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February 18, 2011

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Hey, the Camembertians elected this schmuck and his co-schmucks in the legislature, maybe they should think twice about that next time.

My guess is, there was a series of facepalms cracking like a chain of firecrackers going off across the state...

This is classic Disaster Capitalism: create a disaster, then use it as an excuse to remove wealth and rights from ordinary citizens and transfer them to the rich and powerful. Not a new tactic at all, but this is about as brazen an implementation as we've seen inside the US. I'm glad to see the anger and resistance that's sprung up against it; previous examples, such as what's been done to New Orleans since Katrina, have not generated much notice or much objection.

Speaking of electing schmucks:

House blocks fed aid for Planned Parenthood

One wonders why this didn't get passed when the GOP controlled both houses of congress and teh POTUS.

Ugh:

Why, it's almost as though they aren't *serious* ...

Wisconsin has been one of the best at funding its retirement commitments.

The problem with deferred pay has always been that someone else controls the money -- as many found to their chagrin when their retirement programs went up in smoke in the private sector.

Government employees made it very clear at the rally today at the State Capitol that they would negotiate on wages and benefits, but they would not willingly give up their rights.

...but this is about as brazen an implementation as we've seen inside the US.

I don't know, Obama signing tax cuts in December and cutting home heating subsidies in early February is pretty brazen.

Michael Hudson ...shows that it is global. I've kinked to his home page because any of the articles are worth reading, and all are on the same theme, although Hudson mostly focuses on Europe. Highly recommended.

Once you understand Disaster Capitalism as a coup by the creditor class, then you can go back and look at the bank crisis in fall-summer of 2008, and the early months of 2009 with some better tools.

I was speaking to a co-worker based in Madison yesterday. He expects Walker to be recalled within the year.

We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm glad to see folks in the streets.

What is interesting and important about Wisconsin (and I think the ME, but connecting them is another story) is the first signs that the people in the US are recognizing that the entire political system is irredeemably corrupted by finance+ money and beyond reform, that some kinds of direct action are the only possible efficacious responses, and that the electoral politics establishment will need to be bypassed, circumvented, or overthrown.

Dr. Science:

"Why, it's almost as though they aren't serious ..."

Geez, I can imagine a small nuclear mushroom cloud far off on the horizon over the spot where John Emerson just went kablooey along with a good part of the surrounding scenery.

May we please, at the very least, while observing the bland-faced posting rules, take these people seriously?

They are as serious as the murderous Red-State-backed Mubarak vermin who raped Lara Logan.

They are as serious about their plans for this country as the murderous, sadistic vermin in al Qaeda were about the threats outlined in the memo Condoleeza Rice tried to put under George W. Bush's nose the summer before 9/11.

I don't believe that memo contained the words "negotiating position" to refer to what was coming, much like the sadistic vermin elected by ignorant sadistic vermin last November used the words "negotiating position" anywhere during their campaigns, or since.

I agree with McManus and thank him, on behalf of all, for expressing himself within the posting rules.

There will no posting rules, however, for what is coming in this country.

There will no posting rules, however, for what is coming in this country.

along these lines, in addition to the union busting going on in WI (which AFAICT is only failing by a single vote) and other states, the backup/other part of the plan is to change the bankruptcy code to allow states to declare bankruptcy and clear out the public employee unions that way.

We're also headed toward either a government shutdown at the federal level or draconian cuts to non-defense discretionary spending (or, if we're lucky, both), as the GOP has just voted to defund the Health Care Reform bill as part of the spending bill.

And what you're also going to see is the GOP getting away with it, doing its best to keep unemployment as high as possible until the 2012 presidential election in the hopes that the GOP nominated ignorant sadistic vermin* (to borrow a phrase) is elected, and then the real partying will begin.

And also, just wait until you see the GOP pounce on Obama and blame him for the wave of less-US-friendly (but more democratic) "radical islamic brotherhood al qaeda" governments that will probably emerge in Egypt and elsewhere in the middle east among our former "allies."

Meanwhile, there's going to be a lot of praying and wishing the unemployment rate down over at 1600 Penn, cause ain't nothing they can do about it now.

But hey, should be interesting, pass the popcorn and fallout shelters.

*Emerson would have called them moronic brownshirt fncks, IIRC.

In 1972, when I was a freshman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave a lecture at my high school. Violent demonstrations on college campuses were recent events in those days; it wasn't clear the phenomenon was over. Moynihan's theme was demographic reassurance: the tumult had much to do with the baby bulge moving into its late teens and early twenties. Things would quiet down, said Moynihan, as the boomers aged.

I bring this up because of the current waves of unrest in the Mideast and the Midwest. On the grand scale, both seem related to demographic bulges. In the Middle East, I gather a baby boom is moving into its troubled and troublesome twenties, anxious about its prospects for work. In the US, an earlier baby boom is moving into its dotage, anxious about its prospects for retirement.

Moynihan's lecture was the first time I had ever heard of the "baby boom". I don't remember whether I instantly appreciated Moynihan's analysis, but looking back over nearly four decades I think the man had a point.

What I wonder is whether he ever foresaw the potential for demonstrations in the streets as the leading edge of the American demographic bulge starts squeezing out the back end of its working years. Sixty-ish people are supposed to be more sedate than twenty-ish ones. But maybe it's a cohort's numbers, rather than its age, that drives it to protest and agitate when life transitions loom.

--TP

So, if not taxing HSA's is viewed as a "cause" of the budget problem, shouldn't the answer be to tax employer-provided health care benefits? If not, why? Wouldn't a tax on those benefits, including those given to unionized government employees, provide far more revenue than the HSA taxes ever would?

I'm not sure about the other "causes" of the budget crises. Both seem to be stimulus measures. The devil must be in the details.

I don't see the need for full collective bargaining for public sector employers, at least how it exists now. Looks to me like in Wisconsin they were still going to get to bargain over base pay and they keep the civil service code. And public safety is exempt (because, like in California, there are some unions too entrenched to take on).
Since the unions are playing the "democracy" card, why not require all increases in pay/benefits to be approved by the employer (i.e. the public)? For that matter, why not vote (legislators) and let the voters take it out on the legislature next term? Hiding? What's up with that? That seems completely undemocratic. I can see it if it were a truly moral issue and a civil disobedience situation, but not over this.


I don't see the need for full collective bargaining for public sector employers...

need?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don't see the need for full collective bargaining for public sector employers

What's different about public sector employees?

People who work for a wage or salary bargain because that's the lever they have to influence what they get. Without that lever, they get no more or less than what's offered.

And what cleek said. Folks assemble to voice their point of view on every imaginable issue. It's hard for me to see people's livelihoods being of less importance than every other thing that folks protest over.

Conservatives hate labor unions, and the governor of WI is taking his opportunity to try to break the public unions in his state. Folks who either belong to or support unions have every reason and every right to object.

And yeah, "conservatives hate labor unions" is a gross generalization, but it's one that I'm happy to stand behind, because I'm not totally ignorant of the history of the freaking United States.

Is there a better definition of "conservative" than "hates labor unions"?
Was there ever?

--TP

Nice title, but first place has to go to LGM's Paul Campos and his post entitled On Wisconsin


"What's different about public sector employees?"

Just about everything. Most important you cant buy what they do from anyone else when they go on strike so they have absolute negotiating power. Even for people who don't like unions they like public sector unions even less.

But, everyone who doesn't live in a right to work state raise your hand: everyone with your hand raised continue discussing how awful this is.

The rest of us will scratch our head and wonder how it is we suddenly don't live in a democracy.


The Michael Hudson blog bob mcmanus linked to is fabulous. bobbyp, if you're reading, it's right up your alley.

Note the last few words of this quote from the latest post (as of this comment):

Given the geographic proximity of Latvia and Belarus, it is illuminating to compare how neoliberals have assessed their respective economies. Latvia suffered Europe’s largest economic collapse in 2008 and 2009, with continuing double-digit unemployment. Its economy will show no growth until this year (2011), and its modest growth likely will remain accompanied by double-digit unemployment. Much of its population has evacuated the country, leaving many children with relatives or to fend for themselves. Neighboring Belarus, with few of Latvia’s geographic advantages (ports and beaches) or high-tech background, has a per capital GDP not too far behind Latvia’s. Belarus had a boom with double-digit growth before the crisis, and kept its economy at full employment during the crisis rather than collapsing by the 25 percent rate that plagued Latvia. Belarus also has a GINI coefficient (inequality) roughly on par with Sweden, while Latvia’s is closer to the widening inequality levels that now characterize the United States.

Most important you cant buy what they do from anyone else when they go on strike so they have absolute negotiating power.

right. which is why they all live like total fncking kings. P-Diddy just wishes he was a teacher in downtown Detroit, making $50K with a doctorate and 5 years of experience! that's the dream, yo. absolute power.

cleek,

Not all unions abuse the negotiating power they have, it doesn't mean they don't have it.

Also, teachers unions have often taken benefits in lieu of salaries at the negotiating table. Many unions have taken job security and lifetime health and retirement benefits in lieu of current salaries.

Then you have states where the unions have abused the power they have. Just like companies that have abused the power they have.

Not all unions abuse the negotiating power they have, it doesn't mean they don't have it.

errr. no. "absolute negotiating power" should yield some awesome lifestyles - especially if union members are as corrupt and unprincipled as "conservatives" make them out to be. i know if i had "absolute negotiating power" (and was in a union), i'd be crazy rich. to hell with 17-year programmer salary, i'd be all like "Bieber, git me a quesadilla!" and i'm not even corrupt. imagine what a truly self-serving person would do !

Marty:

Teachers unions have often taken benefits in lieu of salaries at the negotiating table. Many unions have taken job security and lifetime health and retirement benefits in lieu of current salaries.

Then you have states where the unions have abused the power they have. Just like companies that have abused the power they have.

Please provide an example of a state where public-sector unions have abused their power. Then show how this is "just like" the way companies abuse power. I am not seeing the comparison.

Meanwhile, there's going to be a lot of praying and wishing the unemployment rate down over at 1600 Penn, cause ain't nothing they can do about it now.

I've got to wonder why they were so reluctant to do anything about it before. ISTM that the last two years have given us the same kind of nastiness (kneecapped recovery stimulus, increased power to building the security panopticon, cover for torture and detention without charge, etc.), only introduced a bit slower. As I've been saying for awhile now, I consider Obama a right-of-center Republican (let's say, right of Nixon, for instance).

I was speaking to a co-worker based in Madison yesterday. He expects Walker to be recalled within the year.

I know there's a petition going around right now to recall half a dozen of the Republican state senators; while it would be nice to think that Walker's going to suffer the same fate, I think it's unduly optimistic.

One thing to remember is that it's hard to underestimate the hatred that Republicans have ginned up for Madison in the rural parts of the state. Back in the contract negotiations of 2001-2002 -- the last time the Republicans tried to seriously screw the public employees* -- there were Republican state senators (notably John Gard, who later ran for the US Senate) whose pitch to their constituents boiled down to: we're going to screw those a**holes in Madison to show them who's boss. [This was almost expressly what John Gard later said to my union-of-the-time in the 2003-2004 negotiations.] Nothing against the folks from the sticks, of course -- some of my best friends &c -- but there's enough support for Republicans and resentment against Madison that I don't see Walker going anywhere soon.

Though I'd love to be wrong...

* As it was almost ten years ago, I may have the dates slightly wrong; things got confusing in part because our contract for that biennium wasn't actually signed until after the biennium was over, instead of before it began.

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble

A law not requiring the government to bargain or prohibiting the government from bargaining does not violate the 1st A., as far as I know. Several states (Virginia?) already prohibit bargaining, and in some it is not mandatory (Utah).

What's different about public sector employees?

You can't be serious. Right?

Public employment is taxpayer funded. The government doesn't have to make a profit, and the incentive to save money is not really there. Add in political scratch, and you have a recipe for disaster. Take a look at California, where I live. You end up getting voting blocks in exchange for $$.

Public employment used to be a trade off between a lower wage with a good pension. Now it's both. And employment for life. Look at what it takes to fire a teacher. It's a far cry from the poor working conditions that lead to unionization in the private sector. Workers can vote with their feet and go to the private sector. And leverage? Take a look at the public safety unions in California and talk to me about leverage.

I remember the clerk's office when I was a law clerk unionizing (IBEW). They already had great working conditions, a generous pension, good pay and just about every other Friday off with all the holidays. They ended up bargaining for a pay raise to cover the money they lost with union dues.

Not every job is the same, I realize. I'm still amazed at how quick the iron workers were that raised a building I was associated with. Not that there isn't a place for unions. I don't see the benefit to taxpayers in public bargaining.

russell - Just fyi - he has to be in office for a year before he can be recalled, but, of course, the organizing can start at any time. I think it is safe to say that it has.

@MikeDrewWhat
Madison

I was warning about this happening when ACORN controversy was going on before Robert Reich shut the comments on his blog down. GOP main effort is to destroy Democrats voting base and every their speech and every word was and still is about how amoral and unamerican is every segment of Democrat base. Women, Latino, Muslims, African-Americans, unions
On top of that add Citizen United and Democrats are finished and permanent GOP rule is in.

This is concerted, planed nationwide effort by GOP and is working like a charm. I can see some of you are still laughing at republican talking points and lack of facts. Keep laughing while they are destroying our bases. Keep arguing nuances with believers while they are working to destroy you. They are believers, they can not be argued with. Arguing requires use of facts, while believing doesn't. No amount of fact can shake a belief, trust me i was married to a narcissist/alcoholic and once you win an argument they switch to another topic.


When i read Karl Denninger (right wing market analyst and a tea party founder) about how this economic crisis was predicated and intentional, i thought it is another conspiracy theory, but now i can see it as a part of the multi-year GOP plan. Almost all large bank and hedge fund managers are republicans.
Only thing worth arguing about with your republican friends and family is about history of middle class: FDR and unions. They still did not destroy the fact that middle class created US what it is. Everything else above mentioned is just a distraction from what matters. If you want to argue about what is happening in Wisconsin with a republican believer just point out to the "rich unionista" clothing of the demonstrators

That the public employees in question have a monopoly and are thus kings is (at least in the US afaict) digestive final product of ruminants. Teachers at private schools, private security companies, private or volontary firefighting services, private for-profit prisons*? I even hear about ideas floated to reintroduce tax farming** (if the collection process has not yet been outsourced in some places already).

*remember the scandal where one of these companies bribed judges to get more 'customers'?
**can't resist the pun: that would be re-publicanizing the land.

bc: Public employment is taxpayer funded. The government doesn't have to make a profit, and the incentive to save money is not really there. Add in political scratch, and you have a recipe for disaster. Take a look at California, where I live. You end up getting voting blocks in exchange for $$.

Replace "public employment is" with "government contractors are" and tell me why the rest of your paragraph would need to change. Well, okay: I suppose you might need to replace "voting blocks" with "campaign contributions", in the last sentence.

Unions can drive a hard bargain with us taxpayers because they're big, disciplined organizations. Corporations are even bigger, even more disciplined organizations. Both insist on negotiating contracts with "the government".

We taxpayers all hate the thought that our spendthrift government gives over-generous contracts to big, disciplined organizations. We only differ over which kind of big, disciplined organization we'd rather get screwed by.

--TP

Hey Anarch! Great to see you.

If you (or Mike D or anyone else in Wisconsin area) would like to make a guest post about the situation, please contact the kitty at the email address or me directly at libjpn (at) gmail. Of course, links are great (Bob McManus posted a link to this blog post that has some interesting links) but having someone who is there or who was recently in Wisconsin and can give an informed view would be wonderful.

I'm particularly interested in the teacher's union sick-in that I've seen mentioned and that one or two sources (sorry, I've not been organized enough with my reading to find the cite) said that the union leadership wasn't really so hot on the idea. Crooked Timber's Harry Brighouse obliquely mentions it here and Josh Healey, who lived in Madison until just recently, also has a useful summary

This same kind of thing is going on in Ohio, and even some conservative analysts here think the Republicans have gone too far. I heard a statistic that only 2% of the negotiations even go into arbitration, so this is just another instance of Republicans' overblown, dishonest rhetoric.

Most important you cant buy what they do from anyone else when they go on strike so they have absolute negotiating power.

See also, PATCO. And those stupid f***ers supported Reagan in 1980. Last laugh was on them.

You can't be serious. Right?

I'll rephrase. What is different about public employees that makes collective bargaining inappropriate?

Public employment used to be a trade off between a lower wage with a good pension. Now it's both.

And private sector compensation used to rise roughly in step with the growth of the economy. Now it doesn't.

Public employees look like they're living fat and happy because everyone else is getting screwed..

And Walker wants to make sure that public employees get screwed in just the same way.

t's a far cry from the poor working conditions that lead to unionization in the private sector.

Which is why everyone is clamoring to be a teacher, a firefighter, a cop, or a clerk in the office of deeds. Fat city.

Workers can vote with their feet and go to the private sector.

Not quite 10% official unemployment, the U6 is closer to 20%.

And leverage? Take a look at the public safety unions in California and talk to me about leverage.

No doubt CA is FUBAR. That problem has many fathers, it ain't just union malfeasance.

If you don't like unions, the solution is to get out of the business of treating people who work for a living like a "labor market" and treat them like folks who bring value to the organizations they work in and for.

If you can't do that, folks are going to do whatever they need to do to make sure they can have a decent life.

Walker has thrown the gauntlet down. He started a knife fight, and the other side is not backing down. Good for them.

One thing to remember is that it's hard to underestimate the hatred that Republicans have ginned up for Madison in the rural parts of the state.

The population of WI is about 5 million.

The population of greater Madison is about 570K. The population of greater Milwaukee is about 1.5 million.

68% of the folks in WI live in or near cities. American's Dairyland or not, manufacturing and services bring more money into the state than agriculture.

If Walker wants to make this all about those snotty city slickers down in Madison, he's welcome to do so. But his state, like many if not most states in this country, runs on the back of the folks that live in the cities.

It may not be a winning strategy for him, long-term.

Here's an interview with Michael Hudson primarily concerning income tax rates (how they used to be 90% in the highest bracket), but it touches on wages and productivity and how they relate to overall economic health. It's really only semi-relevant to this discussion, but it's just so good and interesting that I had to link to it.

Thanks to bob mcmanus for introducing me to a blog that will be regular reading (and viewing, as the case may be) for me from now on.

Yet another edition of "what russell said"...


"It may not be a winning strategy for him, long-term."

Which is really the problem that has grown around public employee unions. Agreeing that the problem has many fathers, one of the most problematic is the political clout that they have. In many places far greater than any of the corporate dollars that are regularly complained about here.

Between PAC money and pure get out the vote power they don't have to collectively bargain because they get what they want in the campaign. They are the yen to the corporate greed yang in terms of effective government. Both have a tremendously deleterious effect on the rest of the working class in America.

For every Tea Party complaint about corporate overreach and government overreach, they also complain about union overreach. At least they are consistent.


It all seems pretty distant from down here. I can tell you, from this neck of the woods, public employee unions giving votes and funds to one political party that, in turn, rewards the union at the expense of taxpayers would not play well. Add to that a strike, and I would not expect to see the union survive. Kind of like air traffic controllers.

"For every Tea Party complaint about corporate overreach and government overreach, they also complain about union overreach. At least they are consistent."

Yes, consistently idiotic. And what do they do about it? Swoon in the arms of corporate overreach thanks to the ridiculous economics they embrace, and flock to government overreach when it comes to beating up on people they don't like - immigrants, gays, Muslims, et al.

So union overreach? Oh, please... what percentage of Americans are in unions?

A piffling, trifling amount, and another right-wing canard. This will have the effect of making more Americans want to join unions, which will be high time.

"A piffling, trifling amount, and another right-wing canard. This will have the effect of making more Americans want to join unions, which will be high time. "

Well, no, probably not.

Here is a great piece by a teacher in Wisconsin who is clearly caught up in the middle of this, in which she reveals that, as a second-year teacher who is a class away from her Master's degree, she brings home the princely some of . . . $36,000 a year.

Now, granted that a master's in an appropriate subject for primary or secondary school education isn't, generally, nearly as expensive as a medical degree and associated training, but remember how healthcare reform was supposed to be so bad because doctors have all those school bills to pay? Yeah.

My district has never required us to pay anything into the pension or for health care. We took those benefits in exchange for a lower salary. People accuse state workers of having cushy jobs, with exorbitant benefits, job security and fantastic salaries. So while admitting this makes me uncomfortable, I'm going to do it so you can see just how ridiculous that accusation is: My salary as a second-year teacher, with a Bachelor's degree and one class short of a Master's degree, is....$36,000.

Most of my friends in the private sector had starting salaries of much more than that. I know people who have less education than I do, who made $50,000-$60,000 in their first year.

It will take me about 15 years on the salary scale before I make that kind of money.

Walker's proposal would cost me about $400 a month. Frankly, I won't be able to survive. Because not only do I have the usual debt -- mortgage, car payments -- I owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. Getting a Master's degree is actually kind of pricey, but I assume you want a highly educated teacher in the classroom, right?

I'm not sure how Walker thinks reducing the salaries of thousands of workers like me is going to save the economy. With that kind of wage reduction, I won't be able to buy new clothes, go to movies, go out to eat, go to happy hour, buy Christmas presents, buy birthday presents, get haircuts or buy pet food. I won't be able to replace my 20-year-old furnace or my 20-year-old kitchen cabinets. I already gave up cable and I drive a used car with more than 140,000 miles on it. So it's clear I won't be buying any iPods or iPhones or anything else shiny any time soon.

Hell, with that kind of cut, I won't be buying food or gas, either.

I suppose I could get a second job to supplement my reduced income. But let me clear up a few misconceptions about teachers: I'm not a babysitter. I don't color all day. I don't get to leave at 2:00 every afternoon. I don't sit on the beach all summer.

I get to school by 7:45 a.m. and I work until 4:30 or 5:00. At least one night a week, I stay later than 5. I'm supposed to get a half hour of "duty free" lunch every day, but I usually spend that time helping students or prepping for a lesson. There are some days when I don't eat lunch at all.

I won't get into how hard it is to find five minutes to go to the bathroom when you have a classroom of 20 kids who demand your constant attention.

By the time I make it home, I am so exhausted, I usually drop on the couch and fall asleep by 9 p.m. I can't even stay awake to watch the news to see what Walker is going to do to us next. Getting a second job? It would probably kill me.

And I already spend my summer working. In my district, many families send their children to summer school. It's free daycare. I don't mind. I'd rather my students spent their summer reading books and playing math games, than sitting zoned out in front of the TV or computer for two months.

So now I have to make a choice. Do I stay in education and try to make it on $5,000 a year less? Or do I leave and try to find one of those cushy private sector jobs, where you have to pay for health care, but at least you get a decent salary?

Um, are there even any private sector jobs left?

Which is really the problem that has grown around public employee unions. Agreeing that the problem has many fathers, one of the most problematic is the political clout that they have.

I don't see that as a specifically public sector union issue. All unions exert political influence, to the greatest degree they can.

I also don't disagree that unions lead to market distortion and inefficiency. IMO unions are not the optimal solution to conflicts between ownership, management, and labor. They're just the only solution that has yielded a useful result from the point of view of lots of folks who work for a wage or salary.

So, we have unions.

If you want to make unions go away, make them superfluous. Professions where folks can demand solid levels of compensation through other means don't tend to be unionized. Doctors, lawyers, highly technical professions - those fields are generally not unionized because their practicioners can enforce scarcity through other means.

If you want to get rid of organized labor, pay people more. Distribute more of the wealth of productive activity to the folks who *do the activity*. Distribution, not redistribution.

It's not that complicated.

If you're not willing to do that, folks who work for a living will continue to do what they need to do to make sure they can have a decent life.

If you don't want a knife fight, don't bring a knife.

For "wealth of productive activity" please read "wealth created by productive activity".

some kinds of direct action are the only possible efficacious responses, and that the electoral politics establishment will need to be bypassed, circumvented, or overthrown.
Shorter: when democracy doesn't get you what you want, circumvent democracy.

hairshirt,

I have bookmarked Hudson. Great stuff! Thank you, bob mcmanus.

It is remarkable as conservatives continue to speak of "their money" as, well, "theirs". They have consistently used private and government power to tilt the playing field--funneling more of OUR resources to their private gain, and then calling it "theirs".

This is theft.

I get to school by 7:45 a.m. and I work until 4:30 or 5:00. At least one night a week, I stay later than 5.
That sounds like a grown up's work day. Most people work those hours, but they don't get summers off.

Yes Phil, and I watched an interview yesterday witha teacher in Madison who said she made 70k and her husband(a teacher) made 70k and she wasn't too worried about paying for benefits.

Like always we can find an anecdote.

That sounds like a grown up's work day. Most people work those hours, but they don't get summers off.

You might want to actually RTFA: And I already spend my summer working. In my district, many families send their children to summer school. I mean, I quoted it and everything. Those hours are also generally the hours spent IN THE SCHOOL BUILDING. Every teacher I know, personally, also works 2-3 hours a night at home at least two nights per week.

But, I guess if one is determined to approach this through the lens of ideology rather than facts, you can come up with all the snotty bons mot you want.

Marty, if you were a betting man, would you bet most teachers are more in the position of the one I posted or the one you claim to have seen?

"It may not be a winning strategy for him, long-term." Russell, you must be kidding.
-They succeeded in not trowing banker criminals in jails,
-they succeeded in enabling unlimited campaign contributions,
-practically permanent low taxes on investment income(which benefits only wealthy investors which are extremely agile on backs of pension funds),
-nothing can stop Walker in passing the law, the time is on his side
-they will succeed in shutting down the government this time since Obama caved in every single time (Can you point to one example he did not cave in, please?).
-they succeeded in damaging and causing the first deficit year ever to SS fund

Please do not hope that they will not succeed, everything is on their side now after Citizen United. They want us to be hopey and do nothing.

'Um, are there even any private sector jobs left?'

Well, the young teacher finally got around to asking an important question. It is well understood that the action in question has a negative effect on teachers in Wisconsin.

'I'm not sure how Walker thinks reducing the salaries of thousands of workers like me is going to save the economy. With that kind of wage reduction, I won't be able to buy new clothes, go to movies, go out to eat, go to happy hour, buy Christmas presents, buy birthday presents, get haircuts or buy pet food. I won't be able to replace my 20-year-old furnace or my 20-year-old kitchen cabinets. I already gave up cable and I drive a used car with more than 140,000 miles on it. So it's clear I won't be buying any iPods or iPhones or anything else shiny any time soon.

Hell, with that kind of cut, I won't be buying food or gas, either.'

Some of these items may not be indispensable. These are not exactly the 'good times'. Does the advanced degree increase the earnings scale for a teacher in Wisconsin? My guess is there are plenty of well educated unemployed who would find the pay and benefits more than acceptable under present conditions.

And I agree with those who have pointed out that public sector unions have not gotten their pay and benefit packages through arms-length negotiations but rather by supporting politicians who promised such in their campaigns in return for support. Not good.

"....when democracy doesn't get you what you want, circumvent democracy."

Amazing. That's word for word in the letter I sent Mitch McConnell last year.

School teachers are ruining our economy, or something. There might be a few stupid tenure rules in various places, but school teachers aren't the problem. Let's have just a touch of perspective here. They aren't part of the FIRE sector. They aren't our modern day robber barons. This focus on government employees is silly. It's scapegoating, and it's plainly ridiculous to anyone with any idea of what's going on. It's not even worth arguing about, at least it shouldn't be in a sane world. Populism has been turned on its head, not that I'm into populism, really, but it's mutating for the worse. People in the middle class are blaming their economic woes on other people in the middle class, those evil school teachers and such. Feh. Feh. Feh. Oh, and, meh.

I was going to explain that teachers salaries are pro-rated over the entire year, in most instances.

And, that many work a second job during the off-months, if they aren't teaching summer school.

But that's gotta be the, I don't know, 5000th time I've explained the situation in my life and so, just f&ck it from now on.

The last time Democrats walked out in GOP majority congress was in 2003 about redistricting in Texas, presented by Rachel Maddow yesterday.
One of the democrats caved in to enable a quorum needed to pass the redistricting law. Guess how many of the 14 Wisconsin senators are needed to defect and fill the quorum? One.
There is only a half-assed support for them from national democrats while there is total support for Walker from GOP. GOP knows what is at stake, while most of Dems do not quite grasp it or are hopey that such atrocities can not pass in a modern society no matter how it played out in other similar atrocities. Like Banking crimes of the century, abortion rights, ACORN destruction with fabricated videos, Rick Scott win in Florida, Sarah Palin fame. To me those are all atrocities on human dignities and logic

The teachers in Bahrain have joined the protests there.

More guts than the teachers in the vermin state of Texas.

goodoleboy:

"My guess is that there are plenty of well-educated unemployed who would find the pay and benefits more than acceptable under current conditions."

You can play both sides against the other for a awhile, but at some point both sides look up and wonder why their race to the bottom seems to please you so much.

You've made a major miscalculation. You and your Party have armed these people.

And I agree with those who have pointed out that public sector unionsbig corporations using highly paid lobbyists have not gotten their pay and benefit packageseconomic rents and tax breaks through arms-length negotiations but rather by supporting politicians who promised such in their campaigns in return for support campaign contributions.

Fixt.

68% of the folks in WI live in or near cities. American's Dairyland or not, manufacturing and services bring more money into the state than agriculture.

That includes the Fox valley area, though (Appleton, etc), which for these purposes self-identifies as "rural" -- which may approximate something like "not-Madison/Milwaukee" or "upstate" or even "not-minority" -- even though it's reasonably urban. Trust me: Walker isn't going against 68% of the population of the state, much though I'd like it to be so.

Looking at concentrations of wealth in America, it is clear that public sector unions wield way more power than the banking/finance, pharma, defense contractor, fossil fuel and insurance industries.

Clearly, these public sector unions have perverted our economy and brought great harm to us all. The recent crash, I believe, was the fault of public sector unions, as is the pollution and lax safety standards in mines, oil rigs, etc.

Come on people, let's focus on the REAL power in America. School Teachers!

GoodOleBoy: My guess is there are plenty of well educated unemployed who would find the pay and benefits more than acceptable under present conditions.

I'm sure the same thing has been said of prostitution.

[Or, what others have said about the race to the bottom.]

And I agree with those who have pointed out that public sector unions have not gotten their pay and benefit packages through arms-length negotiations but rather by supporting politicians who promised such in their campaigns in return for support. Not good.

That's true in a vague sort of way but not in the specifics. In Wisconsin, unions gave up (were forced to give up?) their right to strike in return for guaranteed third-party mediation of contract negotiation. It's true that the members of JCOER (Joint Committee On Employee Relations, aka "Joker") are drawn from, and influenced by, the elected representatives; I can tell you from second-hand experience, though,* that even representatives who are generally suppportive of union rights still bargained like the dickens.

Besides, while unions certainly do lobby for politicians supportive of union rights, they've got nothing on the lobbying of corporate interests or (more generally) the wealthy for tax cuts and other preferential treatment. I find the hand-wringing over the former to be somewhat silly given the brutal excesses of the latter - Scott Walker's tax cuts for the wealthy earlier in the year being a prime example, seeing as how they've led to the "crisis" he's now trying to exploit.

* I was friends for several years with members of our bargaining committee.

Trust me: Walker isn't going against 68% of the population of the state, much though I'd like it to be so.

Not to be dismissive, I'm sure you're right, but whatever.

If Walker wants to bring it, and clearly he does, then bring it. He wants to break public labor in his state, and he's being quite blatant about it. Frankly I hope he remains totally and unequivocally blatant about it, because it puts the issue out in the open.

Unless I misunderstand the situation, Wisconsin is facing a deficit because Walker cut a variety of taxes. The cuts were conservative pet projects intended to stimulate growth, but amazingly enough they did not do so.

So now WI is in the hole.

And Walker's solution is not merely to cut salary and benefits for public workers, but to totally eliminate their ability to engage in bargaining. So they'll have to either just take what he offers, or "vote with their feet" and go find another job in the incredibly robust private sector.

My understanding is also that WI public employees have a history of making reasonable concessions when times are bad. So Walker's not doing anything necessary, or acting in good faith, he's just taking the opportunity to see if he can break the public unions, because he's a conservative and conservatives absolutely freaking hate organized labor.

So, it's a knife fight. Walker started it, and now he's going to have to deal with it.

I'm glad the public unions are standing up to it, because they're being handed a sh*t sandwich and told to eat it and smile.

I have no idea how it will turn out. It may end up with the unions getting totally beat down.

But we have, depending on how you count, 10 to 20 percent unemployment in this country. The economy is not bouncing back, there is still billions or trillions of dollars in dead losses still waiting to be eaten in the housing sector, we are not creating jobs.

Screwing the public employees is not going to make any of that one bit better.

If the public workers in WI get screwed, that is going to mean fewer services for the people of WI. Schools will close, classrooms will have more kids, less sports, less music programs. Public university will cost more. Fewer cops. Some fire houses will close. More potholes. Less frequent trash pickup. Etc etc etc.

It means life for the average person in WI is going to suck just a little more.

If they don't have their heads totally up their @sses, they will figure that out. If they do have their heads totally up their @sses, there ain't much anyone can do for them.

WI will just become a crappier place to live.

WI will just become a crappier place to live.

As someone who's lived in Wisconsin for the past decade - yes, I'm well aware of that :) Here's to hoping that doesn't happen!

Perhaps relevant:

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/rachel-maddow/rachel-maddow-says-wisconsin-track-have-budget-sur/>No, Walker didn't create the deficit.

"It has taken hold with conviction: the idea that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ginned up a phony budget crisis to justify his bold bid to strip state employees of most bargaining rights and cut their benefits.

A volley of e-mails, blog posts and inquiries to reporters followed a Madison Capital Times editorial on Feb. 16, 2011, that said no state budget deficit exists for 2010-’11 -- or if it does, it’s the fault of Walker and the Republicans in the Legislature.

Liberal MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow joined in Feb. 17, accusing Walker of manipulating the situation for political gain.

"Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin’s finances, the state is on track to have a budget surplus this year," she said. "I am not kidding."

She added a kicker that is also making the rounds: Walker and fellow Republicans in the Legislature this year gave away $140 million in business tax breaks -- so if there is a deficit projected of $137 million, they created it.

Maddow and others making the claim all cite the same source for their information -- a Jan. 31, 2011 memo prepared by Robert Lang, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

It includes this line: "Our analysis indicates a general fund gross balance of $121.4 million and a net balance of $56.4 million."

We were curious about claims of a surplus based on the fiscal bureau memo.

...

We re-read the fiscal bureau memo, talked to Lang, consulted reporter Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel’s Madison Bureau, read various news accounts and examined the issue in detail.

Our conclusion: Maddow and the others are wrong.

There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.

...

More on that second point in a bit.

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.

It would be closer to the $340 million figure if the figure included the $200 million owed to the state’s patient compensation fund, a debt courts have declared resulted from an illegal raid on the fund under former Gov. Jim Doyle.

A court ruling is pending in that matter, so the money might not have to be transferred until next budget year."

GOB: And I agree with those who have pointed out that public sector unions have not gotten their pay and benefit packages through arms-length negotiations but rather by supporting politicians who promised such in their campaigns in return for support.

GOB has surely heard the same thing we all have: Gov. Walker apparently exempts the cops and firefighters from his union-busting plan. By sheer coincidence, THOSE unions supported him in the election.

So GOB is probably right: (certain) unions apparently get to avoid "arms-length negotiations" by supporting the right politicians. Like Walker.

Is irony dead, or what?

--TP

So union overreach? Oh, please... what percentage of Americans are in unions?

Not that many Americans are in unions. But a large number of white middle class people from suburbs-- precisely the group of people under attack by Walker.

(for all the talk of well-heeled public employees, the newly-appointed chief of the Wisconsin State Patrol -- and father of the two leading republican legislators in WI -- makes less money than I do, and I'm half his age).

Rather, what I mean to say-- "a large number of Americans are white middle people people from the suburbs". When this group is your main target of attack by the governor, you can't expect things to go well for him.

Let's try that again

If there's a deficit and the money is not there, you go to the table and make a new deal.

That isn't what Walker is doing.

One World One Pain h/t Louis Proyect

I just came across the link Brett provided from a different source. That certainly changes the argument that I made in this post that Walker created the current shortfall.

However, it seems an odd time to cut taxes given the current shortfall, and the fact that the cuts will effect future budgets should not prove too comforting in light of the fact that this makes it more likely that future shortcomings are coming.

Also, it does not change the fact that instead of trying to fix the shortfall through temporary, targeted measures, Walker is trying to strip state workers of the right to bargain collectively.

The solution doesn't match the crisis.

I see the Tea Party, erm, party is organizing a counter protest in support of the union-busting bill.

Could someone who is more familiar with the art of Tea Party remote viewing tell me what their interest in this is?

So, Brett, according to that article Walker must simultaneously believe that

a.) he needed to do something drastic (he says 'modest') to address the deficit which prompted him to axe the right to collective bargaining for his political foes, but...

b.) the projected deficit is not so alarming that it should prevent him from cutting business taxes for his allies even though this would worsen that deficit in the near future.

Seem right?

I think Walker is doing two things, and they're both things that need doing:

1. Addressing a budget shortfall that he didn't create.

2. Reforming the outsized ratio between public and private sector compensation.

When the state has trouble staffing it's positions, because people would rather work in the private sector, you'll know that further public sector pay cuts are excessive. They're nowhere near that point today.

Reforming the outsized ratio between public and private sector compensation.

but only certain kinds of public sector jobs. and the difference seems to be that he's only interested in going after the kinds of public sector jobs that didn't support him.

mmm. i can almost smell the Serious.

I think Walker is doing two things, and they're both things that need doing:

Neither of those things have anything to do with collective bargaining-- so why is Walker harping on that?

I suppose he figures that the state can better weather a teacher's strike, than a police strike. I'd like to see a wider attack on excessive public sector pay, but better half a loaf, than none.

I'd like to see a wider attack on excessive public sector pay

What's "excessive"? The head of the state patrol makes less than I do, and I don't even have to supervise anyone!

When I left the public sector, I got a 30% raise.

Wisc has had public sector pay slashed in the form of furloughs and lower contributions to the pension funds, which under the circumstances, everyone is willing to go along with. What is unusual and can't be explained is why the governor is making a specific attack on collective bargaining rights of public employees-- it's almost as though he's not motivated by fiscal concern but from an unhinged hatred of unions and a desire to use an economic crisis as an opportunity to lash out in hateful rage at the rights of middle class people. While most Republicans harbor that kind of hatred, they generally keep it silent except during family holidays. It may be that Walker is willing to put aside economic concerns to focus on certain personal and psychological feelings of animus he has held against union workers and middle class people he feels are getting "above their station." But generally I don't think it's a good idea for politicians to play out their prejudicial hangups in the public sphere like that. He was elected to handle the state of wisconsin's economic and budgetary issues, not act like and angry, hateful uncle going through a midlife crisis who's pissed off that the high school classmate he used to beat up has a decent job as a school teacher.

Walker created this budget shortfall, by all appearances deliberately.

Ah, damn.

Sorry Brett; that's good information, and I regret posting the above before having read it.

The observation by nous remains : Walker, facing a deficit, immediately moves to reduce taxes on his political allies, worsening the impending budget shortfall by over a hundred million.

Unless you are referring to StateU football coaching salaries, there is no such thing as "excessive" public sector pay.

Given that, the rest of your argument is, to put it charitably, not serious.

Like nearly other state, Wisconsin is on the cusp of looming fiscal abyss (to the tune of $3.6b), especially now that federal backfill under TARP has so short-sidedly ceased.

The feds need to step in and spend, but the House and the Administration are engaged in a recklessly stupid game of dick waving to demonstrate their fiscal hawk cred......which is exactly ass backwards.

As usual, forgive if links have already been posted

UK Uncut Movement

Koch Brothers National Plan to Break Labor

Digby "provides all the arguments you need" Digby also links to a Naomi Klein video in the post immediately preceding this one.

Max Sawicky said "We Don't do Policy." We do politics. It is not my job to balance Wisconsin's budget. It is not the public union's responsibility to manage state fiscal policy. I can't even relate to ordinary people trying to wear the green eyeshades and work the spreadsheet. Not so productive.

Our job is to organize, show ourselves, and frighten rich people and the politicians and commenters that work for them. Koch and Walker are not yet frightened.

The class war is on, I think, because the good side is starting to fight back. Observe the posting rules, but our job is to intimidate our enemies.

there is no such thing as "excessive" public sector pay

Never? Ever?

I imagine you're going to have to ask the people who are doing the paying.

I don't mean to make this meta, but when I see what Walker has said, and the way this is all going down here on the list, at what point should one call on people to say that he's acting on bad faith and ignore arguments and anecdotes for what he is doing? I'll ask Brett directly, what sort of evidence would you need? (I don't want to discourage rants from folks who, like me, have no doubt what Walker is up to, but I think those will come up naturally)

The budget situation is complex enough to have Ezra Klein issue an update (and his blog has several more posts about the situation), but TPM shows that Walker made a suggestion to decertify unions.

Which has me wonder, what evidence would have someone here like Brett admit to bad faith? I don't want to claim that I'm thinking that Walker is acting from some bizarro world best intentions, it seems crystal clear to me what Walker is doing. (I would like to know more about his background and the campaign he ran, but again, this is not because I am still wavering about this, I'd just like to see if the warning signs were there earlier)

More meta, but not ObWi meta. I believe that this is a structural advantage of the Tea Party and anyone else who tries to glom on to that demographic. When a candidate who uses Tea party creds and takes a Tea Party approach to getting elected (i.e. both sides are crap, elect me to fix it), they get any number of passes for misstatements and errors, because they are 'new'. Rand Paul's campaign seems like a perfect example of that, and though she wasn't elected, Christine McDonnell seems like a poster girl for the approach.

more meta, the blogging type, John Cole and Andrew Sullivan are now starting an octagon match focussed on how much attention one pays to particular aspects of budget austerity while simultaneously illustrating the dangers of assuming things about real life situations, even with passing comments. (Though one of the commenters makes the what I think is telling observation that Sullivan's blog has posted nothing on Wisconsin)

I might not have posted my comment if I had seen what Bob wrote. Bob's line that 'we don't do policy, we do politics' is a pithy rejoinder to what I wrote. Save my comment for later (or just ignore it) but go check out the links. They are good.

"it seems crystal clear to me what Walker is doing."

What? I mean without the epithets or hyperbole. What exactly is it crystal clear he is doing, beyond exactly wg=hat he says he is doing. Which is balancing the budget and reducing the power of the unions.

Maybe it would help if you explained what he's doing that's bad faith, as opposed to something you think is bad policy. I understand that he wants to dramatically reduce the power of at least some public employee unions. And that he's not being consistent in going after all of them. Picking your fights is hardly new.

But what exactly is the bad faith you see here? Did he run as pro-public unions, and I missed it?

Republican state of mind is based on beliefs not on facts.

But what exactly is the bad faith you see here? Did he run as pro-public unions, and I missed it?

Handing out stupid tax breaks and then claiming to be oh so worried about the deficit?

Standard GOP policy, I understand, and multiplied a hundredfold or more at the Federal level, but dishonest and slimy at all levels.

So, he figures the budget should be balanced at a lower level than you'd like? I think you're confusing bad faith with having more than one goal in mind.

Replace "public employment is" with "government contractors are" and tell me why the rest of your paragraph would need to change.

unions wield way more power than the banking/finance, pharma, defense contractor, fossil fuel and insurance industries.

TP/Eric/russell: sorry to leave in the middle of the conversation, but I'm battling power outages/snow.

I agree with this. I see both as having an adverse fiscal impact on taxpayers. But pointing out government contracting is rife with problems isn't an argument in favor of bargaining in the public sector.

Public employees look like they're living fat and happy because everyone else is getting screwed..

No doubt CA is FUBAR. That problem has many fathers, it ain't just union malfeasance.

I don't think this is entirely true. When public employees don't feel the pain the rest of us do, it does make one question their pay.

In California, I believe the average worker earns just under $70k. With the benefit package that's around $105,000. And that's average.

And Brown isn't cutting prison guard pay, which averages around $73k not counting overtime. Hmmm. Wonder why?

Marty,
That he is aiming to break the public unions of the groups that did not support him in the election and who are not pro-Republican. Von often decried the notion of class warfare here back in the day, so I'm trying to understand why this isn't just another variety of that.

Brett,
as the TPM link shows, Walker was thinking of decertifying unions before he took office. Eliminating them is different, at least to me, from reducing their power, even with the modifier 'drastically'.

I am assuming that this TPM post doesn't provide enough support to have you stop saying 'oh, he's just picking his spots', so I'm asking, what would you have to see. Something like this looms large for me, but I'm assuming that it makes no difference to you. You seem to have one suggestion, that if he ran on a pro-public union platform and then done this, but that seems to be a rather narrow case. And since his policy preferences seem to mirror yours, the question of what is bad faith doesn't seem to matter to you because it is just a means to an end. So I'm curious, in the interest of understanding where you are coming from, what would have you say that Walker is operating in bad faith.

So, he figures the budget should be balanced at a lower level than you'd like? I think you're confusing bad faith with having more than one goal in mind

No. I'm not. If you're really worried about deficits you don't start by cutting taxes.

Look. As I said, this is straight out of the playbook. Manufacture a fiscal crisis and then claim there is no choice but to cut A,B, and C, where A, B, and C are programs the GOP hates. You know, like environmental protection, education, WIC, etc., but not NASCAR ads.

Frankly, Brett, I'm tired of this s**t and I'm tired of those who defend it. It's dishonest and worse. The GOP is throwing a national temper tantrum that makes about as much sense as any two-year-old's tantrum. The big difference is that the GOP's tantrum is going to wreak massive harm on this country.

Policy preferences? Yes, I have policy preferences. I don't think the way to improve the national economy is to cut billionaires' taxes and reduce school budgets to pay for the cuts, because "that creates jobs."

What utter, shameless, stupidity. Cut Paris Hilton's taxes so she can hire another maid or gardener? That's your idea? The way to have a productive economy is to have productive people. The way to have productive people is to educate them. But that's not what you and Walker and your pals want. Keep them dumb, and they'll take the crumbs you throw and never complain.

Can't feed their kids? Too bad. The CEO's want another tax cut.
[posting rules violation] you.


I feel the same as Bernard, which is why I would really really really like some voices from Wisconsin. It may be that for Brett, he thinks that Michigan is close enough (and Marty, not meaning to discount your opinion, but Texas might as well be Mars when we talk about the issues in Wisconsin), but I think that there is enough of a difference that I'd want views from the state.

Things like this also are of great interest to me

Walker said the 14 senators, who by their absence are forestalling a vote on Walker's bill, met in caucus in exile Saturday morning, though he wouldn't say exactly where the meeting took place.
"It was good," Erpenbach said. "We talked about what we're hearing from our districts. We are very, very strong in our resolve, probably stronger than at anytime since Tuesday."

Erpenbach said the situation is difficult for all of the senators. He said he has a part-time job and will have to call in Monday morning to see if he can take off work for the foreseeable future.
Also, Erpenbach said, he worries about his family in Middleton. He said his daughter received a threatening telephone call and he asked the Middleton police to check his home every couple of hours.

Let's say that rich will use the extra income from tax cuts to hire another maid or a gardener but they will be illegal immigrants.
But that is not what rich use extra money from tax cuts. They use the extra money to invest but not in creating a new jobs, that takes too much effort, it is much easier and secure return from investing in other paper(bonds, stocks, securities, swaps and so on..) and we all know investment money knows no state borders. Investment is worldwide, there is no guarantee that it will stay in the state where tax cuts are implemented.
Another reason why there was long time growth and economic wealth for all when top tax rates are over 60% is that too much investment money creates bubbles and when they get out on top of the values the pension funds and small investors are left holding the bag.
Tax cuts for rich are destructive force cause they invest that money into bubbles that hurt the poor who can not afford it anymore. Tax cuts for lower class is beneficial cause they will spend it for what they need into the local economy.

Republicans mix those two facts in order to fool the masses and fool their own trolls into believing that they will participate in share of the loot.

Bad Faith? Wasn't that a rock band back in the day...oh, wait...perhaps I'm of two minds on that...existential crisis here, and I've been nit picked above...

Things like this tend to reinforce my bad faith reading. Unfortunately, the video requires downloading MS Silverlight.

unions wield way more power than the banking/finance, pharma, defense contractor, fossil fuel and insurance industries.

I agree with this

Allow me to say that I do not agree with it. I think it's freaking delusional crazy talk.

What Walker is trying to do is remove the ability for some public employees to engage in collective bargaining. I think that's crap.

People who work for a living should be allowed to organize and bargain collectively for the terms of their compensation.

That's the beginning and the end of the story as far as I'm concerned.

If you need to balance the budget, go the table and make a new deal. The public employees in WI have apparently been receptive that that before, the history would indicate that they'd be open to it again.

You can say what you want about unions, but they are largely responsible for the existence of a middle class in this country throughout most of the 20th C. And all or nearly all of the US residents reading this have benefited from that reality.

I have no idea how this will play out but I hope the unions kick Walker's @ss.

Bernard: You know, like environmental protection, education, WIC, etc., but not NASCAR ads.

The Daily Show summarized it admirably: everyone [Obama, the Republicans, etc.] agrees that the programs that should be cut are the ones that Democratic voters like.

liberal japonicus: I don't have any special insight. I have a bunch of friends who've been protesting, and for a wide variety of reasons -- some admirable, some less so -- and I have some friends who... well, "opposed" is the wrong word, but find the protests a little overdone. I haven't heard of any violence, and nothing has flared up that I've heard; I had a friend break up a little scuffle with some teabaggers this morning, nothing serious.

Of course, I live in Madison where pretty much everyone is in support of the protests. [Heck, the cops even brought brats and cheese to the protesters.] Other parts of the state are less sanguine and (unsurprisingly) the media is once again hostile to labor. I have no idea what's ultimately going to end up happening; I'm frankly flabbergasted that the Democrats had the balls to pull this off -- ironic that the only time they show some spine is when they run away -- and we're into uncharted territory here.

Other Madisonians or Wisconsinites, feel free to chime in. I'd hate to be considered the voice of the state...

russell:

I agree with this

Oops. My bad. I wasn't clear. I was agreeing with what Eric REALLY meant. He was being sarcastic and I took my quote out of context. I was recognizing his and Tony P's points. I really don't think unions are that powerful.

lj: I'm not so sure. On the one hand, the R's weren't sure the D's were going to even show up. Starting the roll call to see if you have a quorum is unproblematic to me. Having the vote right at 5 is hardball but fair. However, it looks like the vote to engross occurred at 4:57. Vote, IMHO, is unfair.

OTOH, if you know that the vote is going to happen at 5:00 p.m., why in the world do you wait to come in at 4:59? Unless, maybe, you are trying to delay?

Thousand dollar question: why did the D's show up? Was it because someone told them Fitzgerald was already gearing up for the vote and was serious? If they were caucusing until the last minute, that is understandable. If they were planning on boycotting like their Senate brothers and sisters, another thing entirely. I wonder if the whole entrance and yelling thing was staged and planned by the D's . . . Nice play and theater, if so.

Best timeline I found was here .

But, in the end, in light of the Dem Senators fleeing the state, I think it is valid for Fitzgerald to see if the D's in the assembly were even going to show up. And the right thing was done in putting the bill back at the amendment stage.

bc,
Thanks for taking the time to read that and responding and thanks for the great link. I'd note that the article I linked to also said

The action, taken on a voice vote, prevented the Democrats from introducing any amendments to the bill, which severely curtails public employees' collective bargaining powers.

so taking a vote at 5 seems like a hardball aimed straight at the head.

And I also think that the Assembly is where the Rs have a 60-30 advantage, and it is the Senate Ds who are not there to stop the quorum, so I'm not sure if it was really a question of seeing if they were going to show up, despite what Fitzgerald said. Even if all the Assembly Ds boycotted, there would have still been a quorum.

It's these kinds of wrinkles that seem to separate theatre from governance and bad faith from taking fair advantage of the rules. Perhaps the Assembly Rs just wanted to have a bill passed so they could claim that the Senate Dems were preventing something that had been duly passed by the House and were therefore being undemocratic and maybe they were just taking advantage of that wrinkle. But, if previous sessions had always started with people getting to their seats in the first 5 or 10 minutes, and trying to pass a bill at the stroke of 5 was a departure from what had gone on before, even if it is in the rules, it seems like bad faith.

I want to make it clear that I'm not accusing you of bad faith, I'm just trying to get a feel for what is the consensus, if any, on what bad faith would be.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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