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February 18, 2011

Comments

Countme
"I've no doubt that all of the conservatives (with the exception of the occasional drive-by from john t. and other murderous Redrummers) at OBWI, in their varied approaches to conservatism, will provide shelter in their root cellars and attics to crithical tinkerer and other liberals here when the Serbian Becks, Ailes, Limbaughs, Levins, Norquists and the rest of CPAC finally loose the machetes and their other well-fondled and beloved weaponry on their enemies."

That didn't happen but in very very limited numbers. Barely any protection given by moderates due to extreme peer pressure.
While spending 3 months in concentration camps, one of the guards was my fairly good high school friend, i received 4 sandwiches accompanied with despise in the eyes. Maybe i got less beating and maybe he kept me alive confirming results of my interrogations but i can not know what happened behind closed doors. I know that he arranged the death of a math professor that failed him one year. The teacher that was in the same camp as me and died after numerous beatings stopped short of the last breath.

Peer pressure prevents the dialogue when emotions flare to extremes. Anyone dared to openly help was being killed by their own side.

Wisconsin will be on its way to being just like freaking Mississippi, only colder.

That's the actual plan, russell. Mississippi and Alabama are 'conservative' Valhalla, as they have been the entire time they've been states. I happen to know Mississippi pretty well. Lots of good people; state/local governments are an absolute piece of you-know-what. Plantation mentality. That's the plan for the whole country. God must love humble people because he made so many of them, ergo, it's good to be humble (poor and docile).

Serfdom is a kind of Freedom® - freedom from education, from aspiration, from complexity. In fact, serfdom is simplicity itself - so few of those pesky *options* to worry about. Let's just learn to accept it, people.

I thinkthat what the Republicvan party lacks is a sennse of the common good. An awful lot of Republican voters lack that, too.

Refusing to connect the dots is part of how peole rationalize support for the rightrwing agenda. Wilson's attack on collective barganing is not isolated, and not the agenda he ran on. As pointed out up thread, he ran on the usual Republican platitudes and hot air, no specifics about the unions, collective bargaining, or anything else realting to the currant controversy. Furthering the decline of the middle class probably was his real agenda since he's a Republican politician, but it is unlikely that he got elected on that platform.

Russel is correct to label this as "Norquistian". What Walker is doing is part of a larger picture, the larger picture of Republican efforts over the last thirty years to create deficits and then use th edeficts to destroy the social safety network, the unions, those government programs that keep people out of abject poverty like Socail Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and anything else that does not translate into support either for red state ecdonomic interests or the corporate donors.

So yes this fight is worth the levels of anger. In fact anger at the intellectual dishonesty, hypocrsy, and meanspiritness that is core to the rightwing approach to politics should have broken out long ago.

"Peer pressure prevents the dialogue when emotions flare to extremes. Anyone dared to openly help was being killed by their own side."

On the other hand, recently in Egypt, at the height of the unrest, Christians watched over Muslims as they prayed during the day.

All things are not equal.

Marty
"They can vote him(Walker) out in a few years if it doesn't suit them."

That would be true if this attempt is not about destroying the institutions that help Democrats. The unions are the main organizing factor for Democrat's vote. Effectively preventing them to get union dues and making them to spend the money and effort around survival every year will limit unions to effectively work on elections.
This is about destroying the Democrat's base, like it happened to ACORN, not about the budget. GOP is effectively working on permanent majority in power, very very effectively.

GoodOleBoy,

I noticed that this thread brought out some fighting spirit from participants I didn't expect (e.g., Anarch, Bernard Yomtov).

Paul Krugman today pretty much expresses my point of view on unions. They are just as subject to human foibles as any other institution but they are a necessary counterbalance to the power of capital.

In a prior thread McKinneyTexas and I sparred briefly on the subject of power. A Maoist would say it comes from the barrel of a gun. My view is that in our society more often (thank goodness!) it just derives from money.

The only lever labor has in this struggle is the threat to strike -- to withhold labor. That is what makes collective bargaining work.

Separation of powers was a brilliant design of the founders. The idea applies just as well in power relationships other than the federal government. Taking away the only (non-violent) weapon labor has will not end well.

I am not advocating lawlessness. I have observed that it is on the rise. I don't like it but we ignore it at our peril. Just giving in to Republican bullying is no answer.

Marty:"On the other hand, recently in Egypt, at the height of the unrest, Christians watched over Muslims as they prayed during the day."
This is very superficial outsiders view on sides in Egypt.
Sides in Egypt were Regime on one side and all others on the other. The sides were not lined up as you see it. Muslims and Christians were on the same side against Regime which was Muslim

I like it when Russell erupts in some righteous anger.

Marty, if OBWI existed in a vacuum, I could see us carrying on like "The Dobie Gillis Show" --- ah, cmon, fellas, things can't be that bad!"

Marty, if your shrugging, bland-faced centro-conservatism (maddening in and of itself ;) ) ruled the waters we swim in outside of OBWI, things might be different.

But, in the real world, thugs like Andrew Brietbart (calling liberals, animals) and Joe the Plumber show up in Wisconsin to support Walker in his union-busting.

Why don't you pop over to Redstate and moderate there, where you could learn all on one thread that the teachers in Wisconsin are commies AND that the first thing commies do when they gain power is outlaw unions, unlike Walker ... or something.

Not speaking for Russell, but he doesn't need a crossing guard to tell when it's O.K. to cross what you think is a dangerous street.

The downside of RINOs being demonized and thrown out of the Republican Party is that now we have to humor them.

Which we don't mind. ;)


CT,

Nor would McK and Count be on opposite sides of any conflict in this country. My point exactly.

One must me careful what parallels one draws.

Kicking out RINOs is the perfect example of peer pressure by organized extremes against sensible minority.

No-bid sales/contracts suck pretty much by definition, Marty. I'd say Russell's got a point.

Marty
No, they would not be on the opposite sides in a violent conflict, which might, i say, might come in the future. Majority of a population in any conflict is not participating in violence part of the conflict. It never is in the whole history. But huge majority participated in support of the violent parts.
But in the present McK and Countme are on opposite sides enabling and supporting each side which will eventually lead to violent conflict.
I am on the side that is trying to prevent the destruction of the system that created the middle class while the other side is progressively and successfully destroying it.
You are enabling and morally supporting the side that is slowly trying to destroy the system that was in place for last 60 years.
You may gloat about winning, because you are very close to it, but i guarantee you that the pie (GDP) you are hoping to share after your side win will be much, much smaller then you have now and you will not be included in the share.
I experienced it, i have seen it and the history shows it.

"How much should a teacher make? How much should a state cop make? A fireman? A court clerk?

The conservative agenda is to treat the efforts of working people as a pure, fungible commodity, to be bought and sold on a market like carrots, televisions, or tube socks.

People's labor is not a fungible commodity, analogous to carrots, televisions, or tube socks."

You know what? Either you're treating the labor of people working for the government like a fungible commodity, to be bought at the lowest possible price for an acceptable level of quality, or you're treating the labor of people not working for the government as a fungible commodity, to be taken from them and spent wastefully from their perspective.

On the theory that the government exists for the people, or ought anyway be FORCED to exist for the people, and not the other way around, I prefer the former situation.

GOB, Marty and others,
I'm wondering what you think about this
link

I think CT has a very good point.

I haven't seen one pro or con fact on this bill in this thread.

Actually, in the post you're responding to, I cite a section of the bill verbatim. What it says is (a) "the department" can sell any state-owned power generation or heating facility to whoever it pleases, for any price or fee it pleases, and (b) the approval of the public service commission is not required.

Sounds messed up to me. How about you?

But you're correct, I haven't read the whole bill. If I have time to do so, I will, because I'm sure there's more entertainment to be had.

lj,

I think it looks a lot like the House of Commons on a good day. Or Pelosi's House on most days, except she would just call for order and the Republicans would shut up. I was trying to discern your point.

Brett:"On the theory that the government exists for the people, or ought anyway be FORCED to exist for the people, and not the other way around, I prefer the former situation"

Brett, i agree with your statement on its own. Where is the possible disagreement is how to understand, comprehend, interpret the word "EXIST". Knowing your affiliation and previous effort on the topic of the tread i take it that you mean EXIST in the pure present form, machine that exist for the purpose of serving the people. Nothing around that is visible, nothing that they are human beings, with families, health problems and needs. In short, slaves that serve the people, not giving them the right to be the part of the people.
If you could use some emphaty to put yourself in their position using the facts, on which we disagree on(level of pay), would you like to work for slave wages or not? would you like to be You to be forced to EXIST to serve the people? What pay level and rights would you like to have?

"Sounds messed up to me. How about you?"

Sounds like a Mubarak move to me. Has anyone actually seen Wilson and Mubarak's son at the same time?

I'm sorry, the House of Commons does not look like that. You seem to be confusing rowdiness with lack of observance of procedure. (see here for rowdiness) The House of Commons does not turn people's mics off and then try and conduct voice votes while they are requesting procedural points of order. The House of Commons does not start 5 minutes early. If Pelosi did something as egregious as Fitzgerald was in that video, I would be demanding that she be relieved. That you think this is business as usual suggests that CT has a point.

Yes, CT has a point ("big time" as a former Vice President might put it).

We are much closer to the edge than I like.

[Hmmm... Google "close to the edge" and you mostly get a Yes song.]

lj, is that last link the one you wanted. Or did you want the House of Commons?

lj
Inability to differentiate the types of disorder in House of Commons, Pelosi's handling of Congress from the type of disorder in your link is republicans inability to consider the positions of the other side, lack of empathic skills. That inability is trained and improved trough childhood while competing for things. Ayn Randian psychology of total self preoccupation, "I" is the only thing that matter. Narcissistic personality disorder in various stages of development. No empathy.

It is the basic difference of liberal and conservative mind. We try solve the problem by fully understanding both sides of it, while they do it by winning of what is perceived as immediate benefit to themselves, no matter long term consequences.

In short you can say that they do not act in bad faith, but switching the topic of the conversation when they start loosing it is in bad faith. In good faith will be if they ask the additional questions in order to understand the topic better. Since the republican view is based on believes, not on facts, and they kinda know it, deep down they know it, but can not give up to win, to enforce the ego that is very insecure.

When McManus and dozens and hundreds of radical, like-minded folks on the Left can get elected and prosper politically and use their political privilege to spout hate (without protest from the nominally more moderate members of their Party) for their fellow Americans on the other side like this vermin and dozens of her ilk stealing my tax money for their f*cking children's health insurance...........

http://minnesotaindependent.com/77966/bachmann-glenn-beck-can-solve-the-budget-deficit

....... I might consider the bland-faced conservative protestations about a little liberal outrage here at OBWI over obvious union-busting and worse in Wisconsin.

We don't need better conservatives at OBWI; we need worse conservatives.

Like the ones that get elected.

We used to have them here. What? Did their feelings get hurt?


I've been trying to catch up on this because, well, I've been sick. Tired. Probably allergies.

So far as I've been able to gather, Walker has enacted some tax cuts (some of which are, as far as I can tell, incentives for businesses to move into Wisconsin; could be wrong on that) that amount to several tens of millions of dollars. Facing a budget shortfall in the billions-with-a-b, Walker has chosen some things to attack.

Is it really Ezra's (and, by citation, Eric's) point that Walker has created a multibillion-dollar budget crisis via tax cuts, here, in order to to attack public employee unions?

Apologies if this has been addressed, already. Have I mentioned that I'm trying to catch up on this?

Slarti
Those tax cuts do not affect current years deficit, and deficit is small anyway. what you described is a story for the public, not what is really at stake here.
There is a projected state deficit of around $3.6B. Projected!! just like projected expenditures for SS is $100T in next 50 years.
$3.6B projected deficit is mostly from never paid pension obligations in past 20-30 years. Instead of covering the obligations as they are contracted, state managements form both parties were hiding those obligations and just covering for current expenses.
That bill will soon come out to light when cash flow is exceeded. On personal, local, states and on federal level cash flow is becoming a problem. The whole society is overwhelmed with future obligations and finally cash flow is coming under the bridge.

The real question is how to pay for it? not what caused it since it is there already.
All this information is used to confuse the public, comparing apples to oranges in order to push for the cuts to opposing constituents. GOP supports the rich, and Dems support the rest.

If you wanna debate sincerely then lets debate what happens when wealthy pay for deficit and what happens when the rest pay for it. The history provides many examples of what happens to the economy when the bill is due.

Count Me--it's "atlatl", i.e. the leverage-enhancing dart throwing device that will soon be all the rage among bloggers. You may hide in my basement anytime. Although, on the merits, I'm with Marty and the rest. But you probably knew that.

Facing a budget shortfall in the billions-with-a-b, Walker has chosen some things to attack.

Based on my personal state-of-art in keeping up with the discussion, the shortfall looks like about $137 million, with an 'm'.

Where are you seeing the number with a 'b'?

Here, russell. Page 5 or thereabouts.

crithical tinkerer, I'd gladly accept any of your assertions as ponderable fact if you link me to them.

Sorry for not having done so to start with; I assumed everyone else was way ahead of me on this.

Slart,

The 137M is THIS YEAR. The rest is through 2013. Both trying to be solved.

Slarti
You can see all the informations that i am using on Dylan Ratygan show right now on TV. I do not have links for it and my financial info is from Dylan, Brad DeLong, Krugman and Karl Denninger.

Here, russell. Page 5 or thereabouts.

Thanks slarti.

The Lang memo projects a shortfall in the neighborhood of $2.5B over two years. That's a big number.

For perspective, there are 2.1 million households in WI. That works out to about $50/mo, per household.

It's not nothing, and they shouldn't ignore it. But does it merit eliminating collective bargaining? Does it require the ability to sell public facilities with no bidding process and no requirement for approval from the public affairs folks?

Is WI really looking at stark financial ruin, such that only the most draconian measures will do?

Or is Walker taking the opportunity to advance a political agenda that the facts of the matter do not demand?

Don't forget that the public employees in WI have a recent track record of making concessions on their compensation when times are hard.

You'll forgive me if I continue to find Walker to be a sleazeball. Nothing personal, I'm just looking at what the situation is, and what he's calling for as a solution.

Some people actually are sleazeballs. IMO he's one of them.

russell:

The billions vs. millions is an important point. I had a whole comment on this that was eaten when firefox crashed.

Basically, Klein's article is way off. Eric acknowledged that and Klein updated his article, but his update completely fails to discuss the looming shortfall in the next biennium. It was known at least by September of last year that the shortfall for the next biennium was going to be $2.5B to $3.2B, way before Walker was on board. The special session tax cuts are clearly not the big picture here.

LJ:

Regarding bad faith:

1) On the voting issue, I think there is some bad faith here on the part of the legislature on both sides. On the R side, get the bill out in advance and let everyone read it. Allow amendments to be suggested, etc. Don't call for a vote at 5:00 if traditionally roll call starts at 5:00, etc. etc. The R's backed away and have let things proceed normally, so whatever bad faith existed I think is now remedied. But it sure looks bad even if they were just trying to see if the D's would show up. They did.

On the D side, don't leave the state. Gary made a comment about the filibuster. Although I think, like Gary, the Senate rule needs reform, my other thoughts are essentially "what Brett Beltmore said." A filibuster is part of the rules. Leaving the state is not. Bad faith. I'd be fine with it if the D's said "hey, we need time to read the bill and you didn't give us much time so we'll be back on Tuesday" or something like that. But that's not what's going on. So I see continuing bad faith in the part of the D's; bad faith remedied on the part of the R's.

2) Bad faith re collective bargaining. I looked at your links. One looks like it is from 2002? I looked at Walker's campaign website and googled a bit I didn't see anything specific about passing a bill to ban bargaining in his campaign talk. However, it is clear he had union issues . Bad faith? I can't tell exactly. Maybe someone more in tune with the campaign can comment.

IMHO, natural corrollaries of campaign themes are not bad faith unless it arises to a level of misrepresentation. IOW, he was clear about cutting pay and benefits and he clearly wasn't perceived as a friend of unions. So far so good, no bad faith. He ran on that. It seems odd to me that it wouldn't have been mentioned bargaining at some point in the campaign, even if it wasn't a bullet point on his website. And maybe the full impact of the budget shortfall wasn't clear until fall. But, yes, bargaining sees momentous enough that a deliberate attempt to obfuscate would be bad faith. I'm not clear that he did that.

General Comment: Why all the R hate talk? And putting us all in one box? I for one specifically mentioned that I see a place for unions but not so much in the public sector. When a union produces cost effective, efficient, quality labor that's one thing. I'm not convinced that is the case in the public sector, at least not very often. If all workers were like the iron workers I referenced, no problem here.

Why should any workers not have the right to collectively bargain? I can answer that question,

And I think I did, above.

Or, in other words, the police and fire unions tend to vote Republican. Want cites?

Didn't the CCPOA endorse Brown? The $100k/average, retire at 50, negotiated under Davis folks?

Since the unions are playing the "democracy" card

Why the scare quotes?

Uh, I don't follow. I was using the quotes in the "so called Democracy card" context.

By referendum? Okay. So long as thepublic also gets to vote on approving the pay/benefits of management. I'll go for that equality. You? If not, why not?

I'm actually o.k. with that in principle. I wouldn't want it pure referendum necessarily. I'd want some sort of non-partisan council to give recommendations.


When a union produces cost effective, efficient, quality labor that's one thing.

That isn't what unions do, and it's not what they're meant to do.

Unions exist to advance the interests and concerns of labor in their dealings with ownership and management. They came into being because, absent their existence, people who worked for a living were treated like crap.

There are many situations where unions do, in fact, result in greater quality, safety, and a variety of other things that are good both for them and for their employers.

But making labor available on the most cost effective terms is not what they do, or what they will ever do. It's not their function.

If you don't like what their actual function is, change the attitude toward labor and they won't be necessary.

Respectfully, crithical tinkerer, you seem to be under the impression that you are bringing news of these things to people who have been writing intensively about them for years, and reading intensively on them more or less every day, many hours a day.

I'm glad you're here, I add to the welcome, but I've been reading all the blogs you mention since, well, I was correcting Glenn Greenwald when he started blogging many years after I did, he's an invaluable resource, I'm far more familiar with his work than you are, ditto the other blogs, ditto the other issues, and I appreciate that you think I want 600 pages, but I've in fact written over 60,000 pages on these subjects, and I'm not going to suggest you go read them all, or a fraction, or even 60, but all I'm saying is that you're not updating at least some of us on stuff which we may, I respectfully suggest know far more about than you do, though obviously you'll know far more about Croatia than we do.

I respectfully invite you to read any of the thousands of posts on this blog in the past eight years on the issues you've brought up, or any of the hundreds of thousands of comments we've discussed them in for since 2003.

Otherwise, I wish I had more time to respond, but I assure you that I'm intimately familiar with the history of fascism, both in Europe, the flirtations America had with it in the Thirties, and since, I've been a dedicated student of civil liberties for over 40 years, I can tell you endless amounts about the Tea party, the politics of every state, many counties, most Congressional districts, the history of each to a large degree since they became states, the contemporary media scene, and really, you're not telling me anything I don't know quite a bit about, so let's please try to either stick to specifics, or otherwise if you want to talk generalities, all I can do is talk generalities back to you, and that's not a productive conversation.

Welcome, and hope you stick around, your views are interesting, and I look forward to more conversation with you, and hope you find ObWi congenial.

Everything Russell said about unions.

Plus: "Why all the R hate talk? And putting us all in one box?"

What box is that? The anti-union, pro-corporation box? The pro-gun, anti-abortion box? The anti-deficit, pro-tax-cut box? Which of those boxes would you like to be let out of, bc?

And BTW, how many of those boxes can you step out of before you get called a RINO? Not by me; by people for whom RINO is not a term of endearment.

--TP

Fearless predictions, presented utterly without evidence :

0. Founding assumption: many voters in Wisconsin who in the last cycle either: voted Republican out of anger at feckless Democrats, or who did not bother to vote in the out of ennui, or out of "what difference does it make" cynicism are now experiencing some serious buyer's remorse.

1. Eventually the missing Dem legislators in WI will come in from the cold.

2. At least three of the currently-recallable Republican WI Senators will immediately face credible recall campaigns.
(Serious organizing for this has already begun).

Fork :

3a. The Republican WI Senators who feel they will lose their seats if the Walker bill passes will break the unity of the Republican caucus, and the Walker bill will pass without the provision that strips collective bargaining rights.

4a. The Republican(s) who broke ranks switch parties before the next cycle, and maybe retains seat.

or

3b. No Republican WI Senator breaks ranks; the Walker bill passes as written.

4b. At least one Republican WI Senator is successfully recalled about as quickly as that can legally be accomplished.

Join :

5. Walker is succesfully recalled in 2011, and this blatant overreach has the long-term effect of damaging the Republicans in WI and nationwide.

6. In 2012, a WI government dominated by Democrats start to undo the damage done by the Walker administration.

Brett:

I am actually quite atypical as conservatives go, being an atheist and so forth. I'm quite used to having people on the left ignore what I've actually said, and respond to me as though I'd conformed to their internal model of a conservative, but it never ceases to be annoying.
Brett, a point I'll go on repeating until my dying breath, whenever I have time and think it will do any good, is that all of us feel this way, no matter how it looks to someone else.

Every single one of us is an individual, and while some are less thoughtful than others, and some more kneejerk, and we all have to use some shorthand to communicate, because no one has infinite time to either write or reading, and generalizations are useful up to a point, no one should be treated as a cardboard "liberal" or "libertarian" or "Republican" or "Democrat" and thus generalizations about how "all conservatives this" and "all Democrats that" are really strong distortions of the truth, they simply lead to seeing individuals as masses of The Other, and thus the kind of fascism that crithical tinkerer is rightly concerned about.

It's not helpful. It produces an echo chamber. And it drives away people who might otherwise listen.

So do assumptions that "all sensible people believe X," and if you don't believe X, you're obviously one of Them, and not worth talking to.

I'm not addressing this to you, Brett, but again to everyone in general, and it'll always be necessary to keep pointing this out to people because it's necessary for all of us to simplify to some degree, and hard to address complications, but one simple truth is that All Conservatives don't believe the same thing, all All Liberals don't, and so on.

So when any of us -- and I don't claim to be innocent of this fault at times myself, though I like to think it's usually through haste of writing, rather than faulty thinking -- engage in forms of "ignor[ing] what [someone] actually said, and respond[s] to [them] as though [they'd] conformed to their internal model of a
[category of political people]...it never ceases to be annoying" to any of us who feel treated in that manner.

It tends to simply cause hackles to rise, tempers flare, people respond in like manner, and then stalk off, yet further convinced that Those People just Won't Listen To Reason, and the fact is that it's not reason that they're being presented with, but demands that other people have the same information we have, the same past lives, the same past beliefs and experiences which form our political (and other) views and filters, and it's simply not helpful, and I'll go on asking that people quit making blanket statements about how all Tea Partiers are clones, or all conservatives, all Republicans (more necessary on this blog which has long been far more left/liberal than not, despite the original intent of being cross-spectrum), or contrawise that All Leftists/Liberals/Democrats, well, that's when we get into Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh territory.

And my observation is that most intelligent people are indeed susceptible to, over time, reconsidering their views if presented with enough verifiable information, presented in a reasonable manner, while being given the benefit of the doubt, treated as if they're acting in good faith, and that's still what ObWi is about, in my view, and should be about.

And I've seen two opposite trends in blogging and people in politics in general, and they're simply this: either groups or individuals go into positive feedback loops or negative feedback loops.

Which is to say, either they start listening more and more to people they already agree with, and they egg each other on and become more and more convinced that more and more extreme views are plausible and The Truth, and thus from the other side, and any reasonable side, become kookier and kookier, and that's a positive feedback loop.

Or they keep listening to opposing views, and realize more and more that not all the views or people they think are nuts really aren't completely nutty, understand better that some of the views they thought were crazy might have some reason behind them, and they become more and more understanding of why views may differ, and become more and more reasonable themselves.

And I think I'll avoid naming which bloggers, and their blog communities go in which direction, though I'm sure we can all name our own sets, but I'll close by recommending this summary by James Joyner, a very sensible man.

But next time we talk about the filibuster let's recall that when "your" side (you being whichever side) is doing it) is filibustering it always seems to be for the best and noblest reasons.
Marty, I've been entirely consistent for decades in maintaining that Senate Rule 22 should be modified, I've written at great length about it, I believe that either: 1) the filibuster on judicial positions should be retained or slightly lowered, as it's for lifelong appointments, and unless we're lowering the terms of service for federal judicial positions, a higher standard is reasonable, but that otherwise: 2) the filibuster on legislation should either be drastically cut back, or eliminated, period end of story.

Mostly I would prefer that it be cut back, and not entirely limited.

I don't give a damn which party is in power, that's my view, it's long been my view, and I expect it to stay my view until such time as either the country and politics and circumstances change enough for me to warrant changing my mind, which I nonetheless reserve my right to do. :-)

See here for some related thoughts: WHAT IT MEANS TO REQUIRE AND END A FILIBUSTER.

Then here, which includes links back to comments I made on... Obsidian Wings back, six years ago in 2005.

GOB,

The distinguishing attribute of public sector union support for electoral candidates is that after they are elected, they become the union members workplace boss, and since they want the union support for the next election, they will enact or support enactment of laws and/or rules beneficial to the union members and, consequently, to themselves, but which may very well be detrimental to the taxpayers and the state's fiscal soundness.

I fail to see how this distinguishes public sector union members from anyone else who sells goods or services to government and also tries to influence elections or other political outcomes.

Businesses negotiate contracts with governments at all levels all the time. They also lobby for favorable legislation and special consideration, as well as doing what they can to elect candidates who will favor their industries and companies, pay generous prices, etc.

Having political influence over one's customer is not restricted to public employee unions.

Let's see. Thanks to Count for pointing out the screwed up link. Can't find the exact one I quoted, but this might stand.

I also found this from the Canadian House of Commons, where the speaker is reading the riot act. No, really. Just thought everyone might be interested.

Also thanks to bc for his lengthy comment. I just pulled up Walker's website and didn't check the date, so maybe it was a google-fu bridge too far. I did try to find youtube videos with local news reports and went thru the local newspapers, but even that can be rather tricky (as an aside, my hometown newspaper had the headline of Obama wins the presidency balanced by a heading in equally large type about McCain getting 72% of the vote in the county. Which one could use to point out the nature of the state that my hometown is in or not, but it just demonstrates that local newspapers are embedded in the local culture, and so shouldn't be considered as completely neutral observers)

I still feel that denying the quorum is, given the lack of consultation and the nature of the proposals, more than justified. However, one reason why I've been looking for (and calling for here) views from Wisconsin is because it's always better to have as complete a picture, imho.

And while the rest wasn't addressed to me, I'd just make a couple of points to suggest some caution. First is that the question wondering why 'putting all Rs in a box' is occuring is followed almost immediately by invoking a California union. I'm still not sure, but I think Brett lost his way when he started talking about prison guards, something that I have been unable to find at all in the Wisconsin stories. I don't want to blame you, but if it sends mixed messages when you decry treating Republicans being treated as a homogeneous group and then looking at unions in other states. One could say that you were just addressing Gary's assertion, but the 'tend to' does a lot of work in there. This is not giving you a yellow flag, or even a cross look, but just trying to sort out some threads that I am seeing on waking up here.

This is an interesting development A couple of points I take-away

-even though the Rs could pass non-budget amendments with a simple majority, they feel it would not be in their best interests to do that. Perhaps that is because of what happened in the Assembly, or just the weight of the protestors, but people who are advocating that Senate Rs do everything they can legally to force the Ds back are not seeing their arguments win the day.

-The article names Dale Schultz as floating a compromise of taking away bargaining rights for 2 years and then restoring them. The argument is that with the cuts in the state budget, local authorities can't be hamstrung by collective bargaining. Here are the key grafs

Fitzgerald said Republicans could not back down now because the governor's two-year budget blueprint, to be released in coming days, slashes spending for public schools and municipal services by $1 billion or more. Local government leaders will need to make cuts without bargaining with employees, he said.

Walker's plan would allow unions representing most public employees to negotiate only for wage increases, not benefits or working conditions. Any wage increase above the Consumer Price Index would have to be approved in a referendum. Unions would face a vote of membership every year to stay formed, and workers could opt out of paying dues.

The plan would also require many public employees to cut their take home pay by about 8 percent by contributing more of their salaries toward their health insurance and retirement benefits. Union leaders said their members are willing to accept those concessions, but they will not give up their right to collectively bargain.

Also, it was noted that 3 (I think) of the R senators were elected with 51% of the vote. I'd be interested to know more about those races and to find the extent that voter apathy did or did not play a role.

I would note that the Walker's far-reaching proposals don't seem to mesh with the rationale of needing to give local municipalities the ability of make the kind of budget cuts they need and because the budget has not been previewed, it doesn't really smell right, but that's just me thinking that and I'd welcome more info on Walker's proposed budget, and what sort of costs we are talking about when we talk about municipal budgets.

lj:

box comment not at all aimed at you. It was a general comment.

As for me citing California, it's only because 1) I live here and am better informed about what is and is not working here; and 2) it's to support my belief that bargaining at the public level. it is a good example of what can happen when unions elect their own boss through the political process.

As for the "box" thing, what Gary said. I want out of all boxes, Tony.

I am all for a livable wage, a strong middle class, etc. etc. etc. However, I think that most states are beginning to see that public employee pay and benefits are soon to be unsustainable without some changes. Like retiring after age 55.


the governor's two-year budget blueprint, to be released in coming days, slashes spending for public schools and municipal services by $1 billion or more.

Raising taxes is of course off the table.
The entire pain of the recession is to be borne by the serfs and servants, not by the nobility.

Ever been in Kohler, WI ?

Another interesting development Wisconsin protests tapering off, but tense budget standoff remains

"We're going continue to fight, but we'll now focus our efforts locally," Mike Langyel, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association. "This comes down to raw power politics."

And yes this problem is being discussed lots of places (from the link)

There's a much bigger issue at stake here," Durbin said on the NBC program "Meet the Press," adding that Walker "is not setting out just to fix a budget; he's setting out to break a union."

Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wisconsin, said the events in his state are a microcosm of the budget pressure felt by governors and mayors throughout the country:

-- In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented budget plans last week that could eliminate more than 6,000 teaching jobs.

-- The mayor of crime-ridden Camden, New Jersey, announced layoffs last month of nearly half of the city's police force and close to a third of its fire department.

-- In California, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed a statewide hiring freeze across all government agencies.

-- In Illinois, lawmakers approved a massive tax hike, unveiling a $35.4 billion budget that depends on approving $8.7 billion in new borrowing largely to clear a towering stack of unpaid bills.

At the risk of tossing kerosene on this smouldering thread, I suggest this is a good reminder why allowing unions to only argue about wages and not about working conditions might be problematic.

Gary
Thank you for welcoming me.
I have to say that i learned many great things in years of reading ObWi, and learned how to hear the other side from you and Hilzoy.
My problem is that i see us as a country approaching the point of no return and i am getting aggressive, which you probably deducted from my posts. I am not nearly informed as much as you are, i just have more of a street experience with thought on where actions lead to. I feel that not using the history to compare it to present is the way to repeat the same mistakes. When everybody is worried only about the present then things get out of control.
Recently i had an experience that scared the sh.t out of me. I live in Phoenix where there are few artificial lakes used as water reservoirs for Phoenix. I was at a gas station filling the watter bottles which was right next to Red Box kiosk. While i was doing my thing a guy was renting the movies out when he said: "i would not use that water" and while handing me his business card with his Arizona department Water resources written on top with his name and info "they do not let us inspect those anymore". I responded with: "then i will by only new bottles"
Him:"do you know they dumped 40tons of waste into Canyon Lake, and we are not allowed to do nothing about it"
Me: "Then we are in Fascist state already"
Him:"Yes, it's fascism already"

lj,

I would like to take a left turn, somewhat literally from the discussion of Wisconsin based on this:

why allowing unions to only argue about wages and not about working conditions might be problematic.

I grew up as much a left wing liberal as one could be. I attended sit ins and know the words to every song in the Woodie Guthrie genre songbook. In the 20th century unions played an enormous role in making the workplace fair and safe for the working clas in our country, and there are places where they could do great things today.

The problem is they have built their own power base that they protect just as vigorously as the most mendacious of our worst corporations. To say all unions are bad and a problem is just as wrong as saying all corporations are bad and and a problem.

In 2001 and 2009 I had to stand in front of a company and tell them they would all have to take a 10% pay cut and(in 2001) start paying 20% of their health benefits.

These people didn't have retirement benefits except whatever they put into a 401k and they weren't getting any bonuses until further notice. This corporation wasn't doing this because we wanted to maximize profits, we did it so we didn't have to lay off any MORE employees and we could keep giving 120 people a job and stay in business.

So, if we all want to take a breath, talk a little less about how all unions are terrible, and all corporations don't care about their workers maybe we can get a little perspective.

I don't know how the leadership of the Wisconsin unions have negotiated in the past, how they have treated the budget constraints of the state or the reasonable needs of the people of the state.

I can certainly name a few unions who have negotiated lifetime employment, huge retirement packages at 50 years old and health care for life that I think have taken more than their share from the public and private sector. Some of them now own a substantial portion of GM and will soon own a lot of the state of California.

I can name some corporations who have treated workers like scum and deserve whatever they get. But it isn't near all of them.

Marty: Have you done any homework?

Have you? Your responses certainly don't seem to indicate that you have. For example...

I don't know how the leadership of the Wisconsin unions have negotiated in the past, how they have treated the budget constraints of the state or the reasonable needs of the people of the state.

I. Just. Told. You.

Specifically, the unions agreed to cutbacks in the 2003-2005 biennium because of Wisconsin's fiscal woes. They've also taken it in the ear the past decade -- real wages have pretty much stagnated -- in part because the state has pled poverty and continued austerity measures, even through the bubble. Everyone knew the unions were going to get screwed in contract negotiations in the next biennium -- cf "elections have consequences" -- it's the fact that Walker doesn't even want to negotiate (and de facto wants to remove the right to negotiate) that's got us up in arms.

ral: I noticed that this thread brought out some fighting spirit from participants I didn't expect (e.g., Anarch, Bernard Yomtov).

As a member of a Wisconsin public union for eight years, experiencing second-hand the bargaining and first-hand the effects of Republican antipathy towards public employees, yeah, it's got my hackles up. I don't like their tactics, I don't like the fact that they out-and-out lie, I don't like the fact that the media abets their lying, and I don't like the fact that they get a free pass to denigrate the workers and taxpayers of Wisconsin just because we're employed by the government. The fact that they've now decided to sh** all over public workers because they think they can get away with it is really gravy -- though angry, angry-making gravy.

By the by, since Gary's vaguely alluded to this up-thread: when I talk about Republicans in this thread, what they've done and what they're going to do, I'm specifically talking about Republicans at high levels in the Wisconsin state government since those are the Republicans of import in these negotiations. I thought that was obvious but perhaps not. Consider that as a qualifier to statements like the above; if you're a Republican but not in power in Wisconsin, I'm not talking about you. Apologies if anyone construed it otherwise.

I think that most states are beginning to see that public employee pay and benefits are soon to be unsustainable without some changes.

They can add that to the long, long list of stuff that's going on that is unsustainable without some changes.

In the economic sphere, right up at the top of that list is continuing to make middle class working people pay for everybody else's brilliant f**kups.

I'm sure there are lots of reasons why WI is in the hole. Somehow I doubt that the lavish lifestyle of WI state workers is the cause.

bc, you keep talking about conditions in CA. CA is FUBAR. WI ain't CA.

Anarch (and russell),

With all due respect. I have not done enough of my own howmework, as I stated, to accept out of hand your assertions that the unions in Wisconsin have been completely reasonable.

The fact that they still have 100% paid benefits with no contribution from workers would make me want to look at what was traded of for that. For one example only.

Almost no where else has that been true for several years.

But, to be clear, as with corporations, I believe this is a question of the quality of the leadership, not a question of the quality, value or intentions of the workers.

I have not done enough of my own howmework, as I stated, to accept out of hand your assertions that the unions in Wisconsin have been completely reasonable.

The unions have already offered to accept the pension givebacks Walker asked for in exchange for retaining collective bargaining.

See here, around para 12.

Walker says no deal.

Walker wants to take it to the mat. So, it's gonna go to the mat.

My problem is that i see us as a country approaching the point of no return

Yes, that's been more or less the case for over two centuries. We've learned to live with it.

Take Douglas Adams' advice, is my advice.

bc, you keep talking about conditions in CA. CA is FUBAR. WI ain't CA.

Ahh, but it might end up being California. Why not look at California and see how it got there? Sure, Prop 13 and other things played a role, but you cannot ignore the public unions. You cannot ignore 50 and 55 year retirements and therefore the pension obligations in the future.

Wisconsin public employees are paid well. From what I gather, they get paid either right there with private employees or better. According to this analysis, Wisconsin public employees get paid 5% less than private adjusting for education (they actually get paid more if you don't adjust for education). But from what I can tell, the report analyzes benefit pay (other than paid vacations/leave) based on what it costs government now, not what the government will have to pay in the long run (i.e. the actual present value of the benefit bestowed upon the worker). If the future obligations of public pensions are indeed underfunded now, the true cost should be accounted for now and not in, say, five years as the bill becomes due.

Also, the study adjusts for hourly work week but does not indicate whether it takes the work year into account (i.e. for teachers). I would think that it does, but if it doesn't it under reports public employee income considerably.

It seems to me that the true cost of public employment according to this study may well be under reported, but I cannot definitively tell. So perhaps no "lavish lifestyle" but maybe there is.

And, as I said before, one of the tradeoffs for a public career with "for cause" termination, etc. was lower pay. I'm not convinced that's happening in Wisconsin. Certainly not in many jobs in California.

"lavish lifestyle" you say?

Does anyone speak English here?

Not that there is anything wrong with French, but, what, do the faculty restrooms in Wisconsin public schools have bidets now?

Does Paul Ryan have a little Ayn Rand class bitterness because he used to butler for the local junior high school guidance counselor and parasite before he brought his Eddie Muenster act to Capitol Hill?

I agree, bc, that public pensions should be fully funded via employee and state contributions, but if they were, this would merely be another class grievance ginned up by Dick Armey among the Tea Partiers about their unfunded or non-existent private sector pension systems.

The only thing that is lavishly provided in America is horseh*t.

What is wrong with some of your fellow citizenbs being well paid ( not the publican employees are paid more than private--The Eocnomist has an article debunking that myth)?

The Eocnomist has an article debunking that myth)?

Wonkie: Not sure what article you are referring to, but is it this one? If so, that article cites the very EPI study I am questioning.

It also raises my very question:

For most people who work for the government, however, the expectation is that your year-to-year salary will be lower, but your benefits will be better, in particular your pension. It turns out, however, that state governments won't have the money to pay a lot of those pensions. They're likely to renege on their promises, and Republicans in Congress want to allow them to declare bankruptcy in order to do so. (Funnily enough, this may be the one area in which labour unions and Wall Street are in alliance: neither one wants states to be allowed to declare bankruptcy.) In other words, as Ezra Klein points out, the public-sector employees got rooked: they accepted lower pay in exchange for retirement benefits, and now the retirement benefits look unlikely to come through.

Putting to one side whether the government will actually pay those pensions (I assume that they will be paid), shouldn't the actual value of those pensions be factored into the equation rather than the cost being paid out now? Frex, in California (sorry russell) once the bulk of the prison guards retire we'll be in one heck of a mess.

And I personally don't think a 5% difference is that significant. That's what the EPI says the difference is (and if I'm right on the pension analysis the difference is in favor of public employment and probably greater than 5%).

Countme-in

I was just responding to russell's comment that the lavish lifestyle of WI public employees wasn't the cause of the fiscal crisis. I don't think this is a case of lavish lifestyle in the traditional sense of the word. But I expect to pay less for public services than private given the greater job protection and earlier retirement. And not 5% less.

Do you really think this is a case of class warfare? I kinda agree with a comment early on in this thread that public employee pay has highlighted how hard the recession has hit the private middle class. It looks to me that a large portion of the middle class expects more of a sacrifice from the public sector than four furlough days per year.

According to this analysis, Wisconsin public employees get paid 5% less than private adjusting for education (they actually get paid more if you don't adjust for education)

Actually, bc, according to that analysis, if you leave education etc out of it, WI public employees are paid not merely less, but much much much less than private employees.

There's a slight differential at the high school grad level. For the 60% of public employees who hold a degree, the differential ranges from $20K less on average (for undergraduate degree holders) to over $80K (for folks holding doctorates).

You get to 5% by including *all factors* - education, age, actual hours worked.

And what I would like to point out, since it seems to slip folks' minds, is that all of the above is true after 30 years of wage stagnation in the private sector, in the context of an economy with 10 to 20% un- or underemployment.

Things are historically freaking tough in the private sector, and WI public employees *still* make less than comparable private employees. Even with union representation and collective bargaining.

And they've already offered pension givebacks and other concessions in the current situation. Walker's not interested, collective bargaining is the hill he's going to live or die on.

So be it.

I don't think this is a case of lavish lifestyle in the traditional sense of the word.

It's not a case of lavish lifestyle in *any* sense of the word, at all, whatsoever.

But I expect to pay less for public services than private given the greater job protection and earlier retirement. And not 5% less.

Yeah, well sometimes we don't get what we expect. Life's a bitch that way.

If you actually do want lazy, incompetent, undermotivated public employees, the way you will get them is to pay them crap and tell them they should STFU and count their lucky stars that they don't work in the private sector, where they can be laid off if their boss has a bad hair day.

"Bad hair day" sound too flippant? How about "if their boss needs to drive the cost numbers down so he or she can make their bonus". Happens every god-damned day my friend.

Welcome to my world, b*tches.

It looks to me that a large portion of the middle class expects more of a sacrifice from the public sector than four furlough days per year.

It looks to me like a large portion of the middle class needs to get themselves a bigger piece of the pie. Why are middle class people - *all* middle class people, public and private - the only ones who are "making the sacrifice" in the first place?

It also looks to me like the strongest argument against WI public employees having collective bargaining rights is "if I can't have it, they can't have it".

Which to my eye is a pretty crappy argument.

It's funny how different people see different things in the same situation.

5% is not enough for you, you want public employee compensation to be beaten down to a greater percentage less than the private compensation. What will do it for you? 10%? 20%?

Here's what I want. I want unearned income taxed at a rate closer to, if not equal to, earned income. I want earned income above $5 million to be taxed at something north of 50%. And I want all of the Bush tax cuts above the 15% bracket rolled back.

That's my idea of shared sacrifice.

But we can't have that, because it will demotivate them. They're delicate flowers.

Seriously, WTF.

If it bugs you that WI public employees make 95% of what private employees make, maybe you should just be happy you don't live in WI.

The only legitimate way to determine whether you're underpaying a position, is whether you're getting enough adequately qualified applicants to keep the position staffed. Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs, until then you don't have an argument.

By that argument, migrant workers doing agricultural labor are not being underpaid.

Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs

its. The possessive of it is its, not it's.

/oneofmanypetpeeves

Your fairly complete, semi-irate and (to me) highly amusing source on how to use apostrophes, here.

The only legitimate way to determine whether you're underpaying a position, is whether you're getting enough adequately qualified applicants to keep the position staffed. Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs, until then you don't have an argument.

Step 1: Declare that the metric you prefer is the only metric for measuring something, even though there are plenty of others available that are equally legitimate. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but your, um, expertise is in engineering, not in human resources, labor low or employment economics, no?)

Step 2: Follow up with a sentence that makes certain assumptions with no cites to any actual evidence whatsoever.

Step 3: Profit!!

Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs

No Brett, I think I prefer to just let you sleep.

By that argument, migrant workers doing agricultural labor are not being underpaid.

It's sh*tty work, but compared to their alternative, it's better money. They would be working much harder, for much, much less money and under much worse conditions in Mexico, if they could find work in the first place. Sad fact of life.

Brett is correct up to a point. A job is worth what someone is willing to do it for. However, on the employer side, you get what you pay for. My files are in pretty good shape because I pay my file clerk 35K a year plus benefits. I could hire two "don't give a damns" at less money and I'd have more problems, get less done and ultimately spend more money unscrewing their screw-ups. Some lines of business can treat certain classes of labor as fungible, others can't. Employers who treat their employees like raw material may be able to keep that plate spinning for a while, but they expose their own livelihoods to a better job down the street or an economic turnaround. Stupid in the mid and long term. High turnover is the sign of a poorly run business.

Henry Ford may have been strongly anti-union (among other things), but he at least go what McKinney is saying. If lots more capitalists acted like Ford, we might not have needed a labor movement to create a strong middle class. I'm guessing Bellmore Motor Company wouldn't have lasted, had there been one.

Ford was a pioneer of "welfare capitalism", designed to improve the lot of his workers and especially to reduce the heavy turnover that had many departments hiring 300 men per year to fill 100 slots. Efficiency meant hiring and keeping the best workers.[22]

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 in current dollar terms), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers.[23] A Cleveland Ohio newspaper editorialized that the announcement, "shot like a blinding rocket through the dark clouds of the present industrial depression.".[24] The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs.[25][26] Ford announced his $5-per-day program on January 5, 1914, raising the minimum daily pay from $2.34 to $5 for qualifying workers. (Using the consumer price index, this was equivalent to $111.10 per day in 2008 dollars.) It also set a new, reduced workweek, although the details vary in different accounts. Ford and Crowther in 1922 described it as six 8-hour days, giving a 48-hour week,[27] while in 1926 they described it as five 8-hour days, giving a 40-hour week.[28] (Apparently the program started with Saturdays as workdays and sometime later it was changed to a day off.)

Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs

Set your alarm clock for August and the annual Philadelphia teacher shortage.

Wake me when the private sector stops their incessant whining about government jobs and solves the effing problem by hiring all of the unemployed, competent and otherwise, at wages and salaries above what the government pays.

Outbid the government for labor and lower or eliminate your taxes as the government employment market dries up.

C'mon, compete.

Most jobs could be done by inmates of federal prisons. Compared to that there are few if any underpaid persons in the country.
---
And there are people that would call the above argument valid (and some of them run for-profit prisons including supply rackets involving the judiciary)

If you haven't seen this already, a blogger at The Buffalo Beast managed to speak to Gov. Walker by calling up and pretending to be David Koch. Walker eagerly took his call and spoke at length. It's a real peek under the hood: http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045 .

My favorite part is that Walker admits explicitly to having considered placing troublemakers among the union ralliers and supporters.

Wake me when the government has trouble getting people to take it's jobs

This strikes me as a bizarre point. The government can probably fill its employee requisitions even with dramatic compensation reductions. I'm sure there are completely unqualified people who would be happy to work as bridge inspectors or Child Protective Service investigators. But I don't want unqualified people doing those jobs. I don't think anyone does. Do you really want to have unqualified or inexperienced or mentally unstable people making determinations about which children will be taken from their families by the state?

I mean, much of what the government does is important. And it is important enough that having qualified people working there can make a big difference. Dropping compensation by 20% may seem like a brilliant money saving plan until the lower calibre of applicants screw up and cause lawsuits that require millions of dollars to pay out.

Brett is correct up to a point.

Brett is an engineer. I can virtually guarantee you that I can find someone who will do what Brett does, in his market, as well as Brett does or close enough that it don't matter, for less money than Brett gets paid.

Ergo, Brett is overpaid.

There's always somebody out there hungrier than you are. Watch your backs, y'all.

A job is worth what someone is willing to do it for.

Define "worth".

However, on the employer side, you get what you pay for.

Aha! The penny drops. We begin to examine the meaning of "value".

Some lines of business can treat certain classes of labor as fungible, others can't.

In real life, damned few. I'm hard pressed to think of one.

Actually, bc, according to that analysis, if you leave education etc out of it, WI public employees are paid not merely less, but much much much less than private employees.

Not sure what you mean by "etc." russell. According to the source study , if education is left out of it, public employees make almost exactly the same ($33 more per year). That's because those without a high school education do really, really good in public employment. And those with higher degrees make a lot less.

Adjusting for "everything" it comes out public employment is 4.8% lower. This is within what I think the margin of error is personally when you see where the data comes from.

But nobody is addressing my point that the study "values" non-wage compensation--specifically pensions--by using the current cost to the government. I could be wrong here and that's why I've asked for feedback, but it seems to me that this completely eliminates the booming pension problem. If the future obligations for current employees exceed the current output, that reflects greater value to current employees. Much as we value a pension using a present value analysis, some effort should be made to analyze the non-wage value of the future benefit to current public employees in comparing public to private compensation.

If you actually do want lazy, incompetent, undermotivated public employees, the way you will get them is to pay them crap and tell them they should STFU and count their lucky stars that they don't work in the private sector, where they can be laid off if their boss has a bad hair day.

Looked at another way, what would be the value to you, russell, of having for cause employment? Maybe you already have that. Certainly that has a value or unions and employees wouldn't be bargaining for that. IMHO, it has a significant value. As do less hours, mucho vacation days and an 8-5 work week. In my profession, many make the rational, valid choice to do government work in exchange for less money. Because the non-wage benefits are worth it to them. Sometimes it's just the experience. Nowhere in the analysis I cited is there an effort to account for greater job security. Some effort is made to account for less hours, but I'm not convinced that was really accurate (I've emailed the author on this point).

Seriously, WTF.

If it bugs you that WI public employees make 95% of what private employees make, maybe you should just be happy you don't live in WI.

You know, I don't stay up at night worrying about public employment, even here in California. The pay of some public employees in CA does bug me, I guess. But it's not in a "gee I hate union workers" way, more of a "we're getting fleeced" way. I'm more than happy to pay a fair wage/benefit package and my general expectations are more or less what I've stated above. I haven't quantified whether it's 5% or 20%. It depends on the job.

My main point in bringing up the study was to have a discussion based on facts. There is a lot of hand wringing about the pay on both sides. On the right, a lot are saying they are overpaid. On the left, saying that's not so. Well, it either is or it isn't in my book and it's a really, really valid criterion for discussion in making public policy.

And then there is argument deflection. I'm actually very receptive to your middle class rant, russell, which is why I brought it up in an earlier comment. You are arguing with me (I think) over something I'm not trying to argue over.

Turb, I don't think the folks arguing for cutting government employee wages and salaries are going to be convinced by the argument that government jobs and functions are important.

You are logical. Brett is principled.

Smile to the two of ya.

I just hope the tens of millions of engineers a click away in India, China, and the Mideast can be staved off from taking Brett up on his principles long enough to get him through until retirement.

By the way, I don't want anyone and certainly not Brett or his family to lose their job, nor to endure salary and benefit cuts.

This longing for others to suffer as much as the market for suffering can bear is so animalistic .... except for the longing part.

That last is human, but also ineffably American.

There but by the grace of God go I, sucker.

By the way, a link to Phil's referral to the Buffalo Beast punking of the Wisonsin Governor is in my most recent comment on the "The Wisconsin Waltz" thread.

Brett is an engineer. I can virtually guarantee you that I can find someone who will do what Brett does, in his market, as well as Brett does or close enough that it don't matter, for less money than Brett gets paid.

Ergo, Brett is overpaid.

Probably not, in every respect. Brett's employer has already done the cost/benefit analysis of trying to find someone who can do the job better and cheaper. Further, you don't know the new "someone" can do the job better until you put them on the job. I've been disappointed many times with new hires who looked good on paper and talked a good game and couldn't or wouldn't cut the mustard.

There's always somebody out there hungrier than you are. Watch your backs, y'all.

Yes, but 'hungry' is only part of the equation. If they have the chops, it's because they are already doing something somewhere in an exemplary fashion. That person's boss has two choices: increase pay to meet competition for the employee's services or lose the bidding war.

A job is worth what someone is willing to do it for.

Define "worth".

What a willing employer is willing to pay and what a person desiring employment is willing to accept.

However, on the employer side, you get what you pay for.

Aha! The penny drops. We begin to examine the meaning of "value".

Of course. Any successful business offers a product or service that its market values and is willing to pay for. An employee's value is the qualitative incremental enhancement to the company's product that employee brings to the table adjusted for that employee's ability to leave and get better work somewhere else.

Some lines of business can treat certain classes of labor as fungible, others can't.

In real life, damned few. I'm hard pressed to think of one.

That's because you are preoccupied with what's going in Wisconsin. :-) In reality, you recognize this fact everyday. You pick your car repair shops by who does the best work for the best price and the shop that delivers keeps its better people by treating them right. Ditto restaurants, dry cleaners, etc. When you buy a car, you look, I am assuming, at safety and maintenance costs. These are a function of a quality work force.

There but by the grace of God go I, sucker.

Indeed.

Not sure what you mean by "etc." russell. According to the source study , if education is left out of it, public employees make almost exactly the same ($33 more per year).That's because those without a high school education do really, really good in public employment.

Wait, which public employees are we talking about without HS diplomas here? Because I know we are not talking about teachers, which is the group being put up on the sacrifical fire in Wisconsin.

Brett's employer has already done the cost/benefit analysis of trying to find someone who can do the job better and cheaper.

Presumably, while Brett is actively employed and productive, his employer is not actively looking to replace him for someone cheaper. Nonetheless, as russell suggests, the person who can do Brett's job as well as Brett can, and will do so for less money, exists. Should his/her resume happen to fall across the right person's desk, or should she/he happen to meet the right person at a networking or social event, the question of whether Brett is over- or underpaid will suddenly become much less abstract.

Probably not, in every respect. Brett's employer has already done the cost/benefit analysis of trying to find someone who can do the job better and cheaper.

More to the point: the way my employer does this is, approximately as follows. They poll the entire industry (which is fairly broadly defined as our competition, plus some ancillary industries) to see what they're paying their engineers, categorized by position, years of service, etc, and then compare me to that standard.

Our raises, and whether we get raises, are dictated in this way to a great extent.

The question of whether someone is willing to be hired to do my job for less is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether people of my approximate education and level of skill are compensated, on average, more or less than I am. If that answer slides, year over year, into the "less" column, my pay would get frozen. I'm not sure if we've ever been in a situation where a pay cut would be called for, so I'm not sure if the potential for pay cut is even part of the process.

I'm not saying this is how the market works, in general, but it seems to be more proactively market-driven than waiting until all of your talent has been hired away before you consider adjusting compensation upward, and the converse of all that.

MckT:

"atlatl" it is.

Thank you, and Gesundheit.

McKinney, you seem to be confusing the idealized model of labor markets, which many economists use, with actual labor markets, as they function, less than ideally.

And there are some pretty crappy auto-repair places, drycleaners and restaurants getting by, even doing well, by the grace of imperfect and incomplete information, not to mention less than perfectly rational consumer behavior.

More to the point: the way my employer does this is, approximately as follows. They poll the entire industry (which is fairly broadly defined as our competition, plus some ancillary industries) to see what they're paying their engineers, categorized by position, years of service, etc, and then compare me to that standard.

So you mean there's a metric that professional HR people and executives use to determine payment for particular positions that has absolutely nothing to do with what Brett claimed is "The only legitimate way to determine whether you're underpaying a position?"

Color me shocked.

I urge everyone to check on the link that Phil has above, noted by Countme-in. I really hope we can agree that bad faith is the most generous term we can call this.

HSH
You forgot to add the final point of Henry Ford's action of doubling the average daily pay to his employees.
When he was asked: ?why double wages for your workers?" He answered:
"So they can buy my cars!"

Those who understand Economics 101, know what that means and how important is for economy. For others: It means that by raising their wages he got more customers who will by his product and he got more profit.
Then in play comes economies of scale, initial investment and labor cost to explain how it works.
In short, even they do not understand it, republicans are pushing for RACE TO THE BOTTOM by asking for other groups to earn less. Over enough of given time EVERYBODY earns less, hence race to the bottom, where there is less and less consumers.
Another point that republicans completely miss is they are looking at people that occupy jobs instead on jobs. People can move from job to job and achieve better living, but the jobs (pay level) they used to occupy stay at same pay level. That's why their mantra: "If I succeeded, you can too", completely fail to understand the economic fundamentals.

Looking at the moral side of things, which republicans are invoking all the times,: Why do you republicans want other people to earn less? Why do you want others to work for slave wages? Would you like for yourself to earn less?

And now that link down with a database error. I hope it will return.

Not sure what you mean by "etc." russell.

"not just education but also age, experience, gender, race, etc."

According to the source study , if education is left out of it, public employees make almost exactly the same ($33 more per year).

If you're referring to the EPI study, I don't see that. We must be looking at different stuff.

Looked at another way, what would be the value to you, russell, of having for cause employment? Maybe you already have that.

I do not have that. Hard to quantify what the value would be. There isn't a huge public sector market for what I do, so I've never really thought about it.

I did recently see a Monster posting for 8 positions opening in a field sorta-kinda like what I do. Top salary offered was about 2/3 of what I make. I can tell you that I would not give up 1/3 of my compensation for "for cause" employment.

If I worked in a totally different job market than I do, it might be more tempting. Hard to say.

You are arguing with me (I think) over something I'm not trying to argue over.

Noted.

Probably not, in every respect.

To be honest, unless Brett is an extremely rare beast in his local job market, I'm pretty comfortable standing behind my claim.

Brett's employer has already done the cost/benefit analysis of trying to find someone who can do the job better and cheaper.

Neither you nor I have any idea if this is true.

Further, you don't know the new "someone" can do the job better until you put them on the job.

What you're saying is that labor is not fungible. Which is not only something I agree with, it's sort of my point.

Define "worth".

What a willing employer is willing to pay and what a person desiring employment is willing to accept.

Thoroughly inconsistent with the idea of labor non-fungibility, as espoused by you one paragraph earlier.

You pick your car repair shops by who does the best work for the best price and the shop that delivers keeps its better people by treating them right. Ditto restaurants, dry cleaners, etc. When you buy a car, you look, I am assuming, at safety and maintenance costs.

Once again, demonstrating the non-fungibility of labor. A principle I not only agree with, but which is basically my point.

A market model is not a good model for determining the value of what people do.

It's *a* way to establish a price, but like all purely market mechanisms, it may do so at a point that is socially harmful.

Markets only consider an extremely narrow set of parameters.

I did recently see a Monster posting for 8 positions opening in a field sorta-kinda like what I do.

Sorry, s/b "8 public sector positions" etc.

And, of course, those public sector positions were with the department of unemployment compensation and job training.

There's always growth somewhere.

McKinneyTexas: You pick your car repair shops by who does the best work for the best price and the shop that delivers keeps its better people by treating them right. Ditto restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.

Mostly true, although there are those people who just go for the lowest price [can't put my finger on the quote about "legitimate prey"].

Alas, on the larger scale, the people who run large companies nowadays typically are not the owners, but hired hands, often motivated solely by the next quarter's results.

In my own field (software engineering) I have often seen poor decisions, including hiring decisions, lead to lower quality, higher costs, even total project failure. When the people making decisions don't comprehend the problems or are rewarded based on poorly chosen criteria you get bad results. This extends to government too.

Now you can say that in the long run the market will take care of this, it will all shake out. But, "in the long run, we're all dead."

"Are there some pretty crappy ...... etc?"

Well, we have no rational basis on which to judge how crappy the market would be in an unencumbered world, so we can't answer the question.

Get government and those pesky gummint employees out of the way and we'll be able to define crappy downwards by ridding the country of licensing, restaurant inspections, dry cleaner chemical disposal rules, not to mention minimum wage and working standards, and, heck, let's get rid of the public schools altogether to encourage child labor at the car repair shop, the restaurants, and the dry cleaners, etc, and then we can judge how crappy, crappy can get and what crap the market will bear.

I suspect if American wages keep getting lowered across the board for all of the myraid reasons McManus will tell us, we'll learn more about the minimum crap line.

Until the lead is put back in paint and little kids are free to consume the lead without government warnings and intervention, I don't see how we can make an informed judgment.

We used to do more for more. Now we do more for less. When we reach maximum "do just about everything for nothing", maybe crap will seem sublime, to those on the "nothing" end of the equation.

Until the lead is put back in paint and little kids are free to consume the lead without government warnings and intervention, I don't see how we can make an informed judgement.

If you sing the "until the lead is put back in paint..." as a blues lyric, you'll understand why it bears repeating.

Countme--in, I should have guessed! [you say you want ...]

Thank you, and Gesundheit.

Au grauten, amigo.

And there are some pretty crappy auto-repair places, drycleaners and restaurants getting by, even doing well, by the grace of imperfect and incomplete information, not to mention less than perfectly rational consumer behavior.

Agreed. You can't fix stupid or lazy or ignorant. Long term survival of substandard products and services is questionable. Individuals with sufficient motivation and innate ability who aren't short term stupid and who are honest will do fairly well. Of course my model is somewhat idealized, but I see it hold true day in and day out. I see the other too.

Neither you nor I have any idea if this is true.

I think I do have a pretty good idea, unless Brett's company is run by dummies. I do ongoing performance analyses of everyone of my employees. I bet you're reviewed too. Some people get raises after reviews, some get pointed suggestions on areas of improvement, some get sent on to other opportunities. Add to that Slarti's comment about industry wide surveys, which lawyers also have, and you get a pretty good feel for averages. My point about "value" is that on either side of average is "above" and "below". People who perform at those levels are, over the long haul, compensated accordingly.

Thoroughly inconsistent with the idea of labor non-fungibility, as espoused by you one paragraph earlier.

Not at all. I hire in at one price and increase or maintain depending on performance. My law partner started off as one of six law clerks. To keep her after she'd been my lead associate for 5 years--in the face of a superior offer--I promised here a job as long I practiced law and to make her my partner as soon as that was in my power. However, he entry level pay was $10/hr, just like everyone else.

A market model is not a good model for determining the value of what people do.

Market determines value on fungibles, i.e. jobs that virtually anyone can do. It also determines entry level and, eventually, maximum value for most common callings.

But, "in the long run, we're all dead."

True enough, but what companies stay in business who consistently lose money, other than certain banks and auto manufacturers who are too big to fail?

Slarti: I'm not saying this is how the market works, in general, but it seems to be more proactively market-driven than waiting until all of your talent has been hired away before you consider adjusting compensation upward, and the converse of all that.

Wrenching this back on topic for a moment: as employees of the state, professor's salaries at UW-Madison are available to the public. Interestingly, they were also online until about four years ago when they mysteriously vanished and became accessible solely to those who went to the appropriate state office and submitted a formal request. I'm told that this was because UW-Madison -- a Tier 1 research university and (formerly?) one of the best public universities in the United States -- was paying its professors so atrociously that other universities' departments were using the online salary listings to poach our faculty; and they were so successful that the administration felt they had to hide the salary listings or face decimation.

True enough, but what companies stay in business who consistently lose money, other than certain banks and auto manufacturers who are too big to fail?

The New York Post and, even worse, the Washinton Times.

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