Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Wisconsin

There's been a lot of commentary on the current dust-up in the Dairy and Cheese state nestled up there by the Great Lakes. Getting away from polemics, Invictus at the Big Picture has a string of interesting statistics:

... [I]t appears we might lay blame for the crisis at the feet of Wisconsin’s Teacher Assistants, who are pulling down, on average (not median), $240 more than the $24,280 being paid to their counterparts in other states. ...

If we are to have an honest debate about what folks are paid and what benefits they should (or should not) receive, we owe it to ourselves to at least start with some facts, and I’d suggest what appears below is the bare-bones minimum. Wisconsin is 21st in Patrol Officer pay and 43rd in Fire Fighter pay nationwide. ...

[T]his budgetary problem seems to have crept up and taken most governors by surprise, as evidenced by the fact that references to it (in State of the State speeches) skyrocketed over the course of one short year, going from only 20 mentions (of 44 speeches) to 33 (of 42 speeches) from 2009 to 2010. Even fewer — far fewer – have been mentioning “Pensions/OPEBs” (Other Post-Employment Benefits). Have they just not been paying attention? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it smells a bit political. ...

Political? Can't be. The unions are killing state budgets, and everyone knows it.

Except when you start pulling down statistics and discover that states with small pension burdens and weak to non-existent labor movements have big or bigger deficits than unionized states.

This isn't about budgets so much as it's about trimming the wings of (beheading?) labor unions. The process has been ongoing for decades; now it accelerates.

Statistics are marvelous things, and show pretty clearly where we're heading. In the words of the Daily Paul:

US wealth distribution:

10% of US citizens own 70.9% of all US assets

Top 1% own 38.1%

Top 96-99% own 21.3%

Top 90-95% own 11.5%

And it gets much uglier as you proceed downward. Bottom 40% of population has 0.2% of all wealth.

All hail the Brothers Koch (and let the political flaming begin.)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unions are great. Workers need leverage.
Public employee unions are a bad idea all around and punish the population at large for their own benefit and only their own benefit.

FDR presented it perfectly decades ago:
"at 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."

No quote represents the public employee unions more than the founder of the teacher's union, Albert Shanker:
"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

^there you have it right there.

Or if you think thats outdated, look no further than this speech by outgoing NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin said at his farewell speech:

Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”

“And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.”


http://tinyurl.com/65eaaxn

Anonymous said...

^
Perfectly said. FDR had it correct.

Anonymous said...

Unions are great. Workers need leverage.
Public employee unions are a bad idea all around and punish the population at large for their own benefit and only their own benefit.


Three thoughts...

1) Wisconsin's public-sector employees earn less than their private-sector counterparts. It looks like "the population at large" is getting a terrific value in labor for their tax dollars.

2) Wisconsin's unions offered wage and benefit concessions which would further benefit "the population at large". Governor Scott Walker turned the unions' offer down.

3) Indiana, which ended collective bargaining for its state employees in 2005, recently flirted with the idea of breaking its private unions.

If you want to keep your private unions, protect your public unions.

Anonymous said...

States are going banckrupt and its getting worse by the day. The public school system as a whole has been broken for decades, my heart goes out to those few teachers who are truly trying to do a good job in a screwed up system among all the cruddy ones that should have been fired.

Anonymous said...

The gNOp=er teabaggd lot want something for nothing. Destroying a huge surplus in less than a year, starting a war with no tax increases (and using deficit borrowing to pay for it!), and calling the bush economic debacle and the wall street scandals "just a few bad apples." Now we have Hitler admirers the Koch Brothers (their words, not mine) funding a Wisconsin governor in order to snatch up the "no bid" contracts for Wisconsin utilities.

With the uprisings in Wisconsi, Ohio, Indiana, and Texas against the irresponsible and anti-democratic wishes of a VERY small minority of well (privately) funded far fringe right nuts, looks like the teabaggers have peed in their own tea.

Got my ticket to Indiana for the big protest this Saturday to put that lying shmuck john kasich in his place.

UNIONS YES!

Anonymous said...

Public sector unions give a very bad reputation to the union ideal, and they are the primary reason people do not trust or admire them. The fact that most union work is public sector is a sad irony. It only signifies the failure of unions in America to operate effectively against corporate power. The union ideal starts with private unions like ours, not government leeches. The commenter above has his logic reversed.

I would never picket for a public sector union in the states. There is no difference between the way they hold government policy hostage and the way corporations hold government policy hostage.

Anonymous said...

This is part of a larger, accelerated strategy to break unions, after the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

Since corporations and unions can now be considered "people" in making political donations, corporations are now targeting unions to destroy them--leaving THEMSELVES as the only large entity able to make massive political donations.

Should they succeed, say goodbye to worker rights and workplace laws. They'll start with public unions (sowing seeds of division between public and private unions, as admitted in the Walker prankcall), and then move on private unions.

Anonymous said...

**The gNOp=er teabaggd lot want something for nothing. Destroying a huge surplus in less than a year, starting a war with no tax increases (and using deficit borrowing to pay for it!), and calling the bush economic debacle and the wall street scandals "just a few bad apples."**

Yeesh. What a maroon.


**Got my ticket to Indiana for the big protest this Saturday to put that lying shmuck john kasich in his place.**

I'm a Hoosier myself. I hope you get ridden out of town on a rail. As for the Wisconsin dust-up, it's been a long time coming. I'm rather impressed that Walker has the guts to stand up to the unions the way he has. Most politicians roll over for them. It's kind of refreshing. I certainly understand the need for unions (and I also appreciate your work in that regard, Mr. Hulett), but things have come to a head at last, and extreme measures are called for. It's gonna get uglier before it's over, but I hope both sides can come to some kind of understanding and agreement. And that the Dems who ran away will get their pansy asses kicked out of office.

Anonymous said...

Its not part of a large conspiracy. Thats either sad paranoia or a slick interpretation by government unions.

LOOK at their record in the schools. Where is the accountability? We have the highest paid teachers in the nation and here in LA our graduation rate is 40%.

Look at the pensions they are pulling. We, as taxpayers who pay for it, did not negotiate that. They strong armed the legislature into giving it to them.

Everyone in here is pro union. But unions work best when they work with the people who hire them, and vice versa. Look at whats happening in Wisconsin and thats over a $3 billion shortfall. Our deficit in CA is nearly ten times that. What happens when the state runs out of money. Who's fault is it then? Everyone in the state for not paying enough taxes?

Look at what these government employees have been doing here in CA - they are buying time worked. They negotiated the right to pay more in to the system and have "years worked" added on to their pension. But they are doing this at their current salary and when they retire at a higher salary, they take it out at that rate. And WE pay the difference!

If you think I'm fudging the numbers, then step back and think about it: this is the 8th biggest economy in the world. Our taxes are massively high and every day money pours into the state. As fast as I'm typing the words in this sentence money is pouring into Sacramento. And its already gone. Its not the road repair that is bankrupting this state and its not the public parks. Its labor. Now, I'm sympathetic to people who put their life on the line like police and firefighters, but we've got numerous "directors" of county water districts making $350,000 a year.

These government workers get cadillac health plans that we pay for. They get to cash in sick days at a higher rate then when they took them. They can't be fired. They get guaranteed pensions...

-and here's the kicker-

...if you're a retired government worker with a pension and you marry a younger woman. When you die, SHE keeps the entire pension for the rest of her life! Thats what collective bargaining from government unions has created for us. A black hole for state budgets.

Add to that the corruption. Bell California is not an isolated incident. The last audit of salaries by the state had nearly 200 state employees refusing to answer how much they make.

Anonymous said...

As a private union member, the public sector unions do embarrass me, but they are stuck with the image because they have no choice. They haven't made the argument that the domestic agenda is more important than the foreign one - because Asia owns our debt. There is no domestic argument at all. Labor has none. It doesn't exist.

The only argument that exists is that there is a bond market that is rejecting state and local debt. And the federal government is powerless as long as Obama can't go head to head with the military industrial complex - he's a wartime president and he's stuck with the arrangement. The money has been spent and we have no bottom up economy to replace it. Labor costs, ie - your indentured servitude to Asian wealth - will suffer NO MATTER WHAT. The global economy will take it's share either by your cut wages and benefits or by the Fed inflating it away. Bernanke seems comfortable with inflating it away and letting the public blame it on China, so if labor wins, they lose anyway. It's so hilarious to watch all these poses in the PR war. It won't matter. The people lose either way.

Just follow the money. None of it is in the US. It's not your money. Wake the f*** up.

. said...

Tarp.

Anonymous said...

Our deficit in CA is nearly ten times that. What happens when the state runs out of money. Who's fault is it then? Everyone in the state for not paying enough taxes?

The sad truth is, years ago we began cutting taxes on a MASSIVE scale, because taxpayers insisted on it, and yet those same taxpayers (US) also insisted that there be no commensurate decrease in public services. The public unions are a red herring. If you actually take the time to look at what the states spend money on, and how those programs and activities used to be funded, and how they're funded now, you'll see that state leaders have consistently promised to perform magic, by cutting taxes without cutting programs we all deem important. The public has colluded with our leaders in never looking down the road to the future, and now it's biting us in the ass.

The public sector unions are a scapegoat. Republican leaders hatched a plan (and this was definitely no secret) years ago to destroy public sector unions. Now they have a golden moment to do it. After they succeed, the financial crisis for the states won't be over, but the die will be cast. Private unions, like TAG, will be next. And the sheep will happily line up to do the bidding of their corporate masters.

The mantra of the tea party should be 'baaaaa baaaaa.' They're being manipulated by billionaires.

Anonymous said...

"The mantra of the tea party should be 'baaaaa baaaaa.' They're being manipulated by billionaires."

Oh, you mean like George Soros and Al Gore?

Anonymous said...

No, like the Koch brothers.

Not all the rich are bad, but some definitely are. Now go ahead and try and defend the Koch brothers.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is, years ago we began cutting taxes on a MASSIVE scale, because taxpayers insisted on it, and yet those same taxpayers (US) also insisted that there be no commensurate decrease in public services. The public unions are a red herring. If you actually take the t

What are you talking about?

California has THE highest state income tax rate in the nation. We also have nearly 10% sales tax rate here in greater Los Angeles.

The union pension funds in most California counties are completely insolvent. For tax payers to make up the difference you are looking at outrageous European type tax rates that border on 60% of income. You must have been buying into someone's altered take on this if you believe tax cuts created it.

What created this is that the public employee nions strong armed (r flat out bribed) the legislature to approve pension funding plans that were based on boom years of our economy. They presented a plan that would only be sustainable if the state had 8% growth for eternity - and any college economics student would have told them that this was a fantasy. What they did was exactly what the crooks on Wal Street did during the housing market boom. They presented fraudulent numbers and misrepresented the stability of the funds.

The fact is, they knew what they were doing. They used their leverage to get the cushy pensions they wanted and they hung the tax payers with the bill.


Well now the tax payers are going to use our leverage to cut these plans down to size.

Anonymous said...

If I hear or see one more commercial where a sad eyed lil kid is sitting at a broken down desk begging for more money with the tag line "Paid for by the California Teacher's Union" at the end of it I'm gonna puke. We spend more per student than almost every other state and our schools continue to produce substandard graduates.

Funny, parochial schools spend less per student and somehow they graduate top tier kids...

Anonymous said...

Here's a quick 40 year history on capitalists and communists. Brush up, kiddos. It's worse than you think.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=11685

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about?

California has THE highest state income tax rate in the nation. We also have nearly 10% sales tax rate here in greater Los Angeles.


It's about much more than the marginal tax rate. Consider Prop. 13, which destroyed the funding basis for our schools. And by the way, very, very few Californians pay 10%.

And by the way, the pension deals that were negotiated were just that -- negotiations. Comparing it to Wall Street shenanigans is silly. Often, legislators gave those pension benefits in exchange for paying lower wages. There were no bribes or strong armed tactics involved.

I agree that public pensions need to be restructured, but it was our elected leaders who negotiated these deals, and we're the ones who voted them in. We're also the ones who voted for things like Prop. 13, and then refused to vote for spending cuts or higher taxes elsewhere. We're all been complicit in the mess we're in now, but it's only the public sector unions that are getting scapegoated.

Funny, parochial schools spend less per student and somehow they graduate top tier kids...

Invalid comparison. Parochial schools draw children from higher-income families, and those families are often very involved in their children's lives. The public California schools are dealing with a huge number of ESL students, students from impoverished families, students whose families are completely uninvolved in their education.

Anonymous said...

"And by the way, very, very few Californians pay 10%."

Los Angeles has the highest sales tax in the country -- 9.75 percent, tied with a bunch of other California cities. In fat, many many many people pay a sales tax rate close to 10%.


"Consider Prop. 13, which destroyed the funding basis for our schools."

Proposition 13 saved low and middle income families from losing their houses because of annual tax increases. Thats not my opinion, thats what a 1993 study by the University of California concuded


"I agree that public pensions need to be restructured, but it was our elected leaders who negotiated these deals,"


and they were NOT acting on the interest of the people of California. last time I checked this is a democracy. These scumbags in Sacramento have been giving away our tax money to the unions so that they orchestrate television campaigns to get them re elected.

"We're also the ones who voted for things like Prop. 13, and then refused to vote for spending cuts"

We're voting for spending cuts now. Cuts to outrageously expensive pensions. We're going to cut spending there whether the unions like it or not. Its called 'leverage'.


"it's only the public sector unions that are getting scapegoated."

The public sector unions are OVERPAID! The vast majority of the nation recognizes this. The jig is up buddy.


"Parochial schools draw children from higher-income families, and those families are often very involved in their children's lives. The public California schools are dealing with a huge number of ESL students, students from impoverished families, students whose families are completely uninvolved in their education."


Oh... So its the parent's fault! Wow, I didn't see that coming!

You know what? Tough titties. That whole little whine that you let out sounds like someone crying that life isn't fair. Teacher's have to realize that parents fall under the topic of "that which they cannot control". And people have performed well in spite of those things in teaching and all other endeavors for many many years. If teachers don't like the way low income families teach their children, then they should have seniority rules that send the least experienced teachers to teach in Compton while all of the teachers with experience (and seniority) teach in the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.


Your argument is null and void.

Anonymous said...

EDIT: (teachers) should NOT have seniority rules that send the least experienced teachers to teach in Compton while all of the teachers with experience (and seniority) teach in the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.

Anonymous said...

"Consider Prop. 13, which destroyed the funding basis for our schools."

Proposition 13 saved low and middle income families from losing their houses because of annual tax increases. Thats not my opinion, thats what a 1993 study by the University of California concuded


You miss my point (which I've come to conclude is because you've already made up your mind, and are happy to cling to easy emotionally satisfying answers, even if they don't solve the problems). My point was, those property taxes funded our schools. After Prop. 13, no replacement stream of income was found. Overall, the general public was paying much less in overall taxes, while still demanding ever more services.

Those are services we all use, but we want someone else to pay for them, and we want to take away the services that we personally don't care about. We're all part of the problem. We will all have to pay more for the solutions.

After the public sector unions are destroyed, let's see how much better your life becomes.

Anonymous said...

our schools don't need more money.

hell the Los Angeles school district put half a billion dollars into a new school this year. how much you want to bet that test scores will remain pathetic? But look no further than the LAUnified School District themselves to deduce why money isn't being spent evenly on students:



LAUSD operates on a District Funding Formula in which revenues generated from the Average Daily Attendance from each school flows into the District General Fund. Schools that have more students, generally in the inner city, generate more revenue than schools in suburban communities. Schools that have more low-income students, also in the inner city, generate additional revenues from Title I federal funds. The district then reallocates funds back to the schools based on the school’s expenses, rather than based on the revenues actually generated by the school or on the student’s academic needs.

This District Funding Formula creates a situation where inner city schools generate substantially more revenues for the district than suburban schools, but receive substantially less because their expenses are less. In other words, the revenue generated from inner city schools subsidizes the education in suburban schools."





^thats corruption plain and simple. And you want to give them more money?!!?!?

And the previous point STILL stands. Parochial schools provide consummately better educations to children for less money. Teachers unions are the problem. Schools need teachers that are efficient and successful and the unions will not let superintendents evaluate teachers in this way. well, its over.




Rasmussen's latest poll shows that 56% of parents feel the teacher's unions are bad for students. this is all laid out clearly in the film "Waiting For Superman". A film that's director stated he did not have any agenda against teacher's unions before making it but he saw that in every single school district he went to from coast to coast the number one problem was the unions.

And the director is a self described liberal. He directed Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"

Anonymous said...

That film is excellent and I can't believe it wasn't nominated. What a mess our public schools are.

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