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Wisconsin Governor Uses Police State Tactics (Literally) on Democratic Senators (Updated)

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A major row has been under way in Wisconsin as governor Walker has been trying to push through state-union-breaking changes as part of his program to deal with a projected $3 billion shortfall in the state budget over the next two years. (Update: as reader petrograd indicates, an analysis of the state’s finances shows this shortfall to be entirely the result of spending increases planned by Walker. The state ran a modest surplus in the latest fiscal year and the projected falls in tax receipts over the next two years were less than $200 million cumulative. So this budget hysteria is a gross distortion of the state’s true condition).

His state budget plan included ending state worker collective bargaining rights and cutting pay and benefits. He not only said he would not negotiate, but announced he had alerted the National Guard in the event of worker protests (note the last time the Guard was called in to handle a labor dispute was in 1934). Walker since backed down on this particular threat, but has now sent out state police to round up Democratic state senators who are refusing to vote on the latest iteration of Walker’s proposal, From PRWatch:

Mary Bottari reports that the state capitol police are scouring the Wisconsin Capitol in an attempt to track down the Wisconsin Senate Democratic Caucus. The Wisconsin Senate was slated to vote on the budget bill today, but they were prevented from doing so because all Democratic Senators walked out denying the Republicans a necessary quorum. The Republicans issued a “call of the house” empowering the state capitol police to round up missing Senators, but the Democrats were prepared for this and promptly departed the building and may even have left the state.

It’s bad enough that the “make the workers suffer” push is misguided (any budgetary pain should be shared, not dumped on a single target group). According to David Cay Johnson of Tax.com, the average Wisconsin pension is $24,500 a year, which is hardly lavish. But what is stunning is that 15% of the money contributed to the fund each year is going to Wall Street in fees. Thus the blame for any shortfall should go in very large measure to probable kickbacks rank incompetence in the state’s dealing with the financial services industry and the impact of the financial crisis on state revenues. A recent paper by Dean Baker concludes:

Most of the pension shortfall using the current methodology is attributable to the plunge in the stock market in the years 2007-2009. If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007, their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today. This is by far the major cause of pension funding shortfalls. While there are certainly cases of pensions that had been under-funded even before the market plunge, prior years of under-funding is not the main reason that pensions face difficulties now. Another $80 billion of the shortfall is the result of the fact that states have cutback their contributions as a result of the downturn.

In addition, the governor has poor-mouthed about the state pension and budgetary concerns generally while handing out further tax breaks to business. And in a strained economic climate, the state has been increasing gimmies to corporations. The state had tried tightening up provisions which had contributed to 2/3 paying no taxes in 2007, often due to income shifting to lower tax states. But tax expert Lee Sheppard believes that corporate tax cuts implemented by Walker will probably undo 2009 tax law changes intended to increase revenues from corporations. And note corporations pay for only 5% of the state’s general revenues.

This is completely different normal budgetary smoke, mirrors, and scapegoating. Walker is engaging in thuggish tactics to push his measures through in the face of rising protests in front of the Wisconsin Capitol by citizens, nurses, teachers, and students. The opposition is in keeping (admittedly at a much lower level) to anti-austerity protests in Europe. People may be waking up to the fact that an undue amount of the pain that ordinary citizens are taking is to preserve and extend the privileges of those at the top, and they are finally starting to say they’ve had enough.

Update 12:30 AM, 2/18: From Mary Bottari at PRWatch:

Outside the capitol, I bumped into UW Professor (Law, Political Science, Sociology, Public Affairs) Joel Rogers and asked him to explain the budget number to me. The national media can’t seem to decide if Wisconsin has a budget deficit or not, or whether $30 million in concessions being demanded from workers is significant or not. Rogers explained that the $3.5 billion shortfall projected over the next biennium is about half what the one projected last time, which WI survived, and that $30 million was both trivial and dwarfed by new concessions unions had already offered to make. Says Rogers, “you just can’t make sense of this as a deficit reduction strategy. It’s a political strategy. Destroy public sector unions and you destroy the campaign organization of your opposition, Democrats. Of course he won’t ever just say this.” Rogers thinks the budget repair bill is “in three words: deceptive, dishonest, destruction. Deceptive because its not what people elected him to do. He’s got no mandate to take away worker rights. Dishonest because unions are really not the source of our budget problems. A lousy national economy is, and unions are anxious to work with him in surviving in it. They’re really not the problem, but can be part of the solution. And it’s destructive because their help is needed. Nothing is gain by blowing up a 50 year tradition of public sector collective bargaining that was born in Wisconsin and gives a lot of people a great deal of civic pride.”

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220 comments

  1. purple

    There wasn’t any school in Madison today. 1,100 teachers called in sick.

    We’ll see if teaching is as easy as the reactionaries claim. Should be a long row of applicants for the cushy benefits and wages and 6 hour work day, right ? Right ?

    1. johnbougearel

      them teachers better be ready to strike and give up 6 months pay and collectively bargain to go back to work. Scott’s advantage is that teacher’s are too underpaid to strike that long.

    2. Jerry

      I am a Wisconsin employee. The issue here is health care, pensions, and unions. I have a B.S degree and make $12 per hour. I would be willing to pay the health care and pension part as long as the teachers are required to contribute to the same plan instead of having their own, which is much richer in benefits than my own.
      It is also about taking away services to the people with disabilities and the poor without giving them a voice or it being part of legislation. It is to be done by the swipe of a pen by the new Dept head of Medicaid who has stated she does not believe Medicaid should be in existence.
      Why should these people suffer when the upper 1/2% pay little taxes, the cheats that frauded the country still have not been brought to justice, nor had their property sized, while the big banks are still in business and no haircuts taken by their bond/stock holders, etc. etc. Let the perpatrators of this whole mess be held responsible not my son with autism and his companions!!!

  2. Tao Jonesing

    Regarding Walker’s statements about the National Guard, I saw conflicting characterizations of what he actually said, and I’m satisfied now that he did not threaten to send the national guard after striking/protesting workers.

    See politifact, which has the raw video of the statement in question:

    http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en&source=iglk

    Regarding sending the police after lawmakers, that seems like thuggery and certainly would be if the lawmakers were typical citizens, but I recall back when Texas was redistricting the Republicans pulled a similar stunt against Democrat state legislators “on the lam.” It may be that Wisconsin has a law that allows the use of the police to compel attendance. Absent such a law, doing so would amount to criminal kidnapping and subject the police to federal civil rights charges.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Let’s hope the Dread Scott decision has been strictly construed and nullified, in accordance with the founding fathers exact intentions, on an ontological basis , with no epistemological dissonance.

    2. lambert strether

      For which DeLay was rebuked. Pravda:

      The House ethics committee last night admonished Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for asking federal aviation officials to track an airplane involved in a Texas political spat, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action.

      Of course, Delay had to use the FAA because the Ds had left the state. The WI Ds would be wise to do the same. Also, the TX Ds ultimately caved. One wonders what the WI Ds will do.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Your link does not go to any video, and if it’s about using the Guard in context of running the prisons, pointing to one statement he made does not serve to disprove that he apparently made other remarks about using the Guard in the event of a labor dispute. You have still not convincingly rebutted this account by the AP, which I linked to in the post:

      Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.

      Walker said today that he hasn’t called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems.

      Walker says he has every confidence that state employees will continue to show up for work and do their jobs. But he says he’s been working on contingency plans for months just in case they don’t.

      http://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/wi/article_068eaf54-3604-11e0-b4dd-001cc4c002e0.html

      1. Kim

        Yves,

        First, I want you to know I’m a regular reader and a fan. Your posts seem well researched and more mature (less politicized) than some financial blogs I follow.

        A minor point to begin……”The state ran a modest surplus in the latest fiscal year and the projected falls in tax receipts over the next two years were less than $200 million cumulative. So this budget hysteria is a gross distortion of the state’s true condition).”……….Please provide some background for this claim. I’m a lifelong resident of WI and follow state politics closely, and we haven’t been in budgetary surplus in many years, such a claim would be a total surprise to those of us who have followed the budgetary “creativity” we’ve experienced during the last decade (from both parties)……so some substantiation of your data would be helpful to your readers from WI.

        Beyond that, I’m confused about what point you’re trying to make about Gov Walker’s actions. And trying to follow the reader comments after the article seems even more hopeless.

        I have a request……
        Would you and Mish Shedlock be willing to do something truly educational for residents of states like WI and NJ experiencing aggressive budgetary actions by new governors. You and Mish have always seemed very knowledgeable and well researched in your writing. Yet on this topic you can’t be further away from each other in your views of the problem.

        Would you both be willing to “debate” each other in your blog spaces on the subject of unions, their contribution to financial problems, and effective solutions. Thanks, krb

        1. Kim

          Yves,

          To expand on my earlier comments…..from http://www.wpri.org/Reports/Volume18/Vol18no2.pdf

          ….”Wisconsin must have a balanced budget by law. In reality, that has probably not happened since at least 1980. The reasons are very simple. Every two years a cash accounting report is used to document that the state has balanced its budget. This particular accounting system permits an assortment of tricks and accounting schemes, which allows the state to hide the true dimensions of the budget deficit. At the same time, to satisfy bonding houses, the state must present a second accounting report based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which paints a more accurate picture of the state’s finances. This particular report is more accurate because it eliminates the political and bureaucratic tricks that have been used for over a generation to develop a balanced budget. The most recent GAAP accounting report showed a deficit of almost $2 billion, or 18% of annual revenues.”…..

          Please read the full report for a complete picture. krb

          1. monday1929

            Ahhh, two sets of books.

            I would suggest an investigation into New York Medical Colleges finances. They too attempted to break one of their unions. Upper management lives very well there. They brought in a union busting atty. in 2006 or so. One of their strategies is similar to WI- take drastic hostile action against the union so that the large give-backs seem like a victory.

        2. Foppe

          If you want to read a nice history of union-busting (and a lot of other things) that happened in NYC during the 1970s, read chapter 2 of David Harvey’s A brief history of neoliberalism. I found it a quite interesting perspective on what went on there.

  3. Eric

    Part of your post is incorrect. Walker did not threaten to call the national guard on protesters. Rather, he said in the event of mass protests by prison guards the WI guard would take over their job.

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/16/progressive-change-campaign-committee/group-says-gov-scott-walker-threatened-send-out-na/

    I support the unions 100 percent, which is why it is important that any article that supports the cause has all of the facts correct. 30k protesting, makes me proud to be a badger!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Can you please read what I wrote? The post said, “… announced he had alerted the National Guard in the event of worker protests.” The post links to an Associated Press story which says:

      Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.

      The post is accurate as written. Walker has since tried to backpedal from his earlier statement.

      1. jdd

        I’m having a hard time finding what was written to have any meaning whatsoever.

        In general, I disagree with the premise of the post. I paraphrase the general point, ‘any pain should be shared and not focused on any one group.’ I don’t know what is the basis of a “should be” but the question as to whether this specific group has disproportionately benefited was to answered in my mind. That Wall Street takes 15% of pensions is just more of a reason to not have states in charge of pensions.

        Beyond the specifics of pensions, it make zero sense to me that public workers should enjoy the right to collectively bargain. There is no “management” on the other side. They tend to control the other side. The right to collectively bargain is an unlawful restraint on trade that is only allowable because of the NLRA. It makes sense in private industry. It made no sense in the public area, intellectually, and our experience bears out the horrors of having no counterweight.

        Take a look at California if you want to understand the worst of it. Sacramento is run by the public employee unions. It is the only lobby that matters. Perhaps Wisconsin isn’t so egregious. Perhaps wages would go up if individually bargained — certainly, CA’s system will suck all the worst teachers, nurses, firefighters, etc, in over time because they are systematically overpaid.

        Until a coherent argument exists for the right to collective bargaining against the government (and I do not think it does unless some incentive system exists for the government to want to pay less and have less power), repealing it is the right move. All the rest is just sophistry.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          So workers should not have rights, that is your position? I’m not sympathetic, having seen how US workers have been ground down over the last 30 years as a result of union busting.

          And please see the revisions to the post or the comment from petrograd below. The budget is not in trouble. The shortfall scare is a gross distortion of the underlying sustainability of the state’s finances. Save for a mere $200 million, it results entirely from spending increases and tax cuts put forward by Walker.

          Wisconsin is not California. Generalizing from a single data point is not sound. I live in high tax New York and am quite happy when I call state or city offices for help to get better service than I get from private sector businesses (calls returned within 24 hours, intelligent people who follow up). So is my data point any less valid? We can keep arguing from isolated data points all day.

          And the meaning of “prepared to respond” is quite clear. It’s otherwise referred to as “calling out the National Guard” but Walker tried to come up with an alternative statement. The fact that you are trying to engage in legalistic interpretations to defend Walker makes your biases blindingly obvious.

        2. Hillary

          jdd – my mom’s a WI public employee. She’s a 25-year employee in a job that requires at least a bachelors degree and professional licensure. If she had started exactly the same job in the private sector at the same time she’d be making at least 25% more money. She pays into her pension and her health insurance costs higher than an employee of a large company.

          Do some research about these jobs. The average professor at UW Eau Claire makes 50k, the average non-professor employee makes 35k. http://www.uwec.edu/News/more/upload/LegislatorsBudgetLetter.pdf

          Collective bargaining got you the 8 hour day, overtime, and workers comp. Whether or not we’re members, we all stand on the shoulders of unions.

          1. Kim Bright

            You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. You’re the one that needs to go back and do your research…..the figures below are from 2009 and likely higher now…….

            Wisconsin Four-Year Institutions
            Compensation
            (Figures are in $1000s)

            Doctoral universities
            Professor Asst. Professor
            National avg: Doctoral 155.5 90.8
            Marquette University 146.0 92.0
            National avg: Public doctoral 145.5 87.9
            University of Wisconsin-Madison 142.1 99.5
            University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 124.0 88.3

            Master’s universities
            Professor Asst. Professor
            National avg: Master’s 114.6 77.3
            National avg: Public master’s 112.1 77.2
            Marian University 107.5 66.4
            University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 105.6 78.4
            University of Wisconsin-Parkside 102.8 79.3
            University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 102.3 81.7
            University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 101.8 77.9
            University of Wisconsin-Stout 99.6 76.5
            University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 99.4 77.9
            University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 97.4 76.4
            University of Wisconsin-River Falls 96.6 74.4
            University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 96.5 74.4
            University of Wisconsin-Platteville 95.9 72.2
            University of Wisconsin-Superior 93.6 74.8
            Viterbo University 84.1 63.2

            Baccalaureate universities
            Professor Asst. Professor
            National avg: Baccalaureate 112.9 71.6
            St. Norbert College 108.7 75
            Lawrence University 107.3 65.4
            Milwaukee School of Engineering 105.8 87.3
            Carthage College 100.1 72.2
            Beloit College 99 60.8
            Carroll University 94 65.4
            Mount Mary College 88.5 60.5
            Lakeland College 86.1 64.3
            Concordia University-Wisconsin 84.4 66.3
            Ripon College 82.9 58.1
            Alverno College 78.4 58.4
            Northland College 73 47.3

            Source: American Association of University Professors.

          2. Robert R

            Kim,
            I’m pretty sure your figures are for a subset of Wisconsin faculty (business professors most likely). There is no way that the average faculty salary in Wisconsin univerities is over 100K. The market is pretty competitive, and as a b-school prof myself, I am confident that no public schools in Wisconsin or any other state have average compensation levels that high, or anywhere near that high.

          3. Rational Business Owner

            I’d be very interested in the source for Kim Bright’s numbers. I just spent 15 minutes looking at the 2009-2010 numbers at the Chronicle of Higher Learning, AAUP salary survey.

            http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/index.php?action=result&search=Enter+an+institution+name&state=Wisconsin&year=2010&category=&withRanks=1

            i.e. apparently the same source she quotes, and have yet to come up with numbers that are much over half of what she lists. The above search is all Wisconsin institutions that use academic ranks, average wages, and with a couple notable exceptions (Marquette, UW Madison), average professor salary is 60K-80K, Assoc profs 50K-65K. Maybe the figures quoted included fully laoded benefits, including FICA, WC, UI, etc.?

            Before casting stones about “opinions and facts”, let’s make sure we’ve defined all our terms. Actual core source URL of the copied and pasted table, please.

        3. Pixy Dust

          Wow. You worked pretty hard to silver plate that caca.

          But thanks for your crackerjack extra super duper legal knowledge. Be sure to let the Supremes know that public employees don’t have to pay taxes anymore, but must forfeit all citizens’ rights and constitutional protections. When deciding their pay and working conditions I hope you’ll find it in your heart to let them visit their families on occasion.

        4. Bill H

          JDD says, “CA’s system will suck all the worst teachers, nurses, firefighters, etc, in over time because they are systematically overpaid”

          Hmm I always that that overpaying would attract the best in each profession. People say the strangest things when denying workers rights.

        5. Solidarnosc

          Workers weren’t allowed to negotiate collectively against the governments in the Soviet Bloc either – at least until Lech Walesa came along. It’s funny how similar the extremes of Neoliberalism and State Socialism can look – I suppose that’s because both end up being run by unaccountable elites.

        6. mm

          jdd,

          I’ll be light on ya. My 15 year old son had a discussion in class about the happenings in Wisconsin. We live just over the border and his high school social studies class was discussing the events. I turned on Fox Business Channel to show him what the “conservative” side would be shouting at the tops of their lungs for the next few days.

          I see you watched the same show.

          Please deprogram yourself.

      2. Tao Jonesing

        It appears that the governor was saying he would have the National Guard FILL IN as prison guards should they all walk off the job.

        That’s far different than calling out the national guard to “deal with a labor dispute.” Don’t you think?

        Check out politifact. The first headline I saw said “we’ll call in the national guard to deal with unrest,” the second I saw (at HuffPo, actually) said we’ll call in the national guard to fill in for the prison guards. The first headline implies violence. The second headline implies a benign use of the national guard. The difference between the two implies politics, which requires tracking things back to their source.

        1. Tao Jonesing

          Quoting Yves quoting her source:

          “Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.”

          Note the quote contains no quotes. This is a statement of what Walker said, not what he actually said. Go listen to what he said for yourself, and you’ll find that the description is an interpretation of what he said. Is it a fair one? I don’t think so because it implies a threat of physical violence, which was not present in his tone or demeanor. To be fair, though, I can see how some might interpret what he said in that way.

          FYI — I’m not defending the governor or what he is doing in any way, shape or form. I’m just not a fan of politicized misinformation in any form, and I’d rather see people engaging on issues that actually exist instead of on imagined injuries.

          1. Richard Kline

            So Tao . . . reading your series of remarks on Walker’s statements, I’m struck by the absence of any understanding in what you say of the _implication_ of his remarks. You seem to have no grasp of the EXTREMELY LENGTHY HISTORY of public authorities in the US of using Guard/state militia and public police to _break_ strikes. There is a direct allusion to this in what Walker says even in the language that you cite: I will not negotiate but I will used armed public forces to break any strike. Walker’s remarks to ‘unrest’ are very significant in this regard. The idea, long suppression of labor organizing, is that strikes or labor actions are illegitimate, anarchic, violent, unlawful, and seditious; especially ‘seditious.’ The use of the term ‘unrest’ implies that action by public employees to support their legal rights (to say nothing of their human rights beyond Walker’s power to revoke though surely he’d like to) is illegitimate and that he, Walker, will employ the legitimate force of the state ‘for any need that may arise.’

            These are code words that go back through nearly two centuries of government-and-corporate violent armed surpression of labor. Whether or not Walker would attempt to follow through is secondary to the fact that he is explicitly showing a willingness to do so. It’s quite clear that his goal is to break unions and privatize the work out to crony capitalists, and he is quite clear in saying that he believes he has the authority to enforce that goal with the Guard and the police.

            Don’t try to minimize his words: that’s playing the right-wing—yes the Right Wing, and it really does matter who says what over time—code word signalling game which is a large part of how the media is manipulated. Walker’s threat is grotesque. It will be met by organizing. And he will be defeated as he should be.

          2. ChrisTiburon

            Kline’s right. Why do you think the National Guard
            armories are located in urban areas?
            So that citizens
            can rush to them in time of emergencies to grab
            weapons to fight the enemy? Or, are they there to
            rush troops out to quell the nearby citizenry?

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          My source is the Associated Press, hardly known for a left-leaning political bias. You could have clicked though the link to read it. And it said Walker announced the National Guard was “prepared to respond” in the event of worker unrest. That’s a specific statement, and the threat is that is plenty clear.

          How can you be certain that the footage you found is of the same statement the AP referred to?

          This is the AP quote:

          Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.

          Walker said today that he hasn’t called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems.

          Walker says he has every confidence that state employees will continue to show up for work and do their jobs. But he says he’s been working on contingency plans for months just in case they don’t.

          http://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/wi/article_068eaf54-3604-11e0-b4dd-001cc4c002e0.html

          1. Tao Jonesing

            This isn’t about being left-leaning or right-leaning. Those distinctions are meaningless. This is about manufacturing consent by creating the perception of an overwhelming crisis.

            The amazing thing is that the clearly left-leaning HuffPo spun things completely differently:

            Wisconsin Governor Threatens To Replace Union Workers With National Guard

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/15/wisconsin-state-workers-p_n_823476.html

            “In the case of a walkout, Walker has put the National Guard on alert. Last week, he told reporters that the guard is “prepared” for “whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for,” such as staffing prisons if guards go on strike.”

            I read the AP headline first. Then I saw the HuffPo headline. And I said, “what the heck, has HuffPo gone corporate so quickly?” And then I tracked things down to the source and discover that the “corporate” version seems more reasonable.

            FYI — here’s the link that HuffPo linked to by way of thinkprogress:

            http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/feb2011/stat-f14.shtml

            Thinkprogress characterized things this way:

            “Walker is facing fierce criticism for this all-out assault against state workers, especially after he insisted that the “National Guard” will be used against a walkout:

            When asked by a reporter what will happen if workers resist, Walker replied that he would call out the National Guard. He said that the National Guard is “prepared…for whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for. … I am fully prepared for whatever may happen.”"

            That’s not actualy what he said, though. All major media outlets are suspect. Trust but verify.

            Keep fighting the good fight, Yves. I’m not being a pain to make you look bad but to make you a tiny bit better. You’re already one of the best out there.

  4. Yankee

    Democrats fleeing the state is a move Texas Dems used to stop Tom Delay’s faction from gerrymandering Texas post-2000 census. Didn’t work for long, they were able to find one sucker Dem to cooperate, and the rest is history.

    The then speaker Craddick ordered Texas state troopers to find them and arrest them and bring them back. Tom Delay even called in the FAA to help look for them.

    More then just the teachers should be getting “blue flu”.

  5. ZeroInMyOnes

    15% of all pension contributions went for fees to the financial industry? Wall Street skimming is ruining our wonderful country.

    1. WIS numbers

      15% is a garbage number. Money managers usually charge based on a % of the total value of the fund…. not how much additional is contributed each year. They are managing the entire fund each year not just the delta dollars added.

      Ives should know better than publish such meaningless figures like that. She certainly is smart enough to know that it is misleading. Such numbers are only used to create political points, not rational ones.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The source is from a credible analyst, and I see you have no counterevidence. And it says total fees, so it could be a combination of one-time fees and consulting charges, ongoing management fees, and transaction charges.

        And front loaded fees are common in Wall Street retail products. Annuities often have very large effective front loads.

        1. WIS numbers

          Unless most or all of the investments are front loaded, using new contributions as the denominator is a very poor statistic for fund performance and costs.

          Here is the latest annual report from SWIB:
          http://www.swib.state.wi.us/FY10annual.pdf

          Some notable points:

          p. 7. Costs for managing all funds were 32.5c per $100 under management. (or 0.325%)

          p. 7. According to CEM [CEM Benchmarking, Inc.], SWIB’s costs for the Core fund in the calendar year 2009 were considered low cost compared to its pears based on the mix of assets managed.

          p. 5 “The Fund’s five-year return at Jun 30 exceeded 70 percent of the public pension funds tracked by Callan Associated and it took less risk to add return than most peers.”

          p. 5. “the Core fund gained 13.3 percent for fiscal year 2010 and surpassed its one-, five- and ten-year performance benchmarks. [also see table on page 10]

          p. 4. “Our staff now internally manages nearly 50 percent of our stock and bond holdings, almost double the average for large public pension funds…”

          The above doesn’t sound like “.. a really huge high percentage to pay out to Wall Street to manage the money.” as David Kay states.

  6. artie

    “the cushy benefits and six hour work days” ?

    Actually no, my wife was a classroom teacher for 35 years before retiring a few years ago. While her classroom time may have totaled six hours per day, She more often than not spent an additional four or five hours per day grading papers along with lesson preparations for the following school day- because she chose to do it right. Me, having worked in the private sector throughout my working life, I could just lounge around at then end of my eight hour working day and relax. Teachers as you may know, don’t often get to do that.

    1. purple

      Dude, read carefully. I’m on your side.

      Everywhere I go I see ads for math and science teachers. A know a school district in the Peninsula of California whose admin took yearly junkets to Manila to get them rather than raise wages.

  7. Bill G

    Fire em all. There will be 5 qualified applicants for each job willing to work for what the Governor is offering.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      You don’t have kids, do you?

      How many months do you think it would take to fill all those jobs?

      The idea of firing all public union workers is plain stupid.

    2. Pixy Dust

      Aw come on Bill. Quit funnin’ around.

      Seriously though I’ll bet those Mexicans hanging around Home Depot parking lots would jump at the chance to help craft teaching and tutoring aids for students with Asperger Syndrome.

      Heck, imagine the “right to work state” unemployed. Why I’ll bet they can come up with some real creative faith-based science experiments.

      Sure. Problem solved.

  8. Mark

    WI teaches currently pay .2% toward their pension…..yes. .2%

    That’s $100 for a teacher making $50,000.

    That is ridiculous…..not as ridiculous as 15% going to Wall Street. Who the hell in WI manages the pension fund and let’s that happen. He/She should be in jail.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Mark,

      Given that the pension contributions are not all that generous (look at the final result), this ire is not well placed.

      In the private sector, anyone who does budgeting knows that salary expenditures are only a percentage of total employee costs. Benefits are the other big chunk.

      It seems pretty obvious that for whatever reason, the state over the years was willing to structure pay so as to favor benefits over explicit pay. This was negotiated repeatedly in contracts and the state cannot claim not to have been an knowledgeable participant in the mix that resulted.

  9. DownSouth

    Yves said: “People may be waking up to the fact that an undue amount of the pain that ordinary citizens are taking is to preserve and extend the privileges of those at the top, and they are finally starting to say they’ve had enough.”

    Instead of a merit system in the United States, what we have is an anti-merit system.

    Rewards are lavished on the most skilled thieves, liars, cheats and free-riders, while producers are administered the bullet to the head. And the resistance to this has been almost non-existent.

    It’s like the masses are suffering from what Nietzsche called negative/i> nihilism, or the devotion to the Crucified, while a small handful of active nihilists, in their Promethean rage and lust for destruction, have unleashed their cataclysm of terror and ruin.

    1. davidgmills

      I’m from the south too and your kind of thinking is what is wrong with it and why so many people in the south vote against their economic interests.

  10. Jack

    Uh, the bill asks teachers to pay 1/8 of their health care premiums (15%), and 5% of their pension contribution, which is more than they are paying right now. Do you only have to pay 5% of your retirement contribution, and only 15% of your total healthcare premiums? In response to this travesty, many teachers have called in “sick”, shutting down many school districts in absolute flagarant violation of the law. The democrat legistlature has fled the state to try and prevent the legislative process from working. There are thousands of teacher protestors occupying every nook and cranny of the State Capitol, chanting, and disrupting proceedings. Calling Gov. Walker’s actions as “thuggery” shows that you are not willing to focus on the real issues.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Jack,

      You are really missing the point. The issue is the plan to end collective bargaining rights, and the refusal to enter into negotiations. And in case you missed it, Walker is at the same time cutting taxes on corporations.

      The implicit deal for being a state worker was you get less than your private sector peers but have greater security. Now that average workers in the private sector have been ground down over the years, and even more so in the wake of the global financial crisis, the fact that public employees turned out to have made the better bet is being used against them. At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, it’s between 7.8% and 11.2%. And this is over a fabricated budget shortfall. Read the updated first paragraph of the post.

      Most companies used to have defined benefit plans. That meant that the contribution was both set in relation to final year pay and did not explicitly come out of pay. I’ve had past employers fund my pension, which vested after 4 years (I didn’t stay long enough for that to get to be a meaningful number). The shift over the years for average workers has been to end or reduce employer contributions while the perks at the top have risen to princely levels.

      The pension and health care premiums were part of employee pay. Your argument is about optics and how the pay was presented, not about pay levels and the impact on total effective compensation. Shifting the premiums to the employees is tantamount to a pay cut. Tell me what % of pay reduction this amounts to and then you have a meaningful metric.

      1. ceorl serf

        My unemployed friend used to drink champagne before he lost his job in 2010. How he drinks the champagne of beers. The same goes for government workers. We the people need a class of government workers willing to work for the champagne of beers. Hell im not even drinking champagne, why should some bureaucrat drink champage off my dime?

        1. RalphR

          Either your friend does a better job of budgeting than you do so he can afford a treat now and again or he is an imaginary friend.

          Do you also hate the people who bag your groceries? You pay for them when you buy food, you know….

          1. Vhdlwhiz

            I would be nice if you did a real comparison of wages. Many other factors come into play, like the number of hours worked for the compensation given. The productivity of the private sector employee compared to the public sector. I have worked in both. I was amazed at how little work was done by my co-workers and me at my public federal government job. They had little to fear of losing their job for any reason, another benefit of the jobs. The comparisons are somewhat dated and the compensation levels have increased for the public sector. If you want to read about all the factors read the article at this link.

            http://reason.org/news/show/public-sector-private-sector-salary

          2. bob

            Please tell me how you measure the “productivity” of a fire department?

            Police Department?

            County Clerk’s office?

            I too have worked in both the private and public sectors, the quality of the work in the public sector was way ahead of the private sector. Everything done had a name attached to it, and possibly a career on the line. There were no cut out LLC’s or corporations that at the first sign of trouble dissolve into the ether, and come back as another entity, leaving the clean up (read-the hard work) to the state.

            Productivity, what complete nonsense. What’s the productivity of a snow plow driver during a year when there is no snow?

    2. gs_runsthiscountry

      Jack,

      Yourself and many others have blinders on to this issue.

      It has nothing to do with the budget. It does, however, have everything to do with worker rights. The public workers are being used as political pawns, that’s all.

      What is going on right now, arguably, is bigger that Reagan and the air-traffic controllers of the 80′s.

      And, I have never been a union member, but supervised bargaining unit employees for years. I am not an apologist for out of whack contractual agreements. However, how long is it going to take for people to realize it is big corporations vs working class.

      Further, when are a larger portion of society going to wake up and realize they are not one of the elites, but instead just a working class citizen like the rest of us.

      I continue to be amazed how the rich elite, corporations, oil money et al, in this country can suck people in to do their political vetting for them. The same people that haven’t had a true increase in wages for 20years and complain about executive bonuses and pay structure.

      Stop attacking the pay structure or your friends, family and acquaintances. In other words, people need to stop worrying about what other people make and worry more about what they DON’T MAKE. Stop trying to drag down other workers Salary and work on increasing yours. Workers upper-middle class on down for years haven’t fought for themselves and here we are.

      First – the supreme court gives us Citizens United decision and now this, next stop, pull the plug on min wage. Brilliant strategy, push down the top tier wages, take away worker rights, give us Citizens United and in the future, pull the plug on min wage.

      I just hope people that are making 100k plus now realize, their salary will collapse along with the rest.

    3. purple

      So we are in a race to the bottom mentality ?

      In that case, there is no logical justification to complain about one’s wage – ever. There will always be someone worse off.

      Far better to improve prospects for all workers then drive down a few to meet an ever lower common denominator.

  11. D.A. Bull

    Bottom line is budget holes have to be closed, no one is going to be happy, and this is just getting started….

    1. bob

      And the bond holders, who lent the muni’s money, usually in a tax avoidance scheme, are starting way ahead of the employees, who also have contracts.

  12. ceorl serf

    How did government workers and bureaucrats ever survive before the implementation of collective barrgaining agreements in 1959? Imagine for millenia government workers have been abused and oppressed! The horror, the horror!

    1. Francois T

      Jesus Christ! Brush up on your history if you have the mental power to do so.

      They perfected the art of corruption and suckers like you were stuck with the consequences.

      No one should be eager to go back to that era.

    2. Altoid

      In those one-room schoolhouses people get all nostalgic about, the teachers slept in a room in the back, had to light up the stoves at 6 so the kids wouldn’t freeze, had to clean the place and make minor repairs themselves, and got paid next to nothing. Most were single women who had no hope of getting out of that unless they found somebody to marry, and didn’t make enough to save anything to retire on. That’s if they lived that long.

      Before the teacher unions came on the scene, the only reason some of them eventually had a pittance in retirement money was because of progressive-era adoption of state teachers’ pensions. In some states. And they did it specifically because of the shame of having their retired teachers starve to death.

      It didn’t get much better for teachers until the districts unionized.

      Even today, in my area the county clerical employees don’t get anything close to 20 grand for full-time work. Think they have a union?

      A lot of rich people love nothing more than jeering about all those government workers getting fat off taxpayers’ money. I’ve never understood this fantasy they have that everyone else is loafing at their expense (particularly while they’re trying like hell to get out of paying taxes, but never mind). They should try to live on what most government workers get paid, even the ones *with* unions. And they should learn a little respect for people who labor rather than push pens. And I speak as one who pushes pens.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Teachers have had a fall in income and status. My father’s aunts who taught in the Depression drove cars and bought GM stock. They were well paid jobs and no one objected to that because teaching was understood to be important.

      2. Pixy Dust

        The very richest don’t work Altoid.
        They spend their time looking for new and novel ways to entertain themselves.
        I’ll bet right now they’re making bets with each other over how long it will take for the middle-class to destroy itself with in-fighting.

    1. davidgmills

      So you don’t like teachers, police officers, judges, lawmakers, election workers, doctors at the VA, and a whole host of other people.

      I guess you must just like anarchy.

    2. craazyman

      Y, dewe u ohn a fewnrull parlur?

      Yt,

      Mr. and Mrs. Ivanna and Will Annoya
      Etymologists and Dictionary Consultants

      ya quakhed

  13. petrograd

    Please note that Gov. Mubarak…errr…Walker’s talk of a “budget deficit” is complete BS. Until Walker arrived on the scene, Wisconsin had a budget surplus, and to the extent that there is now a “deficit”, it is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes the “crisis” would not exist.

    The biennial deficit is also a complete fabrication on the part of the Governor based on a $3.6bn increase in spending that has not been passed by the legislature, and won’t pass. Thus, the phony “deficit” is just a red-herring being used to bust the unions.

    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf

    1. Francois T

      Bingo!

      The real plan behind this whole saga is pretty clear when one takes the time to read the details.

      Pretty cynical but not surprising for anyone who has watched the deeds (as opposed to listen to the BS) of the Republicans for a while.

      One day, people will understand what they’re all about.

      1. DownSouth

        Francois T said: “One day, people will understand what they’re all about.”

        But the problem is that by the time they do, it may be too late.

        If you look back up through this thread, personality types like NicktheQuick, ceorl serf, jdd and Bill G never constitute a majority of the people in any society. However, they are angry and highly motivated, and there are never just a few of them. Their numbers are invariably sufficient to form what Jonathan Schell calls a “mass minority.”

        Their stance toward life is reactive, it is driven by the spirit of revenge or by resentment, and it is thus a form of negation.

        These mass minorities came to power in the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 and the Nazi Revolution in Germany in 1933. The sort of active nihilism these mass minorities practiced seeks to extinguish everything that they deem to be aimless and meaningless in a blind rage; it is a lust for destrution that purifies humanity. It produces a politics of terror and destruction.

        Organizationally speaking, a disciplined, aggressive mass minority that seizes state power and is prepared to use any degree of violence to impose its will, in disregard of the will of the majority, is a dangerous force.

        If one examines the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis and the modern-day neoliberals, the thing that runs through them all like a thread is their Fitchean philosophy.

        1. Pixy Dust

          Bingo DownSouth!

          These days they worship their Goddess of Greed Ayn Rand to justify their miserable anti-social jealousy of goodwill and cooperation among people.

        2. ChrisTiburon

          All these chumps that rant against the horrors of
          the Middle Class achieving and maintaining a decent
          standard of living are merely suffering from the
          Stockholm Syndrome–that is they identify with their oppressors and go one step further in that they actually
          think that they are their friends and benefactors.

          Remember Patty Hearst standing in the bank lobby
          with a machine gun? “Crush the facist insect…”

  14. dcblogger

    Is it at least possible that the pension fund has been mismanaged, that the money is not there, and cuts in the pension fund is just a way to conceal the shortfall? Admittedly this is pure speculation on my part.

    1. Glen

      If you mean that Wall St imploded, took your pension, home value, and 401K into the dumper, and then Wall ST got bailed out and you got the bill for that too?

      Umm, well, that’s pretty much what Yves has been blogging about since 2008.

    1. ChrisTiburon

      Doc,

      Do not forget the other one:

      http://www.financialweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081008/REG/810089997/1036
      George Walker is the kingpin in the newly reincarnated asset management firm that’s emerging from the collapse of Lehman Brothers. When Mr. Walker, the President’s cousin, assumed the role of managing director and global head of the investment management unit of the i-bank late in 2006, an investment banker said: “Everyone in the universe is watching what George Walker will do at Lehman.” The same is true now that Mr. Walker has managed to negotiate a deal to sell the $230 billion asset management division he heads to equity firms Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.”

  15. Jack

    Yves,
    The average teacher salary is about $55,000 for 9 months of work with summers off. The value of those healthcare and retirement benefits are around $43,000.
    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/02/17/watch-wisconsin-part-iv-the-salary-info-big-labor-doesnt-want-you-to-see/

    The cost of the requested contribution of the teachers, according to this teacher’s letter to the editor, is about $2500 for retirement benefits (which will be collected in retirement, and thus, not really “lost”), and $1500 for healthcare premiums for the year.
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/116433749.html

    Add those together, and with some rounding, is about 4% of total compensation.

    Is this really thuggery?
    Really? That’s an emotionally charged term…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Fabricating a budget crisis to break unions, refusing to negotiate, being ready to call out the National Guard, setting the police on legislators (people in the state are literally in the process of organizing crowds to act as human shields for them) is thuggery.

      1. Jack

        Here’s the value of what those $100,000 teachers are bringing to the table. The Milwaukee Public School system is the 2nd from the bottom in terms of big city school systems, according to the report put out in May 2010. According to the Milwuakee Journal Sentinal (here http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/94449649.html )
        12% of the 4th and 8th graders were proficient and reading at grade level. Of the African Americans, a whopping 6% (yes, that’s SIX percent) were proficient and reading at grade level. And, how does that happen??? Because the teachers union protects educators who are responsible for that level of achievement, and rewards them with salary + bene’s worth $100,000 for 9 months of “work”.

        Yves, you are correct. Walker is just a THUG.

          1. Leviathan

            If we eliminate the 10% of the population that is either a banker or a teacher, what have we got? The private sector taxpayer, that’s who. I will not commit to paying outlandish wages and pensions for the teachers to atone for the sins of the bankers.

            This is a ridiculous argument. The simple fact is there are NO HEROES in this battle.

            Clearly the Wis. Gov is picking a fight. Someone had to, he picked the short straw. And why shouldn’t he lower corporate taxes, Yves? That draws companies that PAY taxes rather than public workers who suck them down.

            And let’s ask why all those Dem legislators are hiding out in my state (IL) tonight. Could it be because they don’t want to vote against a bill that would have popular support? Do they get to just duck out on an issue this important? If they are on the side of the angels, couldn’t they just make their argument openly and stand by their vote?

          2. ScottS

            Thanks, Leviathan. I needed a good laugh!

            No heroes? I’m proud of the people in Wisconsin standing up for their rights. I’m proud of teachers who do a thankless job for lousy pay. I’m proud of firefighters. I’m sort of proud of policemen. They’ll have a chance to earn my respect very soon, it seems, with the protests in Wisconsin.

            Gov. Walker didn’t “draw the short straw.” He’s lining up his fat lobbying contract for after this Governor gig. And how does cutting corporate taxes balance the budget? THEY AREN’T PAYING TAXES. Are you dense?

            Time go get on the right side of this issue, Leviathan. And the right side doesn’t have politicians and corporate crooks on it.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Leviathan,

            Do your homework. Lowering taxes on a state wide level does nothing to attract industry. The one thing that occasionally does is specific breaks to attract large new plants. Even then, the economic analysis often suggests that the locality (the competition is usually based on property tax breaks) comes out the loser even after the new job creation.

        1. craazyman

          It’s not the teachers as much as it is the culture. Everybody is going nuts in their own unique ways. I could tell you stories Jack of the kids I see on the streets. These kids are nearly animals. But even animals are human compared to some of these kids. This is not at all to say they are not potential humans and that they can’t be saved at the soul level, but they are reared in such squalor and madness that the only role models they know are video game characters or gang bangers. It’s an epidemic of psychotic major depression (PMD) at a culture wide level. What can a teacher do with that? I’m sure some of those teachers are also PMD cases, sunk like a corpse in the formaldahyde of their own narcissistic sense of infinite entitlement. I’ve seen types like that in all walks of life as long as they have some organization to identify with that allows them to feel victimized and superior at the same time. Ecce Homo. But that just segways us back to the bankster archetype. At some point this circle will have to get straightened out but now it’s a race to the bottom everywhere, except for the people who flow their own thoughts and most ofthem don’t know what to do anyway. I know I don’t. I often think of the Hindu legend of the warrior dude in the sky who wonders if he should come down to earth to join in the battle and some Godlike intelligence in him says “It doesn’t matter.” That is a big cop out. But sometimes when you see the big cycles of everything you can almost understand it. I probably have the legend wrong and I can’t remember all the characters in it. But I remember the circumstance and the logic and the surprise I felt at contemplating the abnegation and all its implications about reality. If you were a teacher, what would you do? I sure as hell would be there at the capitol even if it’s a race to the bottom. It’s not my legend, anyway.

          1. skippy

            When you quantify human value (hay…what about all the other living stuff et al) with an electron representing value[?] in some matrix of quasi financial fictionalization which has much less credence than do strings of sub atomic material vibrating on both sides of possible dimensions thus creating all the energy in the Universe…then bet the hole fricking *PLANET* on it.

            Skippy…for fun get your hands on some of the IMF’s reports of psychoanalysis with regards to global labor. The ink on it is worth more than…you or me…to them.

        2. gs_runsthiscountry

          Jack,

          Stop bending the facts.

          1) Most workers making 45-50k a year in the private sector, with avg fringe benefits, costs their employer close to 100k.

          2) If you want to talk about 100-200k salaries, look no further than administrative staff added to MPS system last year. No, not hiring more teachers, half of the employees hired were bloated administrative staff added to an already wasteful administration.

          3) You can bang teachers are terrible all you want, education starts at home. The onus is on the Parents.

          4) Vouchers and Charter schools are not the answer, costs are increasing because of the charter schools. Which by the way, do nothing to improve the existing school.

          5) I went to the MPS, (yes i live in Milwaukee) school board meeting where they were trying to hand over power to the Mayor because things are so terrible….

          And, I watched as parent after parent got up to speak ( could hardly construct a coherent sentence) and tell us how bad teachers are. Well, I personally know a couple MPS teachers. When you have students hitting 1-2nd grade and they don’t know how to count or do their ABC’s, Who’s fault is that, the Parents, or the teachers?

          Lets stop with the politicking and stick to the facts. The state of the education system is not an economic problem, it is a social issue.

          Parents, start teaching your children!

          That is all!

          1. skippy

            Bingo!…but how many parents these days have the time (I know, economic ball chasing) or the breath in the narrow world we live these days see media.

            Skippy…disclaimer…just bought animal farm, the communist manifesto, the minds of god, guns-germs & steel, bill bryson, and discuss issues found here and other places with my school year 10 son.

      2. Harvey

        Yves,

        It doesn’t take much searching of publicly available information to find that WI has been in the hole for years. For instance: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/44533322.html (From May ’09; Dem Governor Doyle indicating a $6.5B deficit and ordering furloughs). Your “manufactured deficit” allegation is a serious one, and you can’t make it stick. The link you included in the top paragraph of your post is for General Revenue only, which is less than half the total budget. Here’s the rest (from http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Wisconsin_state_budget):
        Fund Source FY 2010 FY 2011 Total % of Total
        General Purpose Revenues $13,470,870,900 $14,200,780,300 $27,671,651,200 42.1%
        Federal Revenue $9,380,918,100 $8,809,515,000 $18,190,433,100 27.7%
        Program Revenue $4,296,691,900 $4,403,424,200 $8,700,116,100 13.2%
        Segregated Revenue $3,844,369,800 $3,785,542,100 $7,629,911,900 11.6%
        Bond Revenue $3,581,172,100 5.4%
        Total $65,773,284,400 100.0%

        $3.58 Billion in Bond Revenue looks to me like a $3.58 Billion deficit over two years. You should consider retracting your “manufactured deficit” allegation. WI state finances are messed up, just like the finances of many other states.

  16. Doc Holiday

    A component of Walker’s plan that calls for a bond restructuring put the legislation on the fast track for approval. The governor wants the state to push principal payments on its general obligation bonds into future years to save $165 million.

    ==> We all need to look into them there bonds and some other facts and post our stuff.

    …And another thing, is the F word off limits here… where is my post about lobby groups and the fact that people are ready to tell them to F off?

  17. Hillary

    The more I read about this, the happier I am I left Wisconsin. I’m proud to be a graduate of WI public schools, and fifteen years ago I would have put them up against anyone. My mom’s a public employee and my parents still live in the state. The county she works for has been stripped to the bone over the last five years. Their employees have been paying everything Walker’s talking about for quite a while.

    These days, I choose to live in Minnesota instead. I’m happy to pay higher taxes for services and a decent cultural life. Even though I can see Wisconsin from my office, I have zero intention of moving back.

    I want to live somewhere where teachers are valued professionals who are paid reasonable salaries. I want to live somewhere where food and water inspections happen, where public health is maintained, where the air is clean, and libraries are open. And if my employer said they were moving the office over the border, I’d say goodbye.

    If Walker and his cronies have their way, they’ll be destroying the tradition of progressivism in Wisconsin.

    1. Eleanor

      The only reason Minnesota is not facing the same problems as Wisconsin is Mark Dayton’s by a hair victory. The legislature is Republican, and many (not all) of these Republicans are as crazy and mean as Wisconsin Republicans.

  18. Paul Tioxon

    A GENERAL STRIKE CAN BE ORGANIZED. NYC, CHICAGO, LA. ANY LARGE CITY WITH COMMAND AND CONTROL FUNCTIONS FOR THE ECONOMY CAN SLOW DOWN THE WHOLE COUNTRY. AIRPORTS, SEAPORTS. NO FORECLOSURES WITH NO COURTS. ALTOGETHER, MAYBE TWENTY OR THIRTY PER CENT OF THE CITIES LIKE THAT IN COUNTRY WILL BREAK THE STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY OF THE SOCIAL ORDER.

  19. Justin

    I am always amazed at how downright vicious folks can be toward government workers and union members. Folks who have united in favor of job security and decent, livable wages are treated as the spawn of Satan, while folks who rake in millions of dollars per year regardless of how their company performs (or how many American jobs they ship abroad) are deified.

    Millionaires and billionaires are given a pass because they are living up in the stratosphere, while those who are of “our class” are maliciously pummeled into submission if they have a slightly more valuable benefits package or any measure of job security. “I got laid off for a few weeks and took a slight pay cut, why should THOSE folks emerge from this thing unscathed?!?”

    It’s class warfare, alright…the lower class versus the lower class. Decades of indoctrination have taught most Americans to feel ashamed for vilifying multimillionaires and billionaires, but that it’s not only permissible – but also highly encouraged – to target the “lower- and middle-class leeches” who have the indecency and greed to demand “more than they deserve.”

    Thus, the old Jay Gould quote is as relevant now as it ever was; “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” Hell, Jay wouldn’t even need to pay the killers very much nowadays; they would gleefully slaughter their fellow citizens out of mere spite.

    1. Olddeadmeat

      Justin:

      Lower class private workers get to compete against the foreign workers for whom a few dollars a day is an INCREASE in their standard of living.

      As technology has advanced and as the world shrank, private union workers here became increasingly uncompetitive and many times, frankly, obsolete.

      But you can’t outsource cops and firefighters to a call center in India.

      Public unions have been blind to the changing circumstance. To an unemployed 25 year old kid, a union job looks like living on easy street. Any union worker with 10 years in is doing as well as I am, with a better benefit package, and I have 2 university degrees and run my own business. And my retirement looks really skimpy compared to a pension – Yves, the private sector retirement plans took a hit too, but my 401K plan can’t cut off a politican’s funding if he doesn’t bail me out.

      Public unions aren’t servant anymore, they are the masters.

      They are political bullies and oligarchs at the local level, with a sense of “noble sacrifice.” Meanwhile, they have fought tooth and nail against personal accountability at all levels. Cops arrest or beat you for recording them in public. Firefighters threaten to let your house burn if you dare question them. Teachers fake test scores en masse to avoid scrutiny.

      To those of us on the outside looking in, enough is enough. Stop pretending that you are suffering more than your citizens – to the rest of us you look like spoiled children.

      1. ScottS

        Hahah, this is the best the Koch 50-cent party can come up with? “Firefighters burn down your house for questioning them”? Priceless.

          1. Whelks

            Checked out the link you gave and saw what you were referring to.

            “That has some of Gaccione’s fellow volunteer firefighters saying they won’t respond to certain calls”

            Volunteer firefighters… Gee whiz, sure sounds like overpaid Union folks.

        1. Olddeadmeat

          purple – proof is in the pudding.

          Guaranteed raises, 100% health care coverage, retirement benefits without employee contribution – all the goodies workers want – where have they stayed available?

          Only in public sector unions. Everywhere else they are ancient history or endangered species.

          If nothing else purple, consider – why are they getting these benefits that have withered and died everywhere else? Answer – they fought for it constantly, and they won. Private unions fight just as hard, and they LOST.

          Private unions can’t get management fired if they don’t like the contract. Public unions can, particularly in local elections – low voter turnout, high union organization and participation and $$.

          I shave with Occam’s Razor, how about you?

          1. Fraud Guy

            So basically public service unions are the last places where workers can demand raises, expect retirement benefits, and look for decent benefits, that are otherwise currently reserved for high level employees that are in the top few percentiles of the earning class. And now a republican governor is attempting to declare by fiat that they can no longer do that, that these workers, just like everyone else, have to get in the back of the line after he promises tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy.

            Occam’s razor cuts both ways.

  20. Peripheral Visionary

    @Yves: “People may be waking up to the fact that an undue amount of the pain that ordinary citizens are taking is to preserve and extend the privileges of those at the top, and they are finally starting to say they’ve had enough.”

    Yes, you’re right, they are waking up and saying they’ve had enough. That’s why they voted in the elected representatives who are now filling their promises to bring public employee compensation and benefits in line with what it is in the workplace.

    Re: “thuggery”, elected representatives have a legal obligation to participate in the political process. It’s what the voters elected them to do. It is their responsibility, and the law is perfectly clear that they can be compelled to fill it if necessary.

    It is one thing when it is owners and managers versus unionized workers, but this is not the case here; it is the people and their elected representatives versus unionized workers. If you’re looking for the elites of the country taking advantage of the working people, keep looking, this isn’t it. This is democracy, and one of the peculiar features of democracy is that it is a two-way street, and doesn’t always go the direction you think it should.

    1. DownSouth

      What is it about the First Amendment that you don’t understand?

      Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      When someone becomes a public employee, she sacrifices her right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances?

      1. Olddeadmeat

        Calling in sick is LYING when you are not sick but want to exercise free speech. What a great example!

        If they want to exercise free speech, do it like the rest of us would have to – schedule a vacation day or take an unpaid day. All us private workers would be risking our jobs if we just cut out whenever we felt like it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I am sure they have a permitted number of sick days. People use them all the time for private business. Grow up. This is February, I guarantee none of them has exhausted their sick days.

          The governor is lying in creating a budget crisis. If you want to point fingers, why don’t you start with the bad example the state’s leader is setting?

          1. Olddeadmeat

            Do I at least get to say “think of the children?”

            If it’s a district policy that permits sick days to be personal time, that’s one thing, but doesn’t it seem just a bit abusive to take it out on the little tykes and their parents who don’t have any direct control over the day’s events?

            Hey, mom, guess what, if you don’t want to pay for locked in union contracts in the future, then you get to miss work and lose a day’s pay today and stay with your child because all the teachers are “sick.” (ABC news – “Thousands of students across Wisconsin have the day off, again…”)

            Kinda like a bully walking to you and your child on the playground and saying “nice education you got going there, be a shame if someone messed it up.”

            Maybe it would be easier to be adult if teacher unions hadn’t made a career of resisting accountability or reform and worshiping at the altar of seniority.

            The biggest portion of government budgets is payroll (defense aside – that sewer of corruption is the exception that proves the rule).

            All the rest of us get to pay out of our own pocket for our at least part of our healthcare and retirement. And like I said, my 401K benefit manager can’t call up the local politician and say “we’ll bury you next election if we don’t get a locked-in raise.”

          2. ScottS

            Olddeadmeat,

            If your 401(k) manager works on Wall St., they did threaten to bury any politician that gets in their way.

            Also, have you heard of substitute teachers?

            And the fact that you’re too cowardly to demand the same compensation as public workers get isn’t their problem. Don’t take it out on them. They at least have the spine to do something about it.

          3. Doc Holiday

            That is GREAT!

            Re: “Instead of taking the day off, their students gathered at schools on the west and east sides of Madison and marched miles along the city’s main thoroughfares to join the largest mass demonstration the city has seen in decades – perhaps since the great protests of the Vietnam War era.”

            ==> This is not in the lobby group models…. ooops

          4. Olddeadmeat

            ScottS:

            I run a small business, I get what I can after covering the bills and paying the full 100% of my employee’s personal health insurance. I’m one of the tiny minority that still does that.

            Wall street ain’t bailing me out, and no one else is offering to give me a hand either, and I can’t blackmail local politicians into raising your taxes to improve my retirement prospects.

            If I take a day off to protest, it comes directly out of my wallet.

            I’m not saying give wall street a pass – we need an S&L cleanup and thousands of bankers in jail.

            Wouldn’t substitutes be considered scabs? At any rate, you must have missed me quote ABC NEWS – thousands of kids were out of school today.

            I want accountability in all directions and no free passes for anyone. Wisconsin’s pension system is only 54% funded – that’s a sword hanging over the state’s throat. Deal with it now or bleed later. If you want to see later, just look at Illinois and California.

          5. Olddeadmeat

            ScottS – by itself the pension liability is $3 TRILLION. We could strip them mother naked, sell their organs for transplants and their children as sex slaves and it still wouldn’t be enough for all the promises politicians have made that we cannot keep.

            Most of that “money” the big banks are carrying is paper promises to each other – lies built upon lies. The megabanks would be bankrupt instantly without Geithner and Bernanke bailing them out. They need to go to a hardcore prison, but that won’t solve problem.

          6. ScottS

            “They need to go to a hardcore prison, but that won’t solve problem.”

            Can we try and find out for sure?

        2. Peripheral Visionary

          Olddeadmeat, let me be perfectly clear: the teachers and their supporters absolutely have the right to protest, and they even have the right to do so by using their time off if they so choose. I do think, however, that they would be well advised to minimize the burden on parents, rather than deliberately attempting to maximize it, which will likely produce little sympathy and much the opposite.

          That, however, is distinct from government officials and employees using their office or station to interfere with the course of government. I as a government employee (and I am one) cannot deliberately undermine my agency’s work if I disagree with it, and I would hold the same applies to legislators: they may protest these moves all they want (and they have the pulpit to do so), but to undermine the process of government by abandoning their position is not acceptable, in my view.

          1. Altoid

            Withdrawing to deny a quorum is a perfectly legitimate and time-honored parliamentary maneuver. It goes back at least to the modern functioning of representative bodies in the 17th century, and you may have seen references to Lincoln jumping out the window to avoid being forced into the statehouse to make a quorum.

            What makes this example different is that most bodies have a quorum when half the membership is present. That automatically means the majority party can do what it wants. But WI requires 3/5. In normal circumstances, that should help assure that the majority can’t just ramrod something through. It clearly envisions the possibility either of some of the minority deciding to cooperate, or of some members staying away to deny a quorum. It’s a smart provision, if you ask me, because it should encourage accommodation.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The will of the people seems to be represented by the level of protests, which includes a lot of parents.

      http://www.truth-out.org/wisconsin-crowds-swell-30000-key-gop-legislators-waver67882

      And who is Walker representing, voters or his financial backers? You should know the answer to that question, read Tom Ferguson’s Golden Rule if you are having trouble answering that question.

      A effort to recall Walker is already underway, but according to the state Constitution, a governor has to be in office a year before he can be recalled.

      1. Peripheral Visionary

        @Yves, to the charge that the crisis is “manufactured”, I find that to be a truism. The governor and the legislature have control over revenues and expenditures (excepting states where such are set by constitutional law, which I do not believe applies to Wisconsin), so any budget shortfall is, by definition, manufactured by the government. It may be being misrepresented, but I am not certain about that either; from a long-term perspective, state employee compensation may very well be the most rapidly increasing expenditure, as it is in many states.

        Regarding the will of the people, I would not disagree that the protesters represent the will of some of the people, but the will of some of the people and the will of the people as a whole are not the same thing. Given that this governor and legislature were elected two short months ago, and that there are no indications that they are doing anything other than what they promised to do, the charge that they are acting in the best interests of some invisible elite (in Wisconsin, really?) as opposed to that of the people will need more validation than a simple assertion to that effect.

        The people certainly have the power to recall the governor, which will provide some real answers to how they feel about this initiative. But if the reaction in New Jersey to similar measures is any indication of how the people will feel about this . . .

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please read the first paragraph of the updated post. The budget showed a $25 million surplus even after a $60 million plus (IIRC) adjustment last year (of the unfavorable variety). Receipts are projected to fall less than $200 million cumulative over the next two years. This $3 billion plus shortfall talk IS manufactured, it’s the result of spending increases that Walker is proposing (when every other state is trying to cut the budget) and tax cuts for businesses.

          1. Kim

            You keep repeating this Yves and you’re going to look silly in the end. Please go to the top of the comments and read my earlier replies to you. krb

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Kim,

            First, I provided this link in the post, you seem to have ignored it:

            http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf

            And the New York Times, reading the same document, comes to similar conclusions:

            Meanwhile, the governor is refusing to accept his own share of responsibility for the state’s projected $137 million shortfall. Just last month, he and the Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus.

            Second, the $3 billion figure for the next two years is complete BS. Walker passed on all the agency budget requests, untrimmed, which represent an over 7% increase AND cut taxes. This from someone who promised to be tough on costs?

          3. Kim

            Yves,

            I provided you a link that shows how and why the link you and petrograd are relying on is a charade……a charade we repeat every year in WI. Look, my wife is a teacher, I may have a more vested interest in Walker’s actions than you do. But I also want facts used to back up people’s views and positions and drive policy……its why I turn to credible blogosphere sites for my info…..lord knows we can’t get at the truth in our media and politics anymore. As a long time admirer of yours I’m disappointed in your actions in this instance…….you clearly have another agenda that is driving you to cherry pick your data. krb

          4. Yves Smith Post author

            Kim,

            I’ve provided an official budgetary analysis from Wisconsin. The New York Times, which has fact checkers, reads it the same way I do. Now that I show you where my facts came from (and they were there from the get go), you dismiss them.

            Your source claims that cash based accounting is less conservative than GAAP. Let me tell you that cash based accounting is typically seen as the most conservative way to account. Investors redo GAAP numbers to get to free cash flow to see how a business is preforming. The only way you can lie with cash is to delay payments at year end to lead to larger cash balances. With most of a state’s budgetary expenditures being salaries, that’s hard to do, particularly on an escalating scale.

            In addition, everyone who has looked at this says that the $3+ billion shortfall bandied about is NOT to clean up any past hole (even if what you said is accurate) but is the result of increase in expenditures and tax cuts that Walker has put forward.

            His plan is clearly about breaking unions and not about the budget, and I don’t know why you are so reluctant to see that.

    3. Tao Jonesing

      Yeah. It was the teachers unions that caused the crisis that tanked the economy, so they’re the first ones that should suffer the people’s wrath as we tighten our belts to pay back the money we borrowed from the insolvent institutions that we bailed out by borrowing money they didn’t actually have. What scum those teachers and other public union members are!

      One of the sad facts about human beings is that they tend to blame the people most like them for causing their problems, even though they know that somebody else actually did. Why? Usually because they know they’re powerless to do anything to the real perpetrators, who are more powerful, so, like cowards, they aim their ire and their power at those weaker than they are. It’s really pathetic, actually.

  21. Paul Tioxon

    NEW PA GOVERNOR WASTES NO TIME TAKING OVER PUBLIC PENSION FUND

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011
    Corbett taps PA pension critic for state pension board

    Wally Nunn, the blunt-spoken Vietnam veteran, ex-chairman of the Delaware County Council and retired Citigroup SmithBarney bond banker, is Gov. Tom Corbett’s choice for a seat on the $25 billion Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System board. See Corbett’s recent nominations here.

    With his Wall Street background, money managers can count on Nunn not to upset SERS’s high-maintenance investment program, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on private money managers for hedge, buyout, real estate and commodity funds and other investments.

    Nunn is a lot more likely to support cuts to future retirees’ pensions. He’s on record – in a piece The Inquirer published last June – criticizing Pennsylvania’s “bloated pension system enjoyed by state workers, public school teachers and (even more so) elected officials.”

    Nunn called SERS “the pension system from hell” with unfunded liabilities that threaten to swamp the state budget. And he called last year’s bipartisan pension reform law (which pushed back billions in subsidies for the state teachers’ and state workers’ pensions into the future) a “Ponzi scheme”.

    The Republicans are following NJ Gov’s lead in criminalizing public workers.

    http://articles.philly.com/2010-06-29/news/24962949_1_pension-system-pension-reform-powerful-unions

  22. Frobn

    The elites and politicians know we are in the end game and are doing all they can to confiscate whatever pennies they can from the poor and former middle classes before the final crash.

  23. skippy

    HA[!] hahahahah!

    Toxic financial products have poisoned the water hole (cough the commons aka the well spring of it all), and the only fixes the *Big Bucks* can find is to beat the herd congregating around their dead (or soon to be) with more of the same poisoned logic…sigh…humanities potential…fed eviscerated pig fat (worthless asset classes) infused with corn fructose (derivative shite), and call it Manna!

    Skippy…may the engineers of this fractious affair have ever manner of social assent removed from their insufferable machinations, the commons must put aside distractions and evoke their will against those that wield only shadows.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      Luv ya, skippy!

      What’s happening in Wisconsin is extremely important to the country as a whole and needs to be examined with as little emotion as possible because that is the only way we can avoid being distracted. Every statement ascribed to the “other” (i.e., whoever you consider to be the opposite of your political affiliation or bent) needs to be tracked back to the source and confirmed or denied. The emotional fervor that the Democrats are generating by spinning the governor’s talk about the national guard will ultimately be used against the Democratic base.

      Both political parties stand for the same principles and promote the same policies, each just tells lies in a manner that will convince their respective base. Every American, regardless of party affiliation, should be appalled at what the Wisconsin governor is doing.

      1. lambert strether

        Exactly. I mean, the OFA is helping out the AFL-CIO with phone banks. Good news, right? Well, leave aside 2008 (and TX caucus fraud, and so forth). Here’s Obama giving a little help with a rear-guard action in a war on working people that he himself started when he didn’t bail out the states, and did bail out the banksters. My advice to the AFL-CIO is watch the OFA like hawks, make sure you write the script, and don’t let them near a computer that’s got a mailing list on it. Sorry to by splittist, but…

      2. skippy

        Tao…

        There is so much *not right* (sorry for the subjective adjective), the very fact that life on this planet is parsed in such financial alchemy (framing of life it self) is to me planetary homicide with premeditated intent. Yet here we are, minds that could be put to better use *toil* in the deconstruction of mythological like debate (faun big bears waxing/ancient ideological musings (flat earth stuff)/humanistic greatness attributed to accumulation of wealth *cough hording*/etc) to what avail, big bang like static?

        Skippy…on one hand humanity is is on the cusp of something so big, yet here we are, picking scabs of old wounds in an act of obsessiveness, never letting them heal…what ever….

  24. Doc Holiday

    Here’s the проблемы right here:

    Property taxes are the most important tax revenue source for Wisconsin’s local governments

    In October 2010, the largest employers in Wisconsin were:

    1. Wal-Mart
    2. University of Wisconsin–Madison
    3. Milwaukee Public Schools

    Ok, dinner time done, now what?

  25. Doc Holiday

    Remember when pension funds used to be fun?

    According to the Center for Retirement Research, assets for 109 state pension funds declined 37% to $1.46 trillion as of Dec. 16. The situation has become so dire that many states could be forced to cut back on pension benefits for newly hired employees

    Wisconsin Retirement System Investments

    Good God, they’ve found leverage again… udderly amazing Spock!

    In January 2010, the Board of Trustees approved the first year of a three-year plan that potentially reduces the Core Fund’s asset allocation targets from 55.0 percent equities in 2009 to 43.0 percent equities in 2012. The plan also allocates funds for the Investment Board to establish its first hedge fund portfolio, and it explicitly allows the Investment Board to leverage up to 4.0 percent of the
    Core Fund’s value for investment purposes in 2010. Up to
    20.0 percent of the Core Fund’s value could potentially be
    leveraged through the use of futures or other derivatives by 2012.
    As of October 2010, the Investment Board had not implemented the use of leverage allowed in the plan.

    ==> It did seem like the flavor of cheese from there was tasting weird lately… kinda had a metallic alien aftertaste … kinda synthetic and… I don’t know, just weird texture, like they were using some kinda blended non-organic, sorta not from this world substance … anyone have any recent experiences with the genetics engineers there lately? I know that cows are cloned like cotton candy, but is there something in the food that melts brain cells there? If so, people need to be aware that something weird is going on there!

  26. ChrisTiburon

    Turnabout is fair play. If the governor can unilaterally abrogate collective bargaining then the state
    legislature can abrogate all financial agreements
    with Wall Street and stop payments on bonds.

    A crisis is an opportunity.

  27. Huggy

    This is all a passion play to let everyone exhaust their emotions. Then benefits and pensions will be cut. Otherwise the people who produce food and the people who ship it to Wisconsin stores will stop doing so. What could not go on forever is now in the process of stopping.

    1. lambert strether

      Huggy writes:

      the people who produce food and the people who ship it to Wisconsin stores will stop doing so

      Huh? Why are the farmers and the truckers going to stop doing anything?

      Although this is an argument for local and personal food security, to remove that little bit of leverage.

  28. Doc Holiday

    Walker looks like a Total A-Hole:

    Gov. Scott Walker sounded a bit defensive when signing a lawsuit-reform bill he called for during the Republican-controlled Legislature’s special January session.

    Gov. Scott Walker says surveys repeatedly showed businesses considered tort reform as a top priority

    Sorry, this goes back to walmart being the largest employer … this dude seems very creepy — and the good news is, the Legislature that flipped from Democratic to Republican control in November’s election, may wake up and look outside at the growing crowds…. maybe Palin needs to be brought in?

  29. Doc Holiday

    Walker wants to remove all collective bargaining rights, except for salary, for roughly 175,000 public employees starting July 1. Any requests for a salary increase higher than the consumer price index would have to be approved by referendum.

    Starting April 1, Walker wants to force state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to cover pension costs and more than double their health insurance contributions. That would generate $30 million this fiscal year. Currently, most public workers don’t contribute anything to their pensions.

    Walker said Friday that he updated emergency plans and alerted the National Guard just in case they are needed to ensure state services aren’t interrupted. His plan would remove collective bargaining rights for prison guards, but it would exempt local police and firefighters and the state patrol.

    Walker spoke about his plan at a Capitol news conference under the watch of a heavier than usual police presence. Walker, standing in front of seven state representatives and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, said no one should be surprised by his proposal. “Unless you were in a coma for the last two years, it was clear where I was headed,” Walker said.

    But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said Walker never talked about doing away with collective bargaining rights during the campaign. He called Walker’s proposal “a radical departure from Wisconsin values.”

    Opponents have little time to mobilize as Walker and legislative Republicans push to pass the bill quickly. The proposal is massive in scope and would present a cultural shift in Wisconsin, which has a long history of organized labor and politically powerful unions that traditionally back the Democrats.

    Bryan Kennedy, president of union AFT-Wisconsin that represents 17,000 workers, called it a “dark day for our state.”

    “Unraveling more than 50 years of labor peace in the state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker’s proposal is as shocking as it is outrageous,” Kennedy said in a statement.

    Walker sent an e-mail to state workers on Friday morning thanking them for their service and making the case for the cuts. His administration also notified unions that current contracts would be canceled effective March 13, a necessary step before his proposed changes could take effect.

    ==> Whew … I’m really confused on this one….

    1. Eleanor

      The governor is canceling contracts. I keep wondering how breaking a contract is legal. I guess if you change the law covering the contract…

  30. Doc Holiday

    Lena C. Taylor

    During her first term in the Senate, Taylor focused intently on improving education in Milwaukee, working to create equity in school funding and to promote a positive learning environment for children.

    In 2008, she ran for County Executive of Milwaukee County. She lost to incumbent Scott Walker.

  31. Doc Holiday

    Is it possible that this is a walmart issue?

    Wal-Mart has opposed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier for workers to unionize by removing the employer’s ability to demand a secret ballot in union elections, and which would require mandatory arbitration of labor disputes. In mid-2008, the company required store managers and department heads to attend meetings at which opposition to the EFCA was used as a fulcrum for criticism of Democratic candidates in the elections for the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as of the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama. At these meetings, Wal-Mart human resources managers warned that Democratic victories might result in passage of the EFCA and hence more unionization. At one meeting, a Wal-Mart customer service supervisor from Missouri stated, “I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won’t have a vote on whether you want a union.[144] A Wal-Mart spokesman, while acknowledging that the meetings were taking place nationwide, said, “If anyone representing Wal-Mart gave the impression we were telling associates how to vote, they were wrong and acting without approval.”[144] Several labor-rights groups including the AFL-CIO have asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Wal-Mart broke federal election rules by advocating against Democratic candidate Barack Obama in meetings with employees.

  32. Psychoanalystus

    Today (Feb 17), Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and Noam Chomsky had an excellent analysis with of the Wisconsin as well as the events in the Middle East (including Bahrain). The interview starts around minute 17:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/stream

    It is well worth hearing Noam Chomsky’s thoughts about this.

    Psychoanalystus

  33. Yellow Bloated Canard

    Wisconsin governor signs bill granting tax cuts

    Wisconsin companies will get a small tax break for every new job they add under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Scott Walker.

    The deductions will be worth between $92 and $316 per job depending on the size of the company and its tax bracket, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The Republican-authored plan will cost $67 million over the next two-year budget, contributing to the state’s projected $3.2 billion shortfall.

    Walker promised tax cuts for businesses on the campaign trail and introduced the bill as part of his jobs-creation agenda. He hasn’t said how he plans to make up the lost revenue, and Democrats have blasted the cuts as too insignificant to stimulate job creation.

  34. Dynamic Twisting Actions

    Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit — it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes — or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues — the “crisis” would not exist.

    ==> Ooops

    1. gs_runsthiscountry

      The story of Scott Walker, if his being elected to Gov. wasn’t so pathetic, it would be laughable.

      In an age when those with BA’s, BS’ and MBA’s are working as waiters, waitresses and bartenders. An age where you cant get hired without a degree, Wisconsinites elect Scott walker, Marquette Drop out! And here I thought you want your leaders to lead by example.

      This is the same guy, when he was county executive, that wanted to “privatize” Mitchell International Airport. How was he going to do that you might ask? Why – by spending half a million dollars to “STUDY” the idea of course. And, then, sell it to whom?…gee i dunno….

      The PA has a GOV that tried to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the love of god, to a sovereign wealth fund no less. At least that got stopped. And, ask Chicago who owns their parking meters.

      So, subsequently, he gets in office as GOV and gives away Federally appropriated money for rail infrastructure. CA and IL didnt have a problem clambering for that money. Then, a Train manufacture deccieded it was time to leave town, since the new gov wasnt on board for rail. That cost an estimated 4500+ jobs in southeastern Wisconsin.

      Further, this country needs to have a vision into the future, wait, i forgot, everything is short-term in this country….run by traders now. Next quarter earnings juts around the corner and that election, getting close now!

      Yeah, sometime in the not to distant future, years from now, when gas is 7-8 bucks a gallon, people and companies that employ them will be wishing they had better public transportation in this country. Only advanced society in the world without a decent public transportation system. And the one thing our government should be investing in, infrastructure, keeps getting killed at every turn.

      People keep electing real winners I tell ya.

  35. WALKER SUCKS COW UDDERS

    “Since his inauguration in early January, Walker has approved $140 million in new special-interest spending that includes:

    “• $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation that still has $73 million due to a lack of job creation. Walker is creating a $25 million hole which will not create or retain jobs.

    “• $48 million for private health savings accounts, which primarily benefit the wealthy. A study from the federal Governmental Accountability Office showed the average adjusted gross income of HSA participants was $139,000 and nearly half of HSA participants reported withdrawing nothing from their HSA, evidence that it is serving as a tax shelter for wealthy participants.

    “• $67 million for a tax shift plan, so ill-conceived that at best the benefit provided to ‘job creators’ would be less than a dollar a day per new job, and may be as little as 30 cents a day.”

    State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, sums up this scheming accurately when he says: “In one fell swoop, Gov. Walker is trying to institute a sweeping radical and dangerous notion that will return Wisconsin to the days when land barons and railroad tycoons controlled the political elites in Madison.”

  36. Las Vegas Money Laundry

    Walker Takes $120,000 from Health Industry

    Walker’s tax plan would take $2 billion out of the state treasury over two years to slash taxes for solely the top one percent income earners; reopen the Las Vegas Loophole corporate tax shelter; restore capital gains tax cuts and end tax on all retirement income, regardless of income. According to figures from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the combined state cost over two years would be at least $1.85 billion.

  37. Fritz Von Stuben llll

    Interesting story:

    One of the most celebrated incidents of State Representative Lincoln’s early career occurred after the 1840 presidential campaign concluded. On December 10, the lower house of the State Legislature was meeting in temporary quarters in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Fifth and Monroe in Springfield. At the time, Mr. Lincoln was the Whig leader in the lower house. “During the last session the Legislature had legalized the suspension of specie payment by the state banks until the end of the next session,” wrote William H. Herndon. “If the special session were to end on December 5, payment would have to be resumed at once. Knowing that the banks, particularly the one at Springfield, wanted a longer period of suspension, Lincoln and the Whigs determined to prevent adjournment, so that the special and regular sessions would merge into one, and the banks be relieved of the necessity of specie payment until the close of the regular session in the spring of 1841.”

    Outnumbered as they were in the House, the Whigs determined to prevent a quorum on the afternoon of the 5th, so that the House could not concur in the resolution of adjournment which the Senate had already passed. Accordingly, only Lincoln and a few trusted friends appeared. The Democrats discovered the ruse, and sent the sergeant at arms to bring in the missing members. He returned without the necessary number, whereupon the doors were locked to prevent the escape of the Whigs already present. However, while Lincoln and his friends were enjoying the discomfiture of their angry opponents, several sick Democrats appeared and a quorum was unexpectedly announced. Caught unawares, the Whigs lost their heads and recorded their votes, and then attempted to escape. Finding the doors locked, Lincoln, Joseph Gillespie and one or two others raised a window and jumped out – too late, of course, to have any effect other than to provide the Democrats with capital material for ridicule. Since Lincoln’s legs ‘reached nearly from the window to the ground,’ asked the State Register, might it not be a good idea to raise the State House one story higher, in order to have the House sit in the third story! So as to prevent members from jumping out of the windows? Then “Mr. Lincoln will in the future have to climb down the spout.”

    Historian Gabor S. Boritt wrote that Mr. Lincoln “acted in such an unorthodox fashion in a desperate attempt to defend the banking system of Illinois against what he believed be politically prejudiced and economically ignorant attacks.”26 Within a month, Mr. LIncoln faced another, more personal crisis. At the beginning of 1841, Mr. Lincoln and Miss Todd broke off their engagement. Lincoln scholar Paul M. Angle wrote: “To her friends Mary Todd seemed as gay and flirtatious as ever,, but Lincoln was crushed. For a week or so he was too ill to attend the legislature regularly, and when he did recover he was dejected, morose, and inclined to shun his former friends.”27

    Jesse W. Weik, The Real Lincoln: A Portrait, p. 319 .

    Have a good night, I have work to do …

    Unemployment Stomp

  38. Deus-DJ

    Very heartening to see so many posts on this….even if most of the posts are from the same people :)

    The Wisconsin governor needs to eat shit and somebody needs to say it to his face

    1. Olddeadmeat

      You are quite kind, Deus – you didn’t compare him to Hitler or put a target crosshair over his face.

      Let’s hear it for civility in public discourse.

      1. Deus-DJ

        Olddeadmeat,

        First of all, I don’t really believe in “public discourse” with idiots you can’t debate with…but I also don’t believe in making stupid comparisons that have absolutely no merit whatsoever.

        I’m actually one who advocates being crude against idiots like the governor. If you can’t debate with them then simply attack their position and attack his value system, and attack him too but not with invalid comparisons. The effect being crude has is that it changes the debate and ultimately keeps people honest. Not only does it change the debate, it makes people realize how stupid the one side is(the governor in this case) for sparking so much outrage.

        1. Deus-DJ

          Let me make a revision: polemics are good but you have to keep yourself credible by mostly trying to discredit the other belief system. You throw in the polemics on the side as the reason why the belief system exists. Ie he’s an uneducated loser that knows nothing about equality in this country, etc.

        2. Tao Jonesing

          “I’m actually one who advocates being crude against idiots like the governor.”

          Whether somebody is an idiot or not, if they’re being irrational, sometimes you have to kick them in the head first to start a real conversation. Otherwise, they’ll either assume you agree with them or assume that you’re an idiot. (Most humans can only count to two when it really matters.)

        3. olddeadmeat

          Deus, Tao

          I was referring in part to the folks in Madison who showed with signs comparing the governor to Hitler and putting crosshairs over his photo.

          Frankly, I deeply mistrust anyone who assumes fault or stupidity is one-sided – that smacks of a deficit of critical thinking.

          Frankly, I have been dismayed at teacher’s unions for a looong time, and I am surprised that anyone is surprised that a Republican governor and a Republican legislature would go after union bargaining – the time has never been more ripe to do so because of how unions have been behaving for the past few years. Public unions are so out of touch with the rest of workers that it is unbelievable.

          What has surprised me is that a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress rolled over and kissed Wall Street’s butt. How utterly disappointing. I want Republicans going after unions, cause the Dems won’t, but the unions need some accountability. I want Democrats going after the banks because the Republicans won’t, but the banks need some accountability.

          Now just who is failing in their role? Who are the stupid ones here?

          1. ohioralph

            olddeadmeat, you have finally touched on the source of the problem. Our banking system supported the the Federal Reserve System has created a monopoly fiat money system.
            By virtue of debasing our currency(the dollar)the FED has created the moral hazard of financial and regulatory intervention into the lives of all Americans and for that matter the entire world. The result of this intervention has created the animosity of the unions vs the taxpayers of Wisconsin and ultimately every state. Add to this the fraudulent activities of Wall Street and you have a boiling pot.

            I could cite more examples but the protests should be on the steps of the Federal Reserve along with the demand that the fraud in the banks should be liquidated and the perps jailed. Yes, this will create more unemployment but it would also clean up malinvestment and redirect all of our resources to productive use thereby creating prosperity without the need to force one group to pay another group because of political influence.

            Do I expect to see this awakening? No, if the example of the comments I have seen in this blog is any indication.

  39. nonclassical

    ..hmmmnn some of us here taught in states, and Europe..I note little pertinent REAL info here descriptive of education. Only 20% of Americans graduate from 4 year university or vocational equivalent in U.S. The number in most of Europe exceeds 70%. They attempt a “fully educated workforce”, to generate TAX BASE-intend to keep all employed skilled-working. Contrasted, U.S. desires a cheap labor force. No higher ed also creates populace who doesn’t “question authority”..wouldn’t want an Egypt-check
    how many young Egyptians are university grads.

    Washington, Oregon, Idaho, circa 2006, average wage “necessary” for family of 4 in these states=$42,000.00
    gross. Actual number of jobs paying that “average”=20% of total jobs in these states. What part of “race to the bottom” are fundamentalists missing? Who here has read C.A.F.T.A.? Coming here soon, from same “free-marketeers”.

    Speaking with Superintendent of schools our area, we have very wealthy areas, and very poor..many military bases also.
    Fundamentalists are quick to determine poor schools, and attempt to remove funding. (This in itself is often manipulated, with mandates of “testing”) However, if we take the student population of the higher performing school, exchange it with the student population of the lower performing school, now the lower performing school instructors are “successful”..

    Fundamentalists USE “charter schools” (Stanford study shows Charters failing at higher rate than public) to move education from public sector to PRIVATIZE-same shabby scheme
    being used by Governor of Wisconsin+Republi$$K$$an fundamentalist-Milton Friedman-”free market should regulate itself”…which is HOW “investment banks” have gone from
    20% of American economic dominance circa 2001, to 60% today-numbers by Robert Johnson, ex-Senate Banking Committee Chairman who exposed “derivatives” scam, as has Yves:

    http://www.newdeal20.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/raj-revised-testimony1.pdf

    The “Charter School” charade is being USED to move education out of public domain, following which it is to be moved to internet, to erase messy professorial historical perspective in favor of fundamentalist historical revisionism; and to privatize.

    Were I to compare public U.S. education to international, say, Montessori, Waldorf, “International Schools”, other Public sector, private, religious, it would be necessary to find out WHAT other countries DO, to be successful…comparison of “test scores” is otherwise meaningless-in over 10 years back in the states I have been unable to discover mainstream media interest in this fact-one could conclude they are happy to continue the current ruse…

  40. John Wayne

    Proof why public employees should not be allowed to unionize. We have to ban government unions.

    Citizens elect representatives to reduce spending, Unions and fattened public employees fight to keep draining the taxpayer. Like zombies after brains, public employees are after money that you should take home to your families.

    Of course these zombies hijack the spirt of the Egyptian protests for freedom and democracy. The zombies are for increased taxes and for ignoring the will of the people.

    1. skippy

      Been breathing to much of that radioactive dust making movies again…I see…screen persona makith the man..cough!

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Glad to see it is only a breathing problem. For an instant, I thought the zombies had eaten his brain. I think more sunshine on WI budgets -and on GOP electoral strategies – might give the workers a fighting chance.

        FWIW, the money guys should be irate with Walker. Those teachers would never have known that Wall Street ( the Zombie King) takes a 15% cut of the pension funds if Walker hadn’t stirred this hornets nest.

    2. Tao Jonesing

      “Citizens elect representatives to reduce spending,”

      Really? I alwasy thought I voted to get good government.

      Seriously, dude, reducing government spending does not equal reducing what it costs regular people to live their lives. Governments have no profit motive, let alone a motive to display exponential growth of profits. In many cases, government run activities are in your best interest, even if the governmetn has to spend money to pursue those activities.

      In many instances “reducing government spending” equals increasing the amount the public pays for the equivalent result. All that you accomplish through “privatizing” is privatizing the right to tax citizens with no cocommitant right of the people to vote on whether they should be taxed. Given the profit motive of private businesses, privatizing local monopolies (e.g., utilities) is extremely stupid.

      But so was John Wayne (extremely stupid).

      1. Obama the progressive commie

        So, here we have, a program to take taxes from the middle class, and give those taxes to the government class. Some might call it redistribution. Some might even call it theft. We call it a stimulus. One where we the government continues to offer jobs to the lowest quality worker who cannot qualify for even a fast food job in the private sector, and we give them an opportunity to make life changing decisions over those who would not hire them or did qualify for jobs the public employee could not get. That person in high school who slept in the back of class? They’re now teaching your kids, or taking their time registering your car, and pay less than half you do for heath care insurance. That’s hope. And we continue to grow this program by making it as hard as possible to fire these low performers. And we’ll fight any efforts to reduce their generous benefits by activating our communities of the SEIU and other labor unions with the backing of wealthy contributors like Soros.

        Thank you, those of you who continue our fight against free capitalism in favor of wealth redistribution, the fight against individual liberties in favor of strict control of social behavior, and those who fight against reducing taxes in favor of supporting and growing our public employee sector. We could not continue to change America from it’s proud history to one where America is owned and subservient to those it once dominated. This is Hope. This is Change.

        To the posters who support the public sector labor unions (SEIU) and are against the governor and people of Wisconsin, thank you for supporting Change you can believe in.

  41. razzz

    Obviously, unions need more money so they can perform their jobs at a higher standard, more money equals better education. To be a teacher you have to pay dues to a union and forfeit any control of your funding the union, the payoff is hush money in the form of ridiculous benefits packages. Wash, rinse, repeat all around the Country for a stronger political influence.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      All collectives of humans are flawed. Ever hear of the stupidiy of executive compensation at corporations? Talk about ridiculous benefits and hush money.

      One thing that I find amazing is that governments (which are bureaucratic) and unions (which are bureaucratic) are always roundly criticized for being bureaucratic while corporations (which are just as bureaucratic) are held up as paragons of virtue.

      razzz, you’ve been duped . . .

  42. Crystal Sheep

    National Republican leaders, who have praised efforts similar to Walker’s, leapt to his defense.

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) issued a stern rebuke of the White House, calling on Obama to wave off his political operation and stop criticizing the governor.

    “This is not the way you begin an ‘adult conversation’ in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country,” Boehner said in a statement, alluding to the president’s call for civility in budget talks. “Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead.”

  43. Expat

    Wealthy, connected politicians engaging in union bashing as they preach to their choir at a $1000 a plate fund-raiser is symptomatic of the New America.

    Unions benefits have become somewhat burdensome, but blaming unions for this is like the banks blaming the borrowers for the credit crisis. It is disingenuous and serves to distract attention from the wholesale fraud, theft and looting carried out. And so with public unions.

    Republicans and Democrats alike did all they could to bribe unions during the bubble. They figured the payoffs would seem smaller later as the economy expanded or they would become someone else’s problem. The unions merely asked for wages and benefits; the politicians simply handed them over.

    Real wages of union and non-union employees have stagnated for thirty years. Jobs have been sent overseas. We have installed an economy of credit (DEBT, you idiots!). Unions have at least managed to extract part of the money from the system.

    Where is the outrage over Wall Street and defense spending? Why isn’t the Governor of Wisconsin organizing a march on Wall Street and Washington to demand arrests, death sentences, and restitution? Because he is bought and paid for by business.

    Go ahead. Break the unions. Kill social security. Close emergency rooms. Fire teachers and close schools. And then whine when you lose your job, your kids are working in Burger King, and Fox News is broadcasting in Mandarin.

  44. bob

    Skippy

    Any idea on how much of the wisc national guard is in Wisc? IE, not in iraq or afganistan.

    Any idea on how many of them are public employees to begin with? In my experience, police, firefighters and prison guards are more likely to be guard memebers, they can get time off to serve.

    I looked around for a minute, but don’t know the organizational structure well enough.

    1. skippy

      Oh bob[!], are you Dante incarnate.

      May I offer that the question should not be “how many are in state or if they hold civic positions”, but, that they had substantial time in theater (modified) and how that would relate to acceptance of orders (cognitive ability) with in the accepted means of Military Jurisprudence cough ultimate catch-22, and their inner compass (how am I being treated now) economic well being vs. compassion for others.

      Skippy…Bob another bad case of phallic dismemberment in vitro mentality “I provide” with a short term fix offered like a wafer thin mint…me thinks.

  45. Richard Barrow

    It’s not always about money.

    I work for a municipal transit system. About ten years ago our union tried to get the company to obey the motor vehicle act with regard to vehicle weights. We were continuously stonewalled.

    The issue centered on how many people we could safely carry on a highway in a standard 40 ft. bus. Based on the licensed Gross Vehicle Weight our calculations said 60. The company’s position was that they had an exemption to carry 72, but they refused to produce any documentation to that effect.

    That’s 48 seated, and 24 standees, on a highway, traveling 60 MPH. In short, the company didn’t believe that Newton’s First Law applied to them.

    This went back and forth for 2 years until in an act of sheer frustration I took a bus onto the highway scales and got an overweight ticket. That ticket was issued by a highway patrol officer, so there was nothing they could do to bury it.

    Since then, our commuter buses carry 60 people Max., and our union, not the company, enforces that.

    The broader point here is that you cannot trust government to abide by its own laws. I was essentially a whistle blower, and had there been no union, I would have been fired for what I did. Sure there are abuses and excesses by unions – just as there are abuses and excesses by government. But if you think by eliminating public unions you’re going to eliminate government abuse, well enjoy your daily commute is all I can say.

    As for Mish, the guy raises Fallacy of Presumption to a high art, cherry picking the worst abuses and tarring everyone with the same brush. They ought to give him a permanent spot on CNBC. That is what he’s aiming for, no?

    ebear

      1. Richard Barrow

        Perhaps, but a crowded bus is more likely to be late, thus traveling faster, especially if the non-union driver is under pressure to keep to schedule.

        Now let’s apply the same “logic” to school buses.

        There is some justice to this equation though. The people in the back are most likely non-union workers who can’t afford to live close to work, while the overpaid union people who can will be standing near the front, nose pressed to the glass.

        ebear

  46. Brick

    As an outsider you have to look at these discussions and say what the heck is going on. Everybody is blaming everybody else and nobody is looking in the mirror and saying ‘I contributed to this mess’.
    To the population you have to ask ‘Did you know things were wrong and do nothing or did you choose not to know and just assume things would be OK’
    To the unions you have to ask ‘What did you do about globalisation. Why did you negiatiate deals that would ultimately leave workers open to attack. What exactly do you expect politicians to do to attract jobs, except take from the workers and give to the corporations’.
    To the politicans you have to ask ‘Look at the pork in your budget. Can you justify the 17% general exective increase in cost. Are your interest with the population or corporations.’.

    I did out of interest take a quick look at the 2010 financial statement and the 2009-2011 budget statements and came to some quick conclusions. Revenues were up, but expediture was up even more. They issued 1 billion in bonds for land aquisition and improvements, costs for medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, human relations and transportation were all up. Education was not but thats where politicians have placed their focus. Overall it looks like a state unable to dial back its investment in the infrastructure of the state to suit conditions. Here is a quick quote from the financial statement.

    The State’s governmental activities program expenses increased $1.2 billion during Fiscal Year 2010. Human relations and resources expenditures increased $1.1 billion. Expenditure increases for the Medical Assistance program were a primary contributor to this rise. In addition, transportation expenditures increased $187.3 million. However, education expenditures declined by $44.9 million after increasing by $230.5 million as a result of increased state aid payments to schools in Fiscal Year 2009.

    ftp://doaftp04.doa.state.wi.us/doadocs/2010CAFR_Linked.pdf

    http://www.doa.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=8371&locid=166

    Look in the mirror whether you are an individual, union or politician and admit you contributed to the mess and instead of bullying, blaming, complaining, ignoring and burrying your head in the sand, propose options, fair solutions and act to make things happen.

  47. bob

    One more person who should be thrown under the bus whenever Wisconsin comes up-

    US rep Paul Ryan. Major campaign backers include the ABA, Koch and Credit Suisse, as well as the entirety of the FIRE industries.. I dare you to find a branch of Credit Suisse in Wisconsin.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&type=I&cid=N00004357&newMem=N&recs=20

    And by the way, there are a few unions on that list. If you are a member of any of them, stop feeding him.

  48. BS

    If the Republicans want to put the collective bargaining stuff in its own bill they can pass it without the Democrats.

    “The Wisconsin Constitution, however, only requires that three-fifths of each chamber to be in attendance for “any law which imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state.””

    “So if Republicans included non-fiscal, but still controversial provisions, in a separate bill — including, potentially, the provisions regarding collective bargaining — legally they’d only need 17 senators for a vote to be held, Esenberg said. That means Republicans could vote without a single Democrat being present, he said.”

    http://www.wisconsinreporter.com/gop-might-not-need-democrats-to-pass-controversial-legislation

    1. Firean

      In response to the link which you posted i would like to point out, as a european citizen, that the following comment is misleading within the article is misleading:

      “Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law.”

      The level of insurance is dependent upon the level contributions paid and often does not cover some medical treatment, nor all dental treatment ( i know from personnal experience), and one may have an “own risk” clause within the medical policy which requires that the policy holder pays the first so many hundred euros towards any claim in any given year.
      If your insurance does not cover the treatment your require you do not get it, not through the medical insurance.
      Though better than the USA scheme, it’s not the full cover for life which some would lead you to believe.

  49. nonclassical

    ..what part of “public taxpayer created infrastructure”
    don’t fundamentalists “get”? Take a public utility, paid for with taxpayer $$$, privatizers sell it off, but taxpayers keep on paying and paying, as rates double, triple-(obviously no fundamentalists on this forum have read C.A.F.T.A.).

    Nor have they comprehended realities inherent in $600 Trillion “investment bank-derivatives ponzi scheme”..but they are sure angry about union, state, teacher’s wages and retirement-which is completely irrational=”fundamentalist”

    here’s some international perspective on fundamentalist tax
    obsession irrationality:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/149324/america_in_decline:_why_germans_think_we%27re_insane?page=entire

  50. nonclassical

    For Brick;

    KNOWING some 10 years ago what was going on, and what was going to happen, some here, seeing no other “way” to maintain existance, did the fiscally conservative act and paid off all our debt-now we help others who didn’t exercise
    international perspective=historical precedent..

    what did YOU DO, Brick?

  51. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Having pulled off one of the greatest swindles in human history (we knew that once we got it over $1 trillion you dumbass Americans would not be able to count that high and would forget all about us, and start targeting that public union teacher rumored to make $80,000 or the garbage collector seen wearing a smooth looking Diesel watch that retails for $100, how can he afford it?).

    So me and my buddies used a small part of the bailout loot to pay off our media shills. We instructed them to divert all the anger away from banksters, er, investment bankers, and to make public sector unions into the new Al Qaeda. Yeah, why not.

    Judging from many of the comments here (NicktheQuick, ceorl serf, jdd and Bill G, Olddeadmeat, PV, John Wayne, etc) our strategy seems to have worked and we are laughing all the way to the Cayman Islands. Suckers!

    Thank you America, for being so predictable, and so stupid. From time to time, we’ll keep throwing out a few scraps for you to fight over, just to keep us entertained, via satellite dish, on our Eclipse $1.2 billion yacht with 2 helicopter pads, 11 guest cabins and 2 swimming pools, all paid for courtesy of the American taxpayer.

    Just keep it up, keep attacking those bad public sector unions, and always remember: Public Sector Union employee =socialist= bad; Bailed out Bankster = capitalist = good.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    1. ChrisTiburon

      Stockholm Syndrome baby…the victims of the
      rapacious identify with their captors and work against their
      own interests.

      Paying decent wages and benefits is inflationary and leads to debt. Paying CEOs billions is entrepreneurial and leads to progress and the advancement of the human race.

    2. Olddeadmeat

      Lloyd C.

      It is refreshing to see so many reading comments and commenting, and some genuinely interesting arguments, even ones I don’t agree with.

      The governor is a Republican, he was just voted in – why is it so surprising that he’s doing what he thinks the people who voted for him want him to do? It should be surprising that President “Hope and Change” didn’t go after the big banks when he had a mandate and clear control of Congress.

      LEADERSHIP FAIL!

      The sad thing is the destruction of the rule of law in this nation. Both parties will ignore a judge’s order for their own agenda. Both parties kowtow to the money that the big banks hold. That doesn’t mean unions are blameless.From my perspective, unions have been just as corrupt and have abused their power just as much. I mean, a cop TORTURES people for years in Chicago and the board says he gets to keep his pension!?!?!?! In the heart of a Democratic Iron Fist that is the Chicago political machine? Talk about a broken system.

      The end result, sad to say, if that there are not perp walks for some big bankers soon, then there will be blood in the streets sooner or later.

      If I were Geithner or Bernanke, when I leave office I would be asking for a bigger permanent secret service detail than the President’s.

  52. citizendave

    Here is a long, informative article on the Wisconsin Retirement System pension fund, from June of last year: http://host.madison.com/ct/business/article_930bf94a-7e36-11df-abb9-001cc4c03286.html. I see a parallel between my Congressman Ryan’s desire to privatize Social Security, and the Wisconsin Pension Fund’s investment in Wall Street stocks and bonds. The article says Wisconsin’s pension fund is widely regarded as being well-managed, but my instinct would be to invest heavily in US Treasuries, thereby giving up growth to gain stability.

    Better still, would this be a good time to talk about the state Bank of North Dakota? A major part of their purpose is to keep state funds within the state. They weathered the Great Recession virtually unscathed. http://www.banknd.nd.gov/

    But even if Wisconsin’s pension fund were conservatively invested in a state bank, it surely would not deter Governor Walker’s desire to drive his ideological bulldozer through what he views as our socialistic tent city erected on the public commons.

  53. Boss Hog

    Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (and Dukes of Hazard Hillbilly-like) R-Juneau, told reporters he has asked the governor to send two state troopers to Senate Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller’s suburban Madison home. He said he believes Miller may be there – he did not elaborate on why he thought that – and Walker agreed to dispatch the officers.

    My God, why are they not using choppers, this is so retarded … they need to hunt those crooks down and drag them into the capital and make them vote! Get the National Guard in there and use choppers!

  54. Kathleen

    What no one is stating is that this is an issue of property law, contractual obligations. If you want to really fix this problem go after the legislators who perpetrated pension fraud. While were at it go after the banksters for derivatives fraud. Oh wait, I’ve forgotten, that happened years ago and the statute(or lack of one)of limitations has expired. Yves is right: The system has been breaking down for years. No legal options, even protests, can resurrect the system now. Where are the federal, state, corporate, union, and individual clearing-houses now? I believe it is bankruptcy for the many, property for the few. Let’s hope it will result in morality for the many, justice served to the few.

  55. Good Ol' Boys

    Revelations of the Koch Brothers’ involvement in Muhammad Hosni Sayyid MubarakWalker’s rise to power came as thousands of angry civil servants chanting “Kill the bill” invaded the Wisconsin state capitol to derail what they’re calling a Republican-led drive to bust their unions.

    At the same time, a furious Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak Walker dispatched state troopers to round up the 14 Democratic state senators who fled from Madison a day earlier – denying the GOP majority a quorum need to vote on a bill that would end union workers’ long-held collective bargaining rights.

    Also see: Rawhide Blues Brothers

  56. oldmanklc

    From the Wisconsin constitution:

    “Members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, except such inferior officers as may be by law exempted, shall before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability.”

    If those Senators who left the state to avoid their legislative duty in spite of their oath to the contrary, lack the honor to realize that elections have consequences, they will surely see that point made painfully clear in November of 2012. They must return to the capitol and vote “yes” or “no” as is required by their office and their Conscience. To do anything less is an insult to honor and a thwarting of democracy.

  57. filthy lobby connections

    They must return to the capitol and vote “yes” or “no” as is required by their office and their Conscience.

    Speaking of creeps that never vote and creeps without shame or honor…. there is a very long list of shitbag Republicans and democrats that defile and debase our society with their filthy lobby connections!

    Mc Cain Not Voting = 300 (53%)

  58. D. Shatin

    t’s bad enough that the “make the workers suffer” push is misguided (any budgetary pain should be shared, not dumped on a single target group). According to David Cay Johnson of Tax.com, the average Wisconsin pension is $24,500 a year, which is hardly lavish. “But what is stunning is that 15% of the money contributed to the fund each year is going to Wall Street in fees. Thus the blame for any shortfall should go in very large measure to probable kickbacks rank incompetence in the state’s dealing with the financial services industry and the impact of the financial crisis on state revenues”.

    I think an independent audit of the Wisconsin Investment Fund Membership, Salaries, Financial Advisor Consultants and fees and salaries of same, is long overdue. Full fledged invesigations of the major bond underwriters for the State of Wisconsin also should be the subject of an investigation. There is too little transparency in fact closed door sessions members only for some of the most critical investment decision making. In addition to the fall in general tax revenue due to outsourcing and globalization of manufacturing and thus big drops in tax revenue among the States is the invasion of the municipal general obligation bond market by interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, and the enormous fees paid out by the State to bond underwriters during the purchase of debt.

    Interest rate swaps are the most high risk and disgustingly gross form of infestation planted by Wall St Goldman Sachs. Huge bets are made that a State will default on its loans yet these bets are made by the same companies underwriting the State’s bond debt. Someone with knowledge and clout needs to blow the Wall St Bond Syndicate and Pension Fund raiding out of the water with facts, figures, and names. States like Wisconsin have gone far too long with no financial oversight of debt issuance and pension fund management. It is high time for these people to be held liable, accountable, and responsible for their failures and for the deleterious effect their action of had on the tax payers of the State of Wisconsin. It isn’t the union or the union members it is the coporate raiders and wall street leeches that have been robbing and bleeding State tax payers. In addition, if Wisconsin really was in the midst of a serious budget crisis, why hasn’t the governor removed the debt issuance authority from all of the authorities in but not of the State? These authorities issue enormous amount of debt with little oversight or auditing whatsoever. Walker is simply a hardcore, intolerant, ideological individual looking to show he has the cajones to bring the union to its knees… he knows not the power and strength and history of the union movement in America nor his own personal and political limitations. He is devoid of the diplomacy gene.

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