Monday, February 28, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wisconsin Budget Protests
A Less Perfect Union
Trickery, Inciting Violence, and Coddling Cronies
Since government workers won't live up to the greedy goon stereotype, the Tea Party must do it for them.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply “contribute more” to Wisconsin’ s retirement system (or as the argument goes, “pay their fair share” of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin’ s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.
The labor agreements show that the pension plan money is part of the total negotiated compensation. The key phrase, in those agreements I read (emphasis added), is: “The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee.” This shows that this is just divvying up the total compensation package, so much for cash wages, so much for paid vacations, so much for retirement, etc."
He's made a few passing comments on the budget/collective-bargaining issue, but nothing close to what is needed at this crucial moment.
It's time to do what's right. It's time to keep your promise. It's time to do what working Americans need.
See you in Wisconsin, real soon, Mr. President.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
"I would argue that we don't have a budget crisis. We have a refusal to levy adequate taxation on those that can afford it "crisis" created by our politicians who refuse to raise taxes on the rich at at time in our history that resembles the Gilded Age with income disparity. As Sachs noted, we're going after discretionary spending which hits in is words, science, education, technology, and energy and he's exactly right on how our approach to what we should be cutting is completely wrong." [h/t Crooks and Liars]
If we compare working class people with the highest-paid public sector workers, and then compared those same working class citizens with the highest-paid private workers, which would have the bigger discrepancy? It's not even close. The "well-paid" in the private sector have earnings that dwarf anything a public worker could dream of.
There are taxpayers without children, yet their taxes still fund schools. Some people don't own a car, but their taxes allow roads and plowing. Certain citizens never enjoy our park system, but they still pay for it. There are many things some of us may never, or rarely, use. Yet, we still pay taxes for them, because they are still very important to many businesses and citizens in our state, and therefore an important part of our economy, infrastructure, and future.
As Robert Freeman reports, "Corporate profits are at an all-time high. But corporate taxes are among the lowest in the industrial world. Income inequality is at its highest level since 1917. Between 2000 and 2006, the two-thirds of all growth in the entire economy we to the top 1%."
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"The average teacher in Wisconsin has a smaller salary than the median Wisconsin household...The 2009 average salary across all [Wisconsin] districts is $48,267. The Census Bureau has the median [Wisconsin] household income at $51,237."
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It is no coincidence that the wage gap between average workers and CEO pay has exploded while private sector unions have declined. The average pay of America's top CEO was $479,000 in 1979, according to Business Week, but had jumped to $9.5 million by 2009. CEOs who once earned 40 times the pay of the average worker now make at least 400 times more.
The wealth gap in America is the greatest it has been since the Roaring Twenties. In 1928, the top one-hundredth of 1 percent of American families earned 892 times more income than the bottom 90 percent of Americans. That gap declined for decades before it began climbing in the late 1970s. Today the top one-hundredth of one percent of American families earns 976 times more than the bottom 90 percent of Americans.
As public worker unions and public employee wages decline, we're likely to see this gap increase."
Monday, February 21, 2011
We've all heard this sentiment in some form or another. More so recently among some folks due to what's happening in Wisconsin.
- Inequality is higher now than during the Gilded Age.
- Workers wages have stagnated for decades.
- This is the first generation that will do worse, economically speaking, than their parents.
- Workers are working longer hours now than they have in decades.
- Many workers are not properly being paid for the hours they are working. A phenomenon known as wage theft.
- Workers are working to a later age. And it's not out of choice.
- Health care costs are bankrupting families across the country.
- Minimum wage
- Workers compensation
- Employer-provided health care
- 40-hour work week
- 8-hour day
- Unemployment insurance
What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.
But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.
Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.
In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.
You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.
There’s a bitter irony here. The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.
So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
These state senators are doing what their constituents want. Hence, they are doing their job.
This isn't just about union workers. It's about all workers. It's about the right to negotiate. It's about the right to have a say in the workplace. It's about not being a country governed by the whims of monied private sector interests.
In the end, venture capital amounts to one very small component of the overall capital market. An effort to attract more dollars to boost our local economy is desirable, but to what extent we should see venture capital as the goose that lays the golden egg is debatable."
As Lila Shapiro reports, "The share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981 and, according to Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes."
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
- The USA net fiscal stimulus was modest relative to peers, despite being the epicenter of the crisis.
- Once you take state and local cutbacks into account, there was no surge in government spending.
- Local governments are cutting jobs at the fastest rate in almost 30 years.
- State and local governments has shed 407,000 jobs since August 2008.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Robert Cowles (Senate District 2)
Alberta Darling (Senate District 8)
Sheila Harsdorf (Senate District 10)
Luther Olsen (Senate District 14)
Randy Hopper (Senate District 18)
Glenn Grothman (Senate District 20)
Mary Lazich (Senate District 28)
Dan Kapanke (Senate District 32)
Do your part to take back the Wisconsin State Senate. Start the recall of any senator from the list above who votes for Walker's Bill. It would only take the recall of three of these people to put the Senate back in Democratic control, and thwart any more of Walker's extreme far right agenda. Tell your friends and family that live in any of these districts to get started on a recall effort today...there is literally no time to waste. This can be done today. A recall of Walker can't start until January 2012."