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Battleground:Wisconsin

The standoff and stakes in Wisconsin. For labor. For budgets. For the country’s future.

Opponents to Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers took part in their seventh day of protesting Monday. (AP)

Something big has broken open in Wisconsin — a big budget battle. A huge fight over labor unions and their role and rights. And, maybe, the big American conversation over how we are actually going to deal with the burden-sharing of a time of “repair” to budgets and the economy.

Will the middle class survive? Who will be in it? Will the full burden really be shared? Will we give up on labor or revive it? And how does the public sector fit in?

Wisconsin’s Republican Rep. Paul Ryan says “it’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”

This hour On Point: Wisconsin.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Tommy Thompson, former Republican Governor of Wisconsin and former director of Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration. He was a candidate for president in 2008.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Harley Shaiken, labor economist at the University of California Berkeley.

Jason Stein, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Robert Wirch, Democratic State Senator from Wisconsin’s 22nd District.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • twenty-niner

    Republicans refuse to increase taxes or eliminate deductions
    +
    Democrats refuse to cut spending in a meaningful way
    =
    Bankrupt

    • md

      The Democratic senators in questions ceded on spending in exchange for sustaining collective bargaining rights (1). The debate is not about state spending; it is about workers’ rights.

      1. http://www.waow.com/Global/story.asp?S=14061343

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPDL54L6R3OXITBVWPBZC3TUKI nunya967

        Workers “rights” to give up nothing to save their jobs and the state? Apparently you havent been following the actions of this Union and the lying representatives of it. They wouldnt even give up Viagra, which at Sam’s Club is $8.30 a pill (100mg) which is TWO doses. Do they really need THAT much of it? Oh I guess they do, to constantly SCREW the taxpayers of Wisconsin. It’s all aunion scam, the “insurance” provider is the teachers union itself, simply bills the state more than any “evil insurance company” does. Why is THAT never brought up in the “evil, greedy insurance company” arguments? Lets say what you posted is true. They havent had a contract for almost two years, WHY DIDNT DOYLE DO ANYTHING? WHY DIDNT THE TEACHERS MAKE HIM DO ANYTHING? Think about it. Yep, thats it. The union leaders are USING the teachers, making all of us turn against them. Well, it worked.

        • Yar

          ” guess you can’t defend a tiny contribution they are asked to make despite ZERO proposals to cut jobs. Your Union thuggery 1970s mentality is DEAD. OVER. A MYTH. It doesn’t exist. ”
          Except for the Chamber of Commerce. In the movie The Pelican Brief, a powerful individual attempts to stack the supreme court. With citizen’s united decision I conclude the court has indeed been stacked. So have the house and the Senate, state houses and governors offices.

          One small group of powerful people that organize just like a union have used their influence to keep others from organizing. They stop workers from unionizing when management has the strongest union in the country today. The Chamber is in walking distance of the White House. Business is not anti union, they are anti worker union. They stop card check, they attempt to stop collective bargaining on benefits. They keep control of healthcare.
          When the slave masters have a union, you better believe the slaves need one.

    • Jim in Omaha

      “We”, as in the citizens of the USA, have NET assets of around $55 trillion. “We” are nowhere close to bankrupt. Can’t you all afford to pay just a little more taxes to properly fund government operations out of your average household net assets of over half a million dollars? Oh, you’re saying you don’t have a half-a-million in assets? Maybe you should be asking why .

      • twenty-niner

        “We” are nowhere close to bankrupt.

        Wrong again Jim.

        Assets:
        Small bus.: $4.86 T
        Corp: $12.58 T
        Household: $55.38 T
        Total: $72.82 T

        Liabilities:
        SS: $14.85 T
        Pres drug: $19.65 T
        Medicare: $78.16 T
        Total: $112.66 T

        But I don’t think we want to start auctioning off assets to pay the bills, because that’s really not a sustainable business plan. What’s more important is the income statement (let’s just concentrate on the biggest offender old Uncle Sam):

        Fed rev: $2.17 T
        Fed expenditures: $3.49 T
        Deficit: $1.32 T

  • twenty-niner

    Apparently, some benefits are really worth fighting for:

    “Despite Facing Budget Cuts and Layoffs, Teachers Fight For Taxpayer-Funded Erectile Dysfunction Drug”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/06/health/main6748776.shtml

    • Zeno

      LOL Will they settle on The Pump when they get to binding mediation?

  • Nick from Massachusetts

    I imagine that “Teachers” will be the boogie men of this discussion. For some reason, when ever government employees come up in a discussion in any negative light, we blame it all on the teachers.

    We want better educated kids but we ruin them at home. We want professionals but we pay teachers like hired hands and treat them worse. Wonder why so few are going into teaching???

  • Smaug1415

    So explain to me how the Tea Partiers think that these union people who are fighting for fair wages and treatmen are BAD while the Health Care companies, the few at the top that get the biggest tax breaks of all, and Wall Street are raping them and all Americans but that is OK.

    Explain that to me please, oh Conservatives of politics and intellect.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPDL54L6R3OXITBVWPBZC3TUKI nunya967

      Go away, troll. Its nothing about “good” or “bad”. It’s about BROKE. Theres no more money. Tell me why YOU think teachers have a RIGHT to MY money because they refuse to pay THEIR FAIR SHARE for health care – still less than ours by FAR. Isnt that a word you use when you want to tax the heck out of the so-called “rich”? “PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE”.
      I guess the shoe is on the other foot now. No more raping of the Wisconsin taxpayer.

      Just make the tax laws FAIR for Businesses, and there will be so much employment and taxes paid by profits that the teachers will be able to get their insane benefits package back. Its only an issue because Doyle RAPED the budget, borrowed against it, and raided the highway fund so all our roads will be crap for years.

      The silly and thug-like actions of the teachers get ZERO sympathy from most people I know. Even me, and I’m Union (IBEW) yet I pay for my health care, albeit $34 a week for father & son with dental preferred and vision with a $500 deductible. I also pay for my pension, thank GOD I have one. Do you realize almost NO private companies have PENSIONS these days? A 401k is NOT A PENSION.
      I know how good I have it, with 1000 people being on the layoff-wait list at the IBEW loc 494 hall. I’m also paid morethan 2x what they are, AND I get overtime.

      Paying half of the 11.5% cost of the pension – MONEY YOU GET BACK until you AND your spouse die – is UNREASONABLE to you?
      Are you nuts?

      Get with the real world, put your unicorn back in the barn and clean up that rainbow driveway of yours, mister fairyland buttersprinkle Smaug1415.

      I guess you cant defend a tiny contribution they are asked to make despite ZERO proposals to cut jobs. Your Union thuggery 1970s mentality is DEAD. OVER. A MYTH. It doesnt exist. Thanks to Clinton’s NAFTA, companies dont HAVE to pay Americans good wages and benefits any more. Thank him for that.

      • geffe

        Well I see the republican strategy of dividing the middle class is working here. You have a lot of anger and are clearly scapegoating the teachers. Do you have kids? People like you make me sad.

        • Anonymous

          Studies have clearly shown that throwing money at problems doesn’t solve them and often makes them worse. They have also shown that when workers get judged on the basis of their large group and not on their work, workers tend to not do their best since their is little incentive to do so.

          • geffe

            Germany has strong unions and has strong labor laws and they have a real come back based on solid exports, while we don’t and wont.
            How does this fact fly into your cherry picked so called studies?

            How do you account for this? They have had exports that are at 7% GPD. You are wrong, period. Unions are good for the worker and they keep companies in check. Walmart is good example of what happens when workers are not allowed to organize. By the way Walmart is notorious for passing health care cost onto the states.

      • Nick

        Nunya967: If I were you, I would worry more about YOUR anger and get some therapy.

        Ever had a government job? Ever been a teacher? I have. I would never work either job without a union because of the amount of empployee abuse from the higher ups.

      • Jim in Omaha

        Every day I pray that people like you will get to experience the reality you so vehemently call for. You would be fired, probably for your “bad attitude”, denied unemployment benefits, have your health insurance taken away, your fixed-benefit pension eliminated. Your support has made all of this possible for a large number of hard-working Americans. But don’t worry too much; I’m not religious so my prayers probably won’t be answered.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPDL54L6R3OXITBVWPBZC3TUKI nunya967

      P.S., Try to respond without being arrogant. Stay on topic.

    • Kmjroyal

      Clearly, the teabags DON’T THINK. They wait to hear from Faux “news”, to find out what they believe. From what I’ve seen, none of them has a clue as to what’s going on.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    I think back to Thanksgiving days of my childhood and two of my uncles in particular. One, a staunch Republican, a regional manager of a Standard and Poor 500 company, the other a Democrat, Teamster Business Rep. for the railroads. I still can remember the “fire” of some of their arguments and rebuttals. I loved both of these men. They were good men. Honest men. Hard working men. Fair men. Despite their disagreements they could sit down together after disagreeing and laugh, talk, and give thanks for all the good things they shared. The American family was different then, despite the turbulence of the 60’s. There was always hope for a “greater tomorrow”.
    I want my country back. Fix it !

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPDL54L6R3OXITBVWPBZC3TUKI nunya967

      Thats really great, James. THAT is the spirit I wish things were at. I wish I could say that about my family and friends. I dislike how my political opponents are somehow my “enemies” now. I started to see it when Clinton ran for his first term. The asinine and violent hatred from supporters at his rally in Milwaukee (several of us were assaulted once the union member thugs found out we werent with “them”, we didnt even say anything)…I’d never seen anything like it. I’m so fed up with them, their arrogance and the name-calling and ludicrous accusations over the last 20 years that I dont even associate with any lefty who talks politics with me. My remaining leftist friends know that & we just dont talk about it. The right may be to blame as well, but by FAR this is a lefty-caused lunacy, where disagreement of anything they believe equates to hate. The right has never accused the left of “hate” when they disagree with the right-wing view of anything. The left sees themselves as intellectual elitists, and anyone who doesnt agree with them is a Pharisee, an idiot, or a racist. They just push people like me into ignoring them, and not giving a rat’s butt when they want input on anything. Too late, you blew it for me, lefties. I dont, i CANT trust you any more. You’ve never given me a reason to, ever. When they are in power, they want their way 100%…when we are, they cry for “bipartisanship” and we fall for that crap. No longer. The LEFT gave birth to the Tea Party movement. Thank you SO MUCH. They made it so bad, that not even Soccer Moms can bear it any more. They have made us activists, and we’ll finally fight and sacrifice for what we believe in (and we dont need to pay people to attend rallies, so we care so much more about our cause than you do about yours). We’ll win, then you’ll see we were right, and you’ll benefit from it as well. Then will you stop hating us? Will you? Oh well, makes no difference I guess. We’re still going to win even if you promise to still hate us.

      • Zeno

        It is a sad thing to lose an American citizen to extreme polarization. It does not benefit the individual or the country… But as you say you have been forced into your political stance by anger and will likely stay there for the entirety of your life.

        I am one of the few who post here that have no political associations or alignments at all. So I guess I am one of the few that can address your points without a partisan or even a left vs right mindset. So here goes…

        Your extreme mindset is killing you…yes killing you. It will destroy your body, and your life. You have admitted to your desire for a more civil discourse where respect for differing opinions are valued on their rationality.

        Here is the answer… Discard both parties and all of their ideological claptrap and extreme viewpoints. Political parties are only constructs to facilitate the leverage of power to overcome rational ideas. The reason your uncles could be friends after a debate is because they understood this.

        There is no left or right. We are all Americans trying to create a civil society, a safe and secure place for ourselves and our children. Your uncles knew this. It is what Americans have been manipulated to deny. The media controlled by the plutocracy wants to divide and conquer…and its working!

        You will be surprised at how calming it is (although the first few years are a little confusing) to reject everything you hear and then evaluate it on a factual basis and without political bias. The world as it really is will be revealed when you are untethered from anger based reasoning.

        Please try this for one year if you think it has merit. Its like quitting smoking its a tough withdrawal for some. But remember, there are instigators and people who have a vested interest who will stop at nothing to pull or push you to one side or the other.

        To achieve rational balance in life is a difficult challenge…

        I hope you will undertake this suggestion from me as intended. America needs people like you that are standing on either side of this destructive division with the passion toward discourse and action to work for the country, to Join America together on a basis of whats best for the country and all Americans on a rational basis.

        • Joe Hill

          Cold turkey withdrawal from the current political parties would be such a great idea if, in the meantime, all our rights weren ‘t being taken away. Unless there is organizing on behalf of the middle class, there will be no middle class left. We’ll all be working for a bowl of rice, like the Chinese. I agree the current parties don’t “get it.” Pres. Obama is a great disappointment in standing up for union workers and other middle class folks. And for the poor. And the Republicans never stand up for union workers, the middle class (unless it’s a business owner), or the poor. We need to create new alliances. Leave the unions alone. Go after the banksters and millionaires. Can’t they pay more in taxes? Of course they can. The idea that if they pay more taxes, they won’t create jobs is BOGUS. They’ve had lower taxes for a couple dozen years now, at least, and where are the jobs? Picking on unions is a power play by the rich and powerful, who want more power. Don’t you see that?

    • Beverly

      Sorry. As you can probably tell from the above respose, I forgot that I had addressed it to you, & just rambled on, hoping that the guests will answer the questions. Then I saw who the guests will be. Why did I bother? We all know what he’ll say. Maybe I won’t even listen. (Too irritating.)

      You are so right. In days gone by, we could, as our dear President would say, “disagree without being disagreeable. I don’t think those days can ever return.

  • Beverly

    WM. JAMES FROM MISSOURI,

    The insanity has now hit the heartland. Being from Iowa, still reeling from the last unbelievable election. Til the day I die, I will never understand what happened there.

    Like Wisconsin, we had a surplus!!! Iowa was winning all kinds of awards. Chet Culver was an outstanding governor, who made Iowa about as perfect a state as it could ever be, AFTER LESS THAN ONE TERM!

    For reasons unknown, he was voted out of office. In his place is a nasty Republican, like the one in Wisconsin!

    Both had balanced budgets as they sailed into office. A week or two later, their states were suffering. Shades of DUBYA, & every other Republucan moron. Democrats are getting mighty sick of doing all the heavy lifting; cleaning up after Republican’t recklessness, & balancing the budget after them every time. Some even left us with a surplus!

    PLEASE DISCUSS, IN DETAIL, HOW THE GOVERNORS OF IOWA & WISCONSIN TRASHED THEIR THRIVING ECONOMIES IN JUST A FEW SHORT DAYS. DON’T THEY HAVE ADVISORS? IF SO, ARE THE ADVISORS REPUBLICAN, & THEREFORE AS CLUELESS AS THE GOVERNORS?
    We’re all anxious to know how these things happen, especially why no one seems to question, or even care about what happened to the surpluses left by Democratic governors just days before.

    Has war broken out in Dubuque?
    Has anyone found out what happened to the taxpayer’s money?

    Why is it that as soon as a Republican takes over, ANYWHHERE, the Economy goes to hell?

    “Conservatives” have a track record for ruining everything they touch. Does anyone know who votes for such morons, or why?

    For reasons

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Ideologues are not republicans. There is nothing conservative about giving trillions of dollars to an “industrial complex” whose sole purpose is to “blow things up” . There seems to be people that are elected to the Presidency , that don’t know what country they were elected to govern! This “stick my nose in everybody’s business” doctrine has led to a chain reaction of bad economic and policy decisions. At any one instant in time there is only so much money and manpower. If you give to another you must take from someone else.

  • JimTh 978

    Tom,

    Recently the nation witnessed a mortgage crisis. Mortgages went into default when borrowers were unable to honor the commitments they had negotiated and make the payments required. Conservative commentators told us that the borrowers were the villains, and the lenders were the victims.

    In Wisconsin, the governor has declared that the state cannot honor the commitments it has negotiated with public employees. Doesn’t that make Wisconsin the villain and the public employees the victims? Apparently not. The same conservative commentators are telling us that the public employees are to blame for Wisconsin’s inability to honor its commitments and the state is the victim.

    It sounds like “doublethink” to me.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    The Koch Brothers have a history of union busting:

    Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/us/22koch.html

    Keep the meme alive: do not use their products:

    Brawny Paper Towels
    Vanity Faire Napkins

    http://www.worldofkoch.com/

    • Craig from Omaha

      And the Koch brothers contributed millions to Scott Walker’s campaign. After one year in office, Wisconsin statute allow a politician to be recalled. Then the good citizens of Wisconsin can start the process to remove the aboration that is Scott Walker, son of a Babtist preacher from Colorado State who came to lead a small congregation in Delavan, a small town SW of Milwaukee. He is also a college drop-out — 94 credits with a “C” average from Marquette. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (two graduate degrees), I fear for what Walker could do the State’s fine public university system. Currently eight Republican Senators in Wisconsin are eligible for recall — petitions are now circulating.

    • Beverly

      Surprise, surprise. That explains it all.

      I still don’t understand what the Koch brothers are afraid of. How could a few little unions do anything to influence elections? Could they ever compete with the corrupt Kochs, who will be buying every election until America self-destructs? (That day is closer than some may think.)

  • Anonymous

    There he goes again! There is great irony in Scott Walker trying to hold public employees accountable when he is one public employee who has failed to hold himself accountable for just about anything, time after time after time. His suggestion in yesterday’s press conference that he had campaigned on the issue of eliminating most collective bargaining rights is just plain false. Had he done so, I cannot imagine that he would ever have been elected governor.

    • Kmjroyal

      Can’t he be impeached?

  • Geri

    The ongoing demise of unions is a result of fat cat union bosses needing to protect the weakest link in their membership – regardless how ineffective or incompetent. With that as a premise – the downward the trend of unionization is inevitable. The American majority is speaking – if you don’t listen carefully – you’ll be swept aside.

    • Grady Lee Howard, NJ

      All human beings have weaknesses. So do you. If I highlighted your worst fault on a bad day you’d never get a job. A union is a good way to discipline a workforce in a humane way. Good attributes complement one another and compensate for weaknesses. Each person is unique, you understand. Employers might be frustrated they can’t smite and economically murder an individual worker they dislike, but shielding a worker from a great difference in power and wealth is a good thing. It costs slightly more, but unions produce better products and services than an atomized and always anxious workforce with few rights. It is clear that Geri doesn’t under stand how unions function.

    • geffe

      Really? The majority of Americans? Who? Do you know anything about this subject? If you did you would not have made a comment like this.

    • Nick

      Really, Fat Cat Union Bosses ??

      How about the FAT CAT WALL STREET BARONS and LOBBIERS in WDC who want to make more profits and ending the unions does just that. Without some unions, we are all serfs in this plutocracy.

  • Grady Lee Howard, NJ

    Why do we dam rivers? To keep all the water from running out. Consider unions a dam in any community for without them all the money would run home to the wealthy and the people who do the work would have nothing.

    It’s gone now, but when I lived in NC they had a truck building plant and it was unionized. When that UAW came in the 3,000 members lifted the entire county in wages and benefits like no enterprise or government had done before in an anti-union state. Those slightly higer wages permeated the 7 little towns and made more people prosperous. At the same time the fact that union members had more rights and better benefits caused the labor market to lift and made other employers share what they’d been hordeing or sending to corporate headquarters. The entrepreneurship that opened more and better businesses was directly connected to the unionization in the truck plants.

    Somebody at Daimler decided they could make more money moving to Mexico. Without a union Mexican workers will be exploited instead of benefitting. They tore the dam out of that river and the three thousand jobs took seventeen thousand others with them. Now 90% of schoolchildren there are eligible for free lunch except the county commissioners don’t want to feed “useless eaters” with matching funds.
    The money runs home to the rich. I wouldn’t be so quick to damn unions. You could make Wisconsin, and Ohio and so on some pretty dry places.

  • Bob

    If I lived near there I would go. I have never been in a union and was a union hater during the Regan days. Now, I’ve seen what has been done to my fellow Americans and myself with stagnant wages and jobs being shipped out of the country after we train the people taking our job – it’s called the ultimate indignity.
    It’s amazing what our wealthy fellow Americans will do to their own people, and then attend church on Sunday while the minimum wage workers show up to Dunkin’ Donuts at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning.
    After going through this myself it’s time for the “majority” to burn down the Whitehouse and put in a system the works for the majority.

    • Anonymous

      Bob, your comment sounds like a terrorist threat. In America we vote at the ballot box! If you are so opposed to your representative, have you helped his opposition candidate by volentering your time to their campaign?

      • geffe

        and your comment sounds un-American. Who are you to judge the Bob’s of this nation? You’re all for the tea party BS but if someone like Bob post’s the other side of the coin you cry “terrorist”.

        • Anonymous

          Geffe,

          When Bob threatened to burn the White House, I think it is 99% clear that he is more terrorist than anything else. I could be wrong and he might just be a common criminal and if that is the case, I am so sorry.

          • geffe

            Bob’s pissed. I don’t think he really means to burn down the White house. His anger reminds me of the Bonus Army who camped out in Washington only to be burned out and shot at by the Army.

            It’s anger buddy, not unlike my own that is wanting to say things to you. But I wont in the name of civility.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            Just yesterday we were discussing how Senator Brown of MA wished to burn his childhood home (as stated in a well-promoted book).

        • Anonymous

          Geffe,

          When Bob threatened to burn the White House, I think it is 99% clear that he is more terrorist than anything else. I could be wrong and he might just be a common criminal and if that is the case, I am so sorry.

      • bob

        I certainly didn’t mean terrorism. I mean the only way we are going to right the money power that controls our government and lives is to do what was done in Egypt and is being done in Wisconsin. Challenge it !!!

      • Steven

        We’ve all seen right wing anger in this country. I think Bob is exspressing a left wing anger that has not shown itself until the protests in Wisconsin. Osama bin Ladin – right wing anger. Tahrir Square- leftwing anger. Where does real chance sit? The conservatives might be right about the numbers of our debt, that an aging population is crushing our budget but they never cared about anything more than their personal wealth and we all know it.

    • TerryTreeTree

      Bob, Until your last sentence about the White House, I agreed with you. You should read Brandstad’s reply, and think before you say, or especially write something of this type.

  • Alan Shulman, NH

    Richard: Thanks for the recommendations on products to avoid. Any others? It will give me great pleasure not to support anything Koch.

    Geri: You’ve bought into some kind of slogan about “fat cat union bosses.”
    The only reason there have been relatively decent working conditions, health benefits, decent working hours, decent wages in this country, especially from the 1940s to 1980s, is through the work of unions over many decades: It has not come about through the decency of corporations, but has been won through bloodshed and sacrifice. Read your American history.

    The issue in Wisconsin over union bargaining rights is a cover for the desire of corporate entities and their government representatives to cripple unions beyond salvaging. Doesn’t it seem a little strange that the financial crisis was brought on by Wall Street gamblers and Hedge Fund finaglers who now award themselves huge bonuses while the rest of us look around for someone else to pay for the mess they created – such as by busting unions.

    The average American has an uncanny ability to find a way to subvert his own best interests by buying into garbage like “fat cat union bosses” and “welfare mothers” and “illegals sneaking across the borders to have babies” when the real culprits are those who have, in order to secure cheap labor, including prison labor, and to accumulate greater and greater wealth, moved our jobs overseas.

    That 1% of the population who controls 23% of the country’s wealth? Those aren’t union members.

    • geffe

      Well said. From what I’m reading here the republican strategy of dividing the nation is working.
      Robert Reich has some very good articles on the subject.
      http://robertreich.org/post/3422645385
      http://robertreich.org/post/3353591266

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Follow this link for an overview of all the retail products Koch Industries makes and do your best to avoid what you can. They cover a lot of territory, avoiding them is tough to do:

      http://www.worldofkoch.com/

      • Anonymous

        Excellent — thanks Richard! None of those brands tempt me… phew!

  • Pingback: In Mass., Budget Standoff Between Unions And Gov’t. Not Likely | WBUR

  • Anonymous

    Federal, state and local debt exceeds size of entire economy

    The daunting tower of national, state and local debt in the United States will reach a level this year unmatched just after World War II and already exceeds the size of the entire economy, according to government estimates.

    • geffe

      So what’s your solution to pay everyone less and give tax breaks?
      No cuts to the military? How about dealing with health care?

      You offer no solutions pal, you come on here and offer nothing.

    • Craig from Omaha

      George W. Bush added a trillion to the national debt with his unnecessary war in Iraq (just where were those alleged weapons of mass destruction) coupled with tax cuts to the wealthy. Under President Clinton, the Federal government had surpluses. Outgoing Wisconsin governor Doyle had balanced bugets, often with small surpluses. Its time for moderates in the Republican party to stand up to the talk radio & Fox News shrills and bring the party back to what it was under Eisenhower — a fiscally sound party rooted in small business. Remember it was Eisenhower who warned the American people of the dangers of “the military industrial complex.

    • Beverly

      and . . . ?

  • Grady Lee Howard

    In a land of the castrated the one-testicled man shall be king.

  • Steven

    Maine is in a similar situation. In our past election we switched from Democractic control in both houses and governorship to complete Republican control. The governor was elected with only 39% of the vote and is disliked by the remaining 61%. The Repulican majority is based on an aging rural population that economically has very little reason to be in Maine. Despite the fact that the Republicans are right that we can’t afford state services and retirement packages, there is so much dis-satifaction here a that a bit of protesting might be a pleasant diversion if it would anger our tactless governor.

  • Steven

    Maine is in a similar situation. In our past election we switched from Democractic control in both houses and governorship to complete Republican control. The governor was elected with only 39% of the vote and is disliked by the remaining 61%. The Repulican majority is based on an aging rural population that economically has very little reason to be in Maine. Despite the fact that the Republicans are right that we can’t afford state services and retirement packages, there is so much dis-satifaction here a that a bit of protesting might be a pleasant diversion if it would anger our tactless governor.

  • David @ Medford, Mass.

    Isn’t curious how the anti-government forces, led by Sarah Palin, have suddenly become pro-government when there is the chance to bust the unions? So now the Tea Party lie is exposed: The Tea Party is not a grassroots peoples’ campaign, but a corporate-funded, reactionary movement to shift power from the majority of citizens to a handful of isolated billionaires. I admire the protesters and Wisconsin Democratic legislators to standing up for the right to unionize and bargain for fair wages and benefits collectively. The Governor, his Republican colleagues, and corporate clients need to know that human rights are nonnegotiable and cannot be legislated away.

    • geffe

      David I was just thinking the same thing recently. Palin is trying to play the populist and is a demagogue. This is all about control and not about the unions. It’s about putting the final nails into the coffin of the labor movement and to make this country into an oligarchy.

      • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

        The best thing I have seen on Palin lately is Stephen Colbert’s dressing down of Mika Bezinsky for suffering from Palin-Fatigue. It is well worth going to Comedy Central and watching for 5 minutes

    • Charlie B

      No, it’s not curious. The candidates they supported were elected. The Tea Party people aren’t anti-government per se; they just want elected officials who share their views. In Wisconsin, they succeeded. and the elected officials are doing exactly what they promised to do.

      The protesters have every right to demonstrate (unless they are fraudulently claiming to be sick so they can simultaneously collect their salaries from the taxpayers). But it’s hard to see collective bargaining as a “human right” for state workers. Many states (14, I think) have never had it, and even FDR opposed it at the Federal level.

      This is democracy at work, with majority rule and minority right to dissent as loudly as they want. It’s all good.

      • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

        Charlie B (some of my friends call me that) It is not actually majority rule. Sometime the majority needs to be protected from the oppressiveness of the misguided majority because it is the right thing to do. Part of a civil society.

        Citizen’s United has destroyed all my hopes for our Democracy.

    • William

      It appears the anti-government forces are in the streets of WI. Hitler signs included!

  • William

    The states and local governments would be better off getting out of these pension plans all together. The system is too corrupt and it would put the burden of planning for retirement back on the employee.

    • Anonymous

      If 401K’s are good for the private sector, why aren’t they also good enough for public workers?

      • Yar

        They don’t work in the private sector, they are just as much a lie as a defined pension plan, in today’s false promise economy. How can you save when the deficit is such a big part of spending. The answer is, that inflation is going to make all savings worth-less. One word or two the promise is still false. How to store work for old age? Invest in youth. I would teach for my share of the wages of those I taught. Isn’t that what the teachers are fighting for? Any system that can change the rules when you are to get paid in the future will come up short.

      • William

        The fed workers have a 401, which is TSP. They control it and decide what they want to invest their money into. I don’t know why the unions are kicking and screaming about change. The old ways are gone, done, finished. Get on board or you will end up like a lot of the UAW and Steel Workers, broke.

    • Anonymous

      Are unionized government workers more likely to be covered by a defined-benefit pension plan than private-sector workers?

      Yes, far more likely. A 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that 95 percent of state and local government workers who were union members were eligible for coverage under a defined-benefit, or “traditional,” pension plan. Among private-sector workers, only 21 percent had access to a defined-benefit pension plan.

      • Zeno

        Agreed. If we take politics and emotions out of the equation, what remains is a monetary deficit, and a deficit of planning. Budgets are flexible when the money is rolling in, but planning should be done on the basis of the worst case scenario.

        Its just bad governance to create mandatory obligations of the basis of ever increasing wealth. The USA is unemployed literally and figuratively, and the people who were promised cable TV are justifiably upset. Its the economy that ultimately controls budgets, not unions or politicians.

        • Zeno

          Hey! another bug in found in Disqus. You posted before me and it ended up here and not attached to the original posting as a reply.

    • Anonymous

      According to the survey, 77 percent of state and local government workers who were covered by a defined-benefit plan had to make a contribution to it. The average contribution was 6.3 percent of earnings.

      Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told reporters Friday that many private-sector workers in his state do not have a defined-benefit plan and if they have a 401k plan, their employer may have stopped contributing to it.

      “That is in contrast to the very modest request we are asking (from state employees), which is a 5.8 percent contribution to the pension system and a 12.6 percent contribution from state workers for their health care premium,” he said. “That’s half the national average.”
      For many workers in Wisconsin, he said, “they think that’s a deal they’d love to have.”

      He said private-sector workers with benefit plans far inferior to those of state employees are being forced to pay for those state workers’ superior benefits.

      • William

        The Federal workers got away from those old pension plans 30 years ago. The have a 401 (TSP) and FERS. This seems a better way to go because it allows the worker to take his 401 with him if he wants to change jobs and does not put the taxpayer on the hook for massive pension debt.

      • geffe

        So because the private sector has no collective bargaining it’s not fair? This is your thesis? The fact that people pay taxes for goods and services is a red herring argument. By the way you left out the fact that the union state workers also pay the same taxes. How convenient.

        Walker is a Christian and from what I’ve read he’s an evangelical.
        They hate the idea of taxes period. You should try to understand the context of this, the subtext so to speak.

        Walker is a trying to divide the good people of Wisconsin for his own political gain. This is nothing more than misguided thuggery in my view. He acts like a thug.

  • Anonymous

    Tom,

    The true question for the country is: When politicians make unrealistic promises to public workers for votes in the short term knowing that after they are out of office something has to be done to correct their bad accounting

    1) Should the working poor be taxed more during a recession
    2) Should we lay off some public workers to keep from spending too much money we don’t have
    3) Should union members make a group sacrifice and make small concessions to insure no one gets laid off?

    • Zeno

      THIS BELONGS HERE DISQUS!: Agreed. If we take politics and emotions out of the equation, what remains is a monetary deficit, and a deficit of planning. Budgets are flexible when the money is rolling in, but planning should be done on the basis of the worst case scenario.

      Its just bad governance to create mandatory obligations of the basis of ever increasing wealth. The USA is unemployed literally and figuratively, and the people who were promised cable TV are justifiably upset. Its the economy that ultimately controls budgets, not unions or politicians.

    • Anonymous

      Well, Brandstad, the question is no less about when politicians make unrealistic promises to financial and industrial interests in the short term knowing that after they are out of office — and sitting on the boards of those companies — something has to be done about bad debts they’ve saddled the country with.

      I’d just like to add that the teachers’ union in Wisconsin has long since conceded the necessary cuts but is unwilling to cede the right to collective bargaining. If you look at where the money is coming from in Wisconsin to sustain the new governor’s single-minded grab for political power, you’d find it comes from entities devoted to ending the labor movement, as for example the Bradley Foundation which funds, among other things, the infamous “Americans for Prosperity” and, of course, the Heritage Foundation, a rightwing group which, let’s note, will be represented here this morning.

      • Anonymous

        If the Wisconsin unions are so friendly and willing to work, why does it take on average 15 months to negotiate new union contracts with them? Why did the government workers union refuse to even sit down and talk to the democrat Governor before he left office to discuss the issue they are striking about now?

        • Anonymous

          Who knows, Brand. But the fact that they didn’t reach an agreement doesn’t mean the public sector workers were wrong or put the state in debt. In fact, we know that’s not true.

  • Bob Olsgard, Sarona, WI

    Please ask Tommy Thompson about our new DHS Secretary Dennis Smith and Dennis’s recent work; “Facing Obamacare, What States Should Do Now”. it’s on the Heritage foundation web site (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/05/facing-obamacare-what-the-states-should-do-now) if you’d like more. It kinda looks like Dennis is here to craft a state-based nullification of our national health care reform law, one that can be publicized and replicated elsewhere.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    A short play:
    Mr. Big Britches arrives in his Iowa office at 10am, having digested half a cow and a cask of grog from the night before.
    Big: Brainstem, get in here! … you have sat at that computer posting on a silly blog a full two hours on my time and I have a mind to dock your pay.
    Stem: Mr. Britches, I was only asserting the conservative arguments you share with me each day.
    Big: Leave that brain work to David Koch! While you have dithered my phone has gone unanswered and my toilet unscrubbed. My patience is short. Do not provoke me. I can find a vagrant on the corner to replace you. Your last raise is rescinded retroactively. You owe me a refund.
    Stem: But Sir, I have bills and a family. I need money for food and gas.
    Big: Get creative my man, throwing money at problems is no solution. Get to work so that I may continue to thrive in the manner to which I’m accustomed.
    Brainstem went home that night and he thought about unions, about how “fire at will” would be gone, and how his retirement would be assured, and how he would have a living wage. But he said to himself: Mr Big Britches is rich and I am poor, so that must mean he is the better man. All I can do is try to copy him and become a success.
    At 10am the next morning Big Britches arrived to find Brainstem @ On Point again.
    What do you think happens next? (Characters depicted in this treatment are not intended to depict or represent any normal human living or dead, unless they own up to it.)

    • Gary Trees

      Ha, Brainstem indeed. Love the humor Gardy.

      • Grady Lee Howard

        I have said the same thing more than 10 times over the last 6 months but they always censored me. I must have slipped through today… or maybe they’re trying to balance against some fascist comedian.

    • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

      thank you Grady Lee Howard.

    • Beverly

      A cold slice of reality . . .

  • Bob Olsgard, Sarona, WI

    Adding to my previous comment; there’s lots more in the governor’s budget repair bill that’s been overshadowed by the high-profile swipe at workers rights. The bill also grants the DHS secretary “emergency powers” which would limit legislative oversight and public input for changes in our state’s Medicaid program. While the fiscal impact of our medicaid program is real, projecting a 1.8BN shortfall in this budget, the human impact is real. Including our very progressive Badger Care and Senior Care programs this will affect 1.1 million people.

  • Craig from Omaha

    Wisconsin’s outgoing Doyle left the state with a small surplus. The deficits are a function of governor Scott Walker’s tax cuts & tax breaks to business. The Democrats in both houses of Wisconsin’s legislature are willing to support Walker’s proposals to increase State employee contributions to health insurance and pension funds, provided that Walker drops the language to strip employee unions of their rights to collective bargaining.

    Wealthy libertarians and conservatives – notably the Koch brothers – contributed heavily to Walker’s campaign. Walker himself seems out-of-place for Wisconsin, a State with a strong Progressive tradition. He was born in Colorado Springs, the son of a conservative Babtist minister who took charge of a congregation on the suburban outskirts of Milwaukee (Delavan) when Scott was 10. Wisconsin’s Christian communities are predominently Lutheran and Catholic — the State’s Jewish Synagogues have more members than its Southern Babtist churches.

    After one year in office, the Wisconsin statutes will allow Walker to be recalled. In the interim, I — as a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (two graduate degrees) fear what damage this college drop-out (C student at Marquette with 94 credits) will do to Wisconsin’s State government and fine public universities

    • geffe

      I agree and like what you are saying here Craig. However the people of Wisconsin voted for this rube. Even thought the likes of the Koch brothers helped Walker get elected at the end of the day the people of your state put this man into office. Shame on them.

      I see this as a watershed moment and this little man from Wisconsin might be the final nail in the head of unions and collective bargaining. Which would be a huge tragedy for this nation.

    • William

      I think the NYTimes had an article showing WI was in debt. They owe MI at least 50 million dollars.

  • Alan Shulman, NH

    Turn the question around. If government workers have a decent pension plan – a lot don’t, but let’s make that assumption – then why don’t the private sector workers also have decent ones? Is it because they don’t have unions to fight for them anymore? Instead of leveling everyone down, why aren’t we leveling everyone up? And didn’t private 401K plans take a terrible hit during this last financial crisis because of Wall Street greed and malfeasance? And you want to put everyone in that insecure position so everyone can be at the mercy of Goldman Sachs et al?

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Is Robert Wirch going to show up and represent his district this week?

  • Anonymous

    How much could the unions save their membership if they stopped spending union money to support all political candidates. I heard an interview with a New York or New Jersey school teacher yesterday that said she alone has paid over $20,000 in union dues and all of her complaints about the way the money was spent over the years has gone on deaf ears. She doesn’t want to be a member of the union but she has to in order to have her job.

    • geffe

      she should take a note form you, get another job. She could teach in a private school. Or do something else with her life. This is a red herring argument. You’re full of them today.

      • ThresherK

        I was going to correct your timeframe, geffe, but then I realized that”today” also ends in a “y”.

    • Desotelc

      How about big business spending on canidates??????????? The unions spend for the middle class.

  • Lon Ponschock in Appleton, WI

    I’m glad On Point is finally covering this. Al Jazeera English beat you to it plus other independent media. I think that there would be many other guests better than ol’ Tommy Thompson to discuss this for the rest of the country.

    Here in Appleton Wisconsin, there have been demonstrations as well as at the Capitol. Too bad this had to happen in the cold months and we were hit by a blizzard or it would have been bigger.

    The best moment I had seen on video was the arrival of Firefighters with their color guard of Bagpipers. It was not widely covered and only seen in a few short you tubes like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSbFceZ1-Ns

  • jeanne

    Many people do not realize that in Ohio (and a few other states), public employees (teachers, police, firemen, city and state employees, etc) do not pay into social security and neither does the state of Ohio. Therefore, these employees do not receive social security when they retire. My retirement pay is $1200/month from the state of Ohio. Is that pension too high? I don’t think so.

    If a state has used retirement funds unwisely and for current costs rather than saving it for retirees, shouldn’t the taxpayers be held accountable for the foibles of their elected leaders?……….after all, they elected them. I remember a couple of years when Ohio gave tax monies back to taxpayers instead of saving it for leaner times or funding pension shortfalls.

    Before everyone criticizes the supposed high pensions of state employees, please look to see exactly what they are and compare them to our US representatives and senators. The same philosophy should apply to them. Since the US has such a high deficit shouldn’t their salaries and pensions be reduced? AND, I DON’T mean the 5% cut to their (House republicans) office budgets. That isn’t personal sacrifice everyone is now being asked to take.

    Marie

    • William

      I would have to say you just endorsed the idea that all local, state and federal workers should have a 401 and that is it. No more pensions from the taxpayers because it is just not affordable for the taxpayers or the worker. It is time for unions to change their mind and get on board with a new economy.

      • ThresherK

        Then some governor can negotiate for it.

      • Desotelc

        I agree to a point. Where were the 401k’s 2 years a go? Gone thats were. The fat cats set people back by playing with our money.

  • Siva

    In the recent shows, Robert Shiller and Noam Chomsky warned about the resurgence of a new labor movement in response to recent socio-economic trends. Is it the beginning of such a movement ?

  • Sarah in IA

    When will middle income people stop trying to tear each other down? Why don’t we want things BETTER for everyone instead of worse? Breaking this union is hardly “shared sacrifice”. I like the UKUncut idea and I think it show up in Wisconsin and everywhere in the US.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/how-to-turn-the-wisconsin_b_826317.html

    • Anonymous

      Public Sector wages are a burden on the private sector middle class.

      Why should the private sector pay more for the public sector when the private sector is under such financial stress.

    • Beverly

      When? Not until the Republican’t party finally, & utterly self-destructs.

  • BHA

    Walker / Gaddafi
    Walker isn’t shooting anyone but the ham fisted response is similar.
    There is no valid reason to say that people CAN NOT bargain collectively. If the govt can’t afford the ‘demands’ of the union, it doesn’t have to agree to the contract.

    • Beverly

      That’s right. What he’s trying to do is unconstitutional, so it can never pass, no matter how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ the brothers Koch throw at it.

  • Terry Harris

    Terry Harris in Franklin, TN

    So far I’ve heard nothing in NPR’s coverage about the recalls that are starting up in Wisconsin. There are groups collecting signatures to recall the Democrats who are out of state and to recall some of the Republicans. From what I saw on line the govenor can’t be recalled until he has been in office for a year.

    TN is going through some of the same things. Here the attempt is to bust the teacher’s union.

  • Dave in CT

    Lets be clear: We are talking collective bargaining for GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES not private sector, a critical, rational point.

    Remember what FDR said:
    “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/37000401/FDR-Opposes-Federal-Unions

  • NRPjunky

    This issue has to be discussed in the context of the millions of dollars that unions put in the pockets of Democratic politicians (with whom these same unions then negotiate their contracts.) So you’ve got long-term decisions with tremendous financial impact being decided by politicians who are desperate for the next buck.

    Why are union members denied their Democratic rights? Why are they not able to vote each year on whether they want to remain a union member? Union members should have the right to write a check for their union dues; and not have them garnished from their wages by the state on behalf of the unions. Unions are afraid of these changes because they recognize how little value they have given all the strong civil service protections in place.

    Walker didn’t surprise anyone with this proposal. He talked about it all through the campaign and since his decisive victory. He is acting on the mandate the 5.5 million residents of Wisconsin gave him. Democrats should get back to work and allow democracy to work.

    Asking state workers to contribute 5.8 percent for pension and 12.6 percent for health care is nothing compared to the amounts most people must contribute. Making more on average than people in the private sector and contributing less is untenable and unfair.

    • Conrad

      Hey Junk! As I’ve posted in other replies…how to you explain THE FACT that the Wiscosin State Employees Union actually endorsed Republican Tommy Thompson in one of his campaigns for Governor?

    • Beverly

      5.5 people voted for him? I think that might be just a teensy bit of an exageration.

  • Dave in CT

    Mr. Ashbrook,

    Please raise the issue of this being collective bargaining in the PUBLIC sector, NOT the private.

    FDR saw PUBLIC sector bargaining as illogical and untenable.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/37000401/FDR-Opposes-Federal-Unions

  • Steve

    How many union issues go to arbitration in Wisconsin relative to other states?

  • Gaylembhanson

    Please address the role of the Koch brothers in the standoff in Wisconsin. Mother Jones, Forbes, the NYT, are all talking bout the cozy relationship between America’s own oligarchs and the Wisconsin Governor.
    In addition, I am confused about how folks can be screaming about “socialism” in the U.S. at the same time they are lining up at Walmart to buy cheap goods from China. The last time I checked China was a communist country.
    Can you help me out here?
    I support organized labor. Without it the oligarchs would have their way with us.
    Tax the Rich. Tax the Kochs and their ilk. And overturn the Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations the same rights as individuals obscuring the money trail of the right-wing rich and their evil plans to take this great nation down.

  • Ron Pulcer

    Question regarding the financial situation in Wisconsin: Is the Governor and/or Wisconsin Legislators also making pay and benefit concessions to balance the state budget? We should all keep in mind two things: 1) Legislators can often raise their own pay through legislation (they don’t need collective bargaining, just collective voting), and 2) The two main political parties are a lot like unions: The Republican Party is a “union” of so-called right-leaning political “workers”. I can understand wanting to balance the budget, but this whole thing smells of “hypocrisy”!

  • Steve

    I’m heading into Boston later this afternoon..sign in hand yet wondering.
    “What to write.”,,knowing well it’s a complicated twisted path that has brought us to this falsely reduced tet-a tete pitting middle and working class against each other

    Steve Cambridge

  • Ellen Dibble

    With all due respect to the labor movement, union benefits seem to me to cramp the production of new jobs in innovative startup businesses. This would be less the case if there were universal health care, which seems to tie people to dinosaur jobs much the way unmarketable homes do.

    • Dave in CT

      Single payer, competitive providers, Health Care and Infrastructure, competitive, free, non-government colluding markets for the rest.

    • ThresherK

      Ellen, let’s not forget how many public employees are “dinosaurs” but once some cronyized privatizing hack replaces them, we get “innovative startup businesses” like Enron, Wackenhut, Blackwater, and Halliburton.

      • Beverly

        Enter Koch brothers . . .

    • geffe

      You are wrong they don’t cramp a thing. Where did you get this idea from?

    • William

      I agree. It is time for all gov. jobs be open for bidding by private companies. Let the gov. unions bid on the jobs against a private company and see what happens. Single payer would be great if we could figure out how to get everyone to pay for it. I would support a negative income tax as a good first start to downsize gov. more and eliminate some of the welfare programs.

    • Ellen Dibble

      All of you replying, I’m not at all done thinking about this. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Jpp20021

    It seems clear now that Gov. Walker and the Republicans are using the real economic problems of the states to take away the benefits won by by the unions, which benefit all workers, instead of holding up the union movement’s accomplishments as goals toward which everyone should strive. In destroying collective bargaining, they will leave us as isolated individuals who have no power to defend themselves against corporate interests, and worse, who are told to blame themselves for making poor choices if they don’t prosper. What’s American about that?
    Carla in Vermont

    • William

      What is wrong with going after unions?

      • ThresherK

        Forty hour weeks? Child labor laws? I won’t go on.

        Yep, those robber barons gave in on those issues out of the goodness of their hearts.

        • William

          Which “robber barons” are you talking about? The UAW ones that took 10 billion from the shareholders of GM? Or the ones that created the jobs that built this country? Sure, there were abuses, but in the end, many more people were uplifted. I wish we had more of those “robber barons” and less of those union thugs.

          • ThresherK

            All the regular suspects. And the UAW got all the government bailouts? News to me. Of course, much of what you consider fact is news to a lot of us here.

          • Desotelc

            What thugs. Come to the 21st century that was the 1970 it is 2011.

      • Desotelc

        Our right to a voice!!!

  • ThresherK

    “Some critics say Wisconsin didn’t have a budget crisis before Walker cut taxes…”

    “Some critics say”? Tom, plenty of regular, knowledgable economists are saying this, too.

    So, Tommy Thompson, many a folks’ idea of a “reasonable Republican”, AND a Manhattan Instituter sucking on that right-wing welfare?

    I’m concerned that this will be a wasted hour.

  • Reverend Mark

    What would ‘Fighting Bob’ LaFollette say about rolling back progressivism? He is rolling over in his grave.

  • Charles

    Charles, Jamaica Plain

    I just read an article in the NY Times about monetary support from the Koch brothers front organization, Americans for Prosperity, being given to the anti-union side. It seems that this debate is being used by Republicans to sow discord among public and private sector workers, who are generally working and middle class people, to take the focus away from the income disparity that has exploded in the last decade.

  • http://twitter.com/GeekHillbilly Keith Smith

    Politifact gives PANTS ON FIRE rating to GOV Walkers claim on budget deficit and public unions.He’s lying through his teeth.This fight is a GOP power grab that will fail.Plus Walker will face a recall aSAP

  • NRPjunky

    Why are unions afraid of democratic rights? What is wrong with union members deciding every year if they want to reup for union membership and due payment?

    • Alan Shulman, NH

      Like the old song says, “The boss won’t listen when one man squawks, but he’s got to listen when the union talks.” If one could count on companies dealing with their employees fairly, not replacing union members with scabs, not locking out union members, then maybe you’d have an argument for worker individual democratic rights. But the only way a union has any chance is by providing a united front against corporate abuse. Have there been union abuses? Of course, as there are in every segment of human endeavor. But remember where we have come from historically; it’s almost exactly one hundred years ago when the Shirt Waist Factory fire occurred in NYC with young women, trapped by their employer who had locked the factory doors so that they couldn’t escape from the conflagration, jumped to their death from the factory windows. That is corporations without unions.

      • DesoteLC

        This is actually the point!!!!!

    • Alan Shulman, NH

      Like the old song says, “The boss won’t listen when one man squawks, but he’s got to listen when the union talks.” If one could count on companies dealing with their employees fairly, not replacing union members with scabs, not locking out union members, then maybe you’d have an argument for worker individual democratic rights. But the only way a union has any chance is by providing a united front against corporate abuse. Have there been union abuses? Of course, as there are in every segment of human endeavor. But remember where we have come from historically; it’s almost exactly one hundred years ago when the Shirt Waist Factory fire occurred in NYC with young women, trapped by their employer who had locked the factory doors so that they couldn’t escape from the conflagration, jumped to their death from the factory windows. That is corporations without unions.

  • Mike in PA

    Tom: Everybody is missing the point. Sure everyone has to take cuts. But what is being avoided in the debate is the fact that these pensions were not put in a LOCK-BOX!! The reason that the states are now going back and hammering the unions is because the representatives and unions failed to force the state and localities to secure those pensions. If they had put this money aside annually instead of opening it up for other expenditures, we would be dealing with much much much less of a problem!

    -Mike in PA

    • William

      WI pension and medical for the union members were just unaffordable. The gov. should take it one step further and put all the state workers on a 401 type retirement system and eliminate the current pension system.

  • Dave in CT

    Lets control our knee-jerks, and be aware that we are talking about collective bargaining for PUBLIC employees, not private employees.

    A different ball of wax. Why overgeneralize? Partisan base rousing?

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/37000401/FDR-Opposes-Federal-Unions

  • paj/ Ipswich

    Please explain why fire and police unions were exempt from Scott Walker’s budget cutting?

    • Concerned

      Governor said he didn’t want them to strike and not show up for fires, medical emergencies, etc. To me that’s just a free ticket to ask for anything they want!

      • Dave in CT

        Exactly. The kind of hostage holding whether it be from Labor/State or Financial Sector, that we are too timid to control for the sake of the rest of our Liberty and financial sustainability.

  • Concerned

    State workers just have to show up for work, can’t be fired, get all the federal holidays off, get promotions and salaries via seniority and not hard work… what all do state workers NEED? Unions make for lazy workers and cost too much money in the long run. I’m with the Gov… we have to make CHANGES or everything will be the same. Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. America needs to change how we do things or nothing will change.

  • Wes

    The governor of Wisconsin created the financial crisis by cutting the taxes on the wealthy.

    Wes, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    • Wes

      For reference, here is a quote from a Wisconsin newspaper, The Appleton Post-Crescent:

      “For his first month in office, though, Walker’s been focused on spending money through tax cuts. Two tax cuts he’s already signed — along with one that’s passed the Assembly — would add about $117 million to the state’s budget problem over the next two years.”

      http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110201/APC0101/102010421/Wisconsin-Governor-Scott-Walker-signs-tax-cut-bill-into-law

      And here is a quote from ProPublica:

      “Walker claims the state is facing a $137 million shortfall, but in the middle of his budget repair bill’s storm, critics have accused him of manufacturing that deficit in the first place, citing a government report [3] that predicted Wisconsin could have ended the 2010-11 fiscal year with a surplus.

      “Opponents of Walker’s proposal have been quick to blame the deficit on a series of tax break measures [4] he pushed through earlier this year. But while those tax cuts will cost the state nearly $140 million next year, the Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan state agency that provides budgetary and economic data to the Wisconsin legislature, said the state will actually have a modest surplus this year.”

      http://www.propublica.org/article/cheat-sheet-whats-really-going-on-with-wisconsins-budget

      Wes, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • NPRjunky

    Union members should have to write a check to pay their dues as opposed to the union forcing the state to garnish the members’ wages for due payment.

    • TerryTreeTree

      NPRjunky, If you research it, I’ll bet you find the Union member makes a check-off to pay Union dues, NOT the state garnishing the wages! I pay mine by check, as I do other bills, and purchases. No one forces me to pay Union dues, as I live and work in a Right to Work state. Please, for your own sake, get the facts straight. You wouldn’t want to live in ignorance, would you? Terry

  • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

    I would like someone to explain what the police would have done if they had found any of the skipping legislators. Would they arrested them for hooky? Forcibly made them enter the chamber to yield a quorum?

    This is an orchestrated (from on high) ploy to destroy unions to further erode workers rights. The timing of everything is just to creepy, redistricting again will be controlled by the republicans. They have no moral qualms. tommy thompson nothing but poison form his forked tongue!

  • Anonymous

    SHOCKING LEVEL OF INFLUENCE EXPOSED: UNION BOSS TRUMKA TALKS TO WHITE HOUSE EVERY DAY AND VISITS A COUPLE TIMES A WEEK

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/shocking-level-of-influence-exposed-union-boss-trumka-talks-to-white-house-every-day-and-visits-a-couple-times-a-week/

    • Dave in RI

      Yes, absolutely shocking! Only rich people should be allowed to talk to the White House.

    • Desotelc

      He could not visit the last 8 years. They were to busy getting us in to wars!!!! This Is about The rich and the middle class!!!!! Where were you when we spent billions in Iraq. Not a word was said. Now we are going to go after are own people turning them aginst each other. Is walker taking a cut! The 117 Million take breaks for business are an addition. So the worker must pay!!!!

    • Conrad

      Well try this out namefromIowa: The Wisconsin State Employees Union (allegedly a total tool of the Democrats remember) actually endorsed Tommy Thompson during one of his campaigns for Gov!

  • NRPjunky

    As a taxpayer, I am against collective bargaining by state workers. There are so many civil servant protections, union representation for state workers makes no sense whatsoever!

  • Robin

    Why did they give tax breaks to corporate?
    Over 80% of them don’t pay anything but they sure want services, make them pay!

  • ThresherK

    Tommy Thompson thinks “Americans are taxed way over what they’re capable of” paying, at about 10:28? He’s been huffing from the WSJ OpEd bag. He should talk to someone who isn’t a teabagger or depends on riling them up.

  • NRPjunky

    Why should a collective group of workers salary go up by more than inflation?

  • emma106

    This is another Republican divide and conquer tactic, a sound bite that pits the middle class against itself. How many times have we heard them say “These public employees get much more than private industry workers.” That is how they think they are going to destroy the unions. The private industry workers didn’t want to pay union dues and these cuts in pensions is the result. Industrial workers are angry on so many levels and they somehow believe that the rich will help them … like they have since 2007. The coffers of the rich and corporations are full. The stock market is up. The rich are getting richer. Walker gave tax cuts to the rich supposedly to bring more jobs to Wisconsin for people who work with their hands.
    But we manage to find a way to blame teachers and state employees. Why? Because we didn’t like them when they forced us to learn when we were kids? …possibly. Because we can only feel real jealousy of those who are most like us? … possibly. We don’t seem to focus on the real problem, and the Republicans have played us because of it.

  • NRPjunky

    Wisconsin is losing jobs and population. Union demands are breaking the back of the middleclass taxpayer.

    • ThresherK

      Demand like “We’ll give those financial things up like you asked for”.

    • Desotelc

      Not true the union states are in much better shape than right to work states. Want to move to mississippi or alabama? Not not union friendly lots of unemployment.

  • dave

    Is the Gov. asking for the elimination collective bargaining rights for all state workers, or is it just the Democratic friendly workers(teachers etc.). Is he asking the same for workers such as Police Firefighters, and other security services more friendly to republicans.

  • Robin

    No unions? Look at labor in China-apple computer saw what happens even with the best interests in mind.

    • Anonymous

      We are different than China because we have 100s of government agencies that look after our well being like the EPA. There are so many that Unions in the US are not needed, or the government agencies are not needed.

      • ThresherK

        The EPA, like the one full of Bush cronies, that laxed the BP Gulf Oil spill into existence? Or the EPA in Cancer Alley in Louisiana? Or the Mine Safety depts of KY and WV, totally owned and paid for by the Massey and other big mining interests?

        After the knot you twisted yourself into defending the EPA, you’re gonna need chiropractic.

      • Desotelc

        Not true. The law does not protect the people just the corporations. How bout LLC Limited Liability Company. You are not exempt from liability but a business is. How is that for protection!!!

  • Witterquick

    Good idea to get the labor expense in the public sector under control. Unfair not to include the State Patrol, Police and Fire Unions. They also are public employees who have benefits that are not in line with the public sector both in health insurance and retirement.

  • Monk1300

    I’m from Wisconsin, eliminating collective bargaining rights does nothing to help the budget. One of the republican state senators called for a compromise of eliminating it for 2 years, and then reintroducing the rights. But the governor didn’t want to take the compromise, because that unions cause these deficits. Most economist would agree that unions don’t cause these deficits.

  • Julie

    Can you please discuss the Koch brothers involvement in Wisconsin, i.e. they were the largest contributer to the Walker campaign

  • Cathy Etheridge

    I’m wondering how many times the Wisconsin state supreme court and the US supreme court have decided the issue of the right to collective bargaining. It seems the Scott Walker is making a political issue of a right that is long established.
    If evangelical Scott Walker has no reverence for long established US legal principles, perhaps he might have some modicum of of respect for what it actually says in the Bible: (most Evangelicals do not). In Deuteronomy, Luke and Mark it says, “A worker deserves his wages.” By the way, evanagelical Walker, no where in the Bible does it prohibit birth control. Evangelicals actually are not Christians.
    Sunderland, MA

    • Conrad in WI

      Like I said in an earlier reply, Walker’s giving Baptist Preacher’s sons and Eagle Scouts a bad name….he’s both!

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

    Why are people in the United States still missing the point that our middle class is shrinking along with our democracy; it used to be the Republicans tried to split the working poor from the middle class poor. With that effectively accomplished, now the goal is to split the middle class between union-represented government workers and union-represented private sector workers. Soon enough, the wealthy will run out middle-class people to pit against each other with Koch money. What then, do the poor watch the rich eat each other?

  • Shellburne

    Along with Charles from JP, I would like someone to address the role of Americans for Prosperity in this debate. It seems like the Koch brothers are always on the sidelines when it comes to anything that tips the money scales in favor of the very rich and away from the already severely beleaguered working and middle class.

    • Scott B., Jamestown NY

      The Koch bros. also want to see and end to the minimum wage, saying that it’s holding back better wages. Has anyone ever seen big business pay more when they can pay less?

  • Dave in CT

    I’m ready for a grand bargain.

    Jail the financial sector CEOs.

    Tax the elite corrupt class m/billionaires who fleeced us through corporate/Congress/Fed Reserve collusion.

    Dump the PUBLIC sector collective bargaining as even FDR agreed.

    Don’t tolerate the corporate corruption.

    Don’t tolerate the public sector gluttony (where it is occurring)

    • Anonymous

      Dave, What communist country did you come from? If you dislike the freedom that capitalism gives you why don’t you go to one of your communist paradises?

      • Dave in CT

        Freedom? Freedom to corrupt free markets by collusion between the state and capital?

        Failing to see that makes you an enemy of free, competitive markets (libertarian goal) and more like a fascist (neocon republican goal)

  • NRPjunky

    Union pensions and benefits are crushing the middleclass taxpayer. It has to stop here!

    • Desotelc

      This is true, but compromise can be had. The unions have agreed to take a cut. The fact is a person with 4 yers of education should not ork for minimum wage.

  • Pilgrim05

    We should all share the burden of getting the country back to a fiscally stable state. BUT I would like to know just how the upper income classes are joining in this effort. It seems like the total burden is being carried by the middle and lower classes. In fact the lower you are in the income category, the greater sacrifices you must bear.

  • Dave in CT

    Yes, tax the Hedge fund guys.

    Lets all agree, Left, Right, Tea Party and just do it! Stop with the petty crap, and concentrate.

    We all (except crony Republicans and Wall St Democrats) want to see accountability to the corrupt elite class, so lets join forces and DEMAND some accountability for once.

  • Karen in Newton

    Please discuss why the police and fire unions are not included. Seems like this is blatant politics at its worst. I have a problem with many of our public unions but this is not the way to handle it.

    • Dave in CT

      Regardless of them being decent, valuable people to society, they are in practice, holding us as hostage to financial sustainability as the finance sector.

    • Desotelc

      I agree make cuts equa, But do not strip barganing rights. the unions do need to change some of the ways they go about business.
      I think this is the first step in wisconsin to kill the middle class. Open for Business for minimum wage!!! How do you create a tax base. All you have now are more people on bagercare. More crime, and resentment!!! The one percent will get richer and the rest will be poorer. The Unions need to have a 21st century labor movement the right way.

    • Conrad in WI

      Here’s a couple reasons:
      First, historically, governments always need the police during times of (expected) labor “unrest”. Walker all but skipped that step however (by saying in the same address that he announced these moves) that the National Guard was on standby. (They’ve also contracted with Dunbar, an Ohio-based “private security firm)
      Second, some of the state’s police and fire associations did endorse him but those were largely confined to his geographic base of support: the “white flight” counties that surround Milwaukee.

  • NRPjunky

    Union workers cannot be fired for poor performance. The employee’s situation is reviewed in an 18-month process of hearings through which the worker is paid.

    • Pilgrim05

      Who on Wall Street, or in the financial sector in general, was fired for their poor performance in causing the national, and indeed, world wide financial crisis? Union incompetence is minor compared to the incompetence and outright fraud/cheating by the honchos in big business.

  • Desmith

    I would like to know why if we are all needing to sacrifice during these very hard times, why are the very people we elect to serve not sacrificing? They vote there own raises have guaranteed health care after serving, AND a pension.Tell me about sacrifice!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Dave, Boone, Iowa.

  • Illinois fan

    See On Point April 28, 2008, tough times for American workers

  • NPRjunky

    There are fewer than 20 hedge fund managers in Wisconsin, you can’t balance the budget on them. We need to end the wasteful spending and give states more flexibility in their staffing choices.

    • Scott B, Jamestown, NY

      Like when Ryan fired union security people from the capitol building and hired a private security contracting firm. It was ruled that he couldn’t do it, the guy in charge of security at the capitol building is a convicted felon, it cost them more, the fired people were rehired with back pay, and is going to cost almost half a million dollars more in coming legal fees. Yeah, that’s saving money.

  • Markcoman

    Public unions have to much bargaining power. I work for a public school and I won’t join the union because I don’t think it’s fair that some one just starting can be bumped out of their position if another person who has seniority wants that position. Raises should be given do to performance, not how long you have been working. The unions cost tax payers Millions of dollars.

  • ThresherK

    It’s refreshing to see that the mainstream media, right-wing propaganda, and helpless-to-resist NPR are covering an event with fewer than one reporter for every three tea-partiers.

  • ThresherK

    It’s refreshing to see that the mainstream media, right-wing propaganda, and helpless-to-resist NPR are covering an event with fewer than one reporter for every three tea-partiers.

  • Jordan Davies

    The New York Times reported today that the Koch brothers support a group called Americans for Prosperity, created and funded by the brothers Koch. Tim Phillips, the president of this group was in Wisconsin to meet with a large group of counter protesters. The Koch brothers was one of the biggest contributors to Governor Walker’s campaign.

    • Dave in CT

      And somebody was the biggest contributor to Obama’s campaign???

      So? Rich people of all stripes support ideas of all stripes. One is “right” and one is “wrong” depending on if they agree with you?

    • Dave in CT

      And somebody was the biggest contributor to Obama’s campaign???

      So? Rich people of all stripes support ideas of all stripes. One is “right” and one is “wrong” depending on if they agree with you?

    • ThresherK

      “Americans for Prosperity”? Aren’t they a prime Astroturf group for teabaggers?

      • Anonymous

        Yep!

  • Sara Nerenhausen

    This is about stripping away the voice of the middle class. It is a power shift and has nothing to do with deficits. If the private working class does not think this will have powerful ramifications on them, they need to look hard at their situation. The bill is all about shifting power, taking away the rights of the working class to voice opinions on how money, when it becomes available, will be spent. Medicaid is also a point in this bill. Anyone with a child with special needs should be speaking up also. This is not only about unions!

  • Grant_cook

    I general, part of this is mistrust of unions as a special interest. Look at donations at the state and local level – AFCSME, SEIU throw millions into getting their candidates elected, candidates that will sit across from them at the negotiating table. Then add in a resistance to effectiveness – firing poor teachers, live toll takers when automation makes more sense, unions seem to have become protectors of their status quo..

  • Grant_cook

    I general, part of this is mistrust of unions as a special interest. Look at donations at the state and local level – AFCSME, SEIU throw millions into getting their candidates elected, candidates that will sit across from them at the negotiating table. Then add in a resistance to effectiveness – firing poor teachers, live toll takers when automation makes more sense, unions seem to have become protectors of their status quo..

  • Markcoman

    Unions are important in the private sector. but have too much power in the public sector.

  • Markcoman

    Unions are important in the private sector. but have too much power in the public sector.

  • Michiganjf

    Corporations have finally succeeded in creating a mnidless moron corps of gullible conservative imbeciles to do their bidding in the name of “ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT MY SIDE WINS, DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES FOR MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA.”

  • Clive

    Minimum wage work deserves minimum wages.
    Elections have consequences!
    Obama should worry more about his problems, and he’s got gigantic budget ones.
    Democratic senators are anti-democracy.

  • Dave in CT

    Have we distinguished between PUBLIC and PRIVATE sector unions yet, or is keeping the idea blurred just too productive for Democrats?

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/37000401/FDR-Opposes-Federal-Unions

  • Anonymous

    As we think and talk about this issue, let’s keep the numbers in mind. Here are two excerpts from a comprehensive AP report in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday which speak to the incomprehensibility of what Governor Walker and the Republicans in that state are insisting on.

    “Wisconsin faces a $137 million budget shortfall by July. The concessions Walker seeks from the state workers would save $30 million over four months. He would balance the budget this year mainly through refinancing debt.

    “The increased pension and health benefit costs would save Wisconsin $300 million over the next two years, which would help buy down a projected $3.6 billion shortfall.”

    And this, a few paragraphs later:

    “Walker has been in hyper-drive, calling the Legislature into special session the day he took the oath of office and asking them to pass tax cuts for businesses, make sweeping lawsuit reform and other changes. He got everything of consequence that he wanted.

    “The business tax cuts he pushed through added about $117 million to the projected two-year deficit, fanning anger among Democrats and unions that Walker argues he has to target public employees to balance the budget when he’s found money for the tax breaks.”

    There is an enormous difference between “reasoning together” over a budget crunch and leaving reasoning out of it altogether. The governor has been completely unresponsive to the people affected by the people who are being sacrificed for the sake of “balancing the budget when he’s found money for the tax breaks.”

    This is a political discussion, a partisan political discussion. Let’s not pretend it’s about sane budgetary considerations. There’s no sanity here at all, just political egos. Governor Walker has a history of driving relentlessly on the wrong side of the road and winding up in the ditch.

    “As county executive for eight years before elected governor, Walker never proposed a higher property tax levy than what was approved. To pay for that, he repeatedly sought to impose wage and benefit concessions on county workers, but was blocked by the unions and Democratic-controlled county board.”

    • Robert203040

      Agree this is only a start — but as the saying goes, “300m here, and 300m there, and pretty soon, you are talking ‘real money’…”

      Yes it is one step. But if the Dems flee the state and don’t come home to properly debate and vote, how the heck is anything else going to get done?

      The other issue is that good public sector workers are tainted by the bad ones — the California town which paid themselves $800k salaries, the abuses of fire, police and transportation workers here in Mass, the politicians caught cheating, the John Kerrys who buy their little sailing toys in Italy, ignoring New England ship-building industry, and then hiding the yacht in Rhode Island to avoid the taxes. Sheesh, no wonder taxpayers (ALL of us!) are p.o.’ed.

      • TerryTreeTree

        Robert, The California town people you are referring to were ELECTED officials who set their own salaries, like State Legislators, and U.S. Legislators (who gave themselves a $35,000 raise in one year) , not Union, or Non-Union public employees, who’s wages and benefits are negotiated with those same Legislators who set their own pay.
        If you cannot get this right, what can you?

  • Whtlnefvr

    Harley … you mention that Massachusetts is not in trouble? Boston is paying it’s firefighters over 74K per year. You are misguided. Our sales tax has risen in the past year by 20%. Don’t hold up Massachusetts as an example of a place that isn’t being overrun by state and municipal employees.

  • Frank Rigg

    To what extent has the general loss of pension and health benefits in the American workforce been a result of employees failing to support the union movement?

  • Monk1300

    Minimum wage work deserves minimum wages. Like teaching, like going to college getting a masters degree and getting minimum wage?

  • Hsimmonds

    I read in one of the newspape political.rs that the police and firefighters who supported the governor’s campaign were exempt from this legislation. Does anyone know whether this is correct? If this is so, how blatantly

  • Asf

    Did everyone suddenly forget that public workers are tax payers too? I’m so sick of hearing about how the private sector has to pay so much in taxes, blah blah blah, to support public workers. Both my parents were public school teachers in Wisconsin. We weren’t exempt from taxes.

  • geffe

    One thing that is being over looked here is that Walker has kept the collective bargaining for the Police and Fire unions. This is not about unions it’s about payback for the unions that did not support him.

  • Clive

    I believe Walker is quoting Obama when he says, “I won.” Obama railroaded his agenda through. Give Walker his chance!

    • ThresherK

      All those meetings with the most obstructionist “60 is the new 51″ Congress in history is your idea of “railroading”.

      • Conrad in WI

        Right on Thresherk! Almost an equivalent comparison to what Walker is trying to do (to “ram through”) would have been if the Obama Adminstration, two weeks after taking office, spared us the folly of a years worth of “bipartisanship” and “Play nice!” comments during the Heath (Insurance) Reform efforts, and simply NATIONALIZED every Doctor, clinic, hospital and health insurance company.

  • Scott B, Jamestown, NY

    How does Tommy Thompson say he has nothing against unions, but wants them to give up collective bargaining? Without collective bargaining that effectively ends any strength the unions have.

    People need to go talk to their grandparents, great-grandparents if they have them, and talk to them about work-life before the 40 hours week, weekends, child labor laws, and the rest of the things that Americans have come to know as their work rights. Ask them about getting their heads cracked open by batons and blackjacks, or shot at, by police and company goons.

  • Gary Trees in Iowa

    This, with the Conservatism 101 hour…shaping up to be bloodbath Tuesday.

    • Anonymous

      Conservatives are not violent as the tea party movement has shown. Leftists are quite the opposite as many union protests have shown.

      • Gary Trees in Iowa

        Bloodbath, of course, being used rhetorically.

      • ThresherK

        To any conservative who wasn’t out in front of the violence about teabaggers back then–talking about that violence when they were riveting TV that Fox and Limbaugh were whoring to a fare-thee-well, and the mainstream media were powerless to cover them at a rate of, say, one reporter for every three attendees:

        You’re trying to have it both ways.

        This is a “you” problem, right-wingers, not a “we” (rest of America, moderates, left-wingers, mainstream media) problem.

  • Rjk183

    When my tax dollars are being used to bail out private industry, I must ask why (as a shareholder) aren’t these employees wages and benefits being scrutinized? It’s time to reevaluate our (the USA) foreign aid policies, and why are we purchasing helicopters from Russia to give to Afghanistan. This was explained in the WSJ as a way to help stabilize the Russia economy. I’d say that the domestic economy could be better served by selling products built by American labor.

  • Greyfoxvt

    Look, if they have a 10% budget deficit, cut ALL government spending 10%…for ALL spending, including govt. salaries, etc. Deficit gone in one year! Simple!

  • geffe

    This woman is wrong. Wrong! Tom ask her the hard questions.
    Please.

  • John

    My understanding is that Wisconsin just had a tax reduction. Nationally the Bush era tax cuts were extended even to the wealthiest among us. At the same time we see wealth further accumulating amongst the wealthiest. Yet we ask the lower paid public workers to sacrifice.

    What many American workers don’t realize or have forgotten is that today’s working conditions are the result of the union movement. In fact, if the unions had remained strong over the years, especially in the private sector maybe the countries wealth would be more fairly distributed.

  • Wes

    Eliminating unions would accelerate the race to the bottom, depressing wages for everyone.

    Wes, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    • Robert

      Wes, we are facing a global competition where the playing field is very different. Not good, but how does the US “afford” to maintain our high standard of living if we buy goods from those countries producing cheap inventory with inadequate wages/benes?

      We do need to innovate. Tell me how well our educationial system is doing that? How good is any of our governments (US, State, Local)? I see huge problems in both arenas — if the great salaries and benes of the last two decades did not attract top people, who in turn at least began working on the “fixes,” then we have to admit it is not working. I don’t know the solution, but when we have way too many deficits and not immediate resources, we find ‘em by cutting back on our costs. I accept higher taxes for me, too, IF our government can show it is heading in the right direction. Capping excessive comp/benes for public sector is a great first step.

      • http://abellia.myopenid.com/ abellia

        Competing for jobs with other countries is a myth. Do you want to work in a crappy factory making crap for people in other countries? I don’t. It’s not even about education – ask the young engineers in Cairo and Tunisia about that.

        The US has the capacity to feed, clothe and house its people without everyone working. But this is good. People have the opportunity to find “work” that fulfills them and hopefully uplifts society without wasting resources or producing things that people don’t want or need. Jobs don’t have to be about making stuff. They don’t even have to be about providing service to others.

        We have to come to the understanding that through our productivity we have created a world that allows more free time and more time for personal productivity. We just need to find a reasonable way to distribute the necessary resources (food, shelter, etc.) that allows this to happen. How about a 32 hour work week? How about a real minimum wage? How about making the government the employer of last resort? Those that live off the work of others will complain, but it can make us all stronger and happier.

        P.S. – The budget of the federal government is nothing like your budget as the federal government is allowed to make and destroy the money. If only it realized the potential of this power…

  • Sarah in Iowa

    Scott Walker just LOST A LAWSUIT for firing union security guards because of a “budget crisis” that didn’t exist.

    http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/rachel-maddow-reveals-governor-walker-s-r-wi-past-with-unions-video

    • Anonymous

      Using Maddow as a reference shows your bias… She is a political hack that no one in the middle watches.

      http://politifact.com/personalities/rachel-maddow/

    • Beverly

      That’s great news. Thanks. Maybe justice is still alive, though gasping for breath, in America.

      Do you think it will ever return to Iowa?

    • Conrad in WI

      Yup—he pulled this crap as County Exec in Milwaukee. He’s giving Baptist Preacher’s sons and Eagle Scouts a bad name. (He’s both!)

  • ThresherK

    Annnnd, here’s the Heritage hack:

    “The percentage of private sector workers who ‘choose’ to belong to unions…”
    “Americans are preferring to not join unions.”

    I’ll concern myself with what FDR said about public sector collective bargaining when the GOP comes back to giving a crap about governenace.

    Tom, she’s embarrassing your show. Why did you someone from there?

  • Gordy

    People, including politicians, generally do what their bosses tell them to do.
    In the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000′s, the politicians’ bosses – the voters – told them to expand government and also hold down labor costs…at least labor costs that could lead to tax increases.
    So the politicians did what their bosses told them to do – they avoided tax increases by promising public employees good benefits if they’d work for lower wages than those available to the private sector. Public employees agreed, and negotiated contracts to that effect. In effect the voters’ employees, politicians, put off the costs of the benefits to the future – the future is now.
    The public employees put off a higher wage, and have every right to expect the public and politicians to keep their contractually enforcable promises.
    ” We have found the enemy, … and he is us.”

  • John

    Americans aren’t moving to anti-union states because they are anti-union. The corporations moved the jobs and the people followed the jobs.

    • Anonymous

      Either way, Union friendly states are not business or middle class friendly. If this wasn’t the case, Detroit would be the poster child for middle class success.

      • Craig from Omaha

        Detroit’s problems came from poor, short-sided management and a mix heavy on poor, uncompetitive products, not the UAW. Witness GM’s defunct Hummer Division, the Chevy SSR retro sport pick-up with a Corvette engine, and a glut of heavy, chasis on frame, truck-based SUVs. Now that former GM CEO Rick Wagoner and his bunch have been kicked out, the company is recovering. Just go down to your local showroom and test drive the Chevy Cruise, the first quality small sedan that GM has built here. Or check out the new Buick Regal, a quality mid-sized sedan that can compete head to head with the best from Acura or Audi. Or the new Cadillac CTS with a fully-independent suspension and a fuel-efficient V6. By the way, both of the Cruise and the Regal were designed by GM’s German subsidiary, Opel — and the first batch of 2011 Regals were manufactured by Opel in Rüsselsheim. Or take note of new unibodied SUVs – the completely redesigned Ford Exploreer and Jeep Cherokee with improved V6 fuel ecomomy and much better sales than the gas hog models they replaced.

        • Craig Ellisor

          And I thought I was Craig from Omaha.. lol

  • David

    Just as one of your guests on a recent show pointed out, these right wing republicans are trying to turn the middle class against itself and distract us from the real problem – the super rich and near rich not paying their share to support our society. I hear this in many of the caller statements – the public workers have everything and I in the private sector have very little. THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM!! The top 1% of our society hold 23% of the income. THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!!! The republicans and their cohorts are still trying to take us back to the days before F. Roosevelt. Praises be to the brave people of Wisconsin for standing up for rights that workers in my state, Virginia, do not have. And we still have state budget problems.

    • William

      The Republicans, some of them, are trying to stop the eventual destruction of our country. We have to stop spending money on programs that are not affordable. Non-union middle class workers have been under attack by the unions for decades. We cannot afford these “Lexus” type public servants any longer.

      • Craig from Omaha

        The Republicans need to return to their Main Street business roots as exhibited during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Instead they have given us “trickle down” economics and tax cuts and tax breaks for the ultra-rich. Those remaining moderate Republicans need to repudiate the talk radio shills – mostly former radio DJs with little if any education beyond high school – and their television counterparts from Rupert Mudoch’s media empire.

      • Scott B., Jamestown NY

        The only “public servants” I see driving Lexuses are the legislators. I don’t know that a Wisc. teacher, whose average pay is just over $50K@yr, is going to be driving a $60K car.

    • Scott B., Jamestown NY

      The 400 wealthiest people in the US have more wealth than 50% of population combined. Yet dollar for dollar they pay less taxes. Yes, let’s place the blame and burden on unions, the poor, working, and middle classes, that’ll fix everything.

    • Beverly

      Besides, if they’re jealous of union workers, being petty & vindictive isn’t the answer. All they have to do is start a union at their workplace.

      They can read “State of the Unions”, by Dr. Phillip M. Dine, which I’m really pushing here, hoping to educate the masses.

  • Monk1300

    The Economic Policy Institute says public workers are under-compensated 8% to their private-sector counterparts.

  • Markcoman

    Unions are important in the private sector. but have too much power in the public sector.

    • Beverly

      Unions are almost non-existent in the private sector, so how would you know? (All unions are equally powerful, by the way.)

      Republicans said unions are bad, (for them & their equally rich pals, that is, but somehow they left that part out), & some gormless middle class Americans bought it, bringing about their own demise.

      P. T. Barnum was right, you know.

  • Scotthayward

    I’m confused. Who is right and who is wrong that public sector employees make 10% more or 10% less than private sector employees.

    Tommy Thompson says that the workers in Wisconsin are still going to be able to collectively bargain. I thought this was about the Governor taking this right away. again I’m confused.

    • Conrad in WI

      It’s less and no they won’t (other than only to bargain for wages and that would be limited to only any inflation via the CPI)

      As for Thompson—see my post above Conrad

  • http://abellia.myopenid.com/ abellia

    Please don’t have Diana Furchtgott-Roth on anymore. She adds nothing. She spouts propaganda without fact.

  • Dave in RI

    The only way for powerless individuals to get on a footing with powerful individuals is to join together. Any attempt to weaken, dismantle or restrict the power of unions is a blatant attack on the rights of all working class people, whether you belong to a union or not.

  • Dave in CT

    The US is done.

    We will go bankrupt.

    Our sense of entitlement on so many levels, well beyond partisan politics, is just impossible to sustain, and our resistance to change far to strong.

    We will go 3rd, or at least 2 1/2nd world status, race to the bottom, because we are so ashamed of any idea of exceptionalism and defending it. Not by birth, but by choices of self-government, liberty, hard work, getting educated, individual responsibility, initiative, sacrifice etc….

    Once our little experiment in liberty and protection, and celebration of the individual is gone, and all power once again flows back to the faceless big state, that brief blip in time will be gone. And we won’t be able to get it back.

    Don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.

    And our sense of deserving so much, and being cowards in the face of the reality of a harsh universe of scarcity is the cause.

    Blame the financial elite who have gamed the system via the state, and the rest of us who are so afraid of personal responsibility and competitive markets, that we beg for a big state to guarantee a good life, but that ultimately is corrupted by the elite and acts against us. We need to accept the natural trajectory of big state and big money power, and embrace liberty concepts that speak a language of being vigilant against them, not hoping for a benevolent dictatorship.

  • Clive

    My rights are being attacked by having to support the bloated wages and benefits of unionized state workers!

  • Das41

    Where did Diana Furchtgott-Roth take her graduate statistics classes? Her knowledge of wage data is pretty shameful.

    • Gamil

      Prove her wrong

  • Pilgrim05

    There are many more German unions which are much stronger than our unions. German workers are among the highest paid in the world, and yet with all of this Germany has the highest ratio of export to GDP in the world. They are very competitive because the unions have hindered the off shoring of their jobs. We let businesses move anywhere they want without thinking about what is good for the nation.

  • Monk1300
  • Guest

    Gov. Tommy Thompson stated ‘Gov. Walker isn’t taking away unions rights to collectively bargain.’ And then almost under his breath, ‘They can continue to bargain for lower wages.’ Excuse me? Why don’t they pass a law that CEO’s and management must negotiate new contracts, but only for lower wages and benefits . . . particularly since they’re the ones who sucked the life out of the economy in the first place? I also noted “Tony,” originally from Wisconsin, was calling from Florida. Is what’s good for Tony — that which allowed him to retire in Florida — not good for the gander (union members)?

    • ThresherK

      Now, Guest, let’s remember that Tommy Thompson is what passes for a centrist Republican nowadays.

      • Conrad A

        You’re right…see my post above (about 15 minutes ago?–not the one just above yours)

    • Rad in Wisconsin

      Hmmm…I didn’t get the impression that he had retired there….might have missed it though. I was trying to call in…lol.

  • Clive

    Why is this labor hack on the whole hour? His ignorance is painful.

  • ben

    Did Diana just say that the US should be MORE business friendly?
    Is she insane? It doesn’t get anymore friendly than this.

  • ThresherK

    Tom, you found the need to interrupt your Heritage guest mid-sentence. Think about that. Think about how seldom you feel the need to correct someone before they’ve completed a speech or paragraph.

    “Regulations are preventing business from creating jobs”.

    Why is this guest on your rolodex? What is she contributing, besides work for your fact-checkers?

    • Clive

      He pulled a Maddow because he disagreed with what she was saying. It didn’t conform to his world view.

      • ThresherK

        As in “Rachel Maddow is the only interviewer who interrupts guests”, or “Rachel Maddow is the only interviewer who interrupts right-wing-welfare thinktankers?

        Maybe I’ve seen a different Fox News than you.

  • Cya

    If the highest income classes continue to work towards denying average American’s their rights- We will all end up like Egypt. Riot in the streets and an unfixable situation. LAY-OFF Middle- America or risk destroying the country that you say you love.

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  • BHA

    I work at a US company with about 100K US workers. We are not unionized. Our jobs are going to ‘low cost countries’. I agree that unions pushing for ‘total compensation’ that is un-affordable to a company COULD push jobs ‘overseas’ but that is not the only reason it is done. Cheaper = cheaper whether or not there is collective bargaining involved.

  • Almason3

    I for one recall the statement of prominent republican strategist Grover Norquist: “reduce the size of government to the point you could drown it in a bathtub”. The face in the bathtub is that of government workers in Wisconsin.

    Al Mason
    Deerfield MA

  • geffe

    What about the Germany? They have strong unions and they are doing pretty well. Diana Furchtgott-Roth is nothing but a shill for the right.
    This idea that we need to make America more business friendly is a load of BS. This is about the wealthy taking more and the rest of are going to be told to shut up. Harley Shaiken has it right, this is about union busting, period.

    • Craig from Omaha

      Yes, Germany has a trade surplus a national unemployment rate under seven percent. And companies are hiring – especially engineers and skilled technicians. There are cultural differences: German business owners are more likely to plow profits into the business while American ones (witness Meg Whitman during her tenure at eBay and her golden parachute) are greedy. Diana Furchtgott-Roth — please note her cultivated upper class English accent studied at Oxford after graduating from a snooty private woman’s college back East – was part of George W. Bush’s team of economic advisors — so she bears some responsibility for the economic mess that we are in.

    • Craig from Omaha

      Yes, Germany has a trade surplus a national unemployment rate under seven percent. And companies are hiring – especially engineers and skilled technicians. There are cultural differences: German business owners are more likely to plow profits into the business while American ones (witness Meg Whitman during her tenure at eBay and her golden parachute) are greedy. Diana Furchtgott-Roth — please note her cultivated upper class English accent studied at Oxford after graduating from a snooty private woman’s college back East – was part of George W. Bush’s team of economic advisors — so she bears some responsibility for the economic mess that we are in.

  • Daveydee2

    There are excellent conservative commentators. Diana Furchtgott-Roth is not one of them. She comes across as a person of both prejudice and ignorance. I like that you have conservative commentators, but please have ones that speak with knowledge and openness. Thank you.

    • Gamil

      Knowledge and openness being code for agree with me.

  • Gamil

    It’s the middle class that is paying for the incompetents who cannot be fired and are getting tens of thousands of pension and healthcare benefits for each year they push paper.

  • steve

    The center cannot hold.
    I instruct my kids to not say the pledge of allegiance.

    Opt out now.

    We have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind.

  • Newpaper Editor

    What is the point of having guests like Diana Furchtgott-Roth on your program when you refuse to allow them to give their POV. This happens often and dispels any thoughts that one might be listening to an unbiased program. On Point’s host talks over guests whose opinion he doesn’t want to hear in an effort to promote his own bias POV.

  • Michiganjf

    Corporations have finally succeeded in creating a mnidless moron corps of gullible conservative imbeciles to do their bidding in the name of “ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT MY SIDE WINS, DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES FOR MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA.”

    The American middle class is doomed by backward Republicans!

    • Bmichitson

      Your passion is hearting. The one obstacle to multi-nationals ( a group that Tea Party people seem to have no issue with), is their own huberis and arrogance.

  • Marlene

    The lack of understanding of the role of unions in the development of a true middle class in this country is mind boggling. Those who have brought this country to its collective knees want more, more, more…peons to work the ‘fields’, not partners in a greater USA.
    Marlene

  • Craig Ellisor

    Thank you for today’s show. I have rarely seen such a thorough discussion of this issue in today’s major media. I particularly appreciated the powerful arguments put forward by your guest Harley Shaiken.

    There was one thing that I’m not sure I understand. Harley did concede the point that Wisconsin is in crisis and did not (as I recall) bring up the Governor’s recent corporate tax cuts. And if there is a legitimate fiscal crisis going on in Wisconsin, how do you reconcile the following statement (Is John Nichols just lying about this?)?

    AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols, is their financial crisis in Wisconsin?

    JOHN NICHOLS: No, there is no financial crisis in Wisconsin. I am not the person saying that. The Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan agency, said that without Governor Walker’s tax cuts for big corporations that he passed last month, Wisconsin would have ended this year with a surplus.

    Also, State Senator, Fred Risser, the senior State Senator in our legislature, elected 1956, the guy who helped to sponsor the first law putting in collective bargaining back in 1959, still serving in the legislature, says there is absolutely no problem. Certainly, we’ve had a drop in revenues and we’re going to have to take cuts, we’re going to have to deal with stuff, but this is something that the legislature has dealt with many times in the past. It is easily done. What I think is important to point out, Fred Risser, a very dignified man in his mid-80s, who does not get angry and doesn’t shout about things, has said, “There’s not a crisis. Governor Walker is acting as a dictator to achieve political ends.”

    DemocracyNow! 2/22/11

    • Conrad in WI

      Craig, you might find it interesting that while Governor, the “anti tax and spend conservative” Tommy Thompson spent like a drunken sailor riding the economic boom of the 90s. When that source began to dry up he shuffled off to DC and the Bush Administration. And he left a $3.2 billion deficit for his Lt Gov to deal with (poorly). Let’s see, Walker says we’re looking at a $3.6 deficit going forward. I wonder how much of the $.4 billion difference can be attributed to a decade’s worth of inflation?

  • Clive

    The middle class is threatened by bloated state budgets. We will throw off this yoke of privilege for lazy state workers. It is time that they had to work.

    • Craig Ellisor

      I suppose you missed the part where Harley mentioned that on average state workers make less than private-sector workers?

      • Clive

        not when you include benefits

        • Craig Ellisor

          Actually he said that did include benifits. I guess I must listen closer than most?

        • Craig Ellisor

          It is a common ploy for the powerful to pit workers against eachother to create a wedge in these kinds of issues. Its been happening for about 100 years now. This argument completely plays into that.

        • Clive

          then he was just wrong on another point

        • Bmichitson

          Yes, when benefits are included.

        • Kaye

          Of course, about a third of those “benefits” are the same employer contributions to Social Security and workers’ compensation funds that are also paid by the private sector.

    • Bmichitson

      Clive, I find lazy folks everywhere. However, unions have made the mistake of protecting members who did not deserve it. But, eliminating unions, or deciding that all public workers are lazy, shows a lack of thought. When workers do not organize capital takes advantage of them. The historical record – recent as well as not so recent – is clear. Call a union action bad when its bad, but don’t elminate them. They are needed.

    • Kaye

      Spend a 6-hour day in a classroom full of 25 6-year-olds and teach them all how to read and add and do research on the internet. Make sure they don’t get in any fights and tie all their shoes and wipe all their noses. And, by the way, 4 of them don’t speak English and two need to be sent to the nurse at different times for their ADHD medication, if their parents remembered to send it. You can spend 15 minutes being lazy on your break, unless a parent calls or you need to talk to the school psychologist about the new student you are getting tomorrow who was just kicked out of private school for behavior issues. With any luck you might get a half an hour for lunch, but that’s only if you don’t set up the material for the hands-on science experiment you need to conduct this afternoon. If there is no faculty or committee meeting after school, you can either stay for a couple of hours checking all the work they did today or you can lug it home in a rolling suitcase because you have back problems from bending over little-kid-size desks all day.

      Then tell me about people who don’t work.

  • Richard

    How thrilling that you were able to unearth Marie Antoinette…hiding among us in the person of Diana Furchtgott-Roth. Her updated mantra might be:

    “Let them eat the scraps that fall from the plates of their betters!”

    FYI, the Big Three did not plummet primarily because of pension obligations. Long ago they stopped making cars that auto-philes wanted to buy.

  • Bmichitson

    Well, it looks like we have decided to consider employment in itself the point. If there are people who are willing to work at low wages and poor working conditions…then we should? When manufacturing leaves it is becasue more profit can be gained in places where the environment and the people are not protected. We are so obsessed with a business friendly stance, the idea of a labor friendly stance is not even considered. Unions have made many errors and shot themselves in the foot often, but without the unions capital will do what it does…seek profit.

    • Markcoman

      That is why Unions are important in the private sector, but in the public sector, there is no profit that drive the wage.

  • Varda

    Americans are fighting for their lives and you better be on our side!!!! WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

    Paul Krugman’s column in the Times yesterday is worthy of a close read:

    What’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite [Wisconsin Governor Scott] Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. 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.

    Indeed. He goes on:

    [I]t’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.

    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.

    Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions. 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.

    • Grady Lee Howard

      Are you Varda Burns who used to write on Moyers? Man, if you are, I’m very glad. You could email me at beretco.op@hotmail.com to talk. What the oligarchs say is that the rank and file can’t collude like them because they’re too poor, and don’t have any meaningful money anyway. But we outnumber them a hundred to one, and their troubles are only beginning.

  • Robert

    What is the growth rate of public sector employees? How much less competitive is the US b/c we have turned into a “service” economy? What level of “living standard” should US citizens expect in a global work force (where the bottom is way below US average — not advocating slave labor, but let’s face it, our hay day is over, Cheeseheads!)?

    Agree there has to be other options on the table:

    –more taxation at the top (but note many liberal economists admit, that pool is very small, and will not solve deficit woes; you have to move into meat of middle class to make significant revenue gains).

    –stiffer “concumption” taxes to both raise revenue from deeper pockets and to discourage “unproductive” purchases (alcohol/cigs, which increase other societal costs); but that will yield some offsetting cuts in luxury good jobs.

    –police and fire employees should be part of any “reform” — while many may be doing an honest days’ work (and facing danger/stress/health issues like no one else), the abuses like OT/detail work (when non-police but trained road crew people would do just fine), “fill-in-for-supervisor” pay hikes (but not trained or prepared to play that role), disability shenagans (fake doctor notes; twisted ankles but perfectly able to sit behind a desk and not be home on disability), EMT falsifying credentials, redundant officers appearing at courts when one is needed or requested (and caught w/forged paperwork) — most tricks used to goose compensation levels, miraculously in the 3 yrs just prior to retirement, resulting in pension abuse.

    The abuses have led to combat in state capitols. Purge the bad boys and girls, and maybe taxpayers won’t be so vicious in seeking change.

  • Angela Aldous

    My name is Angela Aldous, I’ve been a nurse for over 7 years and am very proud to say I’ve worked with cancer patients at UW Hospital for over 3 years.

    This bill will have an adverse impact on patient safety. By taking away collective bargaining you take away my voice at the workplace. This bill could reverse all of the advances that our union has made at the Hospital. We’ve fought for things like:

    – Safe nurse to patient ratios- Do you want the nurse administering your chemotherapy to be forced to care for more patients than is safe?
    - Our Union also won a battle to ban mandatory overtime. Do you want the nurse inserting your foley catheter to be forced to work 16+ hour shifts??

    My Union was able to advocate for these very important safety measures over the years. We’ve had a Union at the UW Hospital for 17 years……. and it is because of our Union that I am proud to say I work at UW Hospital. Also, having a Union hospital in Madison that treats its workers well influences other hospitals in the area to live up to those standards.

    The CEO of UW Hospital sent out an email to us on Friday saying they were surprised UW Hospital was included in this bill as the UW Hospital has nothing to do with the state budget….she sent a letter to Gov. Walker reminding him that “eliminating collective bargaining for UWHC has NO fiscal effect to the state”.

    So, if it’s not about the budget………….. we fear Walker’s real intent with this bill is to eliminate unions and take away basic rights of all Wisconsin citizens.

    Eliminating unions isn’t just going to affect the nurses and patients at UW Hospital. If this bill goes through I fear this is just the beginning Wisconsin way. of letting Walker continue to give special treatment and tax breaks to the rich, while stripping middle and lower class Wisconsinites of important programs and protections which are the bedrock of the Wisconsin way.

    Even scarier? This isn’t just about Wisconsin. Other governors are starting to follow his lead. That’s why we have to stop it here in Wisconsin. Us nurses work 24/7……I’ve been at the capitol rallying nearly every day for a week. I rally in the morning and then go to work from 3:00 ’till midnight……if this bill passes, we’ll give that same energy to ensuring Walker and any legislator who voted for this bill is recalled.

    • Sara Nerenhausen

      Thanks for standing strong Angela. I am a resident from Wisconsin who is currently out of state and am sorry I cannot be there to stand next to all of you at our capitol. I am proud to say my daughters, both students at UW Madison, have taken every opportunity they have to make the walk to the capitol and be counted. I agree. It is our voice that has brought safer measures and a better life to all people Our voice is critical and we cannot allow it to be silenced.

    • William

      Can we work there without joining a union? Do we have to “know” someone “in the system” to get hired? Is it like most “union shops”, only friends, sons, daughters get hired or are those jobs open to anyone that is qualified?

      • Angela Aldous

        Dear William-
        You are right in implying that all nurses at UW are part of the Union (whether they want to be or not). They currently may not opt out of Union dues but they may request to have any funds that would be used for political purposes returned to them.
        No, as far as I’ve seen, UW is not a “union shop”. I previously worked for Dean Clinic, knew no one when I applied, and was hired.
        I am blessed to have my job at UW- shortly after I left my position at Dean, they laid off 90 employees. UWHC has not laid off anyone yet posted a $70 million profit last fiscal year! (Again, we have NOTHING to do with the state budget.) I feel that UWHC is an example of what works with Unions- that it IS possible to treat employees decently while still avoiding going in the red. I agree with you that some Unions need reform, but as far as I’ve seen and experienced, that is not the case at UW.
        Hope this helps-
        Angela Aldous

  • Tina

    To the gentleman who called toward the end of the hour who explained about the oligarchs — Thank you! BRAVO! Right on!

    To Ms. Furchgott-Roth, a question: Do you really think that you can convince us to forget that Reagonomics didn’t work — except for some wealthy few?

    To the Republicans who are complaining about the New Health Care costs: Ms. Furchgott-Roth first got hot under the collar about the cost to business. THEN, SHE REVEALED THE COST PER BUSINESS: $2,000 per worker per year. That works out to $40/week, approximately, or about $1 a work hour. As was also pointed out during the hour, the US has the lowest taxes of any Western, developed country. If Republicans don’t want our health insurance to come thru Single Payer taxation, $1 an hour thru a co-operating workplace seems like DEAL! The BEST part of the deal is HEALTHY PEOPLE — well, at least for people who actually have jobs!

    .

    • Scott B., Jamestown NY

      Everytime I hear “Reaganomics” all I can think about is a comedy skit (SNL, if I remember right) where Reagan was trying to explain how he was going to spend your money. “We’re going to take this half and do this with it. Then we’ll take this half and do this with it. Then we take this half and do this with it.” Yup, spend 150%.

      Now we have Republicans trying to shave trillions from billions.

      • new civility

        You need to get out more.

  • Julia

    Last week an NPR program featured comments from an authority at Dept Youth and Family Services said wages used to double every 10 years and that stopped in 1970(common knowledge). She said $25 an hour is poverty wage, and many single mothers do not earn that today, making it impossible to rent an apt here in CT. Our wages have not gone up. In 1988 my Dad had never earned $10 an hour. Today my employer doesn’t want to pay $10 an hour. Barganing wordage exists in union contracts and wouldn’t be there if employers treated employees fairly. Not all of us can work for AIG. Didn’t Senators and Congressmen raise their own wages just a few months ago? Are they going to cut their salaries prior to what they were after the raise? Minimum wage needs to be $25 an hour. The move is on to turn USA into a 3rd world country. We will be buying less as we earn less. What doesn’t make sense about that? Auto mfgs are in trouble because we aren’t buying cars, not because the Unions don’t work. We can’t afford health care because we don’t have the money for that or for Doctors period. Food, Med, Cars, Ins, Rent, Elec & fuel are up. Min wage is the same. We’re not stupid but today she spoke to us like we were.

  • Daniel Krasa

    If the Wisconsin governor is not motivated by retribution at teacher unions then why is he not moving to bust the police and fire fighter unions who have generally supported Republican candidates?

    Most states have not funded or underfunded public pension funds for decades to keep taxes low. This is something the government did not allow private sector employers with defined benefit plans to do until only recently. Then when the liability has gotten too great they declare bankruptcy and dump the responsibility on the federal government which the provides retirees of such companies with a partial retirement.

    As a Massachusetts teacher I paid in 11% into the pension fund not 6.25% private sector employees pay. After 26.5 years of teaching, I receive an annual pension of $30,000 gross. How much will that buy in 10 or 20 years? My wife worked at a state university for 9 years, and now she is not vested and won’t get any state pension, and she didn’t earn any Social security quarter credits either. She did get back what she put in with a rate of interest set by statute at 2% even though during the 90′s interest rates were far higher in the market.

    To teach in Massachusetts it is virtually a requirement to have a Master degree and most teachers have taken many courses beyond a Master degree. Do people in the private sector with that much education get compensated less than teachers?

    Given that the teaching profession is constantly depicted as public enemy # 1 how can we expect anyone with brains and education and self respect to choose teaching as a career?

    Daniel Krasa

  • Lon Ponschock in Appleton, WI

    The comments are stacking up on this.
    Question to On Point producers: Since you have a new comments space called Disqus does this software provide any net to catch sock puppets?

    I have noticed even in our local paper that the comments numbers have gotten huge. Sock puppeting is a new form of spam using online personnas which can effectively bombard a commnet space and skew public opinion. It’s called the Bandwagon effect.

    Sock puppeting should be exposed and stopped where it exists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockpuppet_%28Internet%29

  • Beverly

    Diana Furchtgott-Roth is talking a load of rubbish. Nothong sje said was accurate.

    By the way, the reason people aren’t joining unions, is because, (thanks to the strong-armed, bullying tactics employed by wrong-wing radicals), there are hardly any unions left to join; now we know why.

    Your guest finally got to the crux of the matter, by repeating that unions, (what’s left of them), give money to political campaigns. HORRORS! Is that illegal? Aren’t unions “people” too? RepubliCAN’TS won’t let up until no Democratic voice is heard, all rights have been taken away from middle & lower-class Americans, & our economy is in a hopless shambles.

    We need to form more unions, for our own good. I urge your guest, & everyone else, to ignore all the Conservative propaganda, get the facts, & dispel all myths about unions, by reading Dr. Phillip M. Dive, “State of the Unions”.

    It’s a historical fact that srong unions make a strong middle class.

    • Gamil

      Thanks for the factfree response, you really put her in her place.

      • Beverly

        Didn’t he, though?

    • twenty-niner

      there are hardly any unions left to join; now we know why

      Manufacturing unions have been hobbled by off shoring. Union power stems from its ability to shut down production; but when production can easily be moved off shore, unions don’t really hold a lot of cards. Service unions have had similar difficulties with the in flux of illegal workers, who are reticent to organize.

  • Conrad

    Greetings All!

    I’m 61 years old and have lived in Wisconsin for the last 37 years. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a public employee. However, the current Governor’s declaration of Class War—let’s call it what it is!–has my ire up.

    People need to understand that these new types of Republicans are not “your Father’s Republicans”. In that regard it was very illustrative that Tom just interviewed Tommy Thompson the former long time Republican Govenor of Wisconsin. Some very important historical points to make about Thompson:

    First, he frequently repeated the Republican mantra charging Democrats with being “tax and spend liberals”. Point of fact: as Govenor he spent like a drunken sailor. And when the economy showed signs of a slide with the dot com bust he shuffled off to the Bush administration and left his Lietenant Govenor in charge of dealing (poorly) with the deficit…a $3.2 billion deficit. Let’s see, Governor Walker is claiming there’s a $3.6 billion deficit going forward. I wonder if a decade’s worth of inflation can account for the .4 billion difference?

    Second, Tom Ashbrook probably did not understand the somewhat delicate bind he put Thompson in by directly asking if public employees should be stripped of their collective bargaining rights. Tom probably thought it was just another politician’s vague reply. For many of us here in Wisconsin in was rich! You see, the Wisconsin State Employees Union (an AFSCME council), is being portrayed as little more than a tool of the Democratic Party. But point of fact, WSEU actually endorsed Thompson in one of his gubernatorial campaigns! (for reasons that had much more to do with the Democrats continuosly taking Labor’s support for granted rather than Thompson innate strengths)

    I have an idea. How ’bout the Democrats call for the repeal of the infamous Taft-Hartley Act!

    Loosen up your bones fellow Boomers…we’re needed again!

  • Clarisa

    To say that the “problem” in Wisconsin is another example of the rich getting richer and the poor poorer is too simple and very much an understatement. The whole idea of the unions pure and simple is that a group of people, who on their own have no power, because as individuals they have no money, no family collections and no political clout. And hopefully,once joining such a group the individuals have a base to negotiate the the terms of a contract.

    Both sides hammer out their differences and come to an agreement that is legally binding and can be legally enforced (at least in NY State).

    The employers instead of having control of the terms of the contract, have to participate in give and take.

    But what should be scaring every single American, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertine, Tea Party – whatever, that by getting rid of the union and thE RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING WILL BE TAKEN BACK. And you can be sure, you will not get this right back.

    You know that if this occurs, corporate America will be using this to their advantage, i.e.- “What you actually want to get paid? Are you sure you don’t owe me money for that uniform, for using the rest room, and the electricity I had to use so you could see what you’re doing??”

    If the governor and his political supporters honestly believe that it’s a question of money – well then start at the top because you know the governor and the top executives are making much,much, much more than the lowly person who is trying to survive. instead of getting rid of the right to collective bargaining, let the governor and his political supporters ( who are probably well paid CEOs) set an example and take a MAJOR PAY CUT!!!

    Clarisa, NYS

    • Conrad in WI

      as for who Gov Walker’s big supporters are you can start with the Koch brothers! (See NYT article today)

  • Markcoman

    If unions agree to freeze wages, they will be saving jobs.

  • Sam Wilson

    Brandstad,

    Not sure if you have a good cushion or not (I hope you do) however WSJ recently published an article which summarises that 401k plans havent worked mostly for the boomers.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703959604576152792748707356.html?KEYWORDS=boomers+retirement

    Also, the Frontline (PBS) put forward a documentary in May 2006 long before the great recession that specifically shows that 401k plans are extremely tricky.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/retirement/view/?utm_campaign=viewpage&utm_medium=viewsearch&utm_source=viewsearch

    I feel that either you are disconnected and disoriented from the truth or really dont know and dont care about the truth.

    I really look forward for your answer on this.

    Regards

    • geffe

      He wont answer. He will only post another bit of hogwash.
      The other thing about 401k plans is that they were never meant to be the complete retirement plan. Originally they were part of a three leg stool. Pensions, 401k and SS. 401k was meant to supplement the other two not take over. This is why they are proving to be so prone to failure. Corporations moved away from pensions and it was a capital windfall for them. The demise of the worker began. Now we are in the final chapter and the owners of this nation want it all to quote George Carlin. It seems to me anyway that George was right.

  • Bmichitson

    I may not understand your point, but profit in the private sector is gotten any way possible, including lowering labor costs, regardless of the effect on real people. I agree that profit should not drive the public sector, but a budget does. So, the question is about how the public sector will treat employees that provide services. In other words, what will they consider fair and ethical in treating their employees? Unions should have something to say about this, since labor has only one “chip,” their collective strength. When unions are unreasonable and greedy, the public should be irate. But, eliminating unions does not solve a problem. It creates a bigger one.

    • Markcoman

      You have a good point. Unions have a roll in the public sector too. I don’t think Eliminating unions is the answer, but I do think that Unions need to compromise. Allowing a Freeze in wages for a couple years (or contract period) would save jobs and allow the budget to level out a bit.

      • Bmichitson

        Markcoman,
        I agree. Unions have not caught up to the new needs of labor. They are still trying to. Freezing pay and showing a willingness to negotiate reasonably goes a long way to bringing the focus back to the most important role unions play. They speak for a group that without them would be voiceless. Labor unions are integral when capital controlls production to such an unbleiveable extent. So, yes, unions need to focus on fundamental principles and bite the bullet on wages. However, when times are good, labor sould share in those “good times.”

  • TerryTreeTree

    Prove to me that the Republican Legislators haven’t spent, wasted more money on something that cost a WHOLE lot more, which would prove the hypocracy of the Legislators

  • Banicki

    Labor unions are a prime example of what happens when one entity gets so large and powerful that it takes over markets that are necessary to provide goods and services to our citizens. In this case, the service is labor.

    This blog is dedicated to exposing the collapse of free markets in this country. This applies to not only corporations, but also labor unions. Oddly, this collapse is led by the “conservative” segment of our society demanding less regulation and more capitalism. What has happened over the last several decades is the push for less regulation of the private sector has resulted in industries being taken over by a ban of a few companies and unions coming together and controlling markets. More

  • Anonymous

    Wisconsin School teachers really need a raise, since Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest!

    What a joke! They deserved fired.

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/two-thirds-wisconsin-public-school-8th-g

    • ThresherK

      CNS news.

      Yep, another reliable source quoted by Brandstad.

      Whatsamatter, Armstrong Williams, Jeff Gannon and “Karen Ryan” not available?

      • Anonymous

        The story is based on US government data (Department of Education). I suppose you agree with the facts and disagree with some minutia?

        • Gamil

          He disagrees with anything contrary to his world view

        • ThresherK

          Let’s just say you don’t have a good track record.

    • Bmichitson

      The question is not wages…but right of labor to bargin. I am also curious about your “proficiency” stat. What does this mean in your state? And what have you done to address it?

  • cory

    The United States ought to seriously consider breaking into several smaller countries to reflect differing attitudes and regional needs. In other utopian hopes, I’d lke to see an end to our endlessly adversarial two party system.

    • Anonymous

      I think those with American values and a pride in what our country has done should stay here and everyone that wants to fundamentally change the country should get a free one way plane ticket to the destination of their choice.

      I have been to over 16 foreign countries on 3 continents and I can say there is no country as great as the USA!

      • Sam

        Really? you are not making this up, are you?

        Could you please name the countries, if I may request? And on what basis you arrive to the conclusion that those countries are not at par with the USA?

        • Anonymous

          England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Egypt, China, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.

          American Values

          • Honesty
          • Reverence
          • Hope
          • Thrift
          • Humility
          • Charity
          • Sincerity
          • Moderation
          • Hard work
          • Courage
          • Personal responsibility
          • Friendship

          • geffe

            England, Scotland, Wales are all in the same country, Great Britain.
            By the way a lot of legal system is based on the Scottish one.
            Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland all seem to be better off than we are as in a higher standard of living and better educated. At least in all of the countries you mention people don’t lose their homes due to medical bills.

            You’re patriotism is duly noted. However I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson who said: “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

          • new civility

            You’re splitting hairs and acting like an intellectual snob

          • Carolyn

            There was a Frontline documentary last year that covered access to health care in some of the countries mentioned above. One guy interviewed in Switzerland said it would be a DISGRACE for anyone in that country to lose their home due to medical bills. It just would not happen. Of course, in THIS country, that is an everyday occurrence. What a shame!!

          • Sam Wilson

            Thanks Brandstad,

            I have also been if not all, many of the above countries namely-

            - Northern Ireland & England (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
            - France
            - Austria
            - Republic of Ireland
            - Spain
            - Japan
            - Canada
            And although in almost all the countries there are lot of issues which are common to the present US issues (unemployment and housing bubble) however in none of the countries I saw anything less what I see in the USA.

            In fact I saw many things they do better than us, a few to name would be :

            1. Transportation
            2. Infrastructure
            3. Education System

      • Cory

        Please don’t tell me what you think “American Values” are, I just had lunch.

  • Dee

    Tom, It doesn’t take much to recognize Governor Walker is another
    Republican hack (like Mitt Rommeny) out to shrink state government
    and indeed to reduce its role and public employees role in our lives.

    I believe unions are the targets right now as they stand between his destructive and uncompromising stance….

    I was sorry to hear someone like Bob Thompson defend this unsavory governor in Wisconsin as I feel he reflects a bigger problem the un-
    savory American oligarchy who sold American workers and jobs to the
    lowest bidders overseas….

    It’s little wonder today the chinese are choking on their own polluted
    air and dying in their own waters from the filth and toxins they disre-
    gard into their environment daily…..

    As far as I am concerned –I want us to move away from this reck-
    less and parasitic relationship and I am doing everything I can do
    daily with my money to investment and support small businesses in
    our local communities…

    I also am proud of my involvement with the public sector as I feel
    it shows a moral commitment to promoting a good and healthy way
    of life for our family, community and our nation…..Dee

  • LMH, California

    Ronald Reagan succeeded in pitting the middle class against the poor. Now the new crop of Republicans is attempting to pit the private sector workers against the public sector employees. So while we fight amongst ourselves for the crumbs, the fat cats on top continue to lap the cream. By the way, no one in my family works for the government, and this is not to say that unions haven’t pushed for contracts we can’t afford, but what we need is compromise, not doing away with workers’ rights.

    • Gamil

      Welfare reform only gained steam under Clinton. This is about state workers sucking the middle class dry so they can work 8 months a year and 5 hours a day.

      • geffe

        You are wrong and are trying to demonize innocent people.
        You’re antics are noted and being checked.

      • Bmichitson

        Gamil,
        Your comments show genuine hate of a group of people. As for their value to a discussion, they add little. Perhaps you have not seen the pictures of union workers risking their lives during 911? Or perhaps you have not walked in the shoes of a public employee who works 10 – 12 hours a day? I am sure that some people will work the system – public or private – and some will not. The right of labor to organize and work to get good working conditions and fair pay is not unAmerican and is certainly not “sucking the middle class.” The middle class is under the unfluence of corporations, very large ones. That influence far more than any union trying to simply survvive.

  • Anonymous

    Rachel Maddow reported Feb 21st on MSNBC that Scott Walker fired all state employees and hired a private company to take their place headed by a man who had an extensive prison record – pictures were shown on MSBC last night of these private state workers engaging in lude behavior. It was later that that Walker’s actions were deemed illegal – The private contractors were fired – the former union state security guards were rehired and the state was forced to give them back pay which cost ten’ s of thousands of dollars in addtion to the increased wages that the private security guards had gotten- all this ended up costing that state ten’s of thousands more – Walker is clearly not an ethical person and he is corrupt and incompetent as well – I would say even criminal – Perhaps this is why the convicted criminal Abranoff under Bush was at the Kock conference in TX? So much criminal behavior has gone unpunished on the part of the conservatives including stealing national elections, deregulating Wall St that got away with the biggest robbery in history and no one was held repsonsible – If we don’t fight this battle hard now these greedy, lawless corporations will destroy our Democracy and impoverish our nation. and create a robber barons paradise on the bacs of 99per cent of the Ameircan people. Unions contribute the most to political campaigns – this is a concerted effort to bring down the Democratic Party. now they want to make it harded for students to vote by requiring state ID’s. They are a lawless bunch that will do anythng at any cost to us and they must be stopped!

  • Dee

    Tom,

    I also want to comment on the deceptive comment made by Diana Furchgott-Roth about making the US strong for business. Well, if that doesn’t remind me of Maggie Thacther’s immoral assault on the working
    people of Britain and now David Cameron ‘s immoral assault on the public sector today…(He uses the same argument….)

    Yet one has to only recall the dreadful poverty & deprivation of Charles Dickenson’ 19th century England and the industrial midwest towards the
    end of the 20th century and trace this to such countries as the Philli-
    ppines (hightlighted in Harper’s Magazine a few years ago) to realize what her making America strong (or any county strong for business is really about…) Dee…

    P.S. Please have Robert Reich or Robert Kuttner or Paul Krugman
    on your show whenever you have Diana on as I feel your listeners
    shopuldn’t have to endure her fraudulent argument…

    • Bmichitson

      Dee,
      Your comments are intersting. I would add…why are we so happy to make a business friendly atmosphere and not a labor friendly one? I sometimes think that people want workers to apologize for seeking a good wage and a decent work place.

  • Gamil

    I believe Governor Walker should not allow for collective bargaining when it comes to wages either. CPI is too good for these parasites.

  • Michael

    Wow Harley Shaiken was onpoint today, Diana Furchtgott-Roth didn’t have a chance against him.

    Sad so many feel that the race to the bottom for all (private/public) is a better idea than for the private sector to raise the bar and be a good corporate citizens.

    • TomK in Boston

      Yes, the far right script about a “good business environment” is nothing but a race to the bottom. Where does it stop? Are taxes ever low enough? Are wages ever low enough? Have enough services ever been cut o=r privatized? Wouldn’t the “best” Reaganomics version of the USA be the worst 3′rd world sweatshop nation? And even if one state becomes Mexico, another can become Vietnam and steal their business, right?

      Is this really anyone’s vision for the USA except the oligarch’s?

  • Cory

    This entire scenario being played out in Wisconsin gives me hope that the have-nots WILL indeed fight back. First by voting, then by civil disobedience, and finally by ______________?

    • twenty-niner

      First by voting, then by civil disobedience, and finally by ______________?

      Pizza and Viagra.

      “Protesters, marking the start of a second week of mass action, jammed inside the state Capitol’s rotunda, protected from the sleet and wet snow outside, to munch pizza donated by sympathizers from out of state and from foreign countries.”

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/20/us-wisconsin-protests-scene-idUSTRE71J32W20110220

      “The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) tried to use a policy established by collective bargaining to obtain health insurance coverage that specifically paid for Viagra. Cost to taxpayers is $786,000 a year.”

      http://www.wbay.com/Global/story.asp?S=14068315

      After ten years, we are still conducting two illegitimate destructive wars, and I doubt that there’s one single protest in the country about it. I’m not expecting much civil obedience here to fore unless of course there’s free pizza and Viagra.

    • new civility

      Oh stop…there’s no one willing to take a bullet in the head for a state worker.

  • Gary2

    People are picketing at several M & I banks because m&I banks supported Walker and gave him free office space. The have nots and never wills are sick of getting trickled on by the have yachts.

    • Gamil

      M&I is owned by Bank of Montreal. Maybe we should nuke Canada.

    • Lon Ponschock in Appleton, WI

      Have nots and have yachts. I like. :-)

  • Jbshoen

    I listede to the program. I don’t believe Tommy Thompson answered any question that was asked of him. I was waiting for the answer on what “collective Bargaining” had to do with the current monetary crisis in Wisconsin? How much money are they going to save by passing a law to do away with collective bargaining? This is a side show and if people don’t stand up to it, we all lose. The Republican party wants to destroy the middle class. It was the unions that helped build the middle class. What has happened to the thinking in Wisconsin? Why didn’t Tom force him to answer the questions posed instead of acting as though Thompson answered the questions.

  • Clive

    State employee unions are killing the middle class with their bloated wage and benefit packages. We need to get this under control. We don’t have Obama’s ability to spend money we don’t have.

    • geffe

      Again you folks on the right keep saying this and it’s a myth!
      Use real facts and not the BS you hear on Fox news.

      • TomK in Boston

        That’s the Big Lie technique. The wealth of the USA is being transferred to the elite and everyone else is sinking fast, and the conclusion is that any average American who manages to hang on to a piece of the American Dream is “killing the middle class”. That’s the same logic that says that raising the tax rate on our ultra privileged from a near 80-year low would be “punishing the rich”. Orwell would not believe how right he was.

        • Beverly

          The rich SHOULD be punished, for what they’re doing to America.

    • geffe

      Again you folks on the right keep saying this and it’s a myth!
      Use real facts and not the BS you hear on Fox news.

    • Cory

      Congratulations, Clive. Brandstad likes your comment.

      • Beverly

        High praise, indeed.

    • Beverly

      No, you need to get your propagana under control.

  • TomK in Boston

    The finest class warfare tactics of the right are in play here:

    1. State revenues tank after the deregulated bankers crash the economy but hey, why not cut corporate taxes to make things even worse? Then Hosni Walker howls with alarm, “OMG! A deficit!” The response, obviously, is to squeeze the middle class. What a great way to transfer more wealth to the top!

    This is also playing out on the national level. President Oromney extended the Bush tax cuts at the top, increasing the deficit. Now the GoP bozos can scream even louder about the deficit, and argue to cut every program that helps average Americans.

    2. While Reaganomics has been screwing the middle class, unionized public employees have managed to hang on to a little piece of that old American dream. Instead of seeing what used to be the norm in the 50s and 60s as something the rest of us have lost, and should be fighting to regain, the right shifts the discussion to jealousy over those overpaid state employees. Useless, unspeakably overpaid banksters are screwing the USA, and I think more attacks are aimed at teachers. What a great tactic, getting those who have been macjobbed and offshored to turn on the few that have been able to stand up to voodoo economics.

    I enjoyed hearing about the demos in Egypt. One reason for the unrest was the extreme inequality, you can’t get ahead unless you’re one of the elite. So, what’s different from the USA? When can we have our revolution?

    Where will the time machine stop? 1910? 1890?

  • EdmundWinCA

    Govenors across the country are looking at the institutionalized corruption that public sector unions have become. The whole concept of public unions should be illegal, in that it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality. Simultaneously, each of those privately-employed citizens who together pay the bulk of the union members’ salaries have but one vote and effectively no power to fight off the unions’ ever-greedier demands. “One man, one vote” — not when there are public unions, who offer nothing but specious rationalizations and thuggery when challenged. Public unions are undemocratic in theory and stink of nothing but corruption in reality. They all must be dissolved.

    • Dave in CT

      “The whole concept of public unions should be illegal, in that it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality.”

      Thats the point that did not seem to be raised on the show. Even when it came out of FDRs mouth.

      Its a good example of our irrational sense of entitlement and protection gone amok.

      Its too bad this kind of rational argument can’t be explored, mainly because knee-jerk partisans scream at the oversimplified caricatures of these issues being fed them by their “half” of the establishment party (ie 2-party being same Corporate State party)

      • Hatta

        That makes about as much sense as saying it’s a conflict of interest for an employee of a company to hold stock in the company.

        The simple fact is, you can’t legally force people to work (13th amendment). You can’t legally prevent them from organizing (1st amendment). Ergo, you cannot legally prevent people from engaging in collective bargaining. QED.

        You speak of an irrational sense of entitlement. Where do you get the sense that Gov Walker is entitled to violate our constitutional rights?

        I hope Gov Walker bans collective bargaining. And I hope the people of WI go on strike in response. What is he going to do, send in the National Guard?

        • Cory

          He might.

      • Grady Lee Howard

        FDR was a member of the elite wealthy class. He might have said anything to impress his fellow club members. He had to cave in to progressive ideas to save the nation from economic collapse caused by the corruption of business by his own class. Social security began because people were starving, and when it is cut starvation will return. FDR’s AFDC is already gone, and kids are hungry.

    • Beverly

      While we’re at it, let’s do away with lawyers.

    • Cory

      You’re so dumb it’s scary.

      • Beverly

        It sure is. That’s exactly what I tried to get across in my posting at about 6:00 p.m I think.

        Here’s another perfect example of someone who is commiting suicide for the rich politicians; doing their dirty work without even knowing it. Their ignorance certainly isn’t bliss for the middle class.

  • Bill5

    If the unions bargaining rights are eroded significantly, one of the fundamental principles of our country’s basis will be compromised, and that is the idea of checks and balances. This was a fundamental concern of our Founding Fathers to make sure no one center of power dominates another. To give the ”municipal managers” a minimally checked power to “manage” their municipalities is a potentially dangerous condition. There already is a strong imbalance with special interest groups (corporations, unions, etc.) having no restrictions on the amount of money that can be expended to influence “democratic” elections; and hence the power they have over elected politicians.

    The political leaders should be informing and discussing with the electorate regarding this reality and the need for checks and balances, rather than doing whatever they feel is necessary to push their agendas and get themselves elected/re-elected.

  • Pablo Cesare

    thou dost protest too much…..

    The fact that there is such uproar defending collective bargaining by its beneficiaries says it all.

    Most others have to stand on their own two feet. We’ve already seen how unions have pushed our automobile and other manufacturing industries to the brink of or actual collapse. Get a clue people.

    • geffe

      How wrong you are sir. The US auto industry failed due to bad management decisions. The argument that “most others” have to stand on their own two feet is a red herring at best. It’s the corporations and bad government that pushed out the jobs.

      If this was the case how do explain the German economy?

      • twenty-niner

        If this was the case how do explain the German economy?

        Have you ever worked with the Germans? I do all the time. If you did, you would understand how a country with a land mass of roughly 3.6% of that of the US, conquered ancient Rome, and almost conquered the world.

        • Cory

          Huh?

          • twenty-niner

            Let me translate:

            They are very smart
            They work very hard
            They are very motivated
            They are very creative
            Those German people are

      • Cory

        He can’t explain it. Most of his ilk are myopic and ethnocentric bordering on xenophobic. It’s called American Exceptionalism. We do everything the best here, right?

        • new civility

          You’re learning. Witness the millions who want to come here and take their chances.

    • Beverly

      Clearly, YOU are the one who needs a clue.

      Better educate yourself, instead of displaying your ignorance.

      Time to read “State of the Unions” by Dr. Phillip M. Dine. This book explains everything for you, & will be very helpful. Everyone should read it; there are a lot of odd misconceptions flying around. After reading the book, they will all understand unions.

      Until you’ve read it, maybe you should’t make any comments about unions.

      • Cory

        Rock on, Beverly.

    • Bmichitson

      Pablo,
      Your logic is interesting. In its simple form it seems to say, “Take the wok and like it, or go somewhere else.” I believe people have a right to a decent work place and wages. I KNOW from history that these rights are not recognized by capital, especially international corps., so unions defend them.

      If we all get the “clue,” we might as well revert to slave labor, that’s where poeple really stand on their own two feet…until they couldn’t stand any more.

    • Sean

      The clue is yours to get, Pablo. Unions have not driven manufacturing overseas- pure unadulterated American corporate greed (with the help of NAFTA and global free trade) has TAKEN business elsewhere. It’s all for the lust of money. Here is a big clue for you: corporate compensation packages. The more profit that is skimmed away from the workforce, the more millions of dollars awarded to the newly retiring CEO… yeah, the one that sunk the company down the drain gets a nice retirement package, care of “downsizing”. Kenneth Lay, Bernie Ebbers, John Rigas, Dennis Koslowski, Bernie Madoff, etc., etc.- all corporate criminals, all just as greedy and immoral as they come, all despicable people. Did they stand on their own two feet or did they stand on the necks of workers and investors??? Hmmm???

  • Hfw2

    We are debating neo-liberalism. It’s supporters are succeding in demonizing all things public. Homes, schools, communities and the government have born the responsibility of all thats wrong with the nation. Simultaneously, neo-liberals are desiring that we laud and worship all things private because the private sector alone has created and is sustaining the nation. They would have us to privatize the federal government along with their already moniterized military(blackwater, haliburton etc.). Multi-national corporations have no national allegiance.
    So, there is one choice. Either choose to be an oppressor and seek to exploit others at any cost or choose to be oppressed in the fight for liberty and justice. You can’t have it both ways, there’s no win-win in real life.

  • ams

    I am, like most Americans, hard working and contientious. I put my self through school at night to obtain me 4-year degree. Since the economic downturn my income has not increased while my property taxes continues to rise, I’ve had to contribute more to me health, and the list goes on.

    I’m (un)fortunate to live in a town where the Republican Supervisor contiues to dole out the pay rise and increase the taxes. “They deserve it”, he says. Well so do I. I should have him call my boss.

    Historian state that the labor unions helped create the middle class. I counter that they’re helping to destroy it! Tom’s guest Harley S. thinks that busting the union will send a cold wind blowing across the country, driving down wages etc. Gues what, it already has.

    I’m not moved by the chants. Something’s got to give.

    Give me Governor Walker any day!

    • Beverly

      TAKE him, PLEASE!

      The farther away, the better.

    • Bmichitson

      ams,
      I’m surprised that people who are hard working often see themselves as a distinct class and that they see union employees as not part of that class.
      Unions have made many mistakes in the past about supporting members who did not deserve it, but they have also given people a decent work place and a standard of living that matters to hard working people.
      The fact that manufactoring has left the US is complicated. One point is the cost of labor. We should see this clearly though. Corporations are able to find places where labor is cheap and can be taken advantage of. It isn’t that we have too many unions – we don’t. We need union rights globally. Job loss would be more unpredictable and wide spread without unions and the counter weight they provide to corporations.

    • Cory

      Ams, tell me about a world without any organized labor. Do you think big corporations would take advantage of this in a way that might not benefit you?

  • Beverly

    EDMUNDWIN,

    Huh?

  • Hatta

    Collective bargaining rights are a trivial consequence of our First and Thirteen Amendment rights. Why is Gov. Walker trying to pass a blatantly unconstitutional bill? Why is the Tea Party supporting him? Do they have a problem with the Constitution?

  • cop out

    When he said they were trying to reduce the number of recipients, I really pictured that they were wanting to kill them. I suppose that’s not far from the truth.

  • Rubenstein K

    How is it possible to spend an hour discussing the Wisconsin situation without at least mentioning what’s probably the biggest factor motivating the union-busting activity? That is: the remaining unions are the largest remaining source of campaign funds for Democrats. Wipe them out, and you have little standing in the way of a long-lived Republican dynasty.

  • Willbur13

    I tire of hearing about “fat cat” union members. My husband is a federal worker and unioin member and is seriously overworked and underpaid. In the private sector he would be making 50% more per hour than he currently does. He keeps working this job for the benefits, i.e. health and dental insurance, paid vacation, paid sick time ect., of which most are generally not available in the private sector in his line of work. But I think everyone forgets that it’s not like these things are just given to the workers….they EARN them! My husband is doing the job of 3 people because of hiring freezes in this economy. One person left, one transfered and there was already a vacancy and the decision was made to not fill any of them. One of the few things that allows us to sleep a little better at night is the fact that the union is there if he needs them. A big deal is made over the dues members pay….it’s not that much….small piece of mind. It’s like home owners’ insurance…seems like alot if you never, ever need to use it, and you hope you don’t, but if you do, you’re glad you’ve been paying those premiums. I understand the frustration people feel especially if they’ve lost a job or had severe cutbacks but this is not the time for a witch hunt. It’s amazing but the GOP spin docs are at it again, making us quarrel and fight amongst ourselves, distracting us from what’s really going and keeping us from looking at where the problem started. It’s a classic case of let’s treat the symptoms and ignore how it got this way in the first place. We are not in this economic mess because of unions! And if we want to start making people accountable and pay their fair share….start with the wealthy and corporate “fat cats”.

    • Gamil

      Everyone in the private sector is underpaid and doing the work of 5 people. Make the unions accountable and allow members to reup every year and require that members cut a check for their dues. What are they so afraid of?

      • Bmichitson

        Gamil,
        your hate for a group of people is still clear. As someone who has dealt with private sector employees…they sometimes don’t work themselves to death. But, pitting the public and private secotr labor forces against each other…that works for those who see labor as a thing and not people.

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Glad that you noticed the flim-flam artistry at play, namely, keep them arguing about “this/ these thing(s)” so that can’t catch us on the other things we are doing. Does America know who Samuel Gompers is ? Time to do some homework.

      From Wiki :

      His philosophy of labor unions centered on economic ends for workers, such as higher wages, shorter hours, and safe working conditions so that they could enjoy an “American” standard of living—a decent home, decent food and clothing, and money enough to educate their children. ….

      NPR just ran a show on Scot Brown and male sexual abuse. These monsters that have usurped the name “Christian”, for their political agendas are sublimating their primal desires to “X” their fellow human beings. Next we will be hearing that slavery is cost effective.

  • Floydcolumbia

    I am discussed with hearing about politians disparaging public service workers. As a public service worker (retired military – disabled veteran) that gave much to this country don’t they (politiains) know that if it wasn’t for public service workers, whether air traffic controllers, firefighters, police officers, officer workers, sanitation workers, etc. are their neighbors and fellow citizens?

    • nlpnt

      Ah, but YOU’RE military. Militayr, police, firefighters are the “good” public employees. Teachers, snowplow drivers, sanitation and especially every kind of health, safety or environmental inspector are the “bad” ones.

      Divide and conquer. Works every time.

  • Nancy Virtue

    I thought Harley Shaiken was so great on today’s program. At one point, he stated that if you adjust for education and experience, federal workers are NOT paid more than private workers. Prof. Shaiken, (or someone else who might know), can you tell me what a reliable source is that shows this?

    Republicans keep claiming the opposite–including the governor of my state, Indiana–and I’d like to have clarity on this.

    • Jayce in WI

      Economic Policy Institute has done this analysis. They call themselves a non-partisan, progressive think tank. They fully explain their methodology, which is rigorous and hard to fault.

  • Beverly

    Middle class America is being sucked down the drain.

    Unions are our only hope.

    • Anonymous

      Almost all of my family is either in the middle class or lower class and we don’t need unions!

      Beverly, I am sorry to tell you but I am proof that you are WRONG.

    • William

      Open shops are better. You don’t need to have a friend, father, cousin in the union to get hired. The cost of labor should float and we should not be forced to pay someone more just because they are in a union.

      • Bmichitson

        Will,
        Why is it that labor’s ability to collectively bargin for decent conditions and wages is seen as such a bad thing? As for having a relative, “in the union,” I do not deny that in public..and private…sector bureaucracies who you know can be important. however, we agin think that no unions, or making unionizing as difficult as possible, is an answer. Is it? Look around at what capital does to non-unionized labor. In countries with very little or no unionizing, llabor is explioted. The idea that unions are difficult to deal with and at times unreasnable, leads to a decision to kill them, is scary. They have only enjoyed real power for 4 or 5 decades. Let’s see if they can regroup and imporve before we go back to every man for himself.

  • TomK in Boston

    Summary of the voodoo econ response: Organizing to get decent wages is bad for the middle class. The best route to prosperity is to let the globalizing, offshoring, macjobbing oligarchs do whatever they want.

    I guess someone might believe that, if they were about 4 years old and very sheltered.

  • Jay

    Thank you Scott Walker for standing up for fiscal sanity.

    God Bless you Sir. Keep fighting the good fight.

    The socialist thugs in the unions are on the run.

  • Clive

    Taxes are taking money from middle class Americans and paying off Democratic campaign contributors, mostly public worker unions. This has to stop. It is making life impossible for normal working families.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a decisive moment in Wisconsin and a watershed moment for our nation, and we urge you to join the fight at http://www.StandWithWalker.com.

    Here’s what Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill that they’re so angry about actually does:

    - Ask government workers to pay half the cost of their pensions – still less than private employees pay for their pensions

    - Ask government workers to pay 12% of their own health insurance premiums – the national average for the private sector is over 20%

    - End collective bargaining for government unions for pensions and benefits. Allow bargaining only for raises that are less than inflation.

    - End forced union dues, collected by the state. Union dues would become voluntary.

    - Union members get to vote yearly on whether to keep their union.

    To stop these sensible reforms, the unions and their Democratic allies are pulling out all the stops. President Obama has even weighed in attacking Governor Walker.

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone notice that Obamacare exempts union healthcare from the new taxes on high cost healthcare plans?

  • Anonymous

    1/3 of all teachers in Wisconsin send their kids to private school because they have no confidence in their own union members.

    • Jay

      Thanks for pointing that out Brandstad.

      It’s ironic (and sad) that teachers in private schools earn far less and out peform their public school counterparts, yet private school teachers get pay for the very generous health and retirement packages of the failing public school teachers.

      That’s the real power of the unions.

      • Maurpc

        the mandate from the Bush admin. forces public school teachers to teach to past tests…..only not to teach students to learn

        • Jay

          You still believe anything the goverment has to say?

      • Kaye

        Private schools have the opportunity to choose the students they want to teach, leaving all the kids with problems, special ed. needs, and uninterested parents for the public schools to cope with.

    • Kaye

      Do you have a reliable source for this statement?

  • Beverly

    TOMK,

    This may be the only country stupid enough to be manipulated into voting against their own best interests.

    Big Biz/Republican’ts found out that some people will believe anything, because they’re ignorant, yet too stupid to find out the truth. Those intent on destroying democracy are well aware that many people don’t know a thing about unions, so it’s a perfect storm.

    The villains’ goal is to stamp out the middle class, no matter what. Unions, (the only protection we have left), are standing in their way,since when unions are strong, the middle class is strong. That’s why they MUST wipe out every union. (More $$$$$$$$$$$ & power for them, lower wages, longer hours, & loss of rights for everyone else.) So, by telling the simple-minded that unions are bad, not only are the villains eradicating the middle class, they now have the middle class helping them do it!

    I heard that their next plan is to tell the cretins that food is bad; only Liberals eat & drink. It’ll work like a charm, & provide even more amusement for the Republican’ts.

    • Carolyn

      Beverly, You are correct. This is the ONLY country in the world where people who are not rich are manipulated to vote against their own economic interests and to promote the interests of their oppressors. I cannot imagine why any working class or middle class person would vote Republican. If you think what is happening in Wisconsin is bad, wait until the Republicans take over the White House ( God forbid)

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        At the time, we had NO idea that voting for Obama was against our economic interests. Now we know with certainty.

        • new civility

          oooh Bev…you gonna let him get away with that?

        • TomK in Boston

          We know with certainty that the Bush administration was a disaster. With those tax cuts and deregulation, we got he worst job losses of a 2 term president and a decrease in the median wage, too.

          I admit I was fooled. I thought Obama was a liberal progressive. When he gave us Mitt Romney’s corporate health care plan and continued Bush’s wars, I decided he was a moderate conservative and started calling him Oromney. Now that he froze gvt worker salaries, continued the Bush tax cuts at the top, and is legitimizing the righty narrative about the dreaded deficit, I’m seeing Herbert Hoover. So, now he’s BHHO. HH austerity is not in our economic interests, even if it comes with liberal camouflage.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Tomk,
            Obama’s actually a hybrid.

            Obamacare may not be to your liking but it is a huge increase in government bloat that won’t do anything to lower costs or improve care. Note, the number of unions that have been given waivers. He’s increased the size of the fed. government (not including obamacare) faster than ANY prior president and added about $4T in debt. Now that the deficit is $1.65T/annum he wants to freeze spending at that level.

            btw federal goverment pay is up 40% since 2000. Private sector pay is flat since 2000.

            So, you’re not worried about the debt?

      • Kaye

        again!

      • Beverly

        That’s for sure, & to anyone who believes that things could never be worse than they were during Dubya’s reign, I will just say, “YOU AINT SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!!!”

        Stay tuned . . .

    • TomK in Boston

      Beverly, I agree, the GoP agenda is to roll back everything that made our wonderful middle class society possible, and re-institute late 19′th – early 20′th poorhouse capitalism. It’s not surprising that oligarchs always want more, but it is surprising how effectively they get the victims to go along with their own impoverishment.

      What amazes me is the failure to learn from experience. Maybe it was reasonable in 1980 to give Reaganomics a try, but after 30 years of soaring inequality and a sinking middle class, don’t we KNOW what it does? Don’t we KNOW that Bush cut taxes and deregulated the corporations, and the result was the worst 2 presidential terms ever for jobs and wages? After 30 years of decline for everyone but the elite, they repeat the same old scripts, and we take them seriously. Unbelievable!

      Reaganomics is totally discredited by sad experience. It’s not about theories anymore, its about the facts right in our face every day.

      • Beverly

        You’re absolutely right, & the mentally challenged will keep voting against the middle class until we are like the unfortunate characters in Dickens’ novels.

        Even then, they’ll be saying that Government is too big, & helps us too much.

        “Please sir, may I have some more?”

      • Beverly

        How can so many people be so blind to what’s happening? We’ll never know the answer, except that they lack ligic & common sense.

        They will continue making the same mistakes, & not learn from them.

        They know that whenever Republicans are in charge, the Economy suffers, & working people lose more rights. When we have a Democratic president, & MAJORITY, we prosper, & have more freedom.

        No matter how much evidence there is, many people don’t have the mental capacity to conclude that Republicans are toxic, & bad for America, & that Democrats are fair, do the right thing, & make America strong.

        Those people are Republicans.

      • Beverly

        LOGIC, not ligic. >

    • new civility

      Bev…book your passage now and go…you’ll be much happier

      • Beverly

        Guess I struck a nerve, huh?

    • William

      Risk takers created the middle class in America. Unions just sucked off them until they either went out of business or moved off-shore. Public service unions are making the same mistakes that the UAW and co. made years ago.

      • Cory

        let’s all emulate chinese labor, you douschebag.

        • William

          Hey, how do you use internet and wait on tables at the same time?

        • RJRisch

          You need to comment without anger, you will be taken more seriously.

        • Beverly

          Looks like you hit too close to home, Cory.
          Some people hate to face the truth.

          They can’t prove that your statement is incorrect, but still feel a need to do something.

  • Sean

    I just read an article on Huffington Post that made a very clear, very rational distinction between two Republican minds- that of Gov. Scott Walker and that of Gov. Mitch Daniels (Indiana). The journalist reported how Gov. Daniels spoke out against a bill proposed by his fellow Republican lawmakers that would make Indiana a “right-to-work” state. The Governor stated that he and many lawmakers did not run on the platform of “right-to-work” in this recent election and that instituting such a law would be unfair to the voters. In effect, he is saying that would be a stealth move, it would be unfair, and that it would be undemocratic to make such a maneuver. I applaud Governor Mitch Daniels. On the other side of the Republican coin, you have Governor Scott Walker who is being intransigent and combative. He issues threats like sending State Troopers after Democrat lawmakers “just to send a message” and says that those who are protesting may soon have to be laid off… obviously as a punishment. This dichotomy is a perfect illustration of the chasm opening up within the Republican Party. Let’s see how long the Tea Party can keep up their charade of patriotism (I’m putting Walker in the Tea Party camp- Camp Wacky Doodles!!)

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      You should find a better source for your information.

      Walker is simply implementing the platform he campaigned on. No stealth dirty tricks.

      I’ve seen Walker interviewed twice in the last 3 days. He was neither combative nor intransigent. He simply outlined the problems his state is encountering and how this plan helps to solve them. You could argue the state senate members are intransigent.

      Brandstad outlined the meat of Walker’s ‘terrible plan’ below. (Thanks for finding that Brandstad!)

      These are very modest proposals and they look very reasonable:

      “- Ask government workers to pay half the cost of their pensions – still less than private employees pay for their pensions

      - Ask government workers to pay 12% of their own health insurance premiums – the national average for the private sector is over 20%

      - End collective bargaining for government unions for pensions and benefits. Allow bargaining only for raises that are less than inflation.

      - End forced union dues, collected by the state. Union dues would become voluntary.

      - Union members get to vote yearly on whether to keep their union.”

      • Kent

        Not true. Walker NEVER campaigned that he would strip workers of their collective bargaining rights. Not once. He only said he would go after health care and pension costs.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Kent, I heard he campaigned on it but I can’t find the reference so I take your point. However, his proposed law doesn’t completely strip collective bargaining. It limits it. The specifics of his proposal (posted elsewhere on this blog) seem very reasonable.

          I’ve never understood how union membership can be mandated. The dues mandated (about $700/annum for a WI teacher) and then those funds used for political speech and campaign contributions.

          Also, he seems to be in agreement with FDR.

          “Liberal icon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed the ability of public sector unions — government worker unions paid for by taxpayers — to collectively bargain, saying the negotiators in such cases couldn’t bind the decisions of the public through the legislature about how to run government.”
          From:http://articles.cnn.com/2011-02-21/opinion/avlon.wisconsin.unions_1_public-sector-unions-democratic-governors/2?_s=PM:OPINION

          • Kent

            I live here. Walker was my county executive, and nearly drove Milwaukee County into bankruptcy during his tenure. I assure you, you will never find a reference to eliminating collective bargaining because Walker never said it. Given the strong union support that you’re seeing demonstrated in Madison, he never could have been elected governor had he been honest about his union-busting goals.

            And just what do you find “reasonable” about limiting workers rights to bargain over anything but wages (and limiting those to the rate of inflation), having to hold annual elections to keep unions intact and workers losing the ability to have their union dues deducted from state paychecks? How is any of that reasonable? What’s next — will it be reasonable to pay men more than women who do the same job? And if this is such a great cost-saving measure, which we need because we’re supposedly on the verge of bankruptcy here, then why exempt police and firefighters, whose pension and health care costs are among the highest of all WI public employees? Could it be because the police and firefighters’ unions both endorsed Walker in his run for governor last fall? Nah, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

          • William

            The gov. is trying to get ahead of the coming financial disaster. The feds won’t be able to bail out anyone in the future so it is time for the public sector be asked to pay their fair share.

          • Kent

            William, the unions have already agreed to the financial concessions. They’ve basically offered Walker their wallets, but he wants to take their pants, too. This was never about the “financial disaster.” This was always about destroying public unions. Look at Walker’s funding source — the Koch brothers, who are crystal clear about their agenda to do just that. Walker has won–he’s got the budget “fix” he said he needed from the unions. But what he really wants is to end collective bargaining. At least let’s call it what it is — union busting, pure and simple.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Kent,
            Public sector workers have to be in a special category. There will always be a tension between what is best for the workers and what is in the general public’s interest. Clearly the pendulum has swung too far (in general) against the public’s interest.

            And yes, I think all public workers should have a choice of whether to join and have dues confiscated (up to $700/year).

            That said, I think most good school teachers are underpaid.

          • Kent

            I agree with you. The pendulum has swung too far. But Walker is clearly trying to swing it too far in the opposite direction. What’s worse is that he’s not being honest about it. He’s using this supposed “budget crisis” to push an agenda that is extremely far right. Check out the rest of his “budget repair” bill, and you’ll find other goodies, like giving the state Department of Health Services the authority to restrict eligibility, modify benefits and make other changes to Medicaid. Currently, this can only be done by changing state law. This would mean decisions would be taken out of our representatives’ hands. And all of this is being pushed through in fewer than two weeks time, limiting public debate, as well as any thorough review of the bill.

            That’s not democracy in action, and it flies in the face of Wisconsin’s progressive tradition.

          • Bmichitson

            Mr. Worried,

            I have news for you, corporations and governments do break contracts. If the governemnt can not keep a contract, they have and will break it.

            As for unions using money to influence politics…what should they do? Use the money to stuff their matress? Mr. Worrried, unions MUST influence the political process and represent their members. The problem is not that the will not influnce the political process, but that it will not be tranparent and that it doesn’t represent their members. If unions do not speak for labor…labor has NO VOICE AND NO INFLUENCE (for what this means look at the years between 1870 and 1940).

      • Cory

        He never said he’d destroy collective bargaining, asswipe.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Come on Cory, that’s not the tone Obama asked us to keep.

          Kent already called me on that issue. Although I don’t think Walker is “destroying” collective bargaining.

          Walker isn’t going as far as FDR. FDR didn’t believe in collective bargaining for public sector unions.

        • RJRisch

          WHY ASSWIPE?

      • Bmichitson

        Worried,
        You should understand the exact nature of the very ideas Walker wants to elminate.

        Yearly voting means unions are constently putting together votes and tallying them, and organizing them, and going through the count. The idea is clear…make having a union as difficult as possible.

        Voluntary union dues and the union collecting them means one thing…create dischord among workers. Eliminating pensions and benefits from the table is like saying, all those decades of hard work, of people suffering in private and public labor, that is going out the window. We are going to eliminate the very RIGHT TO BARGIN for those things. That is huge Mr. Worried. Do you understand that some people see their work as valuable? do you know that some people feel that decent rights to negotiate are FUNDAMENTAL? The inions are WILLING TO BARGIN THOSE ITEMS “DOWN.”

        As long as corporations say…”be happy you have a job,” and we say…”yes sir, your right!”, as long as that happens, labor will work and most profits will flow to the top. Mr. Worried, don’t you think we – the ones who work – should share fairly in wealth we create?

  • david

    Teachers commit fraud against the state at rallies by obtaining false “medical permission” slips from Doctors who also were breaking the rules. Not a whole lot of outrage about this, could only imagine if it happened at a teaparty rally.
    Also, 2/3′s of eighth graders in WI can not even read at the proper level. No wonder businesses in WI are hurting for better educated workers. Maybe the teachers whose average salary around $50,000/yr. need to count their blessings?
    Democrats run from state, maybe Pelosi’s statement of draining the swamp is coming true!
    Folks, you better be very concerned, because the trigger of the last mess is at $5 a barrel and growing. Two years ago I urged everyone, to get out of debt, stay out of debt and save all you can, because another iceberg is looming on the horizon. It is here!!!!

    • Anonymous

      I didn’t think teachers needed doctors notes to take off from work when sick…if they do, why would they be held to this standard when many people in other jobs are not?

    • William

      I wish the teachers would go out on strike to support parents getting vouchers for their children to attend a school of their choice.

    • Beverly

      That’s right the iceberg IS here, & has been for years.

      You forgot to advise us that alternative energy is the only way to leave fossil fuels where they belong. Come up with solutions. You will make a lot of money, & we will no longer be at the mercy of foreigners who charge outrageous prices, which are on the rise.

      We’ll have the added benefits of better health when we no longer must breath poison.

    • Bmichitson

      David,
      WOW!? you know that teachers are “Faking” sick? Oh, by the by, private sector workers take “sick time,” as needed…regardless of how sick they are.

      Tparty folks are a strange bunch. They direct their ire against government and government workers, but have nothing to say about corporate America and the the wealthy Americans who do not want to suffer the end of the Bush give aways.

      DAvid, if you are a worker, if your commodity is labor, unions should be looking to speak for you and help you. When private secotr and public sector labor see themselves as enemies, then capital is rejoicing.

      • ThresherK

        No, private sectioners go to work, then spread their germs to coworkers and clients alike, like that viral bronchitis I can’t seem to get rid of because my manager “manned up” for that Saturday project.

        Y’know, extracting every last minute of near-conscious presence of a body at a workplace. AKA “productivity”!

  • Dmontg

    I was a teacher in CA for 10 years and forced to pay union dues. It was infuriating to see my money used to support elected officials I didn’t agree with. And, there was no way out of it. Make all states right to work states.

    • Cory

      Then get a factory job.

    • Just another American

      So you were a teacher gladly taking the gained benefits that teacher unions fought for decades to receive but you didn’t like reciprocating to ensure others get living wages like you did…

      • Dmontg

        I saw teacher unions fix it so that the jobs of my coworkers were saved even though the work they did was questionable. And by the way, these same teachers got paid more than I did for doing less. I also remember a time my union bargained pay raises for new teachers only leaving the experienced teachers under the bus. The leaders didn’t inform us of this bargaining chip before we all voted. I don’t think I needed a union to represent me to the school district, my work ethics and teaching ability spoke just fine.
        Lastly, maybe if union dues were voluntary the union leaders would listen to their members more closely.

    • Kaye

      Unions can only support candidates through their PACs, just like corporations. Those are funded by voluntary contributions by members, not union dues.

  • Zing

    Is it hot in here, or is it just me….HA! Current employees might keep their gains if the state doesn’t go bankrupt, but future EE’s will be sold so far down river they’ll think they were born in NOLA

  • Kent

    Why isn’t anyone talking about the money Walker has SPENT during his first month in office? Two tax cuts he’s already signed, along with one that’s passed the Assembly, would add roughly $117 million to the state’s budget problem over the next two years. It’s not about saving money, it’s about busting unions. If he can find money for the CEOs who supported his election, Walker can find money to pay workers who make thousands upon thousands less.

    • Diane

      No, actually he gave $400M to his cronies that got him elected. This is what it’s all about. The Republican agenda. NOTHING will be fixed in the US until we have campaign finance reform, but the Supreme Court FIXED that!

      • Anonymous

        Could we add into Wisconsin’s money management the investment of its pension funds in Wall Street accounts and paying 15% for their management? Management fees on investment accounts are far smaller than 15% normally, one fifth of that or less. Wisconsin was either blind to the scam or actively engaged in it. Me? I think Republicans in that state are selling it off, bit by bit, to corporate interests. Business reporter David Cay Johnston reminds us:

        “The state pension plan, 15% of the money going into it each year is being paid out to Wall Street to manage the money. That’s a really huge high percentage to pay out to Wall Street to manage the money. And what I think is going on here is this is the state …where public employee unions were first by law allowed, and if this governor can break these unions then you’re going to see this happen all across the country and further drive down wages.”

        http://www.dylanratigan.com/2011/02/17/david-cay-johnston-on-radio-free-dylan-2/

        I’d like to mention the USA Today poll that came out yesterday shows surprisingly wide support for public sector workers, considering all the rhetoric coming from the right.

        http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-22-poll-public-unions-wisconsin_N.htm

  • Kjmiller61

    union busting

  • Jay

    It’s very encouraging as a patriotic American to see Gov. Walker stand up to the thuggish tactics of the socialist teachers unions.

    • Corythatcher

      Get a life… and a mind.

      • Jay

        Yeah, it must be really tough watching your fellow socialist union thugs being so soundly rejected by real Americans.

        • geffe

          How nice Jay, “real Americans”. My grand father was in a Union in the Brooklyn Navy yards. The men he worked with built ships to help fight the war in Europe. People like you make me sick, you are not a real American. You don’t know the first thing about what this nation is about. That’s OK it’s your right to be ignorant and uneducated.

    • geffe

      “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”
      Samuel Johnson

      • Jay

        “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

        United Negro College Fund

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jose-Ivey/589961851 Jose Ivey

    This is not about deficits. This is about dismantling the base of the Democratic Party by removing its sources of funding and voter mobilization.

  • Lct718

    What Walker is doing is not about the deficit or wisconsin,it’s about himself, by gaining attention with this actions he is propelling himself onto the national stage within his party ,he can care less if he wins the next election in wisconsin ,reminds me of another “nononsense” governor,Ronald Reagan ,who busted the unions and empowered the rich, well guess What? all the jobs went overseas .
    People forget ,many of this young republicans are quick to blame the democrats or the labor movement but Reagan left the country with one of the largest deficits in history and started the deregulation of the financial system.remember the debacle ,legacy of GWB.
    helloooo!! there is no limit to greed .
    This are not good republicans,it’s all about power,it’s all about winning,slander and cynicism .
    A word of caution ,this deep political divide will only damage us and our institutions and will make us weaker.

    • Cory

      He has no chance. He is a geek with a bald spot. Unions are likely to hand him his lily white ass.

      • Jay

        You’re a real retard.

    • William

      I would vote for Gov. Walker. Who else is out there making the tough calls and taking on the unions?

      • Beverly

        Thats’s right. Why stop robbing the poor to give to the rich?

        Even though oppressing, & revoking the rights of middle & lower classes will do nothing to improve the Economy, it’s a great distraction.

        Maybe people won’t notice how incompetent Gov. Mubarak is; how he immediately went to work destroying a balanced budget, how he LOWERED taxes instead of raising them, or at least leaving them alone. If the people of Wisconsin aren’t forced to focus on other things, they will realize that he has no common sense.

  • Ronsmoss

    Let’s hope this is a turning point…ironic Egyptians have to show Americans how to make democracy..

  • Kent

    Kind of funny to have former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson on the show to talk about deficits…although, he is kind of an expert on them, having worked for George Bush, who we all know by now ran up one whopper of a national debt. Before that, when Thompson became governor of Wisconsin, the state had a $700 million deficit. When he left office 14 years later, having presided over a Republican legislative majority for most of that time, he left a $3.2 billion dollar deficit for Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to fix. And Doyle did it, too, without having to gut public unions or raise taxes. Hmmmm.

    • Gamil

      Wisconsin’s current deficit is $3.6 billion, so looks like Doyle took a lesson from Obama in how to grow deficits.

      • Kent

        You might want to read the papers — we’ve just been through the worst recession since the Great Depression, which economists first predicted we wouldn’t come out of until at least 2012. Tax receipts are down, which is why we’re in this mess. If it were only about overspending, then every state with a Republican governor or majority Republican legislature wouldn’t be in the same situation — facing a major deficit.

  • Maurpc

    HARLEY SHAIKEN ….from the portion of the conversation I heard, I’m thrilled to hear a kindred spirit!!! A voice that speaks my words…..how can i help?

  • Just another American

    I’m not a union person but I don’t understand most people today arguing to destroy further the middle class advances in this country. As middle age person I have watched working environments deteriorate over the past decade as the rise of the extreme wing of the Republican party has taken hold. I use to be a republican but cannot stand the erosion of the American fabric. I have watched the baby boomers historically scared into a life time of bad decisions and it continues when we a small group of individuals roll back the American middle class into poverty. Using financial woes to protect the wealthy but break Americans in their ability to collectively bargain is just another way of divide and concur. We are only in this financial problem due to the wealthy that collapsed our financial systems. Yes it’s true we don’t have the revenue but don’t be duped into believing in the American workers are the cause and solution.

  • Smartbodies

    Thanks SO much for hosting this important (!!!) matter:) Thank goodness the workers in Wisconsin are so brave – it’s about time the working class has become outraged! We’ve finally started talking about race issues – now it’s time for class issues!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    There are those at this sight who are against Americans, grouping together, in democratic fashion, to form unions. Would you also be against allowing individual Americans to direct, at tax time, what agencies their tax money would go to ? Let’s see what really happens to America if its’ citizens overpower big money lobbyist ! One man one vote !

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      We should be collaborating. I’m from Missouri as well. Contact information is available on my website.

    • Gamil

      Lobbyists only have one vote.

      • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

        Which one? The state or federal representative. The state or federal senator. A state governor. A supreme court justice or the president.

  • david

    “Protesting Teachers Could Reap $9 Million from Taxpayers to Attend Rallies in Wisconsin.
    Absent educators may be paid to abandon students and march on the Capitol”
    http://maciverinstitute.com/2011/02/teacher-sick-outs-to-cost-taxpayers-more-than-6-million/

  • Kjmiller61

    The union has already said it would accept financial concessions, but Walker wants to remove thier collective rights to ruin the union – if the gov forces this through, we can say good bye to workers rights in this country – for everyone!!!

  • ArnoldH

    They will still be able to collectively bargain for wages, which is a mistake. Labor laws are more than sufficient. Public workers don’t need a union anyway. State governments need to be able to get rid of the lazy incompetents that dominate public payrolls. Working for the state has become the fallback for the unambitious and ignorant who more often than not get their lifetime jobs through patronage and nepotism.

    I vote anti-union and I vote!

    • geffe

      I vote for unions and I vote. Workers unite!

      • Jay

        I am so so happy to see the socialist thug unions going broke.

  • Beverly

    Yes, they ARE lazy. The worst are probably the mail carriers. They’re disgusting.

    • Edith

      ALL the mail carriers are lazy and disgusting? I always get my mail, no problem. My stuff always arrives when I send it too. It’s funny I’ve paid extra for private carriers (I get lots of stuff delivered) for overseas shipping only to find that USPS is just as good and it’s cheaper. I’d hate to be at the mercy of FedEx and DHL for all of my packages.

      • ThresherK

        Hey, if FedEx and DHL can’t figure out how to put the USPS out of bizness, who’s lazy?

        If they had a plan to deliver letters for 40 cents a piece, wouldn’t we be hearing of it now? Of course, they’d have to drive to 150 million addresses (or whatever) five-six days a week. The kind of thing that’s much more suitable to a “service” than a “corporation”.

      • Beverly

        Sorry. I was being sarcastic. Of course, mail carriers are some of hardest working, most dedicated people in America. They deserve much higher salaries for what they do. I couldn’t handle that job for even a day.

        I only posted that to show the brainwashed non-thinkers how wrong & illogical they are.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Beverly, I thought you going postal on us….. :)

        • Clive

          I thought you had gone rational on us :-)

  • Rob (in NY)

    Regardless of whether someone supports or opposes this specific Wisconsin legislation to change collective bargaining laws for public employees, the actions of Robert Wirch and his fellow Wisconsin state senators are a complete disgrace to our democratic process. I guess the new Wisconsin standard is that legistlators should leave the state to prevent a vote whenever they disagree with a particular piece of legislation, rather than voting on the bill and taking their case to the voters in the next election. Would you accept this new standard of leaving the state like cowards if Republicans left the state to prevent a vote on a tax increase or are such anti-democratic actions only acceptable for good, nice little liberals?

    Regarding public sector unions, I cannot speak to the specifics of Wisconsin and agree the debate is more ideological here, but some of the state and local union demands are outrageous in my home state of NY and neighboring state of NJ. Governors Cuomo (D) and Christie (R) are both being forced to confront this reality.

    Here is an example of an out of control public sector union in NY. “The average salary (excluding overtime) of a sworn police officer in Nassau (suburb of NYC) last year was $107,000. The total package, including fringe benefits and overtime, averages $202,400 per officer.” I would also note that these statistics from the WSJ above include only current salary and benefits, rather than the present value of very generous pensions and other post retirement benefits. Here is another of my personal favorite benefits. “Cops receive free health care and up to five “blood days”—comp days for every time they donate blood”. When I donate blood, I might take an extra 30 minutes over lunch. What a joke!!

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703960804576120191207673466.html?mod=WSJ_NY_News_LEFTTopStories.

    • Edith

      New York is really expensive. What’s wrong with a police officer earning a good salary and being able to afford to live in a good school district? That’s a dangerous job. How are you going to attract quality candidates for those positions if you don’t pay them well? Or should police officers be paid minimum wage and have to accept bribes to make ends meet?

      • Rob (in NY)

        I did not suggest paying Nassau County police officers minimum wage and have no problem with reasonable compensation that does not break the bank of local governments. Why should Nassau County pay police officers 35% more than New York City or over double the compensation of NY State troopers (e.g. Highway Patrol) when a large percentage of Nassau police officers are doing the same job If you read my email, the outrageous level of fringe benefits is where I see most of the problem The private sector cannot continue to grant 5 days off for donating, large pensions after working as few as 20 years, allowing people to accumulate unlimited sick days that amount to several years of pay, padding overtime in the last 2-3 years to increase a pension by 50% or more in some cases, etc…. There is a middle ground between paying minimum wage and caving to police unions. By the way, in this case it is the GOP who is in bed with the police unions.

    • Bmichitson

      Rob,
      I would not accept the “deal” that the police have is fair. But that is why you bargin. It sounds like your leaders are simply not good barginers. Unions can, have, and unfortunately will, ask for more than is reasonable. But, that is why you hammer out deals. It sounds like the unions are doing a good job and the management people are not!

      As for the people leaving the state, it is a dramatice move. Something almost t-party like. What is shows is how deep the right to bargin collectively is imbedded in our spirit.

      To many people are not putting this in historic context. Unions’ influence have weakened since the 1980′s. Partly by their inability to keep up with workers needs, but mostly because industry has been able to find other people and environments to exploit. The real evidence is not in dispute about that. Unions are finally starting to catch up with the real mission they have, to protect and advocate for all of labor. If labor has no collective barginning rights, capital will, as always, exploit labor. This is an overwhelming axiom. So, unions need to remember their purpose and the people they represent, and labor needs to remember that being thankful for work denigrates thier value. Be proud of their labor and expect reasonable and decent conditions.

      • ThresherK

        “Being thankful for work denigrates their value.”

        It does sound a bit peasanty, doesn’t it? Like a serf groveling in the dirt when the lord of the manor passes by in a carriage.

        I don’t remember the last time a Wall Streeter or privatizer was thankful for my tax money. They didn’t apologize, didn’t promise anything, didn’t agree to any concessions or regulation or reform or control. But these people, cops, firefighters, teachers, people we see every day, don’t get to put on that act.

        Insightful bit; good work.

    • Sean

      Police officers put their lives on the line every day they go to work. Most of them deserve six-figure compensation (all except the ones found to be criminals, which is another story…). Why would you choose that example?? Two policemen have been killed in Tampa within the past month- don’t their families deserve a decent financial safety net?? What white collar workers do you know of who actually add the value of personal sacrifice (along with the livelihoods of their families) to better our society?? Where did you stand on the issue of the health bill for 9/11 First Responders?? Were you on the side of the, mostly, Republicans who chose to stall the allocation of money for yet another year just to lower the total payment by a couple of billion dollars? Do you not value the sacrifice of First Responders and not believe they deserve immediate health care assistance? People who make comments like your ‘they get such and such and I get beans, so I’m jealous and I think everybody should get beans like me’ are delusional. Why you don’t direct that attitude towards the TRUE thieves (JP Morgan, Goldman-Sachs, etc.) is beyond me!!!

  • Jayco

    All part of their plan! Wipe out the poor and middle class!! Remember!!

    • Gamil

      The middle class is being wiped out by taxes to pay these irrational wages and benefits.

      • Beverly

        What color is the sky in your world?

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Bmichitson,
    I’m not naive. Of course Walker is trying to weaken the union.

    That is a good thing. Public union power is way too strong. Even FDR recognized this dilemma. There is an unholy alliance between unions and elected officials dependent on union money. There is a clear conflict of interest when these same elected officials are responsible for negotiating labor contracts.

    If I want to work for the government, why should I be forced to pay union dues? That isn’t freedom of choice. Why should I be forced to use the union health plan which is more expensive. I should have a choice.

    The bottom line is there is a conflict between the public good and the best deal for the public sector workers.

    Of course many public workers do good work. Many are underpaid (especially good teachers). This is the fault of the unions which has a set a system which overpays and protects poor teachers at the expense of good teachers.

    You seem to equate public sector unions and private sector unions. They are completely different animals.

    • Bmichitson

      Mr. Worried,

      Unions have made mistakes in their work to protect the rights of members by protecting them, no matter what. However, if you believe that unions, public sector, should have no right to support the politicians that decide their fate, well that is strange and makes no sense. Every person wants to influence the politicains, corporations do it beyond sanity. A politican by nature is a person who we, organized or not, want to influence. The key is to be transparent. What should union do…nothing? Their very purpose is to advocate for the welfare of their members. This part of your reasoning is just without reason.

      As for being “forced,” to pay union dues, that is not the case in my state, MA. The same is true for my health care. If you belong to a union that forces these things on you, influence them. That, Mr. Worried, is the problem with unions, its members not being as involved and aware.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Bmichtson,
        I’m with you on transparency. I can see the problems with public union power. I’ll admit the solutions are not well thought out. For instance, if public union membership was completely voluntary AND they separated political funds and made those contributions voluntary then it would go a long way in solving the corruption issue vis a vis campaign contributions. The remedy is always to vote the bums out. The problem is the damage in long term contracts is they transcend the politician’s tenure. Again, the public (ie, taxpayer) interest should always trump the government employee interest.

        It’s interesting you bring up Mass. This is the poster child for public union power and corruption. This state is loaded with political patronage and graft. They are just starting to address pension abuses but they have a long way to go. I’m sure you are aware of the boss of Massport receiving a $450K payout for unused sick time that was in the news last week. This kind of abuse gives good public service a bad name. So maybe voluntary union dues is too weak a remedy.

        • Bmichitson

          I agree that some top people take huge advantage of the pension system. But those top peolple are not the vast members of union labor, and I don’t think the Mass port person refelcts what really happens. My pension is sound and over-funded. Very often states use solid pension to “patch” holes elswhwere. It is intersting that, again, tax paying citizens and public workers are separted. I pay taxes and own a home in my city, I am a tax paying citizen.

          And, again, the main point is eliminating bargining rights. It is ok to bargin hard with unons and this is what could be the answer.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            I agree that that most of the abuse is in the political class. The source of most of the problem is patronage. Billy Bulger is example #1 for pension abuse.

            However, the MA state pension is massively underfunded. They fixed some of the problems going forward but it will take years to fix the sins of the past.

      • Dmontg

        One should never have to be forced to pay union dues. How UNamerican is that! I was forced to pay union dues for 10 years and it frustrated me because I really had no say in how the money was spent. I would never send money to Barbara Boxer or Diane Feinstein, but my union did! I use to even receive who to vote for sheets in my teacher mailbox, of course all Dems. Not even a suggestion should I have received from the leaders of my union. The unions need to but out and get out of people’s pockets!

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Bmichitson,
        I just checked with a teacher friend here in MA and YES the do forcibly take dues from the paycheck. You can opt out of the union but you lose union benefits and you are still forced to pay an agency fee (80% of the union dues). This is just incredible.

        My friend had a new teacher colleague who could barely afford bills (new teacher, loans for master degree, etc.). The new teacher didn’t authorize the district to deduct the dues. Well, the union promptly threatened to take her to small claims court. Nice!

        • Bmichitson

          Check with your friend again, I do not have to pay the dues, and as far as losing the benefits if I opt out, that does make sense.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            “Check with your friend again, I do not have to pay the dues, and as far as losing the benefits if I opt out, that does make sense.”

            Are you in the MTA or another public union? Maybe the rules vary from district.

            At least the teachers in WI will be able to save $1000/year if they want by opting out of their dues.

    • TomK in Boston

      Isn’t it funny how unions are “way too strong” after decades of decline? Maybe that’s similar to the way that, after 30 years of tax cuts and soaring wealth at the top, asking the elite to pay at a slightly higher rate that would still be very low by post-1930 standards is “punishing the rich”?

      ps The Egypt-like inequality that is afflicting us didn’t come from the inequality fairy, it is our choice. Union bashing and tax cuts are two of the most important causes.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Not unions. Public worker unions. Big difference.

        Federal worker compensation up 40% since 2000. Private workers comp = flat since 2000.

        • TomK in Boston

          Thing is, after years of union busting, there aren’t many unionized workers in the private sector. So you really are comparing union vs non-union. Looks like being in a union is the only way to stand up to voodoo economics. Looks like we all should be in unions?

          Or are you saying it’s better to have flat wages since 2000?

          ps Those flat wages followed the Bush tax cuts and deregulation. So much for Reaganomics.

        • Shultz Jack

          First the right did its damnedest to get rid of unions in private industry, to the point that less than 8% of workers in the private sector still have unions. Now that the private sector unions have been disposed of, its time to demonize the public sector unions.

          To the right wingers, the enemy is the very idea of unions, because unions set limits to their wealth and power. Unions are the only real opposition remaining to them, and so unions must be destroyed.

          That is their goal, and unless working people wake up and fight back, they will succeed.

        • Dave in RI

          As with most things, it comes down to our differences in values and priorities. I agree with you that there is a difference in the employer-employee dynamic with private vs. public unions. But, despite that there’s an element of conflict of interest, I can’t see my way to saying to a whole class of workers, whose work supports the fundamental institutions of our free and democratic society, that they must give up the right to organize (or have their organizations’ hobbled, which amounts to the same thing). There is no such thing as “perfection” when it comes to organizing and managing the interplay between the rights of individuals and those of the society. We try to come up with a messy solution that least offends our sense of justice.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Regarding tax rates, the Obama debt panel recommendation of tax simplification should have been adopted. It had a chance to remove perversions in the system and enable real, organic economic growth. Since there is no political will for the that, I am now convinced the Bush tax cuts (all of them) should have been allowed to expire. Even with that, we still need massive spending cuts. The debt crisis is going to kill our country, IMHO.

        • TomK in Boston

          “Tax simplification” usually means a flat rate, which is more class warfare and more inequality. The obvious first step in doing something about the deficit is raising rates at the top. We need to change the tax code, in a way that makes it way more progressive. Very low tax rates at the top are a big factor in our drift toward oligarchy.

          The deficit is no big deal. It’s mainly being used as a hammer on the middle class, so it’s great for the elite, but it doesn’t have much economic significance. It was caused by the Bush tax cuts and unfunded wars, and by the drop in tax revenues caused by the Bush economic crash. The squeezing of the middle class proposed by Oromney and the GoP doesn’t even equal what they created by extending the tax cuts.

          After a crash the thing to do is spend and don’t worry about a deficit. When the economy comes back it blows away the deficit.

          Raise taxes at the top, stop the wars, and keep spending and the dreaded deficit will soon go away.

  • Beverly

    WORRIED FOR THE COUNTRY,

    FDR died in 1945.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      RIP

  • Wes

    Walker created the financial crisis in Wisconsin by cutting corporate taxes. Now he is using the crisis that he created as an excuse to break up unions.

    For reference, here is a quote from a Wisconsin newspaper, The Appleton Post-Crescent:

    “For his first month in office, though, Walker’s been focused on spending money through tax cuts. Two tax cuts he’s already signed — along with one that’s passed the Assembly — would add about $117 million to the state’s budget problem over the next two years.”

    http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110201/APC0101/102010421/Wisconsin-Governor-Scott-Walker-signs-tax-cut-bill-into-law

    And here is a quote from ProPublica:

    “Walker claims the state is facing a $137 million shortfall, but in the middle of his budget repair bill’s storm, critics have accused him of manufacturing that deficit in the first place, citing a government report [3] that predicted Wisconsin could have ended the 2010-11 fiscal year with a surplus.

    “Opponents of Walker’s proposal have been quick to blame the deficit on a series of tax break measures [4] he pushed through earlier this year. But while those tax cuts will cost the state nearly $140 million next year, the Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan state agency that provides budgetary and economic data to the Wisconsin legislature, said the state will actually have a modest surplus this year.”

    http://www.propublica.org/article/cheat-sheet-whats-really-going-on-with-wisconsins-budget

    Wes, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    • TomK in Boston

      Right, Wes, and it’s a standard class warfare tactic. Cut taxes, create a deficit, and, expressing deep, deep concern over the deficit you just created, squeeze the middle class.

      The agenda of the right, pure and simple, is redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the top. All the stuff about how voodoo econ is really good for everyone is the con job. If you follow the money, cutting taxes and using the resulting deficit to take from the middle class = redistribution.

      The same thing is in play on the national level. The Bush/Oromney tax cuts are a huge giveaway to the elite and the primary cause (along with the deregulation-caused financial crash) of the deficit. The republicans who are horrified by our deficit created it, and are screaming that we now must cut everything that helps average Americans. Follow the money, the result = redistribution.

      With the Bush crash they got most of the home equity wealth that used to be the biggest asset of the middle class. Follow the money. It wasn’t destroyed, it was transferred. I wonder what they’ll do when they have it all? Well, there will be another, much bigger crash then, since you can’t have a functioning economy without consumer spending. Arch-righty Henry Ford knew that he had to pay his workers enough to buy his cars. Seems the current crop of greedheads aren’t that smart.

  • Dave in CT

    “Central Economic Planning at Its Worst”

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1337

    • Rob (in NY)

      Dave in CT,
      Based on some of your comments, here is a totally unrelated link in which you may be interested. Apparently, Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is going to be made into a 3 part movie premiering on April 15, 2011. While I do not entirely endorse Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, I read this novel while in college and in the military (when I was younger) and credit it with having a positive influence on my life.

      http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/

  • Beverly

    ROB,

    Legislators should leave the state to prevent voting on something that’s unconstitutional, & unfair. Democratic legislators are very patriotic, so they oppose anything which goes against the Constitution. They prefer doing the right thing.

    How about if we just get rid of the police altogether? Think of how much more money we’d be able to give to Wall Street.

    In fact, maybe the best thing to do is eliminate ALL jobs, & trample on EVERYBODY’S rights . . . except yours, OF COURSE.

    • Rob (in NY)

      Beverly,
      If Democrats believe Gov. Walker’s proposals are unconstitutional, they have other legal remedies available, including suing under either under either Wisconsin state or federal law or taking their case to the voters of Wisconsin in the next election. It sounds like you and other On Point liberals are perfectly ok with a mob mentality and ignoring the rule of law when it suits you political purposes. This is a dangerous precedent.

      Once again, I posted the example of Nassau County LI’s police contract because this is a perfect example of the cozy relationship between union leaders and county/state political officials (e.g. in this case more are Republicans) pushing a county government toward insolvency. I did not suggest eliminating Nassau County’s police department or trampling on anyone’s “rights”. I would hope that even an honest liberal could look at the provisions of certain labor contract and acknowledge that they overly generous and inconsistent with the market. I respect police work and several members of my extended family are retired NYC police officers, but is five extra paid days off really necessary to recover from the dramatic experience of donating blood? Contrary to popular opinion, police work is not even in the list of top 10 most dangerous jobs in the US.

      • Dave in CT

        Good luck getting into that part of the Venn diagram. Your cool rationality is no match for the righteous indignation of those who know what is best for the rest.

  • Arnoldh

    It’s not a state senator’s job to determine what is constitutional. Fairness and patriotism are subjective.

  • Dave in CT
    • Dave in CT

      “Thanks to craven politicians seeking government-union support, shameless exploitation by those unions of national tragedy (such as the death of firefighters in the World Trade Center collapse), and other factors, including the public’s increasing embrace of big government, government workers have turned themselves into a coddled class that lives better than their private-sector counterparts and is exempt from many of the standards and laws that apply to the rest of us. Instead of offering accolades and honors, the public should be mad at the current situation and ought to question what it says about the nature of our society.

      The Orange County Register published a front-page investigation in April about a special license-plate program for California government workers. The drivers of nearly 1 million cars and light trucks—out of a total statewide registration of 22 million—have their addresses shielded under a confidential records program.

      “Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras with impunity,” according to the Register’s Jennifer Muir. “Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome. Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that drivers are ‘one of their own’ or related to someone who is.”

      While the basic free right of private individuals to form a union of people who agree to stand together so that they can have some clout in dealing with organized capital would seem fairly obvious,
      why do people pretend that abuses of such a system, especially on the public’s dime, don’t happen and don’t need to be addressed?

      Corporations and Government collude and corrupt and we should demand accountability when it happens.

      Organized Labor and Government collude and corrupt and we should demand accountability when it happens.

      As always, a laser like focus against collusion and corruption should be our #1 goal, not throwing babies out with the bathwater.

      • Dave in RI

        If your argument is that corruption is bad, I don’t think you’ll find anyone opposing you. But if you’re saying what I think you’re saying–that because there are instances of corruption, it is appropriate to take away people’s rights–then you are putting forth an irrational argument. We don’t (or shouldn’t) throw babies out with bathwater.

  • Dave in CT

    And now Indiana Dems walk out to prevent private workers from being free to opt out of unions/dues.

    Why can’t people choose?

    Oh, they’re too dumb.

    If a thing is of true value to an individual, they will choose it. Only they know that.

    Or did you know better for them?

    • Dave in RI

      Unions exist to secure protections for workers in specific fields/industries where, prior to the unions, workers were unfairly exploited and denied rights and freedoms. Since anyone working in such an industry becomes a beneficiary of those protections, they are obliged to shoulder some responsibility for maintaining those protections. With rights come responsibilities. Nothing is free.

      Am I right to guess that you also feel immigrants to this country should be free to come and enjoy the rights and freedoms, privileges and benefits of our society while opting out of paying taxes or obeying our laws?

      Why can’t people choose?

  • Buddhaclown

    How is being opposed to workers’ rights out of economic considerations any different, except in degree, to being in favor of sweet shops or child labor or outsourcing to exploit cheap labor or even slavery . . . all of which are justified for economic reasons.

    Wouldn’t people who are anti-union have been, to some extent or another, pro-slavery had they lived two hundred years ago? After all, their fundamental reasoning with regard to the modern issue is essentially identical to the reasoning used in favor of slavery.

    Of course if you give workers rights you will have to pay them more and offer more benefits. And, of course, one can argue that if they have more, in some sense we have less — either through tax increases or loss of jobs, or whatever economic justification you can conjure up. But that is precisely the justification for continuing slavery used two centuries ago. Freeing slaves meant the former slaves would have more — namely their freedom and thus the need to actually pay them — and everyone else would have slightly less . . . or at least that was the logic, flawed as it may have been.

    People arguing from the dark side on this debate feel that making other people’s lives miserable is justified because it will make their own life slightly better. That’s the way criminals think.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Clown,
      Your logic is twisted.

      Wanting freedom for public workers to opt out of unions, union dues and union mandated health insurance can in no way be equated with supporting slavery. Your analogy is repugnant.

      • Buddhaclown

        Oh, I see, so you are actually supporting workers rights! You’re actually on the side of the unions! I see, it is really about their freedom!

        That’s like arguing that slavery was a good thing because it freed blacks from having to actually earn a living.

        No, sir, it is your (lack of) logic that is deeply twisted.

        • Beverly

          How right you are!

  • Clive

    Why is democracy good for everyone except unions?

    • Dave in CT

      You mean double-democracy?

      As Edmund posted yesterday:
      “The whole concept of public unions should be illegal, in that it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality.”

      • Dave in RI

        That makes absolutely no sense. The polling booth is not the only venue where people are able to express their voice. “Representation” is not some discreet event that happens once and then you shut up. It’s ongoing and continuous. Every one of us gets represented repeatedly, not just once or even twice!

  • Greg Gordon

    Anyone in the comments here or on TV or talk radio who are comparing WI to Egypt and the governor to Mubarak are spoiled fools. What an insult to what the people of Egypt have been through and what they have accomplished. WI just had a fair election and no one is going to be killed in the protests.

    • Gamil

      I’m not sure about some of the less mentally stable among the protest crowds, the rhetoric is getting pretty heated from their leaders.

    • Beverly

      A fair election?

      Is it fair when the person you vote for doesn’t reveal his true intentions until he’s elected? Sounds like typical Republican dirty politics to me.

      From 2007, (?), until November 2, 2010, ALL we heard from every Republican, was how they were interested i job creation.

      How many jobs have they created?

      It’s historically accurate to state that no matter what Republicans say or promise, is/will be the exact opposite of the facts.
      They’re the party of opposites.
      For instance, they promised to only focus on creating jobs. Instead they’re destroying them, but only for the middle class.

      As for all that job creation nonsense, MUM’S THE WORD.

      They’re counting on voters not to remember what they REALLY do when they’re in control. Sadly, they’re correct in their assumptions about many people.

      Fortunately, they can’t fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.

      • Greg Gordon

        Well since you’ve proved that the Republicans strong-armed the entire state to vote them into power in a rigged, sham election (just like what’s been going on in Egypt for the last 30 years!), I guess the only option would be to have the Democratic minority flee the state until they get their way.

      • mickey

        Time for beddy bye, Bev

    • Beverly

      CORRECTION: Should be: “IT is/will be …”

  • Greg Gordon

    http://www.economist.com/node/17849199

    “In America, pay and benefits have grown twice as fast in the public sector as they have in the private sector.”

    “…public-sector workers earn, on average, a third more than their private-sector counterparts.”

    Your pro-union guest’s facts are slightly biased.

  • Buddhaclown

    Video in which Scott Walker admits that he considered planting trouble makers in the crowds.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/scott-walker-buffalo-beast-phone-prank_n_827058.html

    • Dave in CT

      As a putative smoking gun of something nefarious, that’s a real dud.

      Not withstanding NPRs top of the hour report on it saying they discussed the “efforts to cripple unions”, which was not a phrase in their conversation, and highlighting the baseball bat joke, prompted by the prank caller, Walker just kept politely moving the conversation along, stating he was just doing the right thing (to him) and appreciating Koch’s support.

      The prankster kept baiting for some outrageous response, but Walker just sounded like any politician, respectfully going along with the conversation so as not to offend, but didn’t ever really agree or disagree with what “Koch” said.

      Ho Hum.

      Again, the bluster and fire of what we imagine could be going on, much more an attention getter, than an actual discussion of the merits of honest points of view.

      I think the NPR characterization, sadly, will hurt the NPR image with independent thinkers.

      • Dave in RI

        I agree the content of the call is not that sensational, but why is Gov. Walker taking a call at all from David Koch? Would he have even taken a call from one of his constituents, let alone spending 20 minutes guffawing with her? This isn’t a criticism of Walker alone, but of the brazen influence of money and “the monied” in the political system. We’re kidding ourselves if we think this is “ho hum.”

        • Dave in CT

          My point being, as much as we love a boogey-man (Koch) and as much as our government is thoroughly corrupted by $. (I don’t believe $ is speech, when we know from history of human nature money corrupts), it is Ho-Hum in terms of it happening everyday on both sides of the aisle. Yes we should decry corruption everywhere.

          • Dave in CT

            that said, I’m still not convinced that policy follows $ as much as $ follows policy. Or that with an interested and informed populace, we wouldn’t vote the right way even in the face of monied opposition. They, as we like to point out with our stats on concentration of wealth, are after all a minority, and we can all vote.

            Cynicism, disinterest etc leading to voter apathy and absence is not necessarily an excuse to tell people what they can do with their money. Vigilance remains a duty of the self-governed.

            While easy and tempting to think otherwise, I think most politicians actually have sincere world views, diverse obviously, and when people with money see one they like, they pile on. The rest of us are free to argue, convince, expose if necessary, and then vote, as we want.

      • Gamil

        Too late for that, this program is a perfect example of the independence of NPR programming

      • Buddhaclown

        Are you kidding me? He flat out admitted that he considered planting trouble makers in the crowds. That is precisely the same tactic used by Mubarak weeks ago.

        You guys are so blinded by ideology that you would support the devil at this point.

        • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

          You can say that Walker has figured out how to work the Conservative media but you can’t say he was willing to plant trouble makers in the crowd based on the recording. If you have another source for the information please tell. The recording explicitly showed Walker concerned about someone getting hurt and what ramifications such action would have on him legally. It was obvious that he was telling the Koch imposter that planting trouble makers would be a detrimental idea.

          • Buddhaclown

            If he openly admitted to have considered doing that, that means he was willing to do so if he thought it advantageous. No further proof is required, he said so clearly himself. At no point did he say he was concerned about someone getting hurt, he said he was concerned it might hurt him politically.

            If someone said they thought about murdering so and so, but then decided against it because they might get caught, that still demonstrates an evil intent on the part of the person, limited only by their fear of being punished. The fact that they are fearful of punishment does not show that they consider murder immoral.

            He said “we thought about doing that but . . . ” and then explained the political — not moral — disadvantages. That’s all one needs to know. If he even considered planting people in a peaceful crowd to start violence then he is an immoral person. A moral person just wouldn’t even get that far in thought. The fact that he chose against such action not because it is immoral, but because it would potentially harmful politically in no way separates him from moral guilt as you suggest.

            And the mere fact that he didn’t stop and realize it was a prank the moment the fake David Koch suggested the idea clearly demonstrates that he didn’t consider it out of character for such a recommendation to come from the lips of one of his primary donors.

            Republicans used to be the “moral majority”. Now they are just turning into a bunch of gangsters.

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            I can respect that is the way you heard it. Though I disagree. Even if this tape was allowed as legal evidence, I doubt few courts would side with your premise.

            In Walkers words he refused to move forward with planting crowd instigators. I applaud him for standing against the David Koch imposter with the suggestion.

            Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I wish many would listen to this tape to obtain their own reasoned understanding.

            Before you think I’m on the side of Governor Walker, I beg to differ. I’m on the side of respect, reason, and the pursuit of truth. I question that tricking one into a conversation under false pretenses is legal or ethical.

            As one who sides with democracy, I greatly support collective bargaining. With support, respect, and intelligence on our side there is no need to resort to trickery.

          • Buddhaclown

            What you call trickery, I call transparency. That phone conversation offered us the most insight into his actual intentions that the public has had to date. No longer can he argue that this is not about destroying the unions and the degree to which he is willing to go is clear now. That he sees liberals, state workers, and democrats as the enemy couldn’t be more starkly painted. This is the age of the internet and wikileaks, the old days of genuine news needing to be filtered through the mainstream media outlets — many of which have devolved into something more like tabloids — is rapidly coming to an end. This “prank” offered stunning amounts of insight and news . . . and that in itself positions it on the side of “reasoned understanding” as you put it.

            A court of law should not be our standard for truth. Everyone knows the rich who can afford quality lawyers get away with murder — like O.J. — while the poor who cannot get locked up for minor offenses. Perhaps for a republican this is precisely an excellent standard for truth . . . but I think for rational people the idea that the legal system is the best instrument for measuring truth is an argument so questionable that it likely would only pass for correct within a court of law.

            And I completely agree with you that everyone should listen to the tape and “obtain their own reasoned understanding”. The statement in question is in the second clip around 4:00 min in.

            It is not surprising that many people overlooked the statement, or shrugged their shoulders. After all, the statement was one expressing the use of power to confuse and manipulate the ordinary American . . . and that is precisely what this whole debate is over. In other words, even if you conclude that he was willing to plant troublemakers in the crowds, how exactly is that any better or worse than what he is trying to do legally by destroying the unions and laying off workers? It is an expression of the same essential idea: that the powerful can bring down the ordinary American and bend them to their will, and that this can be disguised by planting seeds of discontent within the ordinary American so that they are divided and fight amongst themselves.

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            I’m on your side, just approaching it different. I see apathy and an inability to voice a democratic voice as the reason for the concentration of wealth. Revolution will cause destruction and the loss of any resources to be gained. I’m familiar with the circumstances of the American Revolution. In some way it is similar to what faces our country today. The difference is in the system of government provided by our forefathers. In placed is a non confrontational system providing favor to the average citizen.

            Instead of attacking the opposition, I suggest a media which allows the average citizen to intelligently participate in the political debate. For three years I’ve been peddling this idea in attempt to acquire like thinking individuals to help refine the thought in a manner worthy of higher demographics.

            There are more of us than there is of them. Let’s leverage our assets to win the argument.

          • Dave in CT

            Exactly. And that can be done without coercive legislation against those who want to spend/waste their money throwing it at politicians.

            The number of votes is not on the elite side. So we just need to keep working for transparency, fighting apathy, and demanding accountability to the corrupt.

            Its sad how much we really are all on the same side, but speak with vitriol to those who stray from dogma.

            Easy to agree on ends. We need to discuss means and respect that maybe some means are not as beneficial as they seem. Sincerely agreeing on ends seems the most important, and then people achieve them the way that makes sense, or is available, to them, without being coerced to do so.

          • Buddhaclown

            But the problem is that people at different ends of the ideological spectrum disagree on the goals fundamentally. It is often portrayed as if it were only a matter of disagreement about the means, that we are somehow all imagining the same bright utopia but just disagree on how to get there. But I’d say the real disagreement lies in the vision of that utopia itself which we so desperately want for ourselves and for society.

            We have to recognize that we have different ends that we want, and only THEN are we in a position for compromise. Take the energy crisis for example. Liberals want us to entirely switch to renewable energy sources, conservatives want us to increase our use of dirty energies. Almost diametrically opposed means. The illusion that the goal is the same — energy independence — but that is only the goal from the perspective of more moderate members of the society. And until we recognize that the goal of the two camps is actually separate can we determine whether they are mutually exclusive or whether some compromise can be made.

            The primary end goal for liberals with regard to the energy crisis is to end climate change. But conservatives see the concern with global warming as a fabricated excuse that really serves to allow for an assault on the power status quo. The primary end goal for conservatives is for the status quo and all economic benefits to remain unchanged, and liberals see that as an assault on science and reason. The only solution will thus have to be a way to get us off dirty energy in a way that allows the powerful energy monopolies and all affected industries to continue on as if nothing had happened. It isn’t a pretty solution for either side, but only by recognizing the entrenched interests of both sides will we ever come to a resolution.

            So, from my point of view, we need first to come to terms with the opposite goals of both sides — not an easy thing to do in itself due to politics — and then the means will present themselves. But as long as we pretend that the goal is something that neither side is truly interested in, beneath all the rhetoric that is, we end up getting nowhere.

            “Balancing the budget”, “reducing the deficit”, and fixing state financial woes are the rhetorically agreed upon goals, like the goal of “fixing the energy crisis”. They don’t really speak to what we really want, which in this case is for the destruction of the unions on the conservative end and workers rights on the liberal end. Are these two mutually exclusive? Not necessarily, but until we openly admit that the end goals differ — and thus formulate a new end goal which is a compromise between the two — we will never agree on the means.

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            I agree with you and believe we are on the same side. It is time for the like thinking individuals to come together with a focus on solutions of personal concern. A group of 12 won’t agree on everything though through dialog, respect, revision, and publication an argument worthy of higher demographics is feasible.

            The Do Good Gauge Summary

          • Dave in CT

            Exactly. And that can be done without coercive legislation against those who want to spend/waste their money throwing it at politicians.

            The number of votes is not on the elite side. So we just need to keep working for transparency, fighting apathy, and demanding accountability to the corrupt.

            Its sad how much we really are all on the same side, but speak with vitriol to those who stray from dogma.

            Easy to agree on ends. We need to discuss means and respect that maybe some means are not as beneficial as they seem. Sincerely agreeing on ends seems the most important, and then people achieve them the way that makes sense, or is available, to them, without being coerced to do so.

        • Dave in CT

          Yes. Leftist groups never plant trouble-makers.

          Of course it’s wrong! But your ideological partisanship hypocrisy is just too much.

          With respect to Walker “considering” doing it or not, to me, I wouldn’t put it past anyone in government not just a lefty or righty.

          Obviously throw anyone in jail who does that (corruption).

          Interesting that it upsets you and other ideological whatever you ares, as so many of you love to believe the ends justify the means.

          I would argue that Liberty positions, that beg for freedom, bound by the rule of law of course, and the least amount of societal planning and coercion, are less ideological than the social or global engineering that our Republican and Democratic friends engage in. It not a search for enforceable ideas and grand schemes, it is a call to be left alone as much as possible by the state.

          Yes of course its an idea, but its an idea of less coercion of others, not more, which I think you imply by saying “we” are being “led” to follow the devil by our ideas.

  • Beverly

    Why did the good Governor spend 20 minutes on the telephone with (someone he thought was) one of the Koch crooks, when none of the Democratic senators can even get him on the phone whener they call?

    • mickey

      Again: sloppy thought = sloppy prose

  • William

    It is sad to see these public service unions attack the taxpayers. I never hear them give one word of thanks to the people that pay their salary.

    • Joe

      “the people that pay their salary.” Do you mean themselves? Their own taxes pay their own salaries.

  • Beverly

    In Chicago, people are banding together to boycott all products made in Wisconsin. (Think I could give up everything but the cheese, & the brats.) Hope it won’t citizens of Wisconsin.

    • twenty-niner

      I’m sure they’ll be happy to boycott the Packers.

    • Gamil

      In Boston, people are buying all the Wisconsin products we possibly can; as long as their non-union.

    • mickey

      S’ok Bev…sloppy thought = sloppy writing

  • Beverlt

    Should be: “Hope it won’t HURT the …”

  • Beverlt

    Should be: “Hope it won’t HURT the …”

  • Beverly

    WILLIAM,

    Wow! People in public service unions are tax exempt?

    Where do I sign up?

  • Mickey

    Dudes and dudettes…it’s like so totally over…the union is done…the state is broke….loose the pigeons: let the layoffs begin.

    • Bmichitson

      Mickey,

      who do you hate so much?

  • Chris

    Take a look at the history of the highest marginal tax rates in the charts linked here.

    http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates.php

    http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2010/02/04/historical-marginal-income-tax-rates/

    This is key to understanding the crises that’s been unfolding in this country for the past 20 years. During the last great depression the rate for the highest earners jumped from 25% to 63% in 1932, rising to a high of 94% in 1944-45, then staying as high as 91% until 1964. Rates were still at 70% until 1982, then the precipitous drop to where we are today ~ 35%. 1982 was, of course, the start of the supply side experiments of the Reagan era that resulted in enormous deficits, but also created the illusion that an economy could grow and people prosper in spite of extreme fiscal imbalance.

    Without the dot.com and real estate bubbles, this day of reckoning would have come much earlier, and now it’s much worse.

    The question is, why is a big tax increase on the top 1% out of the question? Why are we not demanding that our politicians impose confisgatory tax levels on the Wall Street Complex that has created a casino economy, and quite literally stolen or destroyed trillions in wealth, while pocketing billions? And not just the CEOs, your average 30 year old trader at a Wall Street investment bank makes a $1 million bonus.

    Wealth distribution is more top-heavy than any time in history. This would seem to be logical response during this crises. What’s missing? The very real fear of revolution that existed during the 1930s.

    We need a show on this question OnPoint!

    • Rob (in NY)

      Chris, the 80-94% tax rates you refer to were statutury rates, rather than effective rates. What liberals like Krugman leave out is that these rates were generally irrelevant to economic decision making (as nobody paid them) and were enacted for political purposes to appeal to mindless economic populists. The tax code at this time was loaded with far more deductions and loopholes than it it is today to the point where nobody paid these rates. For example, the 1941 top rate of 81 percent applied to income over $5 million (in 1941 $, which be the equivalent of approximately $75 million in 2011 $). In addition, this rate excluded capital gains. While the income amount subject to the top rate was reduced in the 1940s and 1950s was reduced, deductions were also expanded to the point where the only people who paid the top rate were a few Hollywood producers. What is the point of having a high statutory tax rate that nobody pays?

      I believe a far more rational approach is the broad based approach of Bowles/ Simpson which goes after all credits, deductions, and exemptions and raises more revenue while also reducing rates to there is not the large difference between the statutory rate and the effective rate. I would also argue that the large difference between the top rate on most earned income (36%)and capital gains (15%) creates an economic incentive for asset bubbles. You can go after some of the tax abuse by hedge funds simply by eliminating the carried interest deduction

      I cannot speak for others, but I would stop working before paying a confisfactory tax rate of 80% or 90%. While I am willing to pay a fair amount of taxes, I will not work so my government can waste the entire fruits of labor.

      PS. I would go back to a a 1950s type tax code with high rates and legislate deductions to eliminate the impact of these rates if liberals agree to limit federal government spending to 21% of GDP, which was only exceeded for 2 consecutive years during WWII prior to 2010.

      • Dave in CT

        You are making too much sense again, Rob.

        Although I must say, if I could make millions or billions by a few clicks of the trading screen and bribing a few congresspeople to let me do it, it might still be worth it to only take home 20%.

        • TomK in Boston

          He’s not making sense, because the economy worked just great when the tax rates were high at the top. Facts matter. The voodoo econ catechism says that everyone would stop working if taxes were that high, and it’s not true. That was the period when one-worker households were sending kids to college with no loans and buying beach houses.

          The standard remark that nobody actually paid 80% or 90% is also irrelevant and just smoke. The fact is that the rich paid a much higher rate than they do now, the money circulated, the economy boomed, and inequality was low. What’s not to like?

    • TomK in Boston

      You got it, Chris. Nothing about the economy makes sense without the realization that we are in an ultra low tax environment at the top. Then it’s obvious why we have a deficit and the worst inequality since 1929. The right has done an amazing job of making taxes taboo. Even after 30 years of tax cuts and with them wringing their hands about the big bad deficit, they go berzerk at the prospect of a small tax increase at the top. Our rates are now so low that after an increase they would still be low by post-1930 standards. If we were really concerned about the deficit we would raise tax rates at the top immediately. Unfortunately, the real agenda is transferring the wealth of the middle class to the rich, and low taxes plus deficit hysteria works perfectly for that.

      The deficit, the deficit, what a crock. The deficit grows in any financial crash, since tax revenues fall and more people use the safety net. The deficit as a % of GDP grows even more since GDP shrinks in a crash, DOH. Nothing to do with big gub’mint spending. Useless wars and insanely low tax rates at the top make it much worse. The way to fix it is to get the economy going again, stop the wars, and raise taxes at the top. Using the deficit as an excuse for class warfare is despicable, and the savings is chump change compared to what can be gained with a real solution, with no cuts to essential programs.

      ps If the free market was concerned about the deficit, the interest rates on T-bonds would be high. They are very low. The deficit fanatics will tell you “Just wait. they’re going up”. Yeah, sure, you can predict the future. Bottom line, the USA can borrow at very low rates, the no-spin conclusion is that the deficit is not a problem.

  • Dave in CT

    “Do the Rich Oppress the Poor?”

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1340

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      “If you want to acquire wealth, then try to satisfy the public by offering them something that is cheaper or which they like better.”

      I don’t think this is what is going on. Lobbyist are not going to the public, their sharing the wealth with just enough elected officials to gain favor in the system.

      Is it really a question of ‘capitalism’ or is it hedging the system? It appears the down fall of any economic system is greed and the concentration of resources.

      • Dave in CT

        That’s the point,

        “If you want to acquire wealth, then try to satisfy the public by offering them something that is cheaper or which they like better.”

        is NOT what is going on. Cheap federal reserve money, back room bankers, Wall Streeters and Congressfolk, set up a planned economy, with either good, or nefarious, intentions. And it blew up. As always, and as predicted.

        Liberty positions are against hedging of the system and espouse equality before the law, not trading favors and picking winners and losers, regardless of the intentions.

        The idea is that a transparent, organic economy will serve us better than a managed and corrupted economy.

        • Dave in CT

          The easy, or lazy, thing to do is throw out capitalism, or markets, when what we need to throw out is “hedging the system”. Lets figure it out.

          I think harsh jail sentences and confiscation of ill-gotten wealth from individual and family for anyone who does that could go a long way.

          But for some reason this country doesn’t like to demand accountability. Democrats make a nice show of wanting social justice, but what do they really do to elite crooks when they are in power?

          So why people keep voting them in with those hopes is a mystery to me. Promises of a “better designed system” probably keep people biting too, but I for one, would like to give old fashioned accountability a try first.

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            If you want to meet me on a common ground don’t criticize the party I view as the lesser of two evils without equally criticizing the other.

            I’m by far more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, but am willing to concede my vote to a new party which represents a true democratic ideology. Regulation is a cuss word coming from a majority of republicans, conservatives, and libertarians. Your words indicate a libertarian leaning, though I hear traces of regulation.

            Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could drop all the terminology put in place to keep us apart.

          • Dave in CT

            I like the idea of dropping the labels and just boiling down the ideas, but how do you put that on the ballot box to make change?

            I’m not sure what I am, I think someone with fairly progressive values, but disillusioned with both the Democratic Party, and the promise of a centrally planned society. I believe that there is a valid slippery slope argument to looking to government or elite planners to design us a utopian society. I believe that the tendency for power to corrupt is as valid for government as it is for corporations, and that a mixture of strong government and strong state, cross contaminating each other is the scariest of all.

            I think keeping as much power in the hands of individuals is the best, and only, if not perfect, way to keep power from concentrating and working against us.

            I believe in the Rule of Law, to protect individuals from coercion from others, from a government, from a corporation, from crime, and that lays out the groundwork and limits, equally for all, for markets to operate in freely. I believe individuals will make better decisions about what do with their money than central bureaucrats with master plan, and that while we don’t know exactly where the collective decisions of individuals will lead, it will be better than where a centrally controlled one will, in terms of prosperity and freedom from coercion.

            I would like to see single payer, competitive provider in Health Care and Basic Infrastructure.

            I lower taxes, not no taxes, to pay for above.

            I am skeptical of the unaccountable Federal Reserve and its close connection to Wall St, Bankers and government, as the cases against bubbles fed by the Fed and exploited by the elite while siphoning wealth from the masses, seems pretty clear. I believe that model takes a degree of corruption and collusion by said parties to pull off that stunt every genteration or so.

            I believe historic arguments against central bankers and the Fed by many prominent americans, predicting what we see and have seen, were well founded.

            I think the basic warning and analysis of Germany by Hayek in The Road to Serfdom, holds some truth and should be understood, before people are so quick to concentrate power and planning in government.

            And we have to throw all colluders and corrupters in jail in order for competition to work, and for us to be able to be free.

            I don’t think socialism or communism has worked out historically.

            I don’t think the Limited government, Rule of law, lack of central economic planning (fed) “libertarianism” if thats what we call it, has been practiced here in a looooong time, even though people like to pretend that Reagan and Greenspan were doing it. They weren’t. They did State Capitalism with manipulated monetary policy, mixed with social conservatism, through and through.

            What do we call it?

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            You’re a giver. You’re searching for a better way for civil being. You analyze what is going on around you and use history as an example.

            Whatever team your on, I hope you succeed.

            I’ve thought long and hard on how an average citizen can participate. The following is my naive attempt to the solution. Please understand my process is iterative. The message may be polarizing, though I plan on rewording it based on participation.

            Democracy Rules

            http://www.dogoodgauge.com/site/DoGoodGauge/page_contents/display/145

          • Dave in CT

            Appreciate the response and conversation. I hope we all succeed, because I am still not convinced that most of us have very different ends. Sure there are evil and corrupt out there and they will always be and we must be on guard, but I think wanting things like a satisfying job, loving family friends and time to spend with them, a place to call home, a chance to explore ideas and activities freely without harming others, as well as a chance to enjoy the fruits of ones choices and labors, is pretty common. A desire of the vast majority.

            Grateful for Tom, his show, and all these diverse posters here.

          • Jim

            Wow I really appreciate such thoughtful comments as I am reading here. So many times the level of hate and spewing forth is so high I can only read a few comments before I give up. How refreshing. I will read and consider what you and Dave have said, along with the other thoughtful comments.

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            It is difficult not to see those who criticize an argument as opposition. Surely, I’m guilty of it. Given the tools, the media, and the opportunity criticism becomes a powerful tool to articulate an intelligent argument with a broader sense of good. New internet tools should provide the motivation for each of us to take the time to understand and cultivate other points of view.

            Intentional or not individuals like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck kindle the flame of fear and hate which wedges the discussion of the average citizen.

            Rereading Dave’s comments I would guess he and I are ideologically on the same page. I also agree with Dave that the vast majority of us are seeking the same end even if within these blogs there is ideologically difference.

            What is at conflict is an inner turmoil which prevents an individual from expressing a personal oppression. The media thrust conflict upon us and we gravitate to it as it is our own. We must see the tangency of these arguments and utilize them to express a broader solution.

            Thank you Jim for the words of encouragement and Dave for the depth of thought.

          • Dave in CT

            thanks for some fine etiquette and conversation! Hard to expect many for actually reading all those posts of mine, so appreciate your time and thought. I only post them because I do think they have valid, debatable, ideas, not just sloganerring.

  • Dave in CT

    Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Hate Government

    http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/13/five-reasons-why-libertarians

  • TomK in Boston

    How ’bout our “liberal” or even “socialist” president?

    “If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States”
    —Candidate Obama, November 2007.

    When asked about that, press secy Carney replied:

    “I think what we have made pretty clear is that the president thinks, and we think, that, obviously a lot of states in the union are dealing with fiscal issues, big problems in their state budgets… they need to act responsibly, tighten their belts, live within their means just as we in Washington, the executive branch, congress, need to do with our federal situation.”

    Geez Louise! What inspiring leadership! I can’t decide if Obama is just a moderate republican, “Oromney”, or a regular Herbert Hoover, “BHHO”. What do you think?

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      He’s not a liberal nor a socialist. He’s a continuer of a thirty year odyssey of Reagan/Voodoo economics. Though Clinton may have reined in successful economic times, his policies differed little and he is just as much to blame for the concentration of resources and demise of the working class. Obama continues the legacy.

      • TomK in Boston

        Sad but true. He’s even adopted the wars, so now we have the Bush/Obama wars along with the Bush/Obama tax cuts and the GoP Congress/Obama cuts in everything that helps the middle class. He’s even in danger of being outflanked on the wars in 2012 by an anti-war republican. How bizarre would that be, a dem running on Bush’s war in an election. Will he say we’re “makin’ good progress” in Afghanistan? We are truly screwed.

  • Quietly Burning

    I’ll take some socialism over total fascism any damn day.

  • Jayco

    Remember folks, it’s now the (screw the working man world)! Unions built the middle class! I feel sorry for future generations in this country!

  • Martin

    I am a fairly independent voter and haven’t necessarily supported unions but the following really got to me…………

    As reported on NBC Nightly News, in the prank call when Wis. Gov. Walker assumed he was talking to D. Koch he said, “you essentially are having taxpayer’s money being used to pay to lobby for spending more of taxpayer’s money….” What he is saying here is he objects to how a public employee spends their own hard earned szlaries the way they want.

    Shouldn’t he apply the same philosophy to EVERY government employee? For example Wis. congressman Paul Ryan should not be able to donate money to Gov. Walker’s campaign, Speaker Boehner should not donate any money to Gov. Kasich’s campaign. I know both Sen. Lugar and Rep. Pence donated money to Gov. Daniels campaign. And, the list goes on. According to Gov. Walker since all their salaries are from taxpayers, they shouldn’t be able to spend it how they want for any like minded candidates/philosophies!!!

    Did Gov. Walker receive ANY money from any public employee (local, state, federal) for his campaign and shouldn’t he have refused it?

    OH!!!! WHAT HE REALLY MEANS IS HE DOESN’T WANT ANY PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DONATING ANY OF THEIR OWN HARD EARNED MONEY TO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES WITH LIKE MINDED PHILOSOPHIES!!!

    This proves his intentions are political, NOT fiscal.

  • Anonymous

    A caller from Florida -Tony–(previously a Wisconsinite) says why subsidize t middle class(really the lower-middle class). I ask you big man–why subsidize the rich, and corporations, insurance, banks, financial firms, elected officials, the military. The rich in this country have lived high on the hog on the backs of the poor, the working class, and the middle class for too long. These same fascists refer to you and me as the “dead peasants.” To hell with them. This is not a welfare country–its about damn time, the rich-elite corporate fascists get of their welfare–butt and do something for America–instead of outsourcing life to China and India and Mexico and Guatemala and Indonesia, killing u, killing volunteers soldiers–duped into a fantasy–and dying for corporate wealth–traitors treasonous by all definitions to America and the American people.

    Why subsidize a billionaire?! Are you really really that smart? are you just braindead? Or treasonous. A revolution is coming, and heads will off! Hope you’re on the right side!

    This is not all about pay–its about the unions–the right to bargain quality of life. The unions made democracy in America. The fascists continue to dismantle it-bashin them, bashing democracy–Koching democracy for nazism (fascism).

    This is a war against Americans and a war against democracy! These voices are treasonous and betraying democracy. Is selfish greed.

    This banshee on her saying most states are dominated by unions–is an absolute life–a viscous lie! There are almost no unions in America–our “elected” officials–the fascists -hate democracy and human rights–that’s why they are waging a war against you! It is treasonous! It is a crime. It is terrorism!

    This program is for children–fairy tales.

  • Dave in CT

    “On Thursday, Campaign for Liberty President John Tate sat down with Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work, to discuss Right to Work and the recent news about “collective bargaining” in Wisconsin, Indiana, and around the country.”

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

    • Dave in CT

      addresses among other questions, are “right to work” laws anti-union?

  • Kim

    One caller made the point that Wall Street created the drop in revenue that created the problem with the state budgets. She was told that was a stretch. It is not a stretch at all. That is exactly how it went down. Instead of going after hard working state workers who are underpaid in relationship to the education level required and responsibilities they take on, how about holding Wall Street accountable? Also, one commented seems to be under the impression that state workers don’t pay taxes. Not true.

  • William

    These state workers remind me of the same type of people that fought against Civil Rights back in the 1960′s. “They got theirs, so screw everyone else”.

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      Funny association, I kind of think of them as the individuals gathered around Jesus Christ during the Sermon on the Mount.

  • http://www.incongressional.com/ Esteban Rodriguez

    Diana Furchtgott-Roth…Where did you find this lady? She has been on this show more than once and spends her time blatantly lying. The woman sounds like a robotic characature of the typical sociallite. Every time she speaks, I picture an aging bat draped in pearls and fur sipping a martini and smoking from a long black cigarette holder.

  • mimiK

    Diana Furchtgott-Roth states that the US needs to me more business friendly so that jobs don’t get sent overseas… Really? Jobs are being sent overseas to countries where workers are poorly paid,don’t have basic worker’s rights, and health care. This is how business in the US treated US workers before the start of unions. People in this country died for basic worker’s rights.

    Perhaps big business should be more patriotic. Instead of shipping jobs to increase their bonus’ and profits on the backs of poor Indians, Chinese, etc., perhaps stay in the US where we believe (or, at least, did believe) that workers should be able to make a livable wage and where teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, etc were respected.

  • Charlotte, Columbus, OH

    Ohio Senate Bill 5

    You can email the Ohio Republican Party about this issue in Ohio at . They also have a feedback section in the lower left quadrant of their website homepage at .

    You can email the Ohio Democratic Party about this issue in Ohio at .

    You can register to vote if you are not already registered. Then you can show up to vote on election day if you’ve forgotten to send in your request for an absentee ballot on time.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

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Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

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Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

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