Elections Have Consequences

9 Mar

 . . . or so we are reminded when President Obama is nominating new justices to the Supreme Court, or pushing new healthcare legislation. Apparently the same is not true at the local level, where in Wisconsin a newly elected Republican governor, a Republican Senate (19-14) and a Republican Assembly (57-38) are unable to pass budgets or public-sector union reform since the opposition will not even show up for work.

"Moranism" or "How the Left Never Resorts to Hitler Comparisons"

Complain as you will that Republicans in the US Senate threatened to filibuster President Obama’s legislative agenda. At least to filibuster they needed to be in Washington, so there was hope of talk and eventual compromise. If you are hiding in a neighboring state, and allowing surrogates to make your case for you, there is no hope of anything.

Of course, this battle is less about an upcoming budget and more about reining in the power of public sector unions, whose outsized pension and medical benefits, negotiated by politicians of both parties, are bankrupting states. That is not hyperbole. A year old report estimates the total shortfall for state pensions nationwide at $3 Trillion, or a third of our total federal debt. California alone has a $500 Billion hole, or six times the state budget. Six times. You don’t just toss in another 5% a year to make that whole again. You must significantly raise taxes or cut benefits to a sector that is already earning a compensation package 45% above the national average. The average pay of a Milwaukee teacher is $102K. Srsly.

To quote the Obama Administration again, Governor Walker shouldn’t let this serious crisis go to waste. Wisconsin has led national reform before, and it is doing so again. I lived in Wisconsin during the welfare debates of the 1990’s, and despite warnings of a complete breakdown of civilized society, Tommy Thompson’s reform was adopted nationwide as a major Clinton policy achievement. The public cannot afford the deal made to public sector unions, and it’s time to trim. If a state finally has a politician with the gumption to take on a major lobbying force and donator to both parties, then he should strike while he can. Such opportunities do not often present themselves, so why should Walker negotiate? He is simply acting as liberals wished Obama would on tax cuts, healthcare and the stimulus. Better that he embody that Bush-like quality of decisive implementation of a single coherent policy. At least then we aren’t muddling through tepid bi-partisan band-aids.

What of the sacred collective bargaining rights, the firewall issue that sent Wisconsin Democrats to Illinois? This fundamental, inalienable right is not present in twelve states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia), and is limited in twelve more (Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming). Somehow in those states children are taught, fires are fought, crimes are solved, streets are plowed, benefits are paid, and the bureaucracy crunches on. It does so without either massive poverty among state workers, or terribly unsafe working conditions.

Public sector unions are fundamentally incompatible with government. Don’t trust me. Trust FDR:

All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service….  The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people.

In other words, the government isn’t management. Politicians change. The will of the people changes. In fact, the workers pick the politicians with a self-reinforcing political “donation” system. There is no corporate hegemony to protect the workers from. They don’t need to be shielded from the abuses of the public. The general citizenry is not profiting at the public worker’s expense. In fact, comparatively, it is now the opposite.

78 Responses to “Elections Have Consequences”

  1. Bbill March 9, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Good luck with that.

    Even Rasmussen can’t phrase their questions or push that poll sufficiently to get people to actively oppose their own interests recently, something the GOP is traditionally pretty good at achieving. Trying to deflect blame for our economic ills from Wall St and the bankstas on to kindergarten teachers doesn’t seem to be working. Looks like they’ve overstepped this time.

  2. Chris Smith March 9, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    This should go well…

  3. give it up March 9, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Sounds like the will of the people is being very clearly expressed in the Recall Walker movement that grows larger by the day.

  4. Colin March 9, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Collective bargaining is a universal human right. That shit stains like Arizona and Mississippi don’t recognize it doesn’t change that fact. The governor of Wisconsin has no right to revoke anyone’s human rights, regardless of whatever temporary majority he controls.

    The rest of your post is a load of bootlicking bullshit, bit it’s also beside the point. This is about human rights.

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      I wonder how Wisconsin’s schools compare with Arizona’s and Mississippi’s.

  5. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    I would like the tiniest shred of evidence that collective bargaining is a “universal human right.”

  6. Colin March 9, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    It’s called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Check it out sometime.

  7. Chris Sasiadek March 9, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    “There is no corporate hegemony to protect the workers from.” How else would you describe government under the two party system?

  8. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    @ Alan – WI’s are better. But the link between teacher salary and child achievement is tenuous at best . . . or so teacher’s unions tell us when they fight against linking teacher salaries to test scores.

    @ Chris – I’d call it representative democracy – of the ten largest groups that gave money in the last election, roughly half were corp PACs and half were unions. So why should we protect the public workers from the politicians when they are choosing a large chunk of them? I’m sure UAW workers would love to be able to pick the CEO of GM.

    @ Colin – Its not in there. Thanks!

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      UDHR Article 23(4). You’re welcome.

  9. Colin March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    From Article 23:
    “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

    I suppose you could argue that this doesn’t mean people have the right to collectively bargain, and only covers the right to join a union, but that would be stupid. Collective bargaining is the reason that unions exist.

    Collective bargaining is also protected by the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

  10. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” I see neither the words “collective” nor “bargain,” and for good reason. The interests of workers – safety, apprenticeship, pay, vacation – can be protected without CB. It is the end that is protected, not the means. Colin said CB was the universal human right, not unionization. It is in a worker’s interest to have safe working conditions and fair pay. All possible without collective bargaining – see the 12 states I mention.

    BTW, haven’t you called for the elimination of public unions before on your blog?

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      You’re being coy x2. Collective bargaining is one of the very basic tenets of unionization. It enables workers to negotiate with management on something akin to an equal footing and encourages good faith. I made it rather clear that the Wisconsin events had changed my mind re: public sector unions because of the ease with which disingenuous politicians will scapegoat them for fiscal problems.

      The public sector unions are perfectly analogous to Solidarity in 1981 Poland. We opposed that regime’s union busting, we should oppose Walker’s, as well.

  11. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    @ Colin – we were posting at the same time. If they meant to put CB in the UDHR, I think they would have. So call the UN and every country that ratified this stupid, and go back to drinking your red kool-aid.

  12. Mike In WNY March 9, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    In no way shape or form can collective bargaining be described as a universal right. Something is wrong with a system that prevents individuals from voluntarily entering employment situations and allows people who work for the public to hold them hostage while fattening their wallets at the expense of taxpayers.

    As far as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” goes, written by an organization that needs to be disbanded, the average working American has been turned into a slave to support the entitlement classes in this country.

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Yes. We obviously need to place the blame squarely where it belongs. On the millionaire teachers.

  13. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Coyx2 from the lawyer-advocate. Rich. I learned my coyness from the best.

    I did not hear you had changed your mind. I heard you were of two minds. I stand corrected. This is only a perfect analogy to 1981 Poland if you consider the state of Wisconsin to be a totalitarian puppet of the USSR (or another Communist master), and if you believe that the protestors are liable to be jailed as dissidents and enemies of the state. I do not. False equivalence is the term I think you throw around.

    Also, I do not blame millionarie teachers. I blame two parties that handed out those contracts for decades. We have a politician willing to act differently, and he should.

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Solidarity was a syndicate of employees of the state which united to protect said workers against unfair treatment by a politically motivated management entity. The analogy couldn’t be closer.

  14. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    One more note on coyness. I think the differentiation of ends and means is important, especially when you throw around terms like “universal human rights.” When you don’t differentiate between means and ends you do things like invade Iraq.

  15. Mike In WNY March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Spend, spend, spend, tax, tax, tax, debt, debt, debt. Where does it end? Hopefully in Wisconsin before we all end up like the Soviet Union or the Roman Empire.

  16. Colin March 9, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Brian: Yeah, your distinction between “a right to unionize” and “a right to collectively bargain” is horseshit. It’s like saying that people can form a political party, but not run candidates. It’s the whole fucking point.

    I doubt that I ever called for the elimination of public unions, but I’d love to see what you’re talking about.

    In the spirit of your red baiting, I’ll just point out that, as a conservative, had you been alive in:

    1887, you would have supported the Thibodaux Massacre
    1894, you would have supported the murder of workers in the Pullman Strike
    1914, you would have supported the Ludlow Massacre
    1915, you would have supported the execution of Joe Hill
    1920, you would have supported the Palmer raids
    1936, you would have opposed the Flint sit down strike

    to say nothing of the fact that you would have opposed every piece of legislation concerning child labor, the 40 hour week, overtime pay, and similar regulations.

    All of this is a log winded way of saying that your opinion on labor issues is about as valid as that of the pile of dog shit I almost stepped in this morning.

  17. peteherr March 9, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    And Walker has a legitimate way to act differently. He can call the union(s) and sit down at the table. Everyone knows that the states are financially in trouble. Been in a couple of papers. Negotiate the things you need. Busting the unions is in no way representing all of his constituency. It is a political play. It has nothing to do with budget balancing, as he asked for 8% concessions and the union gave it to him. If more was needed, he should have asked for more.

    • Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      @ pete – Actually, I think reducing the union power is essential to this whole process. There are so few politicians of either party willing to address this, he must act while he can. If he simply negotiates away some benefits now, they will be added back in in the future by a policitian that is in the union’s pocket (as they elected him or her). The only long term way to control costs is to break the cycle. He chose the CB method to do this. Perhaps there is a better way to permanently keep costs under control. But it needs to be more substantial than an 8% reduction to this particular contract.

  18. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    @ Colin – I was talking to Alan about the elimination of public unions, which he did.

    I appreciate your vitriol and hyperbole – it serves your case well. Which is another way of saying it doesn’t. Thank you for equating the elimination of CB in Wisconsin with murder, and telling me that I would love it. How far would you like to take this? That if you were a Communist in the 1930’s and 40’s, you would have supported the killing of 40 million Russians in gulags and re-education camps? The whole thing is obscene and ridiculous. When you arrive back in some sort of proportional reality let me know and we can talk again.

  19. Mike In WNY March 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Politicians have historically bought votes by pandering to the unions. The bill is due!

  20. peteherr March 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    There is no stopping those union pandering politicians from adding back the CB after Walker leaves office either, and then we (meaning Wisconsiners) will be right back where they started other than the fact that they spent a boatload of money to pass the original union busting law and then they spent a bunch of money to defend it in court and then they spent money to reinstitute the union friendly law. These are the things the bleed us of the civility that is almost non-existant in our country.

    I love the argument that in the future this will happen and if Jared Loughner couldn’t get a legal gun he would have found another way to attempt assassination on Gabby Giffords….except none of us have a crystal ball.

    Sit down at the table and negotiate. If the union is unwilling to negotiate then take the next step – layoffs etc. We are in budget crisis mode for the foreseeable future. No politician will be giving things back anytime soon, as the states will be in trouble. (Yes, that prediction came from my crystal ball)

  21. Bbill March 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    I’d call it representative democracy – of the ten largest groups that gave money in the last election, roughly half were corp PACs and half were unions.


    Implement Citizens United campaign funding and eliminate unions and voila, one-party rule on behalf of the plutocrats. Nice middle class ya got there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

  22. Leo Wilson March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I’m still seeing this entire debate as a symptom. Before President Clinton’s decision to decouple human rights considerations from China’s trading status BEFORE Chinese workers got the ‘rights’ to unionize, bargain collectively and use the strike as a bargaining tool in this effort, there was plenty of income from a strong American industrial sector and unionized industrial workers to pay public sector unions and their benefits both.

    Clinton wasn’t a right-winger or a Republican, but elections had consequences then, too. Today’s debate is one of the consequences of that.

  23. Tom Marcheson March 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    “These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” Guess who said that?

  24. Leo Wilson March 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    @Tom, that’s a Reagan quote. He’s right, too.

    Still, the alternative I suggest – limiting politicians by making them recuse themselves from voting when campaign contributions create a conflict of interest and vestiture other than representing their voting constituents – will never be taken up, so the only alternatives to restricting union powers when there is no income to support the commitments that have been made to them is to close up shop and fire them all or to declare bankruptcy and release the states from those commitments.
    The money isn’t there. Fairness, justice, social need all go by the wayside in the face of no money to pay for them.

    “Rather than punishing China for their human rights record, we should be investing in their infrastructure.” Who said that?

  25. Leo Wilson March 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    …and, that was before the house was lost to the republicans. So, from my perspective, this debate about union powers and rights are a direct result of decisions made by the most honored and respected Democrat president, when he was supported by both the house and the senate being controlled by Democrats.

    Elections aren’t the only things with consequences. Policies put in place by presidents have consequences, too.

  26. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    @ Tom – And do you think Reagan said it because he supported unions, or opposed the USSR? He did fire the air traffic controllers.

    • Alan Bedenko March 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      And the conversation comes full circle to the fact that Reagan was a doddering hypocritical douche whose idea-shits have literally ruined the country over the course of the last 30 years.

  27. Eric Saldanha March 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Reagan was president of one of the nation’s most prominent unions in two separate terms.

  28. Mike In WNY March 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    @Eric, The Screen Actors Guild represents private sector employees. Taxpayers are not forced to fund actors if the associated costs are perceived to be out of line.

    @Alan, Reagan’s short-coming was his failure to enact his good ideas.

  29. STEEL March 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Reagan sold out his union members for favors from the movie industry bosses – nice guy that Reagan.

  30. ethan March 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I’d like to hear what the Investment Banker’s Union has to say about all this.

    What? They don’t *have* a union?

  31. Bbill March 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    “If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.”


    It’s unusual to hear such candor from a Republican.

  32. Brian Castner March 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    @ Alan – The conversation would come full circle if we were actually talking about state pension deficits and the ability of public workers in 12 states to earn a living wage in safe working conditions without collective bargaining. As it is, the previous 38 comments have successfully managed to make this a conversation about Poland, Reagan, and the UDHR. Congrats. But none of that makes a $3 Trillion hole go away.

  33. lefty March 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    A whole lot of back and forth, but everyone is missing the main point. Elections Have Consequences.

    Right or wrong, we live in a representative democracy. We could go back and review every piece of legislation passed, from both sides, and find fault.

    Are teachers making $100k plus a year the problem with our education system..the answer is no. However, paying teachers $100k a year does not seem to be the solution either. It does not take a math wiz to see that. Why not reset everything and bring down the $100k to $75k and bring up the $30k to $50k or keep more teachers on the staff?

    As Brian pointed out, the cycle has to be broken. The issues around pension costs and budget shortfalls are not going to be negotiated away. In the words of Daniel Cunningham on contract corrections… “We’ll sell it to you. Let’s make a deal,”…In other words, things are not corrected but simply one negative is taken off the books in exchange for another.

    Fundamentally, I think Collective Bargaining has a shelf life. While needed in the beginning, it is not a sustainable idea.

    • Alan Bedenko March 10, 2011 at 6:40 am #

      Yes, elections have consequences. Which means that public opinion matters. As such, it should be noted that a number approaching 60% of Wisconsinites disapprove of Walker and his efforts to bust the public employees’ union (except, notably, the police & fire unions). Which means that the next election will have “consequences” and that the recall effort will have “consequences”.

      Finally, it has been suggested that Wisconsin teachers’ golden pensions are adversely affecting the state’s finances. That suggestion is a blatant and intentional lie.

      The pension plan is the direct result of deferred compensation- money that employees would have been paid as cash salary but choose, instead, to have placed in the state operated pension fund where the money can be professionally invested (at a lower cost of management) for the future.

      Busting the union has nothing to do with finances and everything to do with ideology. This Republican governor is decidedly and purposefully against the rights of working people. Like most contemporary Republicans, he believes that the rich should be richer and that the working and middle class have too much damn money.

  34. Tony Fracasso March 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Article 23.

    * (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    * (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    * (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    * (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    I don’t any wording that states a group of workers have the right to control a monopoly of services. A group of people should be able to state what they expect for their labor but another group should not be forced to use that group.

  35. Brian Castner March 10, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    ” As such, it should be noted that a number approaching 60% of Wisconsinites disapprove of Walker and his efforts” – Did you feel public opinion was important when Republicans cited it in opposition to Obama’s healthcare reform. I thought not.

    Thanks, lefty, for making the salient point. We can return to the false equivalence, turn-about-is-fair-play and strawmen now.

    • Alan Bedenko March 10, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      Public opinion was roundly in favor of the ITEMS CONTAINED in the health care reform bill. Public opinion was against SOCIALISMOBAMACAREKENYA. There’s an important distinction there, and I’m happy that you brought it up so I could provide you with that. Also, 62% of Americans supported the public option. Also, people do not support its repeal.

  36. Eric Saldanha March 10, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    And it has come to pass that the Republicans in WI’s Senate rewrote the “budget repair” bill to remove any content having to do with spending money and hastily passed the new bill and Gov. Walker has achieved his aim in eliminating collective bargaining rights for some public sector workers (you’ll remember that Walker exempted certain classes of public workers, including police, from his assault on CBR).

    It remains to be seen if the new law will survive a court challenge (hinging on the question of whether CB can be removed from state expenditure), but Walker has won a short-term victory for his plutocrat sponsors, but has also galvinized the Democratic base. After weeks of propagandizing this law as the only way to tackle the state’s deficit, the WI Legislature’s manuever last night reveals that union-busting was the sole and only purpose of this legislation. Otherwise, why strip out the parts, you know, dealing with fiscal policy?

    There are a number of WI Republican senators who may be subject to voter recall later this year…Gov. Walker may see a formal process for his petition begin in November. Unlike the polled voters who disapproved of the health care reform bill (and have warmed to it as they’ve gotten to learn more about what it does and what it does not do), the voters of Wisconsin can directly affect Gov. Walker’s future at the polls. And they are informed and, as Alan alluded to, not happy about Walker’s Folly.

  37. Eric Saldanha March 10, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    “may see a formal process for his removal from office by recall…” Sorry

  38. Brian Castner March 10, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    @ Alan – And the voters of WI support not running pension deficits, and plenty of other positions *within* the issue. Whatever. Yawn. Now you’re the coy word gamer. If you’re comfortable being on both sides of debates based on party and not consistent personal philosophy, that’s your choice. I’m not. Public opinion polls didn’t matter in the Obamacare battle, and it doesn’t now.

    @ Eric – That’s the wonderful thing about democracy. The voters of WI picked Walker and he did what he said he would. If they think he went too far, they recall him. If they warm to lower deficits and weaker unions, they don’t. Its messy, redundant and inefficient, but its better than the other options. Obama’s over-reach energized the right nationally, and Walker’s style energized the left. I wish it was constructive energy, but, alas.

    • Alan Bedenko March 10, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      Actually, if you could point to where I said public opinion polls didn’t matter during health care reform debate, I’d love to see it. Because I don’t recall making that argument. I always play with words because they’re important. The voters of WI don’t have to run pension deficits, because taxpayers don’t fund the teacher’s pensions. Or did you not read the Forbes piece I linked?

      Since this post was published earlier today, many commenters have made the point that, while it is true that it is state employees’ own money that funds the pension plan, when the pension plan comes up short it is up to the taxpayer to make up the difference.

      There is some truth in this – but not as much as many seem to think. Because the pension plan is a defined benefit plan – requiring the state to pay the agreed benefit for however long the employee may live in retirement- if the employee lives longer than the actuarial plan anticipated, the taxpayer is on the hook for the pay-outs during the longer life.

      But is this the fault of the state employees? The pension agreements are the result of collective bargaining. That means that the state has every opportunity to properly calculate the anticipated lifespan and then add on some margin for error. What’s more, the losses taken by the pension funds over the past few years can hardly be blamed on the employees.

      Take a look at what Sue Urahn, an expert on the subject at the Pew Center on the States, has to say about this when describing the $1 trillion gap that existed between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises.at the end of 2008-

      To a significant degree, the $1 trillion reflects states’ own policy choices and lack of discipline:

      • failing to make annual payments for pension systems at the levels recommended by their own actuaries;
      • expanding benefits and offering cost-of-living increases without fully considering their long-term price tag or determining how to pay for them; and
      • providing retiree health care without adequately funding it
      Via Pew Center on the States

      That is the point. While the governor of Wisconsin is busy trying to shift the blame to the workers in an effort to put an end to collective bargaining, the reality is that it was the state who punted on this – not the employees.

      I’m sorry, I thought we were discussing facts. I didn’t know we were discussing emotions. My mistake.

  39. Bbill March 10, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    The voters of WI picked Walker and he did what he said he would.

    He campaigned on the promise that his no. 1 priority would be to destroy labor unions?

    • Brian Castner March 10, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      Yes, I’m sure that’s how he framed it.

  40. Brian Castner March 10, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I have as little time to read your links as you do to watch my videos.

    I’m not going to reread all your posts from 1.5 years ago, and you know it. McConnell et al were regularly mocked for constantly quoting the public opinion polls, and I doubt you had kind words for his position. I also don’t remember you supporting the healthcare screamers – the public, afterall – as they were ridiculed for being dumb and being against their own interests. I’m sure from now on you will use public opinion polls as the basis for policy, to maintain the consistency of the argument.

    As for facts, teacher’s pensions are but one group. Or did you not remember all the snowplow drivers and paper pushers that Republicans hate as well? The cherry picking is getting exhausting. If the states didn’t put in their fair share, I believe that has something to do with closing budget deficit gaps. Its the cycle of temporary politicians handing out unreasonable contracts to win re-election, and then underfunding the pension plans they negotiated to close budget gaps, that must be broken.

    • Alan Bedenko March 10, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      I’m not going to reread all your posts from 1.5 years ago, and you know it

      Then it’s probably reasonable to not ascribe writings or opinions to me that you have no basis for.

      I’m sure from now on you will use public opinion polls as the basis for policy, to maintain the consistency of the argument.

      And I’m sure when there’s the inevitable rout of Republican lets-HUAC-the-Muslims mouth-breathers from the Congress, you’ll repeat that elections have consequences and support the new Congress’ every proposal.

      Its the cycle of temporary politicians handing out unreasonable contracts to win re-election, and then underfunding the pension plans they negotiated to close budget gaps, that must be broken.

      Why don’t you stop beating around the bush and just demand the immediate privatization of teaching, schools, snowplowers, and state bureaucracies?

      As for the Forbes piece, it took me all of 2 minutes to read. Not quite the same as an 11 minute video.

  41. lefty March 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm #


    Are you really comparing polls to elections?  Maybe we should do away with elections and let Rasmussen tell us who gets to represent us.

    The next elections will be the next election.  Anyone who lives in NYS knows that frustration and contempt for an elected official does not equal voting said official out of office.

    The reality is Americans want to feel like they are behind something but really they just want to feel like they are a part of something.  How much chatter do you see on Iran on Twitter.  Gone are the green tinted gravatars.  What about Haiti?  What about Egypt?  If you took a poll while those events were fresh, the reaction would be completely different just 3-6 months past.

    I think that when the average taxpayer in WI sees the sky does not fall and the world does not stop turning, when Michael Moore ships his fat ass off to the next ‘thing’ and most importantly when the numbers start to change on the budget…that 60% is going to look a lot different.

    If not, and WI kicks a bunch of these people out of office and the unions ‘win’ for lack of a better phrases…that is a positive as well.  It will prove once and for all that you just can not change the system.  All that will do in increase U-Haul rentals out of places like NY and WI as some people are going to have that last grain of hope removed.  

  42. Mr. F.N. Magoo March 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    The trouble I have with the people who argue against collective bargaining and the necessity for unions at all is either the naive or disingenuous tone of statements like “collective bargaining has a shelf life.” As though whatever gains achieved by past efforts are locked in and can never be taken away. Leave aside the argument of whether its a right; its necessary to keep corporations and companies honest in their dealings with workers. And because someone works for a government entity shouldn’t impact on their ability to band together to negotiate. Its not as though political appointees in ideological agreement can’t use their collective beliefs to affect workers’ pay and benefits. Its happening all over the country now, not in any way any more a real attempt to address deficits than is cutting funding for PBS or Planned Parenthood. Its an admitted attempt to defund unions so that there is no competition with corporate election-buying. These issues can’t be disconnected.
    Collective bargaining isn’t some quaint anachronism. Without it, there’s no reason for unions. And without unions, there’s no avenue for collective bargaining. Its just each individual employee versus large companies and huge multi-nationals. And to think that these companies won’t take advantage in suppressing wages and benefits is akin to believing that domestic and foreign policies have never been influenced to America’s detriment by business interests.

  43. lefty March 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    First off, we are talking about PUBLIC UNIONS not Private sector unions.  If you do not understand the difference, you are the one who is naive.  But since I get the feeling that you are..I will help you understand.

    With Collective Bargaining in the PUBLIC sector, the government entity on the other side of the table does not have the same options as a private company.  Options like relocating and going out of business.  These differences only compound the issue, as negatives are never removed from contracts but rather replaced with another negative.  Read this quote from the head of the Buffalo Fire Union again..read is slowly…

    “We’ll sell it to you. Let’s make a deal,”

    Added to this, many of the reasons for unions in the first place, things like worker safety and worker rights are now protected by laws.  If the the Fire Union in Buffalo were to be removed, it’s not like the city could tell fireman they would no longer have access to oxygen tanks or the Mayor of Buffalo could fire a fireman simply because he looked at him the wrong way.  

    Although people like you want to paint a picture that if unions were removed in the private sector, industry would go back to the 1800’s….ignorant to the fact several regions of the US do just fine, IF NOT BETTER without them.

    The truth about unions is they are there to provide value to their members.  Nobody is going to deny this.  The challenge is value does not mean status quo.  In means in every contract there must be some gain or their is no point to paying someone to negotiate on your behalf.

    One you realize this and you grasp that most of the worker issues are protected by laws, you will see that the only ‘value’ a union can bring is increased compensation in some from.  When you go to the table over and over again only looking for increased compensation AND the other side does not have the ability to go out of business or relocate, eventually that compensation becomes too much.  

    Lastly, I know most of this is going to go over your head because you pointed to the corporate boggyman…but I still felt I should correct your ignorance.

  44. Bbill March 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    It’s class warfare, plain and simple. It’s disappointing (but not surprising in the age of Fox “News” and hate radio) that the plutocrats have no problem dividing the middle class against itself and getting people to actively, aggressively, angrily oppose their own economic interests.
    They use buzzwords “unions!” “gummit!” “ooga booga!” as their shiny object to distract some folks from their true objective; sadly, some folks play right into their hands.

  45. Brian Castner March 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Bbill – please explain how it is against my economic interest to oppose pay and benefit packages for public workers 45% above private sector counterparts when 1) I’m in the private sector, 2) my taxes are paying their salary, and 3) their pensions obligations are in a $3 Trillion hole.

    Public sector unions are fundamentally different than private sector ones because 1) their unions dues fund political campaigns that pick their bosses, 2) the bigger benefits package politicians give, the more campaign money they get, and 3) the general public is paying for the hole, not the shareholders of a private company. If I think GM is paying its workers too much, I don’t have to buy GM stock. If I think CA is running itself into the ground with a $500M pension deficit, I have one choice – moving. Chances are my new state has a similar problem.

  46. lefty March 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    @ Alan,

    Why do schools have to go all the way to privatization to try and solve the issue?  There is a mile between privatization and what currently exists…why not find the middle ground?

    I am speaking about Charter Schools by the way.  Not the ones that are butchered to death in the US but true Charter Schools.

    I do not know what the per pupil spending in Clarence is, but do you keep a tally of what the school system spends on your kids?  I am assuming you don’t…I could be wrong.  What I read is parents what to provide the best education to their child and it pretty much ends there.

    So why not have schools where each was set up to provide a focus?  If one schools wants to pay teachers $90k a year..they would provide a better education that a school paying teachers $60k a year..right?  Just like a law firm who bills at $300/hr is supposed to provide a better product to a firm billing at $200/hr…But we both know that is not true, by and large.  

    I have read time and time again from teachers in the Buffalo schools that outside influences are THE most important aspect to a child’s education.  I have also read that too many kids do not have these influences.  Not only do these kids have decreased odds at ‘getting out’ but when in mass, they also take away from the kids who do have these advantages.  

    Point being, we here the one size fits all testing is ruining our education system…but really the one size fits all schools are the problem.

    So why not have charter schools that are music oriented, sports oriented and even discipline oriented?  While every kid has the right to an education, I do not know of any text that says kids have a right to be in any classroom.

    Some will say this is nothing more than separating the halves from the haves not, and maybe this is true, but I do not see anything that says it would not work.  In business, when you face a challenge on your product, you isolate the challenge and fix it.  As a nation, our kids and their education are the product. 

    Maybe a school that provides breakfast, lunch and dinner and runs from 7am to 7pm is what is needed for some kids.  Maybe a school where on campus dorms are provided, similar to a boarding school is better than a foster family?

    What I do know is the have nots, by and large, are hardly ever changed to the halves.  The one size fits all schools are too standard to deal with their specific needs.  So why not create schools that do?  

    If this means 60% of the per pupil spending is spent on the kids with a good support network and 140% is spent on the kids without…does anyone really care if the product turns out?

  47. Bbill March 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Brian — they’re not going to stop at public sector unions, they’re at war with the middle class. Look at the way they protect the true culprits responsible for our economic mess (Wall St and the bankstas, the neocons) and how they protect the plutocrats (refusal to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the uppercrusters).

    Our biggest economic threat is the exploding inequality of income; they see that as a good thing but maybe the top 1 percent should have an even bigger slice of the pie!

    Another reason to destroy unions is so the GOP can run essentially unopposed in future elections and lead the way to glorious one-party rule (Scott Fitzgerald said as much yesterday). Onward to Thunderdome!

    Maybe my figures aren’t precise, but in any economy the folks who profit by keeping labor costs down are in the low single percentile; most folks draw a paycheck and would be hurt by the continuous assault on wage earners.

    BTW I appreciate and respect your tone and civility with those whom you disagree. Refreshingly rare for those on the right. For instance, someone like Hank.

  48. Bbill March 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Or this


    Including an 11 minute video that should be enlightening.

  49. Leo Wilson March 11, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    @BBill, you’re ignoring who the banksta’s actually supported at campaign time when the collapse started.

  50. Bbill March 11, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    The fact that none of the bankstas are in jail or facing criminal charges tells us the Dems are not without culpability themselves. At least with the Dems there may be one or two honorable lawmakers in the bunch; can’t say that about the GOP, not these days.

    pay and benefit packages for public workers 45% above private sector counterparts

    An examination of those numbers reveals some not-surprises: http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/fox_news_lies_correcting_the_record/

  51. Brian Castner March 11, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    @Bbill – just because you keep calling it class warfare doesn’t make it so. I’d describe it as working and middle class in the private sector (still employed if they are lucky) paying taxes against their fellow working and middle class in the public sector making 45% more.

  52. Eric Saldanha March 11, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Question for you, Brian – how does this “budget repair” bill, which has been stripped of all language pertaining to fiscal policy and expenditures, address WI’s current budget deficit, which was Gov. Walker’s stated rationale for pursuing the legislation in the first place?

  53. Brian Castner March 11, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    It doesn’t. Maybe if the pwned Dems come back now and do their job, they can finish up the current budget mess too.

  54. Bbill March 11, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    paying taxes against their fellow working and middle class in the public sector making 45% more.




    It’s class warfare, plain, simple, transparent. To deny that it is requires suspension of disbelief.

  55. Brian Castner March 11, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Because a labor union funded think tank issued a report that said so? Such organizations exist to foment the class warfare, and I see you are a willing participant. I would love to see a report from an objective source. Honestly.

  56. Eric Saldanha March 11, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    @ Brian – thank you for at least acknowledging that the union-busting, not the state deficit, was the top priority of Gov. Walker and the WI GOP.

    I would love to see a report from an objective source…
    sez the guy who quotes from the National Review, the Heritage Foundation and the MacIver Institute.

  57. Brian Castner March 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Yes, I quoted a think tank who caught someone telling the truth – note I linked to the Politfact website, the objective checker, to confirm because I think attribution is important. I linked to the Heritage Foundation for the text of a Tommy Thompson speech (I assume you didn’t look at the actual link). I linked to National Review, a biased news source, not a think tank, for Kramer’s opinion. You failed to mention I also linked to the GAO, Stanford University, The Wall Street Journal, Wikipedia (not my favorite, but its a basic fact), a centrist website for the FDR quote, and The Atlantic. I am very careful – thank you for noticing.

  58. lefty March 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm #


    I find you to be naive and ignorant. Here is why. You are simply unable to see the whole picture. You are naive because you are passing left wing talking points. You are ignorant because your quest for information stopped at the spoon fed talking points.

    You claim that the entire mess is due to just Wall St, the bankstas and the neocons. Question for you…since you like to look things up on the interwebs…

    Who opened the gates to allow Wall Street to take advantage of the housing market? Notice, I am admitting that Wall Street did in fact take advantage of the market.

    Before these gates were opened, what was the trending of the housing market? I will help you out on this…values, over time, always went up.

    Why do you not mention the loan brokers who wrote NINJA loans? That industry made a TON of money on writing such paper.

    Why do you not mention the Realtors who showed housing that was too expensive for their clients over the long haul? That industry made a TON of money on commissions.

    Why do you not mention the home buyers who purchased homes when they should have rented due to not having a JOB AND INCOME or home buyers who upgraded their house to something they could not afford over the long haul? Those folks made money on refinances, took tax breaks and some made a killing on selling their previous property.

    I would be fine with people vilifying greed, as long as they vilifying everyone in the process who was greedy.

    As for your claim that the middle class is being attacked…I call Bull Shit. The reality is people do not want to live a middle class life. Middle Class is subjective. To me, middle class is having a job where you can own a home, drive a reliable and safe car, put your kids in a good school and live a life withing your income.

    The only difference between the ‘middle class’ of the 50s that people which still existed and the ‘middle class’ we see today is the amount of materialistic shit that people consume. Materialistic shit that diverts money away from things like a house, car and school for the kids.

    The number of BS luxury items that Americans have been trained to think are rights is infinitely more than what a family in the 50s considered.

    So I call BS and find you to be naive and ignorant.

  59. lefty March 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm #


  60. peteherr March 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    @Brian Castner – just because you keep saying it isn’t class warfare doesn’t make that so either. We can keep saying this is about balancing budget, but it it’s not. The Governor asked for the financial concessions he needed and the union conceeded those things. If the Governor needs more, then he should have asked for more.

    In his campaign he talked about balancing the budgets and looking at these union benefits. In no way did he run on a campaign of busting the unions. To extrapolate that from his actual words is disengenuous at best.

    Governor Walker absolutely could have taken this to the negotiating table. He made a conscious decision that busting the union was a better answer than bargaining in good faith.

  61. Brian Castner March 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    @ Pete – If this is class warfare, its a civl war. Walker isn’t the CEO getting rich off of beating down state workers. The evil employer, management, are middle class taxpayers no longer being able to afford benefits far beyond their means.

    I respect the point that Walker could have handled the whole bit from the beginning in a different way. The Dems didn’t have to go to IL either. But do you really think he would have been successful breaking the CB/political donation cycle by neogtiating it away? I don’t either. To Bbill’s point, Walker didn’t run on destroying labor unions just like Obama didn’t run on doubling the debt and bankrupting our children. It just turned out that way, when you are on the other side after they advocate for what they said they would.

  62. Bbill March 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Just want to reiterate my compliment to Brian for civility and respect which is the exception to the rule coming from the right, as we see exemplified today. Have a nice day lefty.

    just like Obama didn’t run on doubling the debt and bankrupting our children.

    One reason the debt has doubled is that Obama put the war tab on the budget (imagine that!) unlike his charlatan predecessors. In terms of bankrupting our children, the GOP’s insistence on willfully ignoring climate change and refusing to deal with the issue makes it questionable as to whether our children will have an inhabitable planet earth to be bankrupt in.

  63. Bbill March 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    The only difference between the ‘middle class’ of the 50s that people which still existed and the ‘middle class’ we see today is the amount of materialistic shit that people consume. Materialistic shit that diverts money away from things like a house, car and school for the kids.

    Well, that and this too http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States

  64. lefty March 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm #


    Ignorant and naive are not insults.  They are observations.  There are plenty of words that have little meaning behind them to be used as insults.  No need to type them.

    Here is the meaning behind Naive – having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She’s so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.

    Here is the meaning behind ignorant – lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.

    I feel those words fit you based on your ZOMG the bankstas, the neocons! comments.  

    Some people need to have things packed up for them in a small box.  I feel you are one of those people.  FWIW, there are plenty of people on the right who need the same size box but with different content.

    Also, outside of the ~5 times I used ignorant and naive, I give you ~400 on why I thought so.  All of which you are unable to reply to.

  65. peteherr March 12, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    @BrianCastner – He broke the political donation cycle of the unions, by accepting the huge political donations of Koch Brothers? What cycle was exactly broken here?

  66. Bbill March 12, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Hey lefty, it’s okay for you to feel that way. Guess sooner or later we all become this guy. Go get ’em tiger.

    After all, as you say, some people need to have things packed up for them in a small box.

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