor that he is using the deficit as an excuse for busting the teachers’ unions

    Um, I didn’t want it to say anything other than what it said. I quoted the bit that was of interest to me, but have no problem with the rest. I’m not here to argue that Walker’s a great guy and you should be sending him bouquets. But even if they’re completely wrong, I’m pretty sure the Republicans are doing what they honestly believe is the right thing to do for Wisconsin.

  315. BigGuido: The tax breaks awarded to said companies were done to keep private sector jobs in Wisconsin.

    swing and a miss.

    All of those companies were on the verge of moving out of the state of Wisconsin because it was becoming impossible to be profitable by continuing to do business there.

    strike two.

    Wisconsin has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the U.S.

    Swing and …. OH NO the bat slips out of your hands and hits the pitcher right in the head. You just cleared the bleachers on both teams.

    If there is a decrease in tax revenues, in the wonderful world of government finance, the solution is simple: RAISE TAXES!

    You know what consistently amazes me? In the wonderful world of ultraconservative and libertarian bullshit, “NOT CUTTING TAXES” is somehow magically converted into “RAISE TAXES”.

    If it looks like the budget is going to fall short, any moron not completely driven by anti-tax paranoia bullshit would think long and hard about cutting taxes that would throw the government into a CRISIS. The governor did exactly that. Cutting taxes and then a month later declaring a budget CRISIS, proving he is both an anti-tax paranoia bullshit machine and a complete fucking accounting moron who can’t balance a checkbook.

    So yay him.

  316. BigGuido@347: I just noticed the many, many links to “The Heritage Foundation” as your “proof that “supply side economics somehow “works”. It was called “Voodoo Economics” by Bush Sr himself for a reason, cause it was complete magical thinking, wishful thinking, libertarian/conservative bullshit fantasy. Reaganomics. Trickle-down economics. Voodoo economics. The horse and Sparrow theory.

    The horse and sparrow theory? Oh yes. The theory that says: If you feed a Horse enough oats, he will eventually shit out some undigested oats that the Sparrows can eat.

    Funny how its always the horses who are clammoring that the government adopt this strategy. Not surpisingly, the Sparrows, and just about anyone who isn’t a horse, will tell you this is horseshit and that there are far better, more efficient ways to feed the sparrows.

    From wikipedia’s Supply side economics page (with links for sources there): “Before President Bush signed the 2003 tax cuts, the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a statement signed by ten Nobel prize laureates entitled “Economists’ statement opposing the Bush tax cuts”.

    But, what do ten nobel winning economists know, the horses ney. They have their own stable boy who won anobel prize. And what did this horse jockey say?

    Also from wikipedia: “Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman agreed the tax cuts would reduce tax revenues and result in intolerable deficits, though he supported them as a means to restrain federal spending.[51] Friedman characterized the reduced government tax revenue as “cutting their allowance”.”

    Well, lookey there. The horse jockey himself admitted that tax cuts would result in horrible deficits. Why did he support them, then? To cut the governments “allowance”.

    Allowance?

    Oh, yeah, that. Reagan gave a speech in 1981 that included this little economic insight: “We can lecture our children about extravagance until we run out of voice and breath. Or we can cure their extravagance by simply reducing their allowance.”

    This is also known as “starve the beast”. The beast being government that is giving welfare queens their gold plated cadilacs. Of course government isn’t actually giveing gold plated cadilacs. But the Quixotic Idiot Knights of the Voodoo Economics Libertarian Conservative Table aren’t basing their decisions off of facts.They’re basing it off of their own myths. Myths that they get from places like, just say, The Heritage Foundation, which after every attempt to starve the beast relases another report about how someone just got another gold plated cadilac, so they need to starve the beast more.

    With the ultimate result of this self-feeding echo chamber of idiocy being the goal of starving the beast as much as possible so it is small enough that they can be drowned in a bathtub.

    Nobody believing in Supply Side Economics, voodoo economics, trickle down economics, Horse and Sparrow economics, or whatever you want to call it, is basing their decisions on sound economic principles that would result in whats best for the economy as a whole. They are either Horses trying to justify they be gorged on oats, or they are Sociopaths who believe there is no such thing as Society and soare trying to wrest control of governmetn long enough to drown Government.

    That extremely long post of yours with all the “proof” about suply side economics and links to The Heritage Foundation? That was about as convincing as a “Intelligent Design” guy trying to prove his theory is scientific by quoting from Creationist websites and the Bible.

    Massive idealogical fail.

  317. That extremely long post of yours with all the “proof” about suply side economics and links to The Heritage Foundation? That was about as convincing as a “Intelligent Design” guy trying to prove his theory is scientific by quoting from Creationist websites and the Bible.

    Greg, that’s what’s known as an “ad hominem ” argument. Itis a logic fail, and has been one for centuries. The argument’s wrong, you say, because of the source. Well I’ve never heard of the Heritage Foundation, so your sputtering mockery has no effect on me. But even if you follow it up with a long explanation about how the Heritage Foundation are a bunch of evil, stoopid neocons, it will still have no effect because it’s an ad hom.

    But FYI, It’s Keynesiamism that’s in trouble. The President’s stimulus bill, which was based entirely on the tenets of Keynesian economics, isn’t the only reason but it’s a part of it.

  318. DA. You confuse ad hominem with invalidating the expert qualifications of “expert testimony”.

    No where in his post did BigGuido start from agreed upon premises, make logical arguments based soly on those premises, and arrive at a conclusion that Reagonomics is valid. What he did was assert that Reagonomics were valid, and then attempt to cite expert testimony whereupon the experts are meant to do the logical work for him.

    i.e. he didn’t show his work. He attempted to outsource the full logical argument to other sources.

    Relying on expert testimony is actually fine in and of itself. The amount of work required to start from nothing and logically arrive at the theory of evolution would earn a person a phd. So rather than do that kind of work, most people simply rely on expert testimony from expert witnesses.

    This is only so valid as long as the expert called to testify is shown to be fact-based, uses the best accepted practices to achieve his resultss, and so on.

    As an example, in a discussion about relativity, I might say that your assertion of traveling faster than light is disproved by Einstein, and then simply refer you to his work. Or, I might say that man evolved from a more primitive primate, and refer you to the latest information about the theory of evolution.

    But if the expert is shown to be a crackpot or shown to be motivated by idealogy or shown to be motivated by whoever pays him, then that dismisses their entire testimony, and thereby dismisses whatever the person wanted to assert was true.

    The heritage foundation is disqualified from being used as an expert in any political argument because it is entirely partisan. And that was the point of my post, pointing out all the biases and prejudices in the Heritage Foundation and its supporters that preclude it from ever being used as anything other than a hostile witness to the truth.

    That’s not ad hominem. If I were using an ad hominem, I would have said something personal about BigGuido. But BigGuido invoked the Heritage Foundation an expert witness to his assertiosn about Supply Side Economics. Invoked several times. In fact, Once you remove the assertions from the Heritage Foundation, BigGuido is basically left with nothing proven and everything being little more than idealogy, or to use the “logical argument” terms, an unproven premise or a logical fallacy.

    So, no. Not an ad hominem.

  319. BigGuido @347: It’s your philosophy that government should take a laissez-faire approach to business. That’s fine, but that’s a philosophy, not a set of facts. Correlation is not causation, and referring to taxes being government having a “boot on the neck” of business is rhetoric, not evidence. You’re also being pressed because you’ve offered facts that turned out not to be true, and you’ve responded by, in essence, saying that the facts either a) mean something else or b) don’t matter so we should just shut up and move on.

    DA @361: the Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank rather than a nonpartisanresearch or policy institution. Whether or not the report BigGuido cites is accurate, I would trust the Heritage Foundation to say bad things about a Republican president about as much as I would expect Greenpeace to say that perhaps there’s something to the idea of scientific whaling.

  320. Greg, that’s what’s known as an “ad hominem ” argument.

    Hm, no.

    It’s more along the line of “I doubt the validity of your source, therefore I doubt the validity of arguments built on that source.” Which, of course, is logically valid.

    Hope your economics arguments are stronger than your rhetorical skills.

  321. DA, just to further clarify expert testimony, I, for example, quoted Milton Friedman, who said Supply Side Economics wouldn’t help the budget, that it would make it worse. But that quote doesn’t “prove” that Reaganomics doesn’t work, because I’m not using him as “expert testimony”.

    I’m quoting him because he was an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan and he said that Reaganomics would worsen the budget but that it would cut the government’s “allowance”.

    I’m quoting him not because he is an “expert” and his statements logically prove my point that Reaganomics doesn’t work. Rather I’m quoting him because he was one of the suspects involved in the crime and his statements amount to a confession of what I was asserting, (A) Reaganomics doesn’t work because Reagans adviser CONFESSED it doesn’t work. (B) Reaganomics (and whatever new name they want to put on Supply Side Economics) is actually motivatd by its advocates desire to “starve the beast” and not only did Reagan’s adviser CONFESS this idealogical motivation, Reagan himself CONFESSED exactly that as well.

    So, BigGuido can quote the Heritage Foundation till horseshit feeds sparrows, but the statements by Reagan and Reagan’s Economi Adviser amount to CONFESSIONS that they did not believe it would help the economy in any way and possibly make it worse, but that their motivation was in fact to deny money to the government so as to create a budget CRISIS (Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar) as an excuse to cut government services, starve the beast, cut its allowance,

    So, not expert testimony in this case. Confessions by the guilty parties.

  322. DA. You confuse ad hominem with invalidating the expert qualifications of “expert testimony”.

    Fair enough and point taken.
    However I encourage you to take a less dogmatic stance on Keynesianism; It really is in more trouble than you think.

  323. Interesting reading on this thread.

    One interesting tidbit I realized is that Gov. Walker started this mess in an attempt to break union rights in WI, is folks are arguing all this on the personal blog of the president of a labor union.

    Our esteemed host is the current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is seeking another term in office as president of the SFWA. Granted the SFWA are not the Teamsters, but the SFWA is to my mind a labor union just like the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild and the Writers Guild. The SFWA is an association of free individuals that seeks to guarantee just compensation (among other things) for the fruits of the labor of its members.

  324. Schools closed in Madison and elsewhere in Wisconsin for the fourth day.

    It’s a shame teachers have to use sick days so they can protest, maybe they they can get paid work stoppage days added to their next contract.

  325. Rob, today is a national holiday. And many school districts around the country give the Friday before Presidents day off and call it “Midwinter Break.”

    It says a whole lot about the way the labor/management balance has shifted that people criticise government workers for taking holidays that everyone used to have off. My kids’ New Economy employers do not give Christmas, New Years, not the 4th of July off, all though the call center does graciously not require people to work overtime on those holidays. It’s as bad as farming, only without the personal autonomy.

  326. Folks,
    I apologize for not having my facts in order before making the claim that Wisconsin had one of the highest corporate income tax rates. I should have stated it as “higher” or “higher than average”. The fault lies with me and not verifying my initial source before putting my words on display for your perusal. Still, one has to admit that a corporate tax rate sitting on the edge of 8% is pretty high…at least I think so. As always, that is up for debate.

    As I said in an earlier post, I like being pressed as it keeps me honest with you and with myself. I am relatively new at actively debating this sort of stuff and am striving to get better at it – as well as obtain a better understanding of the issues from both sides of the fence. If you guys will be patient with me, I will do my best to do better in the future.

  327. #365 Greg,
    I appreciate your time to comment on my earlier post. I realize that the Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank and that a left leaning person would see them as a biased source. However, when reviewing the sources noted in the article, I felt it had merit for being posted as I thought it was well researched. Once again, I am a newbie at actively debating and my rhetorical skills are lacking to say the least. But, as they say, the best way to learn is to jump right in and swim. In this case, I am swimming with some pretty unforgiving sharks – I mean this as a compliment.

    Would you please give me some examples of websites that you would consider unbiased or as close to unbiased as possible so I can use them as a gauge for when I am researching on sites in the future. This isn’t a challenge, but a legitimate request for your assistance. This request is also open to anyone else that might like to help me become a better contributor in the future.

    Thanks

  328. @JESR- I don’t know if Wisconsin’s school districts had scheduled today off, the news report I read did not mention that and I did not consider President’s Day before I posted. Were Wisconsin’s schools scheduled to be closed on Friday for a “winter break”? I don’t know. Will Wisconsin schools be open tomorrow? I haven’t seen any reporting yet.

    As for sources, Big Guido did a very good job of providing them, but if people can’t stomach the facts presented, they’ll question the source. I’ve done it myself a time or two, and I appreciate when anyone links a source they’ve cited.

    “One of the highest” versus “higher than average” seems to be splitting hairs, whether Wisconsin is 13th or 17th on a list, they’re still fall within the upper third (yes, I know we don’t have 51 states). That makes several other states more attractive to businesses, does anyone think that won’t have an impact on the private sector in Wisconsin? Illinois made a sharp increase in taxes this year, I’ll be interested to see the impact in the short and long term.

  329. As a wisconsin resident let me add a few points even though the thread is already stale.

    1. The doctors handing out bogus sick notes was I believe the decisive turning point in the battle and the unions will look back on it as the point where they lost the average Wisconsin voter. Why? Wisconsin is a very blue collar mentality state. There is a lot of pride in how hard we work. When the teachers lied and called in sick to protest, people understood. When they stood in line to get a bogus doctor’s note so that they could get paid for lying,calling in sick, and most importantly not working. That resonates with the average Wisconsinite and not in favor of the unions. That’s fraud. It’s fraud that takes money out of the taxpayers pockets. Most importantly it’s asking to be paid for work you didn’t do and that’s as low as you can go in this state. If you aren’t from here it’s hard to understand why this is such a big deal, but trust me it’s worse than farting in an elevator.

    2. When the democrat and Union leaders go on TV and insist that they are willing to give up the financial cuts in exchange for keeping the collective bargaining rights they are promising something that they simply can’t deliver. It’s not their decision. Each municipality and school district will have to negotiate that seperately. And it will take time, 15 months in a good enviornment. The only way for the financial cuts to take effect quickly and uniformly is if they are removed from the collective bargaining process. That is why Walker wants it in this bill. You simply can’t have one without the other. The union leaders know this and they are lying when they claim otherwise.

    3. The last governor, Doyle, was a huge liberal with majorities in both chambers who spent the last two years passing legislation that was very friendly to the unions in general and the teachers in particular. The republicans in the minority at the time were completely shut out and most bills passed with little or no debate. They did not run away. When the democrats ran away to Illinois they essentially admited that they had no arguments that could sway their fellow senators during the scheduled floor debate and no way to stop the vote. This was a huge shock to everyone, particularily because there were at least three “moderate” republican senators who looked like they wanted to fold. It actually helped the Republican’s hold their wavering members in line.

    4. I know this was discussed earlier, but I was at the capitol personally on Saturday and the Walker=Hitler signs were not a minority. They were professionally printed and one of the most common posters carried in the rally. It would have been hard to take a picture without including one. There were also plenty of references to Mubarak and egypt etc. And when they got tired of yelling “kill the Bill” they chanted “long live the king” and “down with the dictator” It was not a fringe theme by a few yahoos. There were plenty of fringe signs dealing with rape, sodomy, teabagging, and my personal favorite, the latin banner which translates as “death to the tyrant” but they were a fringe and not representative of the crowd as a whole. although no one seemed to object to them or challenge them either.

    5. The teachers in particular have been brazen about going after the children of republican politicians who are in their classrooms. Not just Walker’s two boys, but children of even mid rank republican activists. It’s a conscious strategy and it undermines their claim to be “for the children”

    6. The journal sentinel is the largest paper in the state and is widely known to tilt very left and very democrat and very pro union. They did everything they could to defeat Walker in the campaign. The editorial board is even more strident than that. The JS editorial board yesterday sided with Walker against the unions. If you are a democrat in Wisconsin and you lose the Journal Sentinel not only are you done, but Hell has just frozen over,

    7. Every state has it’s own quirks. The collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin is it’s own animal and does cause a lot of problems for municipalities who are on a budget. Just a quick example. In my little Village the two people who shelve books in the library belong to their own two person shelvers union. Among other collectively bargained rights is a rule that volunteers can not shelve books, only union members can.

    8. There is always one big hidden issue that the insiders know but that no one talks about publicly. I’ll spill the beans for you. WEAC, the teacher’s union, has a subsidiary that sells health insurance and it isn’t cheap. Geuss where the collectively bargained contracts force school districts to buy insurance for the teachers from? If this is removed as a bargaining item, it is estimated that schools can save 20 or 30% on health premiums by opening this up for competitive bids. This would be a huge loss of revenue for the union.

    9. Finally, This bill is just a tiny blip compared to what the budget bill will look like. Wisconsin has to, by law, solve a 3.6 billion dollar hole in the budget. The cuts will be huge and in some cases devastating. There will be real not manufactured hardships. The Democrats just went nuclear on the warm up bill, what are they planning for the budget bill? Venezuela?

  330. Rob @373: I’ve heard that some of the school districts were closed due to the big snowstorm that hit yesterday. A not unusual occurrence in the upper midwest.

  331. Paul @ 374:

    Your turn to give us cites for all those assertions.

    You come across as more than a little biased.

  332. Paul @374: I don’t buy into your claim that it would take 15 months for cuts to take place with collective bargaining, but can be done tomorrow without it. The unions have already said they are willing to take the proposed benefit cuts, so there’s really nothing to negotiate. That Walker has said no to this shows it’s not about the budget – it’s about busting the unions.

    The ability to collectively negotiate for benefits and the ability to coordinate a work stoppage are the two main powers any union has to protect its members. The bill in question would strip away the first power, and Walker threatening to call up the National Guard is an effort to forestall use of the second power. Add to that the measures to drop automatic payroll deduction for union dues and requiring the unions recertify every year, and it’s easy to see this for what it really is.

    I don’t hear the GOP decrying trade groups using lobbyists to petition for lower corporate taxes, yet workers sending union representatives to petition for better benefits is somehow horrible. They seem to have moved beyond granting corporations the same rights as people to suggesting they have MORE rights than people.

  333. @374:

    Let’s see about some fact-checking. First, the Journal-Sentinel’s editorial specifically said that Walker “should not be trying to bust the unions, which would be counterproductive for members as well as the state and its economy.” The unions have already conceded most of the pay and benefits cuts he wants to make, so the remaining issue is the union-busting and there the JS is in opposition.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/116508343.html

    (as to how far left the news paper is, I note that it endorsed Walker in his race for governor. http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/105358553.html )

    I’m assuming that if I fact-check your other assertions, they will be similarly problematic.

  334. @Not singling out anyone in particular:
    “You come across as more than a little biased”

    I think that could be applied to nearly every commentor on this thread.

  335. DA@366: “However I encourage you to take a less dogmatic stance on Keynesianism; It really is in more trouble than you think.”

    I would encourage you to consider the different logical implications of (1) me showing that Reagan and his own adviser did not think Reganomics would help the econmy but rather implemented it as a way to starve the beast and (2) you accusing me of being dogmatically supportive of Keynseian economics. BigGuido and several others have attempted to prove supply side economics worI just disproved their assertions

    I dont think i said one word about keynsian in this thread, so i dont know how i could be dogmatic about it.

  336. I’ll never understand the willingness of the right to give up their rights. Union people died to give us the comfortable working conditions we have now and that is totally lost on them.

  337. Paul @ 374,

    Re: Your insider hidden issue #8. Granted all you say is true but who came up with the estimate of “20 or 30%” reduction to health care premiums based solely on opening up the health insurance to competitive bids? I do a fair bit in the world of competitive bids, and I’ve never seen any study that ties savings of that magnitude solely to competition. I’d love to see that study, please provide a link.

    Thanks

  338. From the bill:

    “16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

  339. Rob @ 379:

    There’s a line between having a point of view and being outright biased, nay prejudiced.

  340. @380 Greg the fact that one political apparatchik decided that Reagan’s policies were no good, no matter how deep he was in the system, counts for very little. People who are deep in the political process are humans and often change their minds, have epiphanies, grow to despise the people they work with, etc etc etc.
    It means nothing.
    Try thinking for yourself, rather than relying on what some important person thinks or says. Second, Keynes may not have been mentioned, but he’s here all right. But I don’t want to start a whole new argument about economics. That’s OT.

  341. #385 DA,
    You bring up some very good points regarding the folks in the Reagan administration and just about any presidential administration for that matter. I think history shows that supply side economics has a much better track record, regardless of its foibles, than any Keynesian like system. Perhaps someone in the discussion can point out an instance where Keynesian economics has produced a vibrant, growing economy anywhere.

  342. I think history shows that supply side economics has a much better track record, regardless of its foibles, than any Keynesian like system.

    Well, no, history shows nothing of the sort, unless you’d like to cite something to the contrary. (Example: Great Depression, defeated by Keynesian economics. Comparable economic problem defeated by supply side economics? Non-existent.)

  343. BigGuido@387

    You know, speaking as somebody who cut his teeth in Chicago-school economic theory, can I let you know that it’s not really about Keynes vs. Reagan or Keynsian vs. Hayek or however you want to posture your Manichean conflict. In point of fact, macroeconomic theory is a big, hairy, complicated thing that nobody–and I mean nobody–has down to a science at this time.

    If there’s a truism to be had here, it’s that politicians adopt the economic theory that best suits their interest at the time. You got a war? Spend more. You got inflation? Control the money supply. You got a recession? Put people to work, even if it’s public work projects like the Hoover Dam. Et cetera.

    You want to make this a black and white, good vs. evil, us vs. them fight between competing economic theories. I don’t see it that way and, what’s more, I doubt many professional economists do either.

  344. #360:BigGuido@347: I just noticed the many, many links to “The Heritage Foundation” as your “proof that “supply side economics somehow “works”.

    Greg,

    I know you see the Heritage Foundation as a biased source for information, but I was wondering if you went through the links as thoroughly as you seem to indicate. In the foot notes, a great many of the sources come from government reports issued by groups such as the Congressional Budget Office and others. In other footnotes, reports issued by the Heritage Foundation have their external data sources noted as well…many of which I think you would qualify as unbiased information sources. Am I wrong in this? Also, the request is still open for you to provide me with some good unbiased information sources that I could use in the future as a means to judge other sites.

    Once again, thanks for your time.

  345. DA: Greg the fact that one political apparatchik decided that Reagan’s policies were no good, no matter how deep he was in the system, counts for very little.

    My point was that Supply Side Economics is impliemented by its masters not to improve the economy but rather to cut taxes, which reduces revenue to the government, which creates a budget crisis, which then “forces” the government to reduce services. My quotes of Reagan and his nobel prize winning economist talking about cutting the government’s “allowance” shows exactly that.

    Try thinking for yourself

    You remember when I disqualified BigGuido’s “expert” testimony and you confused that with me using an “ad hominem”? That comment right there is an ad hominem by you against me.

    If I have made a logical fallcy somewhere, feel free to point it out. Whether I think for myself or looked a logical argument up on the internet cliff notes is irrelevant to whether my argument is valid. Rather than point out any fallacies you think I have made, you instead make the conversation about me, about the person making the argument, and that is the very core definition of an ad hominem.

  346. #388
    David,
    I really don’t agree with you on Keynesian economics defeating the great depression. If anything, FDR’s Keynesian policies prolonged the Great Depression by as much as 7 years. With introduction of the New Deal, FDR did manage implement some policies that benefited the economy; establishment of a basic social safety net via Social Security and jobless relief benefits. The economy also benefited by stabilizing the financial system through deposit insurance and the Securities Exchange Commission. By the end of 1933, productivity was on a major growth curve, price levels were stable and real interest rates were low. Given those economic factors, why wasn’t there a robust comeback to the economy as was seen in previous cycles. By all indications, the Great Depression should have ended by the end of 1935 to mid 1936 at the latest. Why didn’t it? The answer to that failure lies in the New Deal itself.

    While the New Deal contained policies that benefited the economy, it also contain others that flew in the face of some of the most basic of economic principles. The most damaging of these were at the very center of the New Deal, most of which were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA).

    The NIRA covered some 500 industries (everything from poultry production to steel milling). Each industry was assigned a code of “fair competition” – rules covering everything they could and could not do. These codes were believe to be the answer to what FDR thought was the root cause of the Great Depression – “excessive competition”.

    The codes wreaked havoc with the natural cycle of the economy through artificially inflating wages and prices while restricting industry output and placing quotas on construction of new production facilities and purchasing of new equipment. Once these codes were agreed upon and approved by the government, prices and wages in the industries covered by the codes increased dramatically, while industries that were not covered by the NIRA continued to struggle and fail – agriculture was amongst these uncovered industries. Even after the the NIRA was found to be unconstitutional in 1935, its economy killing policies continued and strangely, no anti-trust investigations were made by the FTC despite overwhelming evidence of price fixing and production limits throughout a myriad of industries. Matters were made even worse by the collective bargaining rights awarded the unions by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 which enabled industry wages to be pushed far above even the NIRA levels.

    The insane wage levels caused many industries to fail, resulting in massive job losses. By mid-1937 a recession within a depression took place. This recession was directly a result of FDR’s New Deal policies that raise wages far beyond competitive levels and created an atmosphere of corruption which encouraged price fixing and limited production. These policies crippled the economic cycle by restricting the natural forces of supply and demand.

    It wasn’t until the Keynesian New Deal policies were reversed in 1938 that a real economic recover began. FDR himself acknowledged in a 1938 speech that the American Economy had turned into a “concealed cartel like Europe” which led to Anti-trust prosecution being reinstated by the Justice Department. The labor unions also saw a reduction in their power via new laws being put in place regarding strikes and also by World War II and the inception of the National War Labor Board. The NWLB put in place major restrictions on wage increases – limiting union settlements to cost-of-living increases only.

    By 1947, NWLB wage restrictions and rapid wartime industrial productivity growth finally closed the gap between high wage rates and low productivity levels caused by the New Deal policies. Economic balance and prosperity were restored by rolling back FDR’s Keynesian New Deal economic and via wage level restriction brought about by World War II.

  347. BigGuido@387: I think history shows that supply side economics has a much better track record,

    If you are looking for some training on making better logical arguments, here are some tips:

    That sentence I quoted from you above? That would be either an unproven premise for the rest of your post. If you want to use this as a premise upon which to base your next argument, you will have to first somehow prove its truth.

    As a general rule, logical arguments have to be based off of premises that are agreed upon as true. If you use a premise and no one disagrees with it, move on. If someone questions the veracity of your premise, you have to back up and prove your premise is true. For example:

    Perhaps someone in the discussion can point out an instance where Keynesian economics has produced a vibrant, growing economy anywhere.

    David@388 disagrees with your first premise, therefore you have to prove it. He also provides evidence that answers your second question. Most economists would say, roughly speaking, that we basically spent our way out of the Great Depression.

    Now, here’s where this affects you directly: if your reasoning is logically based, if you follow the evidence to whatever logical conclusion it leads you to, then this new information, which contradicts your position, ought to have a large potential to alter your position. If it does not, then you might want to consider that you are not following the evidence to whatever logical conclusion they present, but rather have a conclusion and are picking and choosing the evidence that gets you to the conclusion you want.

    the request is still open for you to provide me with some good unbiased information sources that I could use in the future as a means to judge other sites.

    Well, sometimes the problem is that you have to give up that certain conclusions can be logically proven in the first place. DA seems to think I’m a dogmatic, unthinking, Keynsian. I’m not. I mean, if I were to say what economic policy is the best policy, I’d probably say it involves a larger portion of Keynsian than Reaganomics, but as Nick @389 points out, it’s not black and white, and ther is a lot we don’t know.

    And sometimes that can be the best indicator that you’ve found a source of information that you can rely on: they don’t claim to know everything, they make clear that their position is not proven by immutable logic, but that it is more like the outcome of a lot of hard work by really smart poeple. Economics is essentially the art of studying human behavior around money. It is not like chemistry. Its not like if you add one billion dollars of stimulous to the economy, you get an exothermic reaction producing $750 million in new jobs and and $900 million in new businesses.

    The great depression, for example, was fundamentally driven by panic and its recovery was fundamentally one of making those panics go away. There are crashes caused by “bubbles” where something gets on a fast track of valuation driven by too much optimism about the something’s potential value. And efforts to prevent future bubbles focus on regulations that prevent overly optimistic feeligs from occurring.

    So, understanding economics is driven in part by understanding mass panic and mass optimism and mass emotions of various other kinds which affect people’s money decisions on a systemic level.

    That aint something you can prove purely with logic.

    But folks trained in ieconomics have tended to come to the same conclusions. When ten nobel prize winning economists opposed reaganomics and one supported it, do you go with the one who holds your idealogy or do you go with the ten who say you are wrong? If you are unable to entertain the possibility that you are wrong, then that is the biggest red flag that you probably are.

    It applies to you as much as it applies to sources you want to use for your arguments. If they are absolutely certain, if they claim absolute knowledge, if they claim inerrancy, if they claim infallibility, then those are red flags that they are not following the evidence to whatever logical conclusion it leads.

    If you want to get good at judging external sources, practice the idea that you may be wrong.When you get good at that, you will get good at recognizing it in others. When you can follow the evidence to whereever it leads (especially if it leads you to someplace you disagreed with), then you’ll get better at recognizing when someone else does. and when they don’t.

  348. #393 Greg,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response to my request. It gives me a lot to think about. I think I’ll check out some texts on logic and debate to get a better grasp on establishing better premises for my arguments and to aid me in identifying biased sources and (relatively) unbiased ones..this will be interesting.

    I do agree that economics is a giant hairball. If it were strictly black and white, we wouldn’t have the roller coaster rides we have.

    Once again, thanks for your input. I have added it to my notes file for future reference.

  349. “If I have made a logical fallcy somewhere, feel free to point it out. ”

    Okay. You cited the opinion of an expert (Reagan’s economist) as evidence in favour of your position. This is called “argument from authority.”

    “You remember when I disqualified BigGuido’s “expert” testimony and you confused that with me using an “ad hominem”? That comment right there is an ad hominem by you against me.”

    accusing someone of an ‘ad hominem’ is not itself an ad hominem. I can see I’m dealing with lightweights here.

  350. @DA: You misunderstood Greg’s comment about ad hominem. You might want to think twice before calling people lightweights.

  351. When ten nobel prize winning economists opposed reaganomics and one supported it, do you go with the one who holds your idealogy or do you go with the ten who say you are wrong?

    You realise that expert opinion is divided. Nobel prize winners don’t agree? 9 -1 might as well be 50-50.

  352. You cited the opinion of an expert (Reagan’s economist) as evidence in favour of your position. This is called “argument from authority.”

    Oh. My. God.

    My position was that Supply Side Economics is not being used by its politcial handlers to help the economy, that it is used to starve the beast. My quotes from Reagan and Friedman are not arguments from authority. I am not off loading my logical proof to them. I am using their quotes as a confession. They are the political handlers of 8 years of Reaganomics. They admitted that their policies would likely harm the economy, but that their motivation was to force a reduction in the government revenue and reduce left winger’s “allowance” for progressive programs.

    If it was an argument from authority, I would say something like Supplly Side Economics works, just ask Reagan. Rather I said Supply Side Economics is a cover for starving the beast, and here is a quote from Reagan and his adviser that confess exactly that.

    Greg: That comment right there is an ad hominem by you against me.

    DA: accusing someone of an ‘ad hominem’ is not itself an ad hominem

    Dude, read #391 again. I quoted your sentence which said “Try thinking for yourself”. When I said “that comment right there” I was referingto you saying “try thinking for yourself”, which implies that I’m not thinking for myself, which is a personal comment about me, which is, by definition, an ad hominem.

    I can see I’m dealing with lightweights here.

    That too is an ad hominem.

    Back at #361, you try to accuse me of committing an ad hominem. I didn’t. I was actually disqualifying BigGuido’s “expert” testimony from “expert” status because it is such a biased source. But because you tried to point out what you thought was an ad hominem, I assumed that you don’t like ad hominems. But you’ve since committed two ad hominems against me, one indicating I don’t think for myself and one calling me a lightweight.

    I am left to assume that you only care about correcting ad hominems when it’s done by someone opposing your viewpoint, and that you are more than willing to use ad hominem’s when it suits you.

    sarahk: You misunderstood Greg’s comment about ad hominem.

    DA: argument by assertion.

    No. You really did misunderstand my comment as explained above. I assume that sarahk left it up to you to demonstrate whether you would consider the possibility that you were mistaken and reread my comment.

  353. Greg: do you go with the one who holds your idealogy or do you go with the ten who say you are wrong?

    DA: 9 -1 might as well be 50-50.

    This must be some of that “new math” they’re teaching.

  354. This is called “argument from authority.”

    No, it’s absolutely not. Argument from authority is a fallacy iff the cited individual is not an accepted authority on the subject at hand. If Greg had claimed that SSE doesn’t work because, say, Albert Einstein disagreed with it, that would be an argument from authority fallacy. Imstead, Greg cited Reagan, SSE’s most famous proponent, and one of his top economic advisors, whom I think you should acknowledge as an expert on SSE. Unless you’d like to present a counter argument that neither of these men are accepted authorities on SSE.

    9 -1 might as well be 50-50.

    This doesn’t even mean anything. I think you realize that responding that you only accept the one who agrees with you is an unsustainable position, so you attempt to dismiss the question instead. The correct counterargument is to show that the one economist knows more than the other 10.

    argument by assertion.

    And now you’re just being silly.

  355. You’re probably right. I just recall that you’re a fan of well constructed arguments (and not a fan of poorly constructed ones) and thought I’d chime in on that issue. :)

  356. Besides the fire sale of power plants and assets to entities like the Koch brothers, which is why the Koch brothers sent their tea party employees to support Walker, the bill also has a provision that will allow Walker to have the Department of Health Services, which is Republican controlled, change state laws unilaterally without going through the legislative process, and drop 50,000 people from Medicaid, and change eligibility requirements, modify benefits and eliminate benefits without legislative oversight. This bill is about much more than just public unions, who agreed to cuts and paying more for their benefits before the bill. It’s part of a larger Republican scorched earth policy. I don’t think they’re even using supply side economics at this point.

  357. I haven’t been following this event very closely, but based on reading the first 100 or so comments of this thread, I’m against whatever people like “Greg” are for. It doesn’t matter if you say, if you say it in a way that makes the idea of agreeing and identifying with you repugnant. That’s why the people who call themselves the “left” are losing – even with people like Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly etc. on the “right”, the “left” STILL manages to lose the civility concours. Of course, I think the fact that people are trying to maintain that 230-year-old conceptual battle line, even though the issues identifying the sides are now either moot or unrecognizably different, is a big part of the problem.

  358. Actually, I have learned quite a bit about ad hominem and argument from authority fallacies due to the last few posts. Off topic, perhaps, but not an exhausted thread. I also appreciated the Heritage Foundation link. I consider myself neither cleanly liberal nor conservative, yet some of the information about tax revenue versus tax rates, and percentage of taxes related to GDP were quite fascinating. I am now less opposed to tax cuts in certain instances, yet still opposed to what Walker is trying to do to labor unions.

    I want to paraphrase something said upstream – that businesses have no goal but to make money (or more properly, profit, since making money is up to the Federal Government). This is a devilish idea, because it leads to all sorts of behavior on the part of upper management and shareholders that profit in the short-term, and at the same time, can cause major social and economic destruction in the long-term.

    Let’s say lowering corporates taxes in Wisconsin does create more jobs. There is still a cost to this, however. Perhaps it means less state revenue, leading to less public school teachers, leading to more ignorant students, leading to more unemployed teenagers, leading to more criminal behavior. Maybe it means something completely different. Maybe it means all of the above.

    But it seems very shallow to “starve” government revenue to generate more business profit, without seriously addressing the real consequences of cutting government services. .

  359. Todd: But it seems very shallow to “starve” government revenue to generate more business profit, without seriously addressing the real consequences of cutting government services. .

    I agree with you, but that is their confessed goal. They want to starve government revenue specifically to force a cut of government services. They want to cut its “allowance”. They want to shrink it until its small enough to drown in a bathtub.

    To them, cutting services has only positive consequences, it takes the welfare queen out of her cadillac. It forces the lazy government workers to find real jobs. In other words, they have a myth that all government services are wasteful, and this starvation policy feeds right into that myth. As far as they are concerned there are no real negative consequences to starving the beast, because, well, it is an evil beast according to their myth.

  360. Just so I am clear. The perceived problem seems to be that the unionized state workers have mediocre pay plus healthcare and pensions, whereas the schlubs in the private sector have awful pay and somehow have to try to find pension and healthcare benefits out of the money they don’t have.

    And some of you guys think that the unionized workers are the problem?

    Words fail me.

  361. #407 Todd,
    You are welcome for the Heritage Foundation links. Despite what some folks think of the Heritage Foundation, I have found the majority of the materials I have read there to be carefully researched and sourced to what appear to be information from as close to unbiased research and information sources as possible. Usually, when there is an article that is strictly an opinion piece, it is noted as such. Of course they are a conservative think tank and make no effort to claim they are not.

    I think I was the one that made the assertion that a business’ primary reason for existing is making money. It was way back in the infamous #334 post which spawned the whole “highest” or “higher” debate. Gotta watch your wording around here as these folks are sharp and don’t let you get away with being sloppy. This is a good thing.

    At any rate, what I meant by that was not that businesses are just about making money, but that is their primary goal because if they are not profitable, they cannot afford to stay in business. If they are successful, i.e. profitable, then they will stay in business. If the service or product they are selling is of good quality, reputation and perceived as something of value by consumers, then demand for it will rise and the company will have to grow to meet consumer demand. This is why I refer to new employment opportunities (jobs) as a byproduct of a successful business.

    A successful business needs to add employees if it is to meet consumer demand for its product or service. Even if the successful business outsources manufacturing or selling of its product, new jobs are created by the outsourced work. It all has to do with generating cash flow and being profitable. Money is the lifeblood of the business. If it fails to be profitable and does nothing to correct that problem, eventually the business fails and all of the jobs the business created are lost. The jobs cannot continue without the business that created them. This may be a hard reality to accept, but that is the way it works in a capitalist society.

  362. So Big Guido, if all of this is hard in a Capitalist society, how come heavily unionized Germany and Sweden are about the healthiest economies at the moment?

    Most of the problems seem to stem from a rather daft, in my opinion, implementation of capitalism.

    The first thing you guys could do is make sane healthcare universal, and then address pensions…

  363. Big Guido: the other thing that occurs is that your definition of business is fairly narrow especially when it comes to public rather than private services, and also the infrastructure reQuired to support an economy. I just got back from a trip to Europe where I noticed that even in messed up Britain the roads and public transport beat the he’ll out of Washington State.

  364. BigGuido: Heritage Foundation, I have found the majority of the materials I have read there to be carefully researched and sourced to what appear to be information from as close to unbiased research and information sources as possible.

    Compared to what????

    The congressional Budget Office is unbiased and carefully researched. The Heritage Foundation???? No. Sorry. Doesn’t fly.

  365. There’s tons of stuff I’d love to respond to, but respecting John’s suggestion to let it go, let’s let it go.
    Um, except for this nugget:

    “No, it’s absolutely not. Argument from authority is a fallacy iff the cited individual is not an accepted authority on the subject at hand.”

    Sorry but no. I realise that wikipedia says what you say, but wikipedia is dead wrong.
    And with that, I fold.

  366. BigGuido @411: Then I think you need to go back and read those footnotes again. When a position paper (not a research paper) sources back to more position papers by the same author and/or advocacy group, and relies on articles more for faith than actual economic value, then it’s not a reliable source.

    Regarding Wisconsin, Walker is no longer pretending that this is anything other than union busting.

  367. DA: I realise that wikipedia says what you say, but wikipedia is dead wrong.

    wikpedia and every other site I’ve seen that talks about expert opinion.

    just quick goodling finds one good example here:

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/authorit.html

    It distinguishes between appeal to authority fallacies and actual expert opinion on a subject.

    Some reasons it would be a fallacy:

    2.The “authority” cited is not an expert on the issue

    3.The authority is an expert, but is not disinterested.

    4.While the authority is an expert, his opinion is unrepresentative of expert opinion on the subject. The fact is that if one looks hard enough, it is possible to find an expert who supports virtually any position that one wishes to take.

    Basically using an expert in a logical argument is OK if the person really is an expert, is not biased to one conclusion or another but rather follows the evidence to whatever conclusion it leads, and and is representative of the consensus of expert opinion of the subject matter.

    9 nobel prize iwnning economists signing a letter to oppose Reaganomics versus 1 nobel prize winning economist supporting it should be a red flag that Reagonimcs opposes the consensus of expert opinion. Not sufficient by itself, but a red flag.

  368. This all has nothing to do with economics. The public unions already agreed to Walker’s financial demands for austerity givebacks on their contracts — financially, he got what he wanted, even if it had very little to do with the actual state deficit. But Walker wants to strip collective bargaining rights from the unions in order to bust them, because the unions largely support the Democratic party. (Private sector unions have slipped in size but public sector unions still have about 30% of the workforce.) Weaken or destroy the unions, weaken the Democrats, especially in the state government. The bill also allows Walker to shred Medicaid without state congressional oversight, and also without legislation or oversight, sell state power plants and other assets for any amount he wants. Which he will do to the Koch brothers, who are his biggest political donors. This is a business deal with political aims, not an economic issue. They just had a journalist pretending to be one the Koch brothers who had a charming conversation with Walker where Walker talked about putting fake agitators into the crowd of protesters to make them look bad and other charming, underhanded tactics, and he openly talked about Republicans seizing power through these tactics. It’s a political power grab, not economics. Walker’s trying to pretend, badly, that he’s Reagan. He doesn’t give a crap about Wisconsin’s economy. If he passes the bill and strips the collective bargaining rights, it effects federal transit funds under federal labor law and can cost the state up to $46 million in federal funding — more than half of the amount Wisconsin receives in federal transit funding. Wisconsin officials informed Walker of this. He doesn’t care because he’s orchestrating the front line of the Republican scorched earth policy. Which it looks like some Republican governors may now be rethinking.

  369. New poll: 61% of Americans oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of state employeees.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-22-poll-public-unions-wisconsin_N.htm

    This one is a biased source, but its interesting:

    http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/02/22/walkers-one-month-legacy-job-killer/

    Walker rejected federal funding for the creation of high-speed rail that would have added more than 14,000 family-supporting jobs to his state. Here’s the breakdown of job and income loss because of Walker’s action:

    • LOST: 4,732 construction jobs.
    • LOST: 9,570 permanent jobs.
    • LOST: $173 million in additional Wisconsin household income.

    On top of that, Walker’s move actually COST taxpayers TONS of money: By returning the $810 million in federal funding for this project, Wisconsin must pay back the federal government and contractors for work already done.

    Compare the above fact to the below myth:

    BigGuido@334:The tax breaks awarded to said companies were done to keep private sector jobs in Wisconsin.

    High speed rail in wisconsin could actually make sense. If they could get a rail from chicago up to milwaukee or green bay, that would serve massive numbers of people, and apparently create a lot of jobs.

  370. Kat: Which he will do to the Koch brothers, who are his biggest political donors.

    Wait, this is the same Koch Brothers whom Justice Clarence Thomas has the big gaping conflict of interest with when he voted on Citizens vs United???

    These guys are dumping millions into campaigns because of CvsU. And this is what that ends up looking like.

  371. Greg: “Wait, this is the same Koch Brothers whom Justice Clarence Thomas has the big gaping conflict of interest with when he voted on Citizens vs United???

    These guys are dumping millions into campaigns because of CvsU. And this is what that ends up looking like.”

    They own lots of energy stuff in Wisconsin and they’d like some more at cut rate prices, please. Plus of course, getting rid of unions much fun for them. They’ve brought their little Americans for Prosperity Tea Party group up from out of state to jump up and down. Also, turns out Walker probably violated the law and ethics by sending the cops to try and catch one of the Democratic Senators at her house, because the law is that police cannot be used to enforce disputes between employers and employees.

    A few of the many links about the prank call:

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/116758014.html?page=1

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/23/6116445-walker-in-prank-call-this-is-our-moment

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_wisconsin_budget_unions

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-berney/walker-koch_b_827129.html

  372. Oh wow. Walker said that Reagan breaking up the striking air traffic controllers union was what brougth down the Berlin wall. That just blows the mind.

    BigGuido, if you’re still researching logical arguments and fallacies, that’s called a “non causa pro causa” fallacy.

  373. Relayed to me by a friend:

    “Are you sick of highly paid teachers?”
    by Meredith Menden

    Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

    Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

    We can get that for less than minimum wage.

    That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

    Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

    However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

    LET’S SEE….

    That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

    What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

    Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

    The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

    Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

  374. #425 Greg:
    I have indeed been doing some reading and have found it to be quite interesting. I can already start seeing the fallacies in some of my premises and have been playing around with them to shape them up. BTW, even though we obviously don’t see eye to eye on our politic points of view, I would like to think that if we ever met we would get along well. I would happily treat you to a beer or whatever beverage you prefer and with luck, become friends. I admire your tenacity, as well as your willingness to share some of your knowledge of logic and rhetoric when asked.

  375. So if I understand what just happened in the cheesehead state, the original bill was a fiscal bill and therefore needed a quorum of N number of senators where N was equal to all the current Republican senators plus some of the Democrat senators. The governor stripped out all the fiscal parts of the bill, leaving basically the part that broke the union, and a non-fiscal bill required a quorum of M number of senators where M was less than the number of Republican senators. The Republican senators then pushed the bill through.

    By removing all the parts of the bill that had anything to do with fiscal matters, the Re-thug-licans made clear that this was not about any budget “crisis”, and not about balancing any budget deficit, that it was really only about one thing, and one thing only: Breaking the union whatever it takes.

    Anyone who says this had anything to do with budgets is full of shit.

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