Evening Light and Snow wallpaper – What’s Wrong With Republicans? A Fatal Case of Zombism

Evening Light and Snow wallpaper

Evening Light and Snow wallpaper

 

There’s A Way To Close The Deficit Without Raising Taxes Or Cutting Spending

Earlier today, John Boehner showed a chart projecting a gigantic budget deficit if current spending plans are in place.

It’s well established that the primary future driver of spending is going to be Medicare, ergo everyone wants to figure out how to reduce the cost of Medicare (either by privatization, reduced benefits, or some other fix to healthcare inflation).

But there’s a simple way to get deficit reduction that doesn’t involve Medicare: Lower the unemployment rate.

[  ]….This chart has been floating around for awhile, and at least I, personally, didn’t think much of it the first time I across it. There is an element of tautology to it. When the economy improves, unemployment goes down, and deficit/GDP shrinks, as tax revenue goes up. When the reverse happens, deficits rise. Duh, right?

But not so fast…

The post-2009 period is associated with a virtually unprecedented pursuit of government spending and deficits (as far as the eye can see!). Not only did the deficit go up because tax revenue collapsed, but Obama announced a historic stimulus the likes of which weren’t seen since the New Deal.

And yet! The relationship holds. Even when the government purposely spends like crazy to increase the debt and fight the weak economy, deficits/GDP have shrunk alongside unemployment. There is a big gap between the red and blue lines, perhaps in part because the downturn was so severe, but the clear lesson is that spending to reduce unemployment does have the effect of reducing deficits as a share of total GDP.

No tax increase at all is probably not a good idea in the long run, even if they are only modest income tax increase on the top 10% and an increase in taxes on capital gains. It is not all about Medicare, we need some infrastructure improvements and to make a larger investment in scientific research. Though just as important is the need to end the race to the bottom. The race corporate America, with the help of the radical Right, to have a permanent under-class of American workers. Wal-Mart, Apple and Darden Inc ( Applebees) are among corporations that are making record profits, yet many of their employees are not making a living wage – Corporate profits hit record as wages get squeezed. Not only would these workers thus contribute more to the safety net that they will need sooner or later, they will also rely less on programs like food assistance. Yet we’re dealing with John Boehner (R-OH) and his charts and the Koch brothers and their freakish zeal to make every worker in America wage slave.

Graphic via boingboing.net

The Walton family, with a net equal to the bottom 40% of American workers – about $89.5 billion – are the real welfare cheats. Every working American is subsidizing their business. McDonald’s pays workers an average of $8.25 hr and their CEO makes $8.7 million a year. So an average employee makes about $17.1 thousand a year. Their CEO makes as much as 509 workers. CEO pay has become completely disconnected from any rational values. An elite class of people with money and political power equal to those massive paychecks have decided to break the social contract with their employees. And as the Wal-Mart chart shows they are also passing off the cost to everyone else. The conservative movement keeps claiming that it is the social safety net or union wages that are holding back growth. A lie so ridiculous that no one with basic reading and math skills should believe. Yet the Republican Speaker of the House is very serious about selling the plantation dream to the public. If we can just race to the bottom, through some convoluted logic, America will then and only then, truly prosper. Conservatives even use magic to sell this dark dystopian dream to the public. Look at the one or two union guys being mean. Look at the woman using her food stamps to buy candy. This constant highlight of the petty is to distract people while conservatives steal billions from working Americans and their children. These corporate Robin Hohhs who steal from workers to give to each other are deeply afraid of their workers organizing and having any kind of power – Why Most Walmart and Fast Food Workers Didn’t Strike.

Fox News revealed selective editing of punched Fox News Thug Steven Crowder  contributor
Video of Steven Crowder getting punched is being used as evidence of union thuggery, but who got hit first? VIDEO. Of course violence is wrong. So with that I have done the required disclaimer for stories like this. Everyone has probably seen the Michigan video that Crowder has posted on the net. One major problem with that is that video is it does not show the union protester on the ground, before he gets up and punches Crowder. How did that protester start a fight from the prone position. Someone mentioned this on Tweeter ( sorry I do not remember who caught it first to give proper credit). How about what happened is that Crowder made threatening gestures and words towards the protester and the protester “stood his ground”. If conservatives want to love stand your ground laws and mentality, than they can suffer the consequences when it backfires. Let’s say that this was as Crowder described. One guy committed assault and battery; in reality aggravated assault. One guy out of thousands of protesters. So if one Republican picks his nose in an elevator that means all Republicans pick their noses in elevators. If those are the rules, if that is the logic we’re using, conservatives are in much deeper mud than America’s unions. Virginia GOP Official Calls Union Members ‘Terrorists’

Union workers who were protesting the passage of so-called “right-to-work” laws outside the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan are “terrorists,” according to a former high-ranking official in the Republican Party of Virginia who now serves in a county-level elected office.

Shawn Kenney, who formerly served as the communications director for the state GOP and is now the chairman of the Fluvanna Co. Board of Supervisors, posted an entry on his blog titled, “We Don’t Negotiate With (Union) Terrorists.” The post features a video of a brief fight that occurred outside the Michigan state capitol. Before the video, Kenney writes: “…and these people are terrorists.”

[  ]….Another former Republican Party of Virginia official wrote on the same blog this week that by passing “right-to-work,” Michigan had “finally unshackle[d] itself from slavery.”

Maybe we should thank these two clowns, they have given anyone license to call them any names they like. “Slavery”? Sure. Everyone’s dictionary defines slavery as the right to make workers into powerless wage slaves who better not get too uppity and ask for a living wage and health insurance. How dare unions ask for fair compensation, benefits or decent working conditions. That infringes on the right of conservatives to treat people like dirt. As usual these freaks are projecting their agenda on decent Americans seeking simple economic justice. Krugman seems to understand Mr. Kenney’s pain, The G.O.P.’s Existential Crisis

No, what we’re having is a political crisis, born of the fact that one of our two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road. The modern Republican Party’s grand, radical agenda lies in ruins — but the party doesn’t know how to deal with that failure, and it retains enough power to do immense damage as it strikes out in frustration.

Krugman, myself and other Democratic bloggers have described Republicans as zombies. That is what we’re seeing. If they can eat your brains they will. They lost the election, so that leaves them trying to eat fingers. It is all they know and all they will ever know. They’re not any more or less venal now than they were in 2010 or 2000.

Since the 1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big problem: The programs they want to kill are very popular. Americans may nod their heads when you attack big government in the abstract, but they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?

The answer, for a long time, has involved two strategies. One is “starve the beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs. Whenever you see some Republican politician piously denouncing federal red ink, always remember that, for decades, the G.O.P. has seen budget deficits as a feature, not a bug.

Arguably more important in conservative thinking, however, was the notion that the G.O.P. could exploit other sources of strength — white resentment, working-class dislike of social change, tough talk on national security — to build overwhelming political dominance, at which point the dismantling of the welfare state could proceed freely.

From just after 2000, after Bush has spent the surplus left by Bill Clinton, conservatives spent like crazy, They whined, but there was no holding up spending bills for grand bargains, no lines drawn in exchange for new revenue to offset their new spending. Dick Cheney famously said that deficits did not matter. He and every conservative were suddenly out of the closet Keynesians, when we didn’t need Keynes. Now that we need Keynes, conservatives are back in the closet. They have no convictions. They just hate the democratic republic model of government. They hate fairness. They hate workers. They hate science. They hate justice. They hate education. That is the only real Republican conviction, hate.

Currier and Ives sleigh ride 1853 – Anti-Union Republicans Have a Lot in Common With Chinese Communists

Currier and Ives sleigh ride 1853

Currier and Ives sleigh ride, 1853. The original title for this picture was simply “The road, winter”.

A moon-light sleigh-ride

A moon-light sleigh-ride. While not in color I thought this was a beautiful rendering of a sleigh ride. It was originally published by Wellstood, W., & Co. as just a decorative art print. The exact date is unknown, though pro baby around the turn of the 20th century. Wellstood published some other art prints in a similar style in the 1890s.

The far Right has been demagoguing unions for decades. Back in the 1910s and 20s, there was a socialist element within some union organizing. part of America’s heritage. We’re talking about the era of the Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York, where unsafe working conditions -locked doors and exits – 146 garment workers burned to death. Strong oppression tends to inflame strong reactions. For the most part American unions have never advocated socialism, and certainly not communism. The conservative movement likes to use accusations of associations with the far Left as a gudgeon. In the real world the far Left has hated unions. Unions interfere with the power of the state. Hitler took away union powers and Stalin made them powerless – in the old Soviet Union they existed in name only (Stalinist Laws to Tighten “Labor Discipline,” 1938-1940). While the Right’s second favorite history hack Jonah Goldberg tried to meld communism, fascism and liberalism all into one political movement and failed miserably, it certainly can be said that the far Right and the far Left are two forms of totalitarianism, or in some cases, at least authoritarianism.Thus there are parallels between conservatism’s hatred of unions – the average worker having any self empowerment and authoritarianism. The Lansing-Beijing connection

“China has a problem: rising inequality. The gap between profits and wages is soaring. Although elements of the government have sought to boost workers’ incomes, they have been thwarted by major companies and banks “that don’t want to give more profit to the country and let the government distribute it,” Qi Jingmei, a research fellow for a government think tank, told the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, if China permitted the establishment of unions, wages would rise. But for fundamentally political reasons — independent unions would undermine the Communist Party’s authority — unions are out of the question.

Meanwhile, the United States also has a problem of a rising gap between profits and wages. The stagnation of wages has become an accepted fact across the political spectrum; conservative columnists such as Michael Gerson and David Brooks have acknowledged that workers’ incomes seem to be stuck.

What conservatives haven’t acknowledged, and what even most liberal commentators fail to appreciate, is how central the collapse of collective bargaining is to American workers’ inability to win themselves a raise. Yes, globalizing and mechanizing jobs has cut into the livelihoods of millions of U.S. workers, but that is far from the whole story. Roughly 100 million of the nation’s 143 million employed workers have jobs that can’t be shipped abroad, that aren’t in competition with steel workers in Sao Paolo or iPod assemblers in Shenzhen. Sales clerks, waiters, librarians and carpenters all utilize technology in their jobs, but not to the point that they’ve become dispensable.

Yet while they can’t be dispensed with, neither can they bargain for a raise. Today fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are union members. That figure may shrink a little more with new “right to work” laws in Michigan — the propagandistic term for statutes that allow workers to benefit from union contracts without having to pay union dues.Defenders of right-to-work laws argue that they improve a state’s economy by creating more jobs. But an exhaustive study by economist Lonnie K. Stevans of Hofstra University found that states that have enacted such laws reported no increase in business start-ups or rates of employment. Wages and personal income are lower in those states than in those without such laws, Stevans concluded, though proprietors’ incomes are higher. In short, right-to-work laws simply redistribute income from workers to owners.” ( as many of you probably already know, WordPress has been buggy for some time now – thus some strange things like lack of block quotes)

As Harold Myerson notes and its certainly obvious to the radical Right, this union busting is not about helping anyone get a job, better pay or even about helping businesses. It is about undermining one of the major organizing platforms of the Democratic Party. While Republicans do not have anything like 100% support from police or firefighters unions, they generally can expect a fair amount of support from those groups ( who knows why – another example of people voting against their rational self interests). It appears then that police and firefighters unions escaped the Republican axe in Michigan. Republicans did not go after those unions ( they represent only about 2% of union membership in Michigan), partly for obvious  political reasons and partly because they would have had a protracted battle changing the state’s constitution.

One police captain told a reporter that he though what Republicans were doing to labor unions was wrong. Conservatives are pulling out the usual arsenal of talking heads and propaganda to win the national debate. Myths And Facts About “Right-To-Work” Laws

“On Fox, Dobbs And Mallory Factor Describe States Without Right-To-Work Laws As “Forced-Union” States. During the December 10 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs and his guest, anti-union activist Mallory Factor, were highly critical of states that do not have right-to-work laws, repeatedly calling them “forced-union” states. Graphic from the show:

[Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/12]
FACT: Workers In States Without Right-To-Work Laws Are Not Forced Into Unions

Economist Dean Baker: “Workers At Any Workplace Always Have The Option As To Whether Or Not To Join A Union.” In a 2011 post for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, economist Dean Baker pointed out that workers always have a choice whether to work for a union, whether or not their state has passed right-to-work laws:

“Right to work” is a great name from the standpoint of proponents, just like the term “death tax” is effective for opponents of the estate tax, but it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. It is widely believed that in the absence of right-to-work laws workers can be forced to join a union. This is not true. Workers at any workplace always have the option as to whether or not to join a union.

Right-to-work laws prohibit contracts that require that all the workers who benefit from union representation to pay for union representation. In states without right-to-work laws unions often sign contracts that require that all the workers in a bargaining unit pay a representation fee to the union that represents the bargaining unit. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2/28/11]

Maine Center For Economic Policy: “Right-To-Work Laws Are Essentially Unfair” And “Not Needed To Protect Nonunion Workers.” The Maine Center for Economic Policy similarly found that right-to-work laws are not fair because nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a “free ride” and the laws are “not needed to protect nonunion workers” because federal laws already protect workers from being forced into joining a union:

Right-to-work laws are essentially unfair. If Maine passed a right-to-work law, nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a “free ride.” They would receive the benefits of union representation, in terms of job protections, wages and benefits, without paying for any of the costs.

[…]

A right-to-work law is not needed to protect nonunion workers. Several federal laws already protect the rights of nonunion employees in unionized workplaces, such as the NLRB vs. General Motors Supreme Court decision in 1963, and the Communication Workers vs. Beck decision of 1988. Under federal labor law, workers cannot be legally required to join a union as part of a collective bargaining contract. [Maine Center for Economic Policy, 2/19/11]

Center For American Progress: “Right-To-Work Has Nothing To Do With People Being Forced To Be Union Members.” The Center for American Progress report titled “Right-to-Work 101″ explained that federal laws already guarantee that no worker can be forced to join a union…”

Some anti-worker conservatives will claim the fee, where a worker benefits from a labor contract, is the same thing as being forced to join. “In states where the law exists, “right-to-work” makes it illegal for workers and employers to negotiate a contract requiring everyone who benefits from a union contract to pay their fair share of the costs of administering it. Right-to-work has nothing to do with people being forced to be union members.

Federal law already guarantees that no one can be forced to be a member of a union, or to pay any amount of dues or fees to a political or social cause they don’t support. What right-to-work laws do is allow some workers to receive a free ride, getting the advantages of a union contract — such as higher wages and benefits and protection against arbitrary discipline — without paying any fee associated with negotiating on these matters.

That’s because the union must represent all workers with the same due diligence regardless of whether they join the union or pay it dues or other fees and a union contract must cover all workers, again regardless of their membership in or financial support for the union. In states without right-to-work laws, workers covered by a union contract can refuse union membership and pay a fee covering only the costs of workplace bargaining rather than the full cost of dues. [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/2/12]”

Not to put a gloss on a law that is clearly terrible, not just for unions, but non-union employees that benefit from being in the same industry as union workers (non-union auto workers in the U.S. make almost as much as union workers because of the upward pressure unions put on wages. Why work for say a non-union Toyota plant for lousy wages when you could work for union wages at a Ford plant). But I think this going after workers and their unions is going to backfire the same way that the conservative movement’s attack on women’s rights backfired. Most of the American public think issues like access to contraception was a settled issue. Access to health that was was equal to mens was a settled issue. That what constituted rape as opposed to Todd Akin’s “forceable rape” was a settled issue. When conservatives decided to shake that hornets nest of issues, the public went to the polls in November, fired up about the attack on basic rights of individual citizens.

Since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and his conservative co-conspirators the right to mug workers law into affect there have been protests. What does the Right do, They try to provoke labor protesters into fights. And blame unions for any violence or property damage. Things have not changed much since the days of the Colorado Labor wars when mine owners sent the National Guard and Pinkerton agents ( paid thugs) to attack labor union members.

Historian J. Bernard Hogg, who wrote “Public Reaction to Pinkertonism and the Labor Question,” observed:

Much of the hard feeling toward the Pinkertons was engendered by the fact that not infrequently detectives worked their way into high positions in the union and then revealed the intentions of the organization to the employer.[118]

A second and similar function of the detective was to work his way into the union during strikes. From this advantageous position information could be secured against the leaders; and if arrest and conviction followed, the strike would be broken…

A detective will join the ranks of the strikers and at once become an ardent champion of their cause. He is next found committing an aggravated assault upon some man or woman who has remained at work, thereby bringing down upon the heads of the officers and members of the assembly or union directly interested, the condemnation of all honest people, and aiding very materially to demoralize the organization and break their ranks. He is always on hand in the strikers’ meeting to introduce some extremely radical measure to burn the mill or wreck a train, and when the meeting has adjourned he is ever ready to furnish the Associated Press with a full account of the proposed action, and the country is told that a “prominent and highly respected member” of the strikers’ organization has just revealed a most daring plot to destroy life and property, but dare not become known in connection with the exposure for fear of his life![119]

There is a new version of this going on in Michigan. The Koch brothers have agents there provoking violence and pointing fingers at the unions. In one scuffle the union protesters pulled back one member who got a little out of control. A collapsed tent occupied by the Koch agents seems to be the Right’s big gotcha. Only it not clear how the tent came down.

 

Some of the nation’s leading executives drop opposition to boosting taxes on wealthiest Americans. How good of them not to fight against that unreasonable 3% increase.

Apple, Steve Jobs, China, Conservatives and The Race to The Bottom For The American Worker

This is probably getting too much attention – Steve Jobs Biography Reveals He Told Obama, ‘You’re Headed For A One-Term Presidency’

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

With all due respect to Jobs, while he was marketing phenomenon, perhaps a brilliant showman when it came to marketing. That doesn’t mean he was some oracle whose very spoken word is  pure gold. On the manufacturing, unions and regulations – total BS. The iPhone labor cost from its Chinese outsourcing amounted to less than $7.00 of the total cost. With labor and parts the total cost was/is about $178.96 per unit. Without a contract the iPhone retails for around $600, but AT&t kicks back some money to Apple with a contract for service that brings down the price to around $200.00. That iPhone depending on the model and contract, which Apple kicks it’s share can actually cost $1300.00 to $4k per year. Apple makes a 60% profit.  No other major computer maker gets those kinds of margins – Not Dell, not Sony or HP. Where do the iPhone parts come from: Germany, Switzerland and South Korea. All of those countries have unions, regulatory and environmental regulations -and health care plans. You have to have had half your brain blown away to believe that finding a place – a factory – to manufacture electronic in America is difficult. The country is littered with old and under used factories. Making the iPhone or any other Apple product here in the U.S. might add a few dollars to the retail price. According to a 2007 Gallup  poll a slight majority of Americans are willing to pay a little more for an American made product. Lets say they got very specific and asked people if they would pay $10 more for heir iPad or iPhone I think most Americans would if it meant the creation of a few thousand jobs. Jobs was a lifelong Democrat, that just makes it all that much more fun to use Jobs as a convenient cudgel to once again beat unions and American workers. Jobs was wrong. If Apple just moved half their manufacturing to the U.S. that might mean what – they would have a 58% margin. With the new jobs created and the jobs those jobs would create you would have a lot more people who might be able to buy Apple products. The Right, as they have been for fifty years is infatuated with a race to the bottom. It’s the so what if workers work 12 hour days for $2.00 an hour syndrome. They’re all like Rep. Sean Duffy complaining about how they can’t get by on $174,000.00 a year. They’re completely detached from the lives of working class Americans.

I’ll give Jobs partial credit for the dig at teachers, but he way oversimplified that issue as well – Steve Jobs talks teachers unions and education reform

In a hotly anticipated biography about enigmatic Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the brain behind the iPad and iPhone is shown to have a pessimistic view of the state of education in the United States.

The author of the biography, Walter Isaacson, wrote Jobs thought teachers unions are crippling schools. Here is the snippet, courtesy The Huffington Post:

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

Jobs’ attitude towards unions is in line with other lukewarm supporters of president Obama who feel labor groups protect teachers regardless of their performance.

Several marquee Democrats, including former head of Washington D.C. public schools Michelle Rhee, have vilified teacher groups like American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.

An argument can be made that those criticisms are unfair in light of labor union support for the reforms Jobs is reported to have supported.

AFT head Randi Weingarten has endorsed a teacher evaluation method that is partly dependent on how students perform on standardized tests. Labor groups in general do not oppose merit-based evaluations, and principal reviews are a major part of the review process of teachers already.

Labor groups have also backed extending the number of hours students spend in the classroom. A largely successful initiative in Massachusetts to expand the instruction time students receive was noted for the harmonious relationship between a state head of a major labor group and the Massachusetts government.

The whole teachers-unions-ease of firing-tenure issue needs some work. Yet obviously teachers and their unions are not intractable. And it is hard to argue that it is difficult to get rid of teachers when 132,000 teachers have been laid off since the beginning of the recession in 2007.

I will make another point in Jobs favor. He was a far better and more decent capitalist than the hedge fund managers on Wall Street.

 

Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics’ concerns. The deniers have plenty of denial left in them regardless of more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s.

Jon Stewart On GOP Reaction To Gaddafi’s Death: ‘What The F*ck Is Wrong With You?’ Video at link.

“Is there no Republican,” asked Stewart, “that can be gracious and statesmen-like in this situation? We removed a dictator in six months, losing no American soldiers, spending, like, a billion dollars rather than a trillion dollars, and engendering what appears to be goodwill with the people who now have a prideful story of their own independence to tell… not to mention oil, they have oil. Anybody wanna give credit?”

He then played a clip of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Sen. John McCain giving credit. To the French and British.

 

You can lead a conservative to the facts, but you can’t make them have any class.

 

Herman Cain Compares Social Security To Slavery. I’m hoping that I get the opportunity to become a Social Security slave since Wall Street ate a big chunk of my retirement funds.

Bargaining Rights Not Connected to Budget Problems

The rabid right-wing Republican NewsBusters screws up yet again, but does bring up an accuracy issue worth taking a look at, Wisconsin State Senator Smacks Down Chris Matthews: ‘You’re Completely Uninformed’

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews tried Monday to push the liberal media meme that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker exempted police and firefighters from his budget repair plan because their unions endorsed him in last November’s election.

Chris Matthews a liberal. Only a group of bloggers who make Nixon look like FDR would think Matthews is a liberal. The same Chris Matthews who praised Bush 43’s leadership, “What’s the importance of the president’s amazing display of leadership tonight?” and “We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical…” In News Buster’s world anyone who is not genuflecting 24/7 for the far Right agenda qualifies as a liberal. If there is a liberal meme that Walker is letting police and firefighters have their collective bargaining rights as a quid pro quo for their political endorsement, I’m not aware of it. Since Matthews is not a liberal, as far as I know he does not even qualify as a party of one. Is he and anyone repeating the quid pro quo meme mistaken? Yes they are, NewsBusters. This is the important thing to remember. Not all the police and firefighter unions and their various divisions endorsed Walker. Walker did give almost all of them a waiver on his demand to end all collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. This waiver is one of a few very relevant flaws in the argument Wisconsin Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker. If bargaining rights are somehow connected to balancing the state budget, than the same standard should apply to all public employees. Bargaining rights have nothing to do with balancing the budget. It’s like discussing the monthly budget with your spouse and suddenly claiming if they would stop talking for the next year the checking account will be magically balanced. Talking is just that. Maybe Walker is afraid he will not be able to resist those sweet talk’n labor leaders in the future.

The current stand-off in Wisconsin has created some friction between unions because of the police and firefighter exceptions, Law enforcement union members ‘at each other’s throats’ over budget plan

The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 900 state troopers, inspectors, police communication operators, Motor Vehicle Department field agents and other state police, includes some members who have been exempted from Walker’s plan, said WLEA President Tracy Fuller on Sunday.

“Our union is being torn apart about this,” said Fuller, who is a State Patrol inspector from Madison. “We’ve got members at each other’s throats.”

Walker exempted the State Patrol and its inspectors from the bill, but UW and Capitol police, among others in the WLEA, would lose their collective bargaining rights if the budget repair bill passes.

“I want to tell our members not to turn and destroy each other when we have to do battle against the governor’s budget proposal,” Fuller said. “Let’s not kill each other over this thing.”

Fuller said he regretted that the Wisconsin Trooper’s Association, which is an organization made up of many WLEA members, endorsed Gov. Scott Walker – WLEA itself did not endorse anyone, he said.

Fuller, who said the State Patrol did not ask for the exemption, said the WLEA is meeting Tuesday to decide whether it can survive. WLEA members had been affiliated with AFSCME Council 24 before breaking off on their own in 2005. State troopers and inspectors make up about half the membership, Fuller said.

The lead for this story is unfortunate. The WLEA (Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association) recently posted this take on Walker’s radical change to state policy and public employees,

To – WLEA Members
From – WLEA Executive Board (Message 1)

On Friday, February 11, Governor Walker announced his plan to radically reshape Wisconsin’s public employee laws. The proposed bill, which the Governor refers to as a Budget Repair bill, goes far beyond that. One could argue that the doctor diagnosed a sprained knee, and the Governor’s solution is to amputate both legs. After all, if you get chop the knees off, you won’t have to worry about spraining them again. Of course, the treatment seems a little radical as a solution.

Statutes describe what is supposed to happen when a state employee union contract isn’t approved. 111.91(1) … If the legislature does not adopt without change that portion of the tentative agreement introduced by the joint committee on employment relations, the tentative agreement shall be returned to the parties for renegotiation.

Governor Elect Walker got his way in December when the legislature failed to approve the tentative agreements. The proper procedure would have been to reopen negotiations. However, no negotiations happened with any unions. Governor Walker was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the budget repair bill was introduced by saying, “I don’t have anything to negotiate,” Walker said. “We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years. People have ignored that for years, and it’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth. The truth is: We don’t have money to offer. We don’t have finances to offer. This is what we have to offer.”http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/115911379.html

As employees, we all know that there is more to negotiations than just economics. Under current law, wages, hours of work and other conditions of employment are subjects of negotiation. The Budget Repair Bill won’t just require state employees to pay more for insurance. It would abolish all bargaining other than wages, and those wages would be capped at the consumer price index.

The new administration never attempted to start discussions with the WLEA Bargaining Team or any other bargaining unit. They just dropped the bomb on all of the public employee unions.

This bill carves out an exemption for “public safety workers”, but if we are honest, those exemptions will be limited. Once the draconian changes are implemented on the rest of the public employees, it’s only a matter of time until they catch the public safety workers too.

This bill has some provisions that make no sense, unless the basic intent is to bust unions. One provision makes it illegal for public employers to collect dues for labor organizations. The employer can take deductions for the United Way, or other organizations, but they are prohibited from collecting union dues.

How does that repair the budget?

Another provision requires the WERC to conduct a representation election by December 1st each year, to determine if the employees still want the union to represent them. The WERC has to bill the union for the cost of the election. Currently, if a group petitions the WERC to do an election, the WERC covers the cost. Right now, the members have the right to request an election if the majority of the members want to change or eliminate representation. Why create unnecessarily processes?

Does that help repair the budget? ( all emphasis mine)

Walker and the right are framing this as a budget crisis issue. Nothing Walker is proposing has much to do with balancing the budget and a lot to do with union busting. The WLEA notes that it is inevitable that once bargaining rights for teachers, capitol police, state workers such as accountants and other workers goes down, public safety worker rights are the next target. Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker certainly knows how to back up his arguments with statements from solid budget experts. So he takes to Twitter. He Tweets that a budget expert backs him up, Burning Down Wisconsin: The Hidden Budget Bill Item Even Worse Than Union Busting

Tweeting throughout the day, the link was one of only four links Gov. Walker provided to information or opinion defending his bill.

It just happens that Tina Korbe, the author of that Heritage piece, graduated with a BA in journalism from the University of Arkansas… in 2010.

More? As late as 2006, Korbe was a “Top 8 finalist” in the Arkansas Jr. Miss pageant. The year before, she was a semi-finalist in the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Pageant. No worries though, she already was Miss Teen Diamond Lakes 2005.

So, to put that in perspective, when the governor of the entire state of Wisconsin finds time to defend a bill that could severely impact the financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin workers, not to mention instituting the most sweeping changes to the balance of the state’s labor relations in 50 years, who does he point to? An 22-year-old (at best) who grew up in Arkansas and graduated with an undergraduate degree in journalism less than a year ago.

Are conservatives seriously still pointing to anything from The heritage Foundation for expertise on anything. Every time they bring up Heritage they bring up two outstanding issues on which The Heritage would rather forget. They proposed a health care reform overhaul that closely resembled the Affordable Care Act and which had an individual mandate. They also thought lying the nation into a three trillion-dollar debacle was a great idea. So great they fired one of their own for criticizing their position. Who is to blame for Wisconsin’s budget problems. Some of it is the general state of the economy. Revenues are down. Walker and his crony Republican bedfellows also share some much of the blame because they are acting like state-size examples of the George W. Bush administration. They are determined to ram through their agenda regardless of what the numbers say,

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Outlines Major Causes Of Wisconsin’s Budget Shortfall, Which “Include Two Big Obligations” Unrelated To Unions That Total Almost $260M. In a February 1 article, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted causes of the state’s budget shortfall and reported that Walker’s tax policies accounted for “more than half” of an anticipated $203 million decline in tax revenues…

Walker and his benefactors the Koch brothers are also using the nationwide belt-tightening to engage in some class warfare. They’re hoping to open up a rift between union and non-union workers. According to right-wing math, unions much like Reagan’s mythical welfare queen, are living high off the hog while everyone else struggles, The Betrayal of Public Workers

Even if state and local government employees are not responsible for the budgetary problems that emerged out of the recession, are they nevertheless receiving bloated wage and benefits packages that are holding back the recovery? Since the recession began, there has been a steady stream of media stories making such claims. One widely cited 2009 Forbes cover article reported, “State and local government workers get paid an average of $25.30 an hour, which is 33 percent higher than the private sector’s $19…. Throw in pensions and other benefits and the gap widens to 42 percent.”

What figures such as these fail to reflect is that state and local government workers are older and substantially better educated than private-sector workers. Forbes is therefore comparing apples and oranges. As John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research recently showed, when state and local government employees are matched against private sector workers of the same age and educational levels, the public workers earn, on average, about 4 percent less than their private counterparts. Moreover, the results of Schmitt’s apples-to-apples comparison are fully consistent with numerous studies examining this same question over the past twenty years. One has to suspect that the pundits who have overlooked these basic findings have chosen not to look.

Most American do not belong to unions, but unions have a ripple effect across the economy. Rather than being resentful or envious of unions, American from every profession might want to ponder how much of their compensation, benefits and working conditions can be traced back battles fought and won by unions.

Wisconsin is a Reminder. Conservatives Are to Blame for Nation’s Financial Woes, Not Unions

The Tea Bagger Conservative Yo-Yo Trick

Wisconsin Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker’s lies have been so blatant even the Rupert Murdock rag the WSJ had to report the truth, Biggest protests yet as pro-Walker side, larger union crowd meet peacefully

The protesters descended on Madison as Walker, through a spokesman, rejected an overture from a Democratic state senator who said public employee unions had agreed to make financial sacrifices contained in the bill in return for the right to bargain collectively.

[  ]…Walker’s office reacted in response to Erpenbach, who said he had been informed that state and local public employee unions had agreed to the financial aspects of the measure.

Erpenbach’s statement was backed by a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, who confirmed the agreement, and by Marty Beil, the head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Erpenbach said the offer was “a legitimate and serious offer on the table from local, state and school public employees that balances Gov. Walker’s budget.”

“It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget,” Erpenbach said.

Walker’s mission is to destroy collective bargaining. His stance and that of Wisconsin’s conservative legislators is not about balancing the budget. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right. It is labor using its first amendment rights to address grievances.

Tom Rynders, a Vietnam veteran in town to support Walker, was talking to a Journal Sentinel reporter when a union protester yelled at him, “This is about losing our rights as citizens.” Replied Rynders, “I have rights, too.”

What rights does Mr. Rynders think he is losing. The right to take away the fundamental rights of others. Unions are willing to make concessions on the dollars end of the debate. Better to take home a few dollars less in hard economic times than none at all. Unions are not monoliths who are always opposed to adjusting to the reality of economics. What Rynder and Walker want is 100% of what they want even if that means they are using big gov’mint to ride over the rights of average working people. Where is the consistency when Walker and his supporters are not protesting that those bargaining rights, which have been left in place for the state police and firefighters. The Right seems to think basic rights are like fairy dust to be sprinkled where and when they want them. Hosni Mubarak is out of a job now, maybe Walker and his supporters should give him a call and start their own country. One ruled with an iron fist and a minimum amount of rights. More confirmation Walker is waging a war on unions and teachers in particulr, Day 5 Brings 70,000-Plus to Madison to Protect Workers’ Rights

Also Walker rejected an offer from the unions to accept economic concessions if the near total ban on collective bargaining was removed from the so-called “budget repair” bill.   State Sen. Jon Erpenbach told reporters

It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget.

This is the guy the tea smokers see as their newest patron saint, Scott Walker Padded Salary Increases for Cronies During Budgetary Distress: 24% Salary Increase for Aide with 2 Public Pensions

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin who is spearheading the GOP effort to crush collective bargaining, lavished relatively large salary increases on his staff when he was chief executive of the Milwaukee County Board. Walker surreptitiously did this in 2008 – without the approval of the county board itself and at a time that the county was facing a fiscal deficit, and Walker was about to lay off a large number of union workers. In addition, 700 county positions had already been left vacant due to budgetary pressures.

According to a 2008 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (MJS) article,which exposed Walker’s illicit personal staff raises, one aide was to achieve a 26% increase – solely initiated and approved by Walker – even though the staffer, Tom Nardelli, was to receive tax-payer funded pensions that would exceed $35,700 a year. A member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors called Nardelli’s salary increase “obscene,” according the MJS.

Walker, like many of the mid-term gubernatorial candidates ( Rick Scott in Florida – who has already lost 42,000 jobs for Florida))  promised jobs. Voters in Wisconsin should have read the fine print,

The Department of Health Services last month signed a new contract with Deloitte Consulting for more maintenance and enhancement of the information system for SeniorCare and other income maintenance programs.

According to the public inspection copy of Deloitte’s technical proposal, the new, eight-year contract (known as CARES) increases the hourly billing rate from $92 to $104 and increases the fixed facilities rate from $1,320,000 to $2,040,000 a year. When multiplied by the 300,000 billable hours that DHS estimates will be available, this contract’s total annual cost is tens of millions of dollars.

DHS could scale back this contract by hiring information technology professionals and doing much of this work in-house for less money. That’s what the Department of Workforce Development did several years ago when they took over maintenance of the portions of the CARES system which deal with the W-2 and Child Care programs.

Why is DHS preparing to spend over $30 million a year on one information system when times are so tough? It won’t create jobs for Wisconsin residents since most of Deloitte’s workforce is subcontracted from India.

Ezra Klein runs the numbers. Only right-wing conservative math could make Walker’s agenda make sense, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker is to blame for Wisconsin’s budget, not unions

Let’s be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions. That’s also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country’s labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country.

Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don’t blame the unions. Not for this recession.

Of course, the fact that public-employee pensions didn’t cause a meltdown at Lehman Brothers doesn’t mean they’re not stressing state budgets, and that the pensions they’ve been promised don’t exceed what state budgets seem able to bear. But the buildup of global capital that overheated the American housing sector and got packaged into seemingly riskless financial products that then brought down Wall Street, paralyzing the economy, throwing millions out of work, and destroying the revenues from state income and sales taxes even as state residents needed more social services? The answer to that is not to end collective bargaining for (some) public employees. A plus B plus C does not equal what Gov. Scott Walker is attempting in Wisconsin.

* The budget report is working with two-time periods simultaneously: 2010-2011, and then 2011-13. The $130 million deficit now projected for 2011 isn’t the fault of the tax breaks passed during Walker’s special session, though his special session created about $120 million in deficit spending between 2011 and 2013 — and perhaps more than that, if his policies are extended. That is to say, the deficit spending he created in his special session is about equal to the deficit Wisconsin faces this year, but it’s not technically correct to say that Walker created 2011’s deficit. Rather, he added $120 million to the 2011-2013 deficits, and perhaps more in the years after that.

And to get even more specific: Walker giveaways on entering office,

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts — a perennial Republican favorite.

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.

In essence, public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.

If tax cuts and deregulation were the secret ingredient to creating jobs, where are they. Taxes are lower than ever. The Zero-Sum Game: States Cannot Stimulate Their Economies by Cutting Taxes

Though Arizona is facing a large deficit for fiscal year 2011 (equivalent to 25 percent of the budget) and is considering huge budget cuts, in January the state House approved a proposal to cut both the corporate and individual income tax rates as well as the business property tax. Similarly, governors in Delaware, Florida, South Carolina, and Rhode Island have proposed corporate income tax cuts as stimulus.

Such proposals are highly unlikely to work. When a state cuts a general tax such as the corporate or individual income tax, the impact on the state economy depends on what the business or the individual does with the money freed up by the tax cut.

* If a tax cut to a corporation increases its profits, it may distribute those profits as dividends to shareholders who live throughout the country; those funds will not necessarily create additional in-state demand.
* A corporation will not necessarily use the funds provided by the tax cut to make additional investments in the state in the short term. If there isn’t additional demand for a business’s good or service, the firm might keep the funds in reserve until demand picks up at a later time — by which time it would not need any government inducement to expand.
* If a tax cut goes to a higher-income person, that person might save most of those extra dollars — invest them in the stock market, for example — so the tax cut would create little or no additional demand within the state.

Moreover, broad-based tax cuts in these circumstances can inflict damage on public investments seen by many economists as key avenues for both short- and long-term economic development — including education, infrastructure, and other public investments. For example, Timothy Bartik, a widely respected economist at the W.E.Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, has proposed eight policies that would be especially cost-effective in promoting Michigan’s economic development. Six of them would institute or expand public spending for job training, apprenticeships, or general education. Bartik specifically cites Michigan’s budget gap as a threat to the state’s economic progress. Rather than advocating tax cuts, he recommends broadening of the state’s major tax bases and increasing the progressivity of its income tax, so that the government will be able to fund these programs

[  ]…# Many businesses wouldn’t benefit from the credit because they have no taxable profits due to the recession. Businesses that have experienced losses over the past couple of years in the recession are unlikely to have any state tax liability next year or for the next few years, because those losses can be carried forward to eliminate or reduce taxes once the company again becomes profitable. A company in that situation would not get any immediate benefit from a job-creation tax credit (unless it is refundable). While the company may be able to carry the credit forward to a future year, an unusable credit would not be much of an incentive to hire new employees now, when a stimulus is needed.
# Even for profitable firms, the value of the credit is less than it appears because state taxes are deductible for federal tax purposes. Thus, a company that pays less state tax will pay more federal tax. The state loses the total amount of the revenue, but the value of the credit is shared between the firm and the federal government. This makes a modest-sized credit even less likely to call forth additional job creation. It also increases the likelihood that most of the state revenue loss would subsidize jobs that would have been created anyway.

Conservative policies drove record deficits

As with the anti-Affordable care Act protests, the anti-worker tea baggers in Wisconsin are not acting purely out of some grassroots populist impulse, Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions

What’s more, the plan to kill the unions is right out of the Koch Brothers play book.

Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado;

Via Mother Jones

If you are reluctant to believe that this is a coordinated attack, consider this-

This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill.  The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.

Whether it is Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida or Arizona Across the it is minimum wage to middle-class Americans who have suffered the most from Wall St, the crony capitalism promoted by much of the Washington D.C. and front line Koch puppets such as Walker. Walker has a job, promoting the power of strongly centralized authoritarian state government apparently. While American workers have lost their jobs, their savings, often times their homes and dreams of a better future. While many of them are or have paid back the funds, those workers bailed out negligent bankers. The institutions that caused them so much suffering. Many of these corporations are reaping huge profits and handing out big bonuses, using tax loopholes, offshore tax shelters and are working behind the scenes to shift blame to unions, the working poor and the middle-class. Maybe because of the whole Fox News phenomenon, fake news and manufactured outrage, some of those working poor and middle-class are fighting to help corporations and politicians like Walker, make working class Americans even more powerless.

It’s Spreading – Labor in Ohio Protests Union Buster Bill

Just got a report from some of our folks on the ground in Columbus, Ohio, that more than 5,000 people—firefighters, teachers, small business leaders, community members and other public-service workers—filled the Statehouse again today to show their opposition to Senate Bill 5 that eliminates collective bargaining rights for all state workers, including faculty and staff at Ohio state colleges and universities.