Posted by: findingthemiddle | March 3, 2011

Silent no longer….

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  1. So proud of you guys for speaking up here like this. Love you, Mamas. Love seeing you in the shop *and* on the Square. SOLIDARITY!

  2. So well put, I have the shivers. Thank you for taking a stand and making your voice heard. Go HB, go!

  3. Thanks so much for this and for speaking out. My husband and I own The Victory, the cafe on Atwood ave., and we couldn’t agree with you more. I marched today and saw you taking photos and cheering. It is much appreciated. We will continue to shop at HB whenever we can. It’s great to see this wonderful community of east side Madison/Madison/Wisconsin supporting each other and standing up for each other! I am glad to be a part of it.

  4. There are always two sides to the issue.

    I have my MBA, a BS in Economics from UW-Madison, and had a graduate course that completely dissected public sector unions. I myself was a UW System human resources employee, so I have a peculiar view of the issues at hand. I also worked in the private sector prior to that. While working at UW, it was next to impossible for me to terminate someone who would be continuously truant or abuse our generous sick leave program due to union protection. Same went for employees who were being inefficient and unproductive. And the inefficient employees make the same pay as those who have to work their behinds off to pick up the slack. In addition, the unproductive employees disincentivize employees that would otherwise want to be productive. I never saw such disparity in efficiency/productivity my private sector employment because it wasn’t tolerated.

    I also am disappointed that some of these facts are not made more aware or are hidden behind sloppy reporting…for example:

    Class size is NOT determined by contracts. It is set by STATUTE.

    Union leaders are living just as “large” as Walker.

    And someone tell me how it is fair that my union dues FORCED out of my paycheck supported politicians I didn’t personally even vote for? “So we come to where the rubber meets the road: the money unions spend on politicking. This money originates with taxpayers, who pay public employees’ salaries, a portion of which is deducted in the form of union dues and then used by the unions to support, almost exclusively, the Democratic party. The public, in effect, subsidizes a powerful demand for bigger government and higher taxes.”

    The budget is a very complex issue that is NOT manufactured. Most don’t have the education or knowledge to fully grasp the long-term effects of public policy on state budgets. Even with my MBA and degree in Economics, I am not fully qualified to discuss the extensive topic. There are many articles that counter the one you posted. “There’s a context to this that is 15 years of continued fiscal misbehavior on the part of both parties in the Legislature and all the governors since the mid-90s,” said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, a nonpartisan research organization. Other states are dealing with crises even larger than ours. Shouldn’t we be glad we have a governor willing to make changes that don’t just push numbers around in a fancy accounting style to cover up the real problems?

    This bill is NOT attacking teachers. Yes, some names and finger pointing happen on both sides of the argument, but the bill itself is not saying that teachers and public employees do not work hard. They do. Wages are not determined by the collection and measurement of the sweat off one’s brow. They are determined by the supply and demand for labor. Many people are shut out of public jobs because of “certifications” and the restricted labor supply caused by collective bargaining. Inflated wages and benefits are a product of collective bargaining.

    Public unions are just plain wrong. FDR himself didn’t think that unions had a place in the public sector. And how does this even make any sense? “The unions’ antagonist is the state government. ‘Industrial unions are organized against the might and greed of ownership,’ writes Time’s Joe Klein, a liberal who understands the crucial distinction. “Public employees unions are organized against the might and greed . . . of the public?”

    I respect your stance on this issue, because I understand this will bill directly affect your Madison area business since many of your clients and customers have public employee incomes. But please remember that you DO have customers who do not hold the same views and do not share the same values as what you posted. So it would be nice if you could educate yourself a bit on the “other” side, since your profits flow from pockets on both sides. Or, at least, that you don’t simply have a skewed view.

  5. Thank you for speaking out! We live outside of Dane County, but a trip to Happy Bambino is always high on my list whenever we’re in the area. I’m glad to hear that the money I’ve spent there has gone to those who share similar ideas about justice and equality. The New York Times also had a good article on the “we’re broke” meme.

    Oh, and Mothering is actually moving away from the magazine format completely. I have a digital subscription and even us digital subscribers got our last issue recently. 😦

  6. @Sunny – I find the comment on lazy employees amusing. The underlying assumption being that all lazy employees in the private sector are never rewarded for their laziness and are always promptly fired. Granted, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in the workforce, but not only were my lazy co-workers not fired, they were often rewarded because they were the boss’ favorite while everyone else picked up the slack. In the private sector where I worked, merit pay often had less to do with your job performance or efficiency and more to do with whether or not the boss liked you. Oh, and my personal favorite, the “open door” policy which was meant to protect employees so that they could register valid complaints without fear of retribution was often used as a way to discipline/intimidate employees and the employer wouldn’t have to provide specifics because it was “private.” I found it interesting that when management used it for discipline/intimidation they couldn’t tell you the origin of the complaint, but when employees used it for legitimate ethical/safety reasons, the management always knew who called and made sure to let the person know that they knew. It was certainly an expeditious way to get rid of people.

    As for the subject of union dues and politics/ideological issues. This is actually a moot point given that unions have rebate procedures. The process is fairly straightforward, but in essence all a union member typically has to do is submit a request a rebate for money that was spent on ideological issues that they disagree with (typically by letter). The union then sends a check for that amount back to the member. If the local isn’t familiar with the process, then their Business Agent would be.

    For a bit of perspective on the issue, my father went into law enforcement in Wisconsin back in the 70s. He was paid just over $2 an hour, they often lacked the equipment they needed (or just plain had to pay for it out of pocket), and when they wanted time off they had to find someone else to cover their shift or go without pay. For them the fight was long and hard just to get a decent wage. Similarly, as of 1980, our state’s Correction’s Officers in the prisons made $6/hr for the long hours and intense stress they undergo while keeping those society has decreed need to be locked up.

    The attitude was the same then as the one you’ve echoed – that they’re working for the government – what do they need a union for? The general public and the government would always treat them fairly, right?

  7. @mamaraby Thank you for your thoughts.

    I never said that ALL employees were unproductive (and the word LAZY came out of your mouth, not mine). But unions definitely protect and harbor those that are inefficient and abusers of the system. And frankly, I don’t care if private sector employees are “lazy.” It has no direct correlation to myself. We all pay the wages of unproductive and ineffective public employees. So we all SHOULD care that they are not working up to minimum standards. Take this as an example: You go out to eat. Your waitress is slow, brings you the wrong drink, and your food is cold. So you don’t tip her as well as someone who was efficient, on the ball, and served you hot food. Do you care if the table across the restaurant has an unproductive waitress? No. Should you care if that table decides to give her a $100 tip anyway? No. And you have no invested interest. It isn’t your $100 and wasn’t your server.

    As for the rebates, that money is “determined” by the unions themselves. A public school teacher I know paid over $600 in union dues in 2001 and only got $16 back. To think that only $16 of $600 of those dues are paid for political issues is laughable. And what is even more appalling, I WORKED in human resources, and didn’t even KNOW about rebating until now. Funny how the unions keep it so “hush” “hush.” My brother is a current UW employee, and had to send his rebate letter THREE times before he finally even got a response. If unions were really fair about this process, they would talk about the rebate during employee orientation. Unfortunately, it is a huge secret and therefore really isn’t even a plausible solution to the issue I pointed out UNLESS it is fairly broadcasted.

    Finally, you must not discount the present time value of money when talking about wages in the 70s and 80s. That is 30-40 years ago. In 1984, the mean household income in WI was $20,743. In 2009, the last reported year from the US Census Bureau, it was $51,237. So of course their hourly wages were lower. Also, you are trying to argue for the “stress and long hours” they endure, which are intangible properties and are irrelevant when determining wages (like I stated earlier). Economics tells us that a rightful wage is determined by supply and demand for the labor. But collective bargaining inhibits the natural market determination and artificially inflates the wages beyond the market’s capacity to pay.

    I will leave you with this quote:

    “Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: “Meticulous attention,” the president insisted in 1937, “should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government….The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” The reason? F.D.R. believed that “[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.” Roosevelt was hardly alone in holding these views, even among the champions of organized labor. Indeed, the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was “impossible to bargain collectively with the government.””

  8. @Sunny-I don’t have time to debate all of your points, as I need to get ready for my classroom full of 5 year olds. Just wanted to point out that our contract DOES limit the class sizes. Without our contract, I could have 30 kindergarten kids in my class next year. I’m on my 10th year of teaching and will be laid off if this budget goes through as is. Have fun paying my unemployment because with 200 out of 437 teachers losing their jobs in my district, it will be nearly impossible for all of us to get jobs.

  9. @Sunny- I appreciate your analysis. The owners of Happy Bambino spoke out with their perspective, and these replys are the appropriate place for their customers to give their diverse thoughts on the issue. That being said, I want to respond to a few of your points.

    First, while I do follow your example of tipping a waitress, that is one of the very few examples where I can directly impact the pay of someone that provides a service to me. Usually, wages are set by their employers. Here’s an example that comes to mind for me: We use a cell phone carrier that has famously mediocre customer service. Money is tight for us, so we have to base our decision on whoever gives us the best rate, period. If I call with a concern, I might be transfered five times before someone takes the time to figure out what I need and help me. I might be on the line for less than a minute with the first five reps before they pass me on. The final person takes much longer, and actually makes sure I have what I need. Despite this, all of these reps probably make roughly the same amount. I don’t complain about the others, because they weren’t rude, they just weren’t helpful. If their call center operates how many do, call volume is an important measure of performance. So if the last rep routinely takes more time with customers and thus takes fewer calls, she might be considered an unproductive employee and get paid less than her coworkers. Nothing that I can do as a consumer has an effect on what each rep gets paid, or the fact that the CEO, who has done nothing directly for me, gets paid many, many times what the helpful rep does.

    Second, I want to respond to the FDR quote that has been brought up a lot by supporters of Walker/opponents of the unions. The basis of Roosevelt’s concern about collective bargaining for public employees is not collective bargaining itself, but the fact that the service provided by public employees are so vital that a strike by public employees would shut down too much of society. Many public employees (including WI teachers, I believe) already don’t have the right to strike. What the public employees unions are asking for is the right to come to the table with lawmakers, not for the right to shut down public services. I’m not convinced what they are asking for is how collective bargaining was “usually understood” in Roosevelt’s day.

  10. Sunny, I take issue with this statement of yours:

    “This money originates with taxpayers, who pay public employees’ salaries, a portion of which is deducted in the form of union dues and then used by the unions to support, almost exclusively, the Democratic party. The public, in effect, subsidizes a powerful demand for bigger government and higher taxes.”

    Once a person is paid thier salary it is no longer public money, just as much as the money I earn in my private sector job no longer belongs to my company, or to taxpayers since my employer does a tremendous amount of work in the public sector.

  11. @amybeth

    Thanks for your thoughts! I enjoy civil discussion amongst people with difference views than myself. That is how I learn, and we all learn!

    When you have experiences like that, you as the consumer have the power to communicate ineffective employees to the company. My husband actually worked in wireless service provider call center while we lived in Madison. Call center employees were terminated often for sub-par work, since the supervisors were nearly always either recording customer calls or listening in. Also, customers who called to complain about an employee experience were another piece of the pie when it came time for reviews or termination. So (off the subject and a personal suggestion here) you should definitely write down names of employees who did not meet your needs and write or call the company. It truly does make a difference.

    As for the CEO comment…well. I have a different view. Executives are rightfully paid for commensurate…just like pro athletes, musicians, actors, ect. It takes a rare person with extremely specific qualities to do those types of jobs, including CEO positions. Something with low supply creates high demand. Example: low supply = productive and profit producing CEO…high demand = high compensation. So, productive CEO = high compensation. And in reality, the amount of compensation CEOs get is approved by the shareholders, who own the company and can do as they please. And the companies stimulate the economy and create jobs. Easy enough and fair in my opinion. I know I am incapable of running IBM or Apple, so I am happy to leave it to someone who can and let them make the millions.

    I can see where you are coming from in regards to the FDR quote. However, this quote is pulled from the same article and sheds more light. “In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:

    To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous.” It makes sense to me and I do feel that was the general consensus at the time, and I agree with it.

  12. WOW! You guys are terrific and said what needed to be said. I’m proud of you and proud of what you said/broadcast. We will all stand together until this issue is settled.

    Seattle, WA

  13. @Sunny,
    Though I respectfully disagree with you, I appreciate you sharing your view and laying out a thoughtful argument. Unfortunately I don’t have time right now to reply more thoroughly, but I at least wanted to make two quick points…

    1) I like that you included links to other articles/sources to support and more thoroughly explain your point of view. However, I was surprised two of your sources were the MacIver Institute. Not sure if you know this, but the MacIver Institute is an extremely biased, ideologically-driven organization created to provide biased “facts” to advance a far right-wing policy agenda. They are pro-corporate and strongly anti-union. The organization is funded and staffed completely by Republicans and their Chairman of the Board is the head of Americans for Prosperity (WI chapter) – the group that was founded by David Koch and is financing pro-Walker ads right now. So you need to be very careful interpreting or relying on anything they say.

    2) Regarding FDR, you are right to point out FDR had some valid concerns about the public sector unions before they were put into place. However, we now have the benefit of 50+ years experience with them and I would argue that if FDR would have been able to see how they actually played out, he would support them today, as well as the protests happening in our state, for several reasons, some of which are explained in the following article written by a labor historian…

  14. Most organizations are biased one way or another, even ones that consider themselves bipartisan. We are only human and it is nearly impossible to be complete neutral. I think that articles showing the other side of the argument is a good thing to be aware of. Too much of our media is catered to the left. How can people make up their own, informed decisions about the issues at hand if they are only fed one side of the picture? So what if the MacIver Institute is right-winged. The Huffington Post is completely left-wing, but liberals use those articles all the time in defense of their arguments. As for Koch funding pro-Walker ads right now…who cares? Unions are spending $$ for anti-Walker ads.

    Look at how much unions have spent on lobbying from 1989-2010. Surprising to most of you probably:

  15. Dearest HB,

    Thank you so much for your post. It brought tears to my eyes. When I entered the world of teaching I never thought we would find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in today. I never imagined that education would be threatened and devalued as it is today. I never imagined that the job that I love so much would be disrespected as much as it has the past couple of weeks.

    I am so thankful that your boutique has been available for me and my child and words cannot express how uplifted your post made me feel. Thank you again for everything. You will always be a part of our hearts.


  16. @Sunny: You want public sector workers to have all of the drawbacks of private sector non-union workers (i.e. no representation, etc), but you aren’t willing to give public sector workers the benefits of private sector work.

    I realize you didn’t actually use the term “lazy”, but it is pretty easy to read between the lines. You have your little cache of stories about unproductive state workers, which has blossomed into quite a personal vendetta against unionized workers. Here is one of my favorite sayings, “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

    You complain about the supposed decreased productivity and accountability of unionized public workers. You want these folks to strive for higher levels of excellence? Well, how about offering workers the POSSIBILITY of a meaningful pay increase? nope. Instead, how about pay freezes and forced furlough (i.e. pay CUTS for years). How about bringing the base pay rates of public employees into line with private sector? nope. Ha! Ha! It has already been shown that public employees are paid an average of 5% less than private sector counterparts. Walker wants to gut that further, via major cuts to benefits (i.e. money pulled directly out of their paychecks). How do you expect this to improve worker morale? If you have NO CHANCE of a raise or promotion (hiring freeze) how can you expect workers to put in the extra mile? If you want public workers to have all of the drawbacks of private sector work, you need to also provide the benefits of private sector work.

    The thing is…you can’t! Public workers are underpaid for the work they do–underpaid in salary. The benefits make up for that–affordable health plans, retirement packages, and stability. That is the trade off. Our unions have helped us to negotiate that and I believe that is fair.

    This entire crisis is demonstrating exactly why we need unions. Some right wing wack-job bully gets into office and he is willing to render mass-havoc and extreme economic hardship on the very people that keep Wisconsin running and strong. The teachers, social workers, nurses, EMTs… The very people who are already underpaid (see above). The very people who have already suffered economically and made sacrifices and remained in the public’s service. Our unions are here to keep the thousands of Wisconsin families safe from this exact runaway political ideology.

    Beyond the “Budget Repair Bill,” and onto the actual budget. I am assuming that you have at least one child since you are a customer at Happy Bambino. I am assuming that you want to educate that child. I am also assuming that you are aware that two of the biggest predictors of a successful classroom are a) a highly qualified teacher and b) small class size. Therefore, how can you possibly support the governor and his plan to make THE BIGGEST CUTS TO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN STATE HISTORY? While simultaneously, yanking away any power for local districts to create more revenue through property tax increases? I honestly want a Walker supporter to explain to me how these actions are excusable.

    Walker keeps talking about how much he “cares” for the children and future generations…and the reason he is making all of these “tough” choices is to spare these children from our accumulated debt. Well, I personally want to spare our children and future generations from a crippled public education system, a desecrated natural environment, and a crumbling infrastructure–all which will result from his policies, if adopted.

    Get a clue, we don’t need more jobs as line workers in Georgia Pacific toilet paper factories or as Wal-mart cashiers. We need a thriving, educated, and innovative populace that will create a brighter future.

  17. @Katie

    Sorry you feel that I don’t “have a clue.” I will have to disagree with you, since I am highly educated and understand quite a bit of the economics behind this bill. I will say that I think it would be wise for you to do a little more research on the other side of the argument. Your close-minded arguments almost made me not want to respond. But I decided better of it, and hope you hear me out and then go educate yourself a bit.

    Public employees do not get the option of merit raises because of collective bargaining. Unions want equality for all, which means across the board pay increases only. And when there is a budget deficit, this means either no raises or even furloughs – across the board. And as far as comparing private sector pay to public sector pay, that is like comparing apples to oranges. I have seen quite a few studies myself that show public sector employees are overpaid vs private. Many of the HS diploma and Bachelor Degree holding public sector employees are very much OVERPAID vs private sector. If you only hold a HS diploma, where can you find a secretarial type job in the private sector that pays $21 an hour, not even considering the amazing benefit package public employees receive? Typically PhD holders have lower salaries in the public sector, but it would be safe to say most of them have that understanding when choosing a public sector job. And with that being said, the numbers can basically be “massaged” to favor either argument. (And a side note, do you realize that for state employees, if they decide to not pay union dues and recoup that money, under Walker’s proposed bill they will only see $600 more dollars out of their paycheck for the year in comparison to Doyle’s furloughs?!?!)

    More money doesn’t just automatically mean smarter children. It is actually quite sad that you think something as simple as money will make your children smart. More money isn’t going to buy more “highly educated” teachers or smaller class sizes. Some of the smartest children I know came from home-schooled families where there parents didn’t have education degrees or fancy multimillion dollar school buildings. If you haven’t, you need to watch Waiting For Superman. Across the nation, our current system of public education isn’t even working. So regardless of your views on the proposed bill, changes need to happen either way. How can you be so sure that our children are “doomed” under Walker’s bill? I find that ludicrous if you feel you are qualified to make such claims and so certain of knowing the outcomes better than our state administrators.

  18. @Sunny. So, you suggest in order to fix our education system, we drastically underfund it? We underpay our teachers? We cut programs? THAT is your solution to an ailing education system?

    I am all for folks who home school. However, that is not the answer for all families. I cannot afford to stay home and teach my kids. I rely on our public schools system to do that.

    Hey, Sunny, mention again how brilliant and educated you are. I know you are really proud of it, but maybe all of the readers haven’t grasped that yet. I don’t need a PhD in economics to “get” that drastically underfunding public programs and cutting taxes on millionaires is not the answer for Wisconsin.

  19. Sorry Katie. It might help if you actually had merit or research to back up your arguments, but you don’t. And without educating yourself on the flip side before you open your mouth, you now just sound like a crazy left-winger. All fluff and no substance. At least I have substance to back up my beliefs and values. Thanks.

  20. P.S. Being “underfunded” is in the eye of the beholder and what you make of the funds.

    Check out this video. It puts things into PERSPECTIVE and that we ALL are BLESSED beyond measure in comparison.

  21. @Sunny. I really appreciate the baseline that you have provided us with. So, apparently, we cannot rally for positive change in social policy until we are all–literally–living in garbage dumps. Nice.

    This is just another shady debate tactic you have pulled out in desperation. Divert everyone’s attention from the issues at hand by presenting a much worse situation that is completely unrelated, and ask everyone to count their blessings. Who can point out the political pawn in this scenario? And BTW, Scott Walker and his party are super motivated to divert resources to international aid (psst….check out your facts, the Republican party doesn’t have a very good track record with international aid…pass it on).

    I know you really want to shut me up and put me in my place with your “Daddy Knows Best” attitude. But, I won’t shut up. This is my family, my friends, my community on the line here and I will not sit on the side lines while Governor Walker destroys the very fabric of this great state that I love.

    You are right, funding is in the eye of the beholder. As a citizen of Wisconsin, that makes me one of the beholders and I demand better funding for all of the programs that matter to the many men, women and children of this state.

  22. Ok Katie…if you know it all, then explain WHERE the cuts should be made to make up for the deficit and your solution to our budget deficit? Because cuts have to be made somewhere, immediately due to the current deficit – and long-term planning since WRS is a defined benefit plan and costs will balloon since all baby-boomers have started and will continue cashing in on their pensions.

    And my link isn’t a “shady debate tactic” at all. In fact, if you weren’t moved by that video, then your heart must be very selfish. I was just making a statement that wealth is what you make of it. And we are “billionaires” in comparison to those children and it makes this debate between you and I seem meaningless and petty. The end.

  23. @ Sunny,
    I haven’t had time to reply until now. There are several points I’d like to make but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have.

    This certainly isn’t the most important point, but since you have brought it up more than once that public employees don’t receive merit pay, I can tell you that I have received merit pay in the form of base increasing discretionary compenation awards more than once.

    I am a CPA that has worked for the state for 20 years and lives in an 800 sq ft house and had to use a home equity loan in recent years to provide the type of care my pre-school, special needs daughter required. Now that she is in kindergarten, I have been paying off that loan but the sudden and drastic income reductions in the budgtet repair bill will curtail that. But that is the least of my worries compared to the rest of this bill and now the Biennial Budget bill.

    According to a recent study (I’ll find it if you’d like) that compared public and private sector compensation packages by education level and also accounted for hours worked it was only those without a HS degree that made more working for the government than for the private sector and that only accounts for 1% of public sector jobs. The public sector compensation lags by approx 6%. Of course, if you looked just at salary the deficit would be much greater because we do have good benefits. But the benefits are instead of salary not on top of it.

    More to come on economics and how to solve the deficit (now and in the future).

  24. @Sunny

    I am a teacher. I work extremely hard to make sure that I am preparing relevant and rigorous lessons. I spend time creating differentiated activities that are communicative and contextualized. I tutor students after school and work long hours grading papers on nights and weekends. During the summers I work on planning for the next school year, assist on numerous committees, find ways to integrate more technology in my curriculum and take classes. I am just finishing up a second MA in literacy and ESL so I can better meet the growing needs of students in my school district. I do all of this because I care. I care deeply for all of my students, as if they were my own. I didn’t join this profession for fame or fortune but from a passion for kids and a desire to make the world a better place. I believe firmly in the power of education. If you look at history, every instance where people have been oppressed education has been taken away. I want our country to have strong schools and our educational framework to be as top notch as possible. I take it very personally when people make comments about how I (teachers) am overpaid and not hardworking because I only “work 9 months a year”. I deserve a little respect, the same that I show every student I come in contact with as well as every parent. @Sunny, you did have one valid point. We do need to be offering solutions. One is This is just one of the ideas I have heard about that would address school funding issues. You know, kids are very, very, very observant. We keep telling them how vital education is and how lucky they are to be able to get a good education but we strip away funding and programs. It is kind of ironic, isn’t it?

  25. @ Sunny I’ll take that last question. The budget deficit was created by Scott Walker. When he came into office, there was a projected budget SURPLUS this next year for Wisconsin. One of his first acts as Governor was to give $14,000,000 in tax breaks to large corporations operating in Wisconsin, including Koch industries (I’ll assume you know who they are) and Walmart. He created the deficit, and then declared it a “crisis”, saying Wisconsin is “broke”…. it’s a sham. Here are 2 ways to solve the budget deficit.

    1) Repeal the $140,000,000 in tax breaks Scott Walker gave to his rich buddies or,

    2) I forget the exact figure, but someone recently figured that if tax paying Wisconsinites paid an additional 6 dollars or so of taxes every month, the increased tax revenue would wipe out the deficit. I’d gladly kick in that money to keep our teachers and prison guards from personal financial crisis and to preserve their bargaining rights (as if those rights really have anything whatsoever to do with our budget). I’d even kick in for a stranger who who was on hard times. But of course, this shouldn’t be necessary, as the tax breaks for the rich should be repealed if yourself and Mr. Walker are so concerned about our deficit.

  26. @ Sunny Oh, and as to the last video you posted, how does it relate to this discussion?

  27. Hey Thomas…you need to check where you get your information from. You are WRONG.

    And the problem with your #2 is that too many people on both ends of the spectrum DONT PAY TAXES.

    People need to start learning and educating themselves about this stuff instead of just reading liberal lies.

  28. The Wisconsin legislative fiscal bureau disagrees.

    I’ll take their word for it over yours. As far as who pays taxes and who doesn’t, I pay mine, do you? 2/3rds of Large American corporations pay NO taxes, and in any case, you’ve conveniently ignored the whole point of my post, that Walker GAVE $140 MILLION IN TAX BREAKS TO LARGE CORPORATIONS OPERATING IN WISCONSIN. You’re concerned people aren’t paying their taxes, but will ignore a corporate handout larger than our supposed “deficit”.

    As far as “liberal lies” are concerned, I laugh in your face. Republicans hold the trophy on monumental, egregious lies spat in the face of Americans. Some of us are smart enough to see them for what they are.

  29. And once again, the video relates to this discussion how?

  30. Hey Thomas…I think you need a refresher of the definitions of gross vs net and surplus. Surplus is defined as assets MINUS liabilities. The $121M that you are talking about is actually the GROSS balance, which is exclusive of necessary deductions/liabilities. You are incorrect to call it a surplus. The bureau’s analysis shows they calculate a NET balance of $54M BEFORE payments are to be made. It would be like trying to say my $540 checking account is a “surplus,” forgetting that I have a car payment of $150 and rent of $400 and $100 in groceries. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

    Walker’s tax breaks have nothing to do with the above deficit. That deficit WAS ALREADY THERE when he came into office. His tax breaks will be a part of the next budget. And Walker’s tax breaks are one way to address our current state economy issues. There will always be some people who don’t agree. This is an extreme oversimplification, but it depends on if you are more of the “trickle down” economist, or the “trickle up.” Frankly, I am fine with tax breaks to corporations who drive our economy.

    I am not sure I know of these monumental lies you are talking about in regards to republicans. I am sure both sides do their fair share of lying. But in my point about the budget, you were drinking liberal kool-aid. I do know that liberals have been spreading the lies/crap about the non-existent budget surplus even AFTER Robert Lang from the fiscal bureau has CONFIRMED we have a deficit. That darn letter was not written for the general public, and therefore it has been misinterpreted or purposely misinterpreted by libs who should know better. “We have $121 million in the bank but if we addressed the $258 million in shortfalls then we’re in the hole by $137 million,” said Bob Lang, the director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. BOOM.

    And the video is just showing that children can still learn in any environment, and that we are darn lucky to be living in Wisconsin and not there. Someone always has it worse.

  31. Well, last night in the Capitol, all the financial aspects of the “budget bill” were tabled so they could ram through taking away workers’ rights. The only question now is, how many Wisconsinites are so STUPID and BLIND that they think this bill EVER had anything to do with the deficit?

  32. Not stupid or blind, thank you. Go study up on economics and how collective bargaining affects the long-run. It doesn’t impact the current deficit, but it will get us out of what will be crap-hole of a mess if we don’t change our long-term financing goals.

  33. States with no collective bargaining for teachers have some of the most pathetically low test scores for schoolchildren in our country. Perhaps Sunny doesn’t give a damn what happens to our education system here in the dairy state, but the rest of us sure as hell do.

    To say that giving $140,000,000 in tax breaks to corporations has no effect on the deficit is idiotic. Saying these corporations deserve the tax breaks because they drive our economy is a stereotypical conservative bit of idiocy, and a typical Fox News talking point. If consumers aren’t left with any discretionary income, our economy will sink like a safe loaded with rocks. It’s a B.S. argument Sunny. Perhaps you buy into Bill O’Reilly’s assertion that teachers and State workers receive “lavish” salaries and benefits, those of us here on planet earth know better. Koch brothers, one of the main recipients of the tax breaks, gave themselves an additional $11 billion bonus while laying off workers in Green Bay, but SURE, they need the extra tax breaks to stay afloat, yeah, keep telling yourself that.

    People like you have been duped into buying the huge load of horse s%@t that what is good for our billionaires is good for the middle class, even though the top half a percent of the wealthiest people in this country hold more than half the assets in this country. Are you a greedy multimillionaire, or a duped member of the middle class? It’s one of the other. Those of us actually paying attention to what’s happening in this country know better than to fall for that crap, and in case you didn’t know, just look at the proportion of pro-labor protesters to teabaggers at the capitol, and you’ll see that people who think like you are now in the sad minority, thank God.

    Then again, if I have to tell you what the Repugs’ monumental lies have been in the past 20 years or so, you’re apparently living under a rock. Step out into the sunlight and look at what’s going on in this country. You’re being screwed and marching in support of the people who are screwing you and the rest of us. Nice.

  34. I honestly do not understand why anyone stands behind the Republican party. I seriously do not get it. Perhaps if you are a multi-millionaire–okay, you have a vested interest in the policies of the right. But, if you make less than $250,000 per year, you are shooting yourself in the foot by voting for the Republicans.

    So, I keep wondering why. Why? The right obviously has an incredibly well-financed deception machine to dupe average, middle-class citizens into voting for them. They often fan the flames of hatred and prejudice to mobilize their base. “Be afraid of black people!! Be afraid of gay people!! Be afraid of Muslim people!!” Meanwhile, the Republicans strip you bare. I keep hoping that Americans are smarter than that. One would think that the brilliance personified in uber educated Sunny would get wise to what is actually happening in her community. But, no. She is still going full steam ahead, fueled by Republican bullshit.

    It all comes down to what you value. I don’t understand what Sunny, or her ilk, value. Wealth? White people? Stuff? Because, based on the policies that she supports, she would rather have the resources funneled away from the poor, the elderly, the middle class, the sick, the children–towards the wealthiest people in the world. There you have it. Her values on a plate. Dress it up any way you want. Rant on and on about the debt. Rant on and on about taxes. Rustle up some stories about union thugs and lazy state workers. Find some videos showing desperate situations in third world countries to distract from the issue at hand. But underneath it all, there is a simple equation that Sunny supports. Take from the poor. Give to the rich. And maybe the rich will drop some pennies back down to all of us some day (i.e. trickle down economics). Maybe, just maybe our kids can one day work a 7 day workweek in one of Mr. Man’s factories or big box stores for minimum wage…..fingers crossed!

    There are solutions to this situation. And, no my solution is not to simply take from the rich and give to the poor. Yes, raise taxes. Increase the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest. Close the tax loopholes to corporations. And you know what, those rich folks will STILL BE FUCKING RICH. Far and away richer than anyone I know. So, shut the fuck up Sunny. I don’t need to hear all of the sad stories of how those pitiful rich folks had to sell one of their vacation homes and settle for a domestic car rather than a Mercedes Benz. Maybe they can only go to Disney every other year rather than every year. We all need to make sacrifices, and the middle class has made plenty already. Now I am looking at you. Remember–values. If you are against raising taxes on the rich than your values show that you would rather those folks have more STUFF (cars, houses, whatever) and my kids don’t get Badgercare. And let’s keep a lid on it really. We ALL need to pay more taxes (based on income) and we CAN.

    But back to the “budget crisis” solutions–also create moderate cuts to state agencies across the board. That means education will take SOME cuts, so will health care, so will transportation, so will etc, etc, etc. But nothing will be crippled. Every public service will be maintained intact.

    We NEED revenue. Revenue=Taxes. I would be willing to pay more taxes to get good services for myself, but moreso, for the stability of my community. Sunny is only concerned about herself and what SHE gets. Remember–this all goes back to values. And here is where the whole privatization comes in. Sure the wealthy would love to privatize everything, because according to them, that will make things more cost-effective and efficient. (Side note, there are inefficiencies in private sector too–Dilbert is not a public employee) Well, what happens when someone can’t afford those private services? What happens to those who can’t afford the private schools or private hospitals or private nursing homes? How about when you can’t pay the private fire department and then your house catches fire? What then? As Scrooge said, that is what the prisons and poor houses are for. The republicans are A-OK with the idea of letting the poor to rot. Who gives a shit about them anyway? And, unfortunately, more and more of the Middle Class is sliding into poverty as a result of these policies. The thing is THEY DON’T CARE.

    So, why would you vote Republican? Either you are a) rich b) clueless or c) hateful (ie values). I am hoping that the majority are b. Because then, hopefully, by learning the truth of what is going on, they will vote differently next time.

  35. Here is a lovely editorial that more eloquently describes what I was trying to convey, with less swear words.

  36. You have NO CLUE what happens when you overtax rich people. See, you are blind to what happens in the long run. If you tax the crap out of rich people, they move their wealth, businesses, and all that drives our economy out of state and/or out of the US. Then the middle and lower classes are really the ones who are “fucked” instead of the rich people just being “fucking rich” as Katie so eloquently put it.

    Once again…you all need to educate yourselves using media other than drinking left-winger brainwashing koolaid.

    Read and educate yourself on a simple example of what taxing rich people does to the people that feed off the government.

    Republican party is all about taking accountability for yourself. It is time people started to be more accountable for their own lives and stop relying on the government to sustain them their whole lives.

  37. By the way Thomas, if you didn’t read my previous posts…I WAS A STATE EMPLOYEE. AND YES, I CAN HONESTLY SAY I HAD LAVISH BENEFITS VERSUS WHEN I WAS A PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEE. AND MY SALARY WAS BETTER AS A STATE EMPLOYEE THAN WHEN IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. Yes, some PhD candidates could take their PhD asses to the private sector and make higher salary, but they knowingly choose to be employed with the state. I think they are darn smart enough to know what kind of salary they are getting themselves into. Remember, I worked in HR for the state. And anyone with a HS diploma or a bachelor degree usually came out ahead in salary as a state employee. And there are a lot more non-educated state employees than educated ones.

    And states with no collective bargaining also don’t tax the shit out of property so they have less money funneling into the school system. There are way too many other variables to make such a claim. Unless you can find a study that can isolate collective bargaining to a direct correlation of better test scores and schools (which, you can’t, because some of my PhD friends can’t even find such a study), don’t even try using it as an argument.

  38. By the way Katie…if it weren’t for republicans balancing out the economy at times in power, our state would have been broke a long time ago, and Badgercare wouldn’t have even been a reality for you AT ALL. So you should really be thankful that republicans look at the long term effects on policy so you can have your Badgercare. It is just sad, really, the ignorance.

  39. No sunny, Repugs are not about personal responsibility, that you would think so just displays your extreme ignorance. They are about:

    1) Helping their rich buddies rape our economy, at the expense of screwing the poor and middle classes,

    2) Putting the kibosh on ANYTHING the Dems do to increase the chance they will get elected again so they can continue to rape our economy, even if it means screwing the entire country, and

    3) Pushing their twisted “Christian” values on the entire country.

    You talk about Republicans balancing the economy, it is if you were cryogenically frozen during the Bush years, when he took the record budget surplus Clinton worked 8 heard years to achieve and turned it into a record deficit overnight, increasing our national debt by more than ALL PREVIOUS U.S. PRESIDENTS COMBINED.

    Are you completely retarded?

    Here’s some help, which you obviously are in desperate need of, here’s a song in which many of Bush’s monumental lies are discussed.

    The people on this forum have mostly educated themselves to the ways that Republicans have ruined our country and are continuing to do so. If you still like them, then yes, my original observation still stands, you are stupid AND ignorant.

    I’m done with you, go spread your stupidity elsewhere, you’ll accomplish nothing here other than making yourself look like the silly ass that you are.

  40. And “overtaxing” the rich, what a crock of fetid horse poo you have guzzled down in its entirety. I wear New Balance shoes. Unlike Nike, they make their sneakers here in the U.S., pay American workers living wages, charge under $100 a pair for the shoes I wear and still turn a profit. Nike could choose to do the same if they gave a damn about the American middle class, but they care about nothing other than profits. You’ve bought this shoddy bill of goods where you are allowing yourself to be held hostage by a bunch of greedy crooks, and will argue on their behalf.

    You are a product of Fox News, Limbaugh and the rest of those douches who themselves don’t believe the lion’s share of the crap they spew on the air, but keep spewing it because they have more greed than morals and are getting rich broadcasting lies and half-truths.

    I don’t know what about the fact that the Kochs are multi billionaires you are too dense to comprehend, but in order for them to get away with what they’re doing, they require an embarrassing proportion of Americans to be as stupid and ignorant as yourself, so thank you for helping to screw this country. There are plenty of stats out there for you to find which will show you how the lions share of the wealth in this country is being hoarded by the ultra-wealthy while the rest struggle to afford their meager living quarters, but in order to digest it you would actually have to pull your head out of the rectums of the rich you have been duped into defending, those same rich people who sit back in their mansions and laugh out loud at how stupid people like yourselves are to believe the crap they feed you so they can rape our economy with impunity.

    Fortunately, much of our local populace has caught on to what’s going on and is no longer accepting it, more than 100,000 like minded people on the square this Saturday, many of them former Republicans, are finally aware of income inequity and will no longer sit down and take it. Your precious governor/peg boy to the uber-rich will soon be going down in flames, along with much of the Republican party as a direst result of how they have overreached. There will still be stubborn, moronic holdouts such as yourself, who refuse to see the writing on the wall, but you and people like you will soon be flushed down the toilet of time and laughed at by the rest of us, so don’t let the plunger hit your thick skull on the way down the drain.

  41. I am glad you make yourself look foolish by constantly calling me names. I am not retarded. What qualifications do you have to claim that makes you understand how the economy works?

    Do you not realize that Clinton did NOTHING extravigant towards that surplus, it is simply the eb and flow of the economy and both parties policies balancing eachother out over time? If a republican president was elected during Clinton’s time, the surplus results would have been quite similar. And during the Bush years there was deficit, but the first year of the Obama administration more was spent than all the Bush years combined. So you need to check your facts. And while you are at it, learn a little bit about credit default swaps and one of the REAL REASONS for the real estate market bust and economic crisis. Deregulation was the brainchild of the Clinton administration. And if you truly think that a president is the sole cause for a surplus or deficit, than you are totally brainwashed.

    Here are some videos that are of real value and you should educate yourself with, since your arguments never have any substance to back yourself up with…and I am constantly giving you FACTS:

  42. Save it, not buying your bullshit.

  43. If that is all you have to come back at me with, you are the one who believes in bullsh*t obviously, since you don’t have any facts to back you up.

  44. I don’t know you…but pretty sure Milton Friedman is one million times more brilliant than you will ever be.


  46. People are interesting. We should get all money out of politics, we should have a national healthcare that pays for doctor and dental just like other lucky people in the world, we should not give tax cuts to anyone (especially not the wealthy), we should not count on erratic charity, instead we should have government safety nets, we should not let our corporations pay no taxes. Why is everyone so afraid of high tax states like Sweden? When you count all the fees, property tax, sales tax, etc etc- we pay A LOT, and we don’t even get anything from it. They pay high taxes and they get A LOT.

  47. Malloy said it well- they throw us a bone and have us (regular, working class people) fight over it, meanwhile they run away with the bank.

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