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Posted at 8:53 AM ET, 02/18/2011

Scrooge-ism in Wisconsin, part 2

By Harold Meyerson

The pas-de-deux between Chuck Lane and myself, which has now become a long day's journey into night and the subsequent morning, has touched on a number of topics raised by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attack on public-sector unions -- but not on the full range of political consequences that will follow if Walker's denial of collective bargaining rights is enacted. Walker argues that it's fiscal necessity that's driven him to his stance, but a dispassionate look at what he's actually proposed suggests the real reason is political opportunity.

For one thing, Walker's proposal lets police and firefighter unions retain their collective bargaining rights and, thereby, their institutional clout, even though their taxpayer-supported pensions are among the most generous in the state. Not coincidentally, a number of police and firefighter unions supported Walker in the last election, and such unions tend to endorse more conservative candidates than, say, teachers' unions. So what Walker is really doing is going after unions that support Democrats.

Moreover, the big public sector unions, particularly the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) not only turn out their own members come election day. In tandem with the AFL-CIO, they also, and always, wage the biggest and most successful get-out-the-vote campaigns in minority communities -- communities that tend to vote heavily Democratic. Thus the political consequences of shrinking those unions, as Walker would do, or getting rid of them altogether, which Lane supports, go well beyond issues of budgets. They effect the racial and class composition of the electorate in ways that Lane -- who insists in his post that he is committed to progressive values -- presumably would not be crazy about. Diminishing those unions would yield a whiter, richer electorate. That's not what Lane is seeking, if we take him at his word. It is absolutely what Walker is seeking, however. Such an electorate is far more likely to elect Republicans. It's far more likely to elect Scott Walker.

By throwing out not just the bathwater of generous pensions but the baby of unions, too, Walker not only strips a category of workers of rights they've held for half a century, he also reshapes the electorate to his liking. It's a partisan power grab that reconfigures much more than state budgets. That's why President Obama spoke out against Walker's proposal on Thursday, and that's why I don't think Lane has fully grappled with all the changes that his position entails.

By Harold Meyerson  | February 18, 2011; 8:53 AM ET
Categories:  Meyerson  | Tags:  Harold Meyerson  
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Next: Gov. Walker's Overreach

Comments

Or maybe Meyerson, it should be a little more beneficial to risk you life on a daily basis for people. I have a hard time buying education needs more and more when gpa's are at their lowest and benefits at their highest. WE ALL KNOW THAT THE UNIONS ARE FAT CATS WHO MAKE MORE THAN THE PUBLIC SECTOR. It's past time to reel them in.

Posted by: kpistol | February 18, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

you are so,so,so,so right!quit your mess! we know what this is all about!

Posted by: ffaith | February 18, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The problem with this scheme that Walker proposes is I believe that this bill, if became law, would violate the 14th amendment. Maybe I am wrong but doesn't the 14th amendment afford equal rights under state law also? By giving exclusive rights to the state troopers to keep their collective bargaining rights is akin to creating two classes within a class. Just saying.

Posted by: HarveyHefflenbecher | February 18, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm sick and tired of my union dues going to fund Democratic elections! It's time the union memebers pay their fair share. Pay SOME co-pay, pay SOME montly health care, like the rest of the working people. Pay your own 401K like the rest of us. Be able to vote if you want out of the barganing unit. You can't just raise taxes anymore. Run away like children to Illinois to avoid a vote.....vote them out next.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

A few facts...
My understanding is that only 4 fire and police unions out of hundreds supported Walker.
Second, Walker proposes ending only the collective bargaining rights on benefits (health and pensions that are out of control) and not wages. The union can still bargain to increase wages to compensate for lost benefits.
Third, Walker and his colleagues made no secret of their desire to make these changes during the campaign. They were all elected overwhelmingly by the taxpayers of the state. Political? Maybe. But that's how the system works. Majority rules and order should be maintained, not trivialized by holing up in a Best Westen in Rockford as the Dem. Senators have done.

Posted by: smokey3 | February 18, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm sick and tired of my union dues going to fund Democratic elections! It's time the union memebers pay their fair share. Pay SOME co-pay, pay SOME montly health care, like the rest of the working people. Pay your own 401K like the rest of us. Be able to vote if you want out of the barganing unit. You can't just raise taxes anymore. Run away like children to Illinois to avoid a vote.....vote them out next.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

No, because the ability to collectively bargain is not a /right/, it's a privilege. The 14th amendment prohibits the unfair application of laws. He's merely stripping off provisions of an old law. This may also be a planned strategy of lowest-picked-apple.

The main argument a lot of us have is that when you have public-sector unions battling for wage and/or benefit increases, it's in direct conflict against private-sector interests. When one grows, the other shrinks. I, for one, don't believe in any government-based unions; they were never intended for this.

Posted by: BradSF | February 18, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@Kpistol:

Your argument starts out sound when you fairly note the difference between risky jobs and not, but then you end by saying:

"I have a hard time buying education needs more and more when gpa's are at their lowest and benefits at their highest."

Using your response I ask: You don't have a hard time buying that police need more when benefits and retirement are highest and crime levels are not at the lowest?

Let's argue that they need more money in order to reduce the crime; then teachers also need more money to raise the GPA.

All I'm saying is that you unfairly supply a different litmus test on the two; "fat cat" benefits are "fat cat" benefits regardless of what sector. If you deny teachers "fat cat" benefits due to the low GPA then also deny police officers "fat cat" benefits due to high crime rate or high recidivism.

Posted by: kaylus | February 18, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Out of curiosity. Is the governor calling for a pay cut for himself and the other politicians who sit in the capitol sipping brandy.
Or is this just for union employees?

Posted by: naksuthin | February 18, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

This whole situation is ridiculous! It is time for the American people to take our government back. Public employees get paid far more than private employees and the gap is even bigger in benefits. Every democrat who ran across state lines to avoid a vote should be voted out of office and we should all remember who they are and NEVER vote for them.

I am tired of paying taxes so government workers can get salaries and benefits far beyond what I get in the private sector. Our government is dysfunctional, inefficient, and to big. It is our huge, dysfunctional, and wasteful government that is holding back our economy and job growth.

Our representatives have a sense of entitlement that must be eliminated. If a law applies to the American People, it should apply to our elected officials and that includes things like social security, pension, and healthcare.

Obama should keep his nose out of this situation. Again Obama is going against the will of the people.

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | February 18, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Maybe GPAs are more related to the increasing poverty due to low wages and not being able to feed your children well before sending them off to school in the morning. My kids have fantastic teachers here in western wisconsin. The republicans and the wealthy are pitting the middle class against itself in a race to the bottom.

Posted by: phacd | February 18, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This whole situation is ridiculous! It is time for the American people to take our government back. Public employees get paid far more than private employees and the gap is even bigger in benefits. Every democrat who ran across state lines to avoid a vote should be voted out of office and we should all remember who they are and NEVER vote for them.

I am tired of paying taxes so government workers can get salaries and benefits far beyond what I get in the private sector. Our government is dysfunctional, inefficient, and to big. It is our huge, dysfunctional, and wasteful government that is holding back our economy and job growth.

Our representatives have a sense of entitlement that must be eliminated. If a law applies to the American People, it should apply to our elected officials and that includes things like social security, pension, and healthcare.

Obama should keep his nose out of this situation. Again Obama is going against the will of the people.

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | February 18, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Lets not forget Walker is saying this is needed to avoid 10,000 from getting laid-off. The ones protesting have a high clock number and don't care about the 10,000 that would lose their job.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

So true. Walker may be hoping for a presidential run and is therefore not too concerned about causing so much trouble for the good people of Wisconsin.

Posted by: frenchofficial | February 18, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand how collective bargaining limits the the ability of those unions to "get out the vote" and get Scott Walker relected. It seems to me that the insentive to remove him from office would encourage even more Democrats to vote.

Posted by: nbogda | February 18, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Since many of the affected groups have already agreed to increase their share of healthcare and pension costs as Walker demanded, his further efforts to essentially eliminate public employee unions are nothing but union-breaking with no additional financial benefit to the state.

Posted by: prg2 | February 18, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

And this is news, how? Unions were the first to receive the swift boat full of lies and slander that the right now uses regularly on anything progressive.

And unions have always been the peoples answer to corporate tyrany whial Republicans have been supporters of capital over people for generations.

Any other direction the Republican party took would be news, but attacking people and their supporting orginazitions is standard motive of operation.

Posted by: rpmamuck | February 18, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Whether you like or dislike unions is beside the point. This is about protecting rights. If you decide that you do not want to be a teacher and be a part of a union don't deride those who do. They have just as many rights as you do. Being against someone or something because they belong to an organization that you do not is triviality. The constitution was written to protect against governmental abuse. That is what is going on in Madison now. Believe it or not it will effect you if we pass laws that do not adhere to the constitutional and amendments. This corrupt thing violates the 14th amendment.

Posted by: HarveyHefflenbecher | February 18, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Did the Republicans run to a Hilton when Obama rammed O'Care down our throat? Liberal cowards, get back and take your lumps. The people have spoken.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

prg2
Stick to the facts. Walker isn't trying to eliminate unions. His proposal is to end collective bargaining on benefits only, not wages. The unions stay well intact. The fact is, there simply is no money. Lots of things have to give. Unlike GM and Chrysler, the state is not allowed to declare bankruptcy in order to force changes. This is all it can do.
I am a taxpayer of Wisconsin. We're the 5th highest taxed state in the country and I would LOVE to have even half the benefits that state workers get.
Quit catastrophizing.

Posted by: smokey3 | February 18, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

EVERONE needs to sacrife,including public Employees and I support the proposal. Secondly, there goes another idiot Journalist throwing out the Race Card to get a rise out of People. That is an old, OLD tactic Meyerson-try something different next time.RACISM IS DEAD!
P.S.
Yes I am Black

Posted by: recon925 | February 18, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

So then, if I understand you correctly @bradsf. Is up to the states to hand out privileges to some and not others based on political favors? That seems twisted somehow. I am no expert in the law but somehow this seems in conflict with a few laws. Doesn't it?

Posted by: HarveyHefflenbecher | February 18, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Most Americans DO NOT belong to unions, and don't want to.
But the protests are so Deceiving because Unions are paying and bussing-in the Protesters!
I don't want my kids being taught by Teachers who Don't Show up for Work;
Teachers who Shut-Down the Schools;
These type of teachers are a bad influence on my kids.
These are the same type of teachers who tell the students that Business is Bad, because the dirty manufacturing jobs ruin our Environment; and, business leaders are bad because they're greedy.
I've had to explain to my kids that businesses Create Jobs, they Pay Salaries,
they Pay Health Insurance, they Pay for Pensions, they contribute to 401K's; Businesses also contribute their time and money to Charity, too., and Businesses contribute to employees' Education, as well.
I'm tired of Teachers bashing Business, and
as a taxpayers paying for my kids' state college education, I think I deserve Better, more Diverse teachers.

Posted by: ohioan | February 18, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Good analysis. Walker also obviously is simply acting on current right-wing cant that blames unions for budget shortfalls. I wish Americans would simply take the right wing at their word: they absolutely do not like workers, do not wish them anything good. (Ah, but managers, owners, bankers, financial manipulators: those the right adores.)

You rightfully focus on the greatest issue: the blatant (and, as you point out, dishonest) denial of collective bargaining rights for all time, not just during the budget crisis. Of course Walker and any Republican successor would extend the budget crisis as a means of always having a reason for draconian measures.

Its a pity that on the evening TV news last night at least one major network news-person talked as though the major issue was that of pay. That despite the signs, chants, and words of those demonstrating in the Wisconsin Capitol.

In 1868, when the Republicans attempted to impeach President Johnson, it was a single Republican vote which prevented the removal of Johnson from office. Edmund G. Ross, a young radical Republican from Kansas, cast the deciding vote. That was an act of great political importance and great political courage. I hope that several Republican Senators in Wisconsin consider the rightness and the bravery of that act and persuade themselves to break form Walker and the party machine and join Democrats in a rejection of Walker's attack on Wisconsin's state employees.

Posted by: hewhoasks | February 18, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Look, I don't know where you folks are getting your misinformation. Here are the facts: I pay $250 per month for my health care "insurance" as does my wife. That totals $500 per month. I also have a $15 a visit copay. Lab tests are an additional $15. I am a public employee. In addition my salary is not so super nor is my retirement. We live paycheck to paycheck. These are the facts. It is a typical propaganda technique to victimize a particular group to get others to turn on them. This distortion then distracts the citizens from the real issue; major corruption and criminal activities within the financial community and the Washington political establishment--politicians, lobbyists, and other influence peddlers. So quit buying into the BS about how great public employees have it and follow the money!

Posted by: arebow | February 18, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Governor Walker is doing what he can to address the state's budget issues. He think that he address this by adjusting the benefits and collective bargaining methods employed by public sector employees and their unions. Meyerson is correct that by exempting certain unions that this could be seen as a partisan ploy on the part of Gov Walker, but should that preclude the governor from doing anything?

If the governor thinks that meaningful adjustments to the budget deficit can't be made other than from what he is doing now then what other cuts should he make?

Posted by: Fitz157 | February 18, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

kpistol: I keep seeing that wages for most employees have been about the same since the 80s. In very recent years, they've gone DOWN. Oh, except for the top 0.1% - the Wall St. types who created this recession in the 1st place. They've done this by joining funds and organizational capability since the 70s, so that lobbying and other corporate financial clout manifestations have unprecedented influence in Washington. Unions dying, taxes lower and lower for the wealthy, and much, much more. They keep telling us it's globalization - except that it's not affecting Europe to anywhere near the same degree. No, it's the effects of all that corporate money, creating an environment that helps themselves, and screws everybody else. Unions are what made the middle class, and killing them removes the offsetting clout they wielded in Washington to keep things more balanced. (Reagan, the corporate shill, was NO friend to most Americans, despite propaganda to the contrary.) So, it doesn't hurt my feelings to see union people get more money. They're just getting more of what we all should be getting. And, without them, we'd be heading back to the robber baron days even faster than we are now.

Posted by: McGauth925 | February 18, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I am on a fixed income, these union pensions are living on taxpayers incomes. They are wrong to have me to pay more taxes for their pensions when I cant buy what I would like to eat or any other things I enjoy doing in life. They should think how they hurt the ones that don't make the money they do.
I have done without every year and try to help others. The teachers have 3 months off with pay and they want more? They are not any better than the companies that are making billions. When is enough, enough for the ones that have it all?

Posted by: njhen0917 | February 18, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

arebow
I think you made my argument. I pay the same for private health insurance...except I have a $5,000 deductible. The fact is, the world has changed dramtically in the last few years. Talk to some of your neighbors about their health care and pension plans...especially your self-employed neighbors and you might feel better about your current benefit. I think you're out of touch. Your private sector neighbors have been giving up these benefits for years.

Posted by: smokey3 | February 18, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Whether or not Mr. Meyerson has correctly divined Gov. Walker’s hidden and unstated motives cannot be dispassionately decided. What is certain from Mr. Meyerson’s proffered analysis is that his own personal passion is a partisan interest for maintaining the status quo political strength of the Democratic electoral machine. In his view that is what is at stake here and it’s clear that that is why he opposes the Governor’s policy change. His is a purely partisan power argument.

Posted by: John-E | February 18, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

@ohian, believe it or not these protests are real and these are real people. Some may be from out of state but the majority are from Wisconsin. And so what if they are from another state. This is a bigger issue than just Wisconsin politics or law. This is the Republican agenda to weaken the unions. Of course, maybe Walker should put up border crossings to keep people from exercising their right to protest?

Posted by: HarveyHefflenbecher | February 18, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

All the governor is asking the teachers to do is to pay into their OWN retirement. What is so terrible about that?? I have to pay into my own retirement. No one does that for me, so why are these teachers so special that the taxpayers should "pay for their retirement." For way too long the unions have been out-of-control. They have made it possible for people like teachers and other union employees to take advantage of the tax payer. Scroogism? I applaud the governor for this. I hope more states follow his lead and do the same thing. It is high time that employees such as this "PAY THEIR OWN WAY."

Governor Walker is only trying to get a train running out of control back on the track and save his state. Other states need to do the same thing.

Posted by: TJBJ | February 18, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Boycott the state of wisconsin
Dont travel there. Don't support any company headquarterd there.Dont support any federal funds for the the state that puts corpire intrests before the wellbing of it's residents.

I can not support any state that will balanc it's budget on the backs of dedicated teachers firefighters and police officers.

The corporate raiders just want to protect their profits. Let them eat their own cheese..

Posted by: c4chaz | February 18, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

SOCIALISM PART 2: Get back to your seat and vote. You are part of a Democracy. The people have voted, and you are disrespecting our elected government. These runaways will not work for the people. They work for the union campain funds. They are bribed by the union basically. Where are all the union dues being spent? You have to fund your own strike pay.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

All of this talk about public employees making more money is not true. Public employees tend to have better benefits, but the wages are lower. I know that I am making 10~15% less in my take home pay, but I have fairly decent but not great benefits. A recent study showed that the average state worker made 5% less in take home pay than the private sector equivalent.


This budget issue is more complicated than people realize. Wisconsin is in the hole, but two weeks ago. Walker passed about a 150 million dollars in taxes cuts, with a large proportion going to McDonald's and Walmart for creating minium wage jobs, that more than likely would have been made anyways. He is paying for this tax cuts by slashing wages of the public employees. He is in effect raising the taxes on only a certain portion of the populace to pay for his programs. If the budget was so bad that he has to strip the rights of state employees, then why is he handing out tax cuts left and right?

As for the 10,000 jobs, a couple of days ago it was 6000 jobs. And before that it was 2000 jobs. Before you know it, he'll be claim that he needs to cut 20,000 jobs.

The truth is that society and government cost money to run. There are times when we as a society must bite the bullet and pay higher taxes to support the services that we need and want. Every one is complaining about the debts, but this is how crazy this country has become, where the idea of paying for government isn't even being discussed.

Posted by: schizaspidia | February 18, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Here in Rhode Island the state unions pay 20% of health insurance and 8.75% of our gross pay into retirement AND we have reduced state employees by 3,000 over the past few years. Other states should catch up, even though we are still 290 million behind on the budget this year.
Unions, Unions, Unions, I am so tired of hearing about this. Contracts are legal agreements and will not be broken. We have gone to the state supreme court and won. We have also, in the past 2 years taken no pay days which represents a 10% cut in pay. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Posted by: bk1234 | February 18, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

schizaspidia
I AM a resident of Wisconsin... and we are already the 5th HIGHEST TAXED STATE IN THE COUNTRY! With all due respect..... I PAY ENOUGH! Maybe you're a resident too, but if not... I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't try to increase MY taxes. Stick to your own state.

Posted by: smokey3 | February 18, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@jbj, Walker is asking for much more than that. He is demanding that collective bargaining rights be taken away from the unions. In other words, he is attempting to rid unions from the public sector. If you want to water down democracy then continue to protect those who strip rights away from the average citizen. Simple.

Posted by: HarveyHefflenbecher | February 18, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

These socialist are fugitives, the state police are looking for them. Where is the out cry about that? The have crossed state lines to avoid being picked up by state police make them to do their job.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Here is a crazy thought...What do you suppose would happen if the firefighters and police force went on strike?

Posted by: bertzel | February 18, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

This has become the typical reaction of the American people.

We ALL realize that this country will eventually cease to exist in the form it was created in by the Founding Fathers if we don't cease this insane spending.

In order to accomplish this overwhelming task we can all see that spending needs to be cut IN EVERYBODY ELSE'S AREA BUT LEAVE MINE ALONE!!!

To be more direct - gore someone else's ox but don't gore mine.

As related to unions my father explained to me in 1935 that someday unions would eventually ruin business with this reasoning.

Businesses had abused labor for many years and once they became powerful enough they would retaliate to the same degree.

They did and they have. We have viewed the negative effect that the unions eventually did to the automobile industry and the steel industry.

Public sector unions have become bloated, overpaid both in annual income and in retirement benefits at the taxpayer's expense. AND IT IS ALMOST AN IMPOSSIBILITY TO TERMINATE AN INCOMPETENT PUBLIC SECTOR WORKER. Job performance is the least of their concerns.

Obama has now added an additional 300,000 employees to facilitate his "effort" to stimulate the economy. He now requires another 1,050 more to assist in the implementation of "Obamacare" and not one of these jobs creates a dollar of productive activity into the economy.

Unions were once an important element to level the playing field for the average American. They no longer serve that effective a purpose at this stage of our nation.

View the states which have been least affected by this "so-called depression/recession" (I say that having lived thru the entire 1932-1939 period - this "ain't no real depression) and you will find that the entire lot of them are "right-to-work" states.

To quote an author whom I cannot recall: "Me thinks you protest too much."

Posted by: dharper2 | February 18, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Shame on you cowardly liberal congressmen, running away to avoid your job. In the real world when you don't show up for work you don't get paid, and soon get fired; clearly this should be your fate.

This is a state matter, Mr Obama; perhaps you should keep your big nose pointed at the federal problems you have created.

Posted by: iypopeye | February 18, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

This is how we got into this mess in the first place (catering to selfish people at the expense of later generations). The bills for buying votes by the democratic party in the past are coming due NOW and there isn't enough money to pay them. Let's stop the insanity NOW. Stop the "gimmie, gimmie, gimmie" and think of OTHERS for a change!

Posted by: gjdagis | February 18, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the reason he excluded the police and the firefighters is because we (the people) are quite happy to compensate police and firefighters for putting their lives at risk every day they show up for work. It's the indolent paper-pushers and "text-book thumpers" making six-figure incomes that comprise the other 90% of our "public servants" who we would like to put on indefinite furlough.

Posted by: thomas777 | February 18, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The middle class and the county need Labor, but Labor keeps shooting itself in the foot, as in the backing of free trade to "bring in cheap goods for the members" and the present squabble in Wisconsin.

What needs to be done is for someone (journalism?) to compare the total earnings (wages, benefits and retirement) of Wisconsin public sector employees with similar work in the private sector. Then let the elected officials proceed to do their jobs, in the light.

Posted by: Thoms1991 | February 18, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Scrooge-ism?
No Meyerson, it's Broke-ism.

Posted by: thejames1225 | February 18, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@dharper2: To quote an author whom I cannot recall: "Me thinks you protest too much."

Great post! FYI:
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." is from "Hamlet", by William Shakespeare.

(PS: I'm just an ignorant racist Republican conservative bigot, but did read a little Shakespeare in College.)

Posted by: thomas777 | February 18, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Why do we need public employees anyway? I say fire all of them. This will give all Americans the opportunity to grow closer together as we spend our Summers repairing our own roads, streets, and bridges! In Winter we can have hot cocoa parties as we clear ice and snow from our roads!
These activities will lay the solid work ethic groundwork for our children.

Privatize all the schools, we as a nation, obviously cannot afford to provide public education for our kids. Home schooling is even better and then ,of course, on to Harvard !

Who needs trash pick-up ? We can all pack our garbage into our SUV's and spend four or five hours each Saturday taking our trash to the recycling center. Of course we would have to operate the machinery ourselves. How hard can it be ? After all some "stupid and selfish" public employee is doing it now.

Do you want to buy a house? Just do it ! Just drop the paperwork in the appropriate pile, someone will get to it. Building a house ? No problem! No more inspections.

Don't forget Boil Your Water Before Drinking ! That's the best way to make sure it's safe. Don't worry, the plumber will be right over to fix your sewer line.
Mail ? Who needs it ?

Sick ? Hey call the doctor, the nurses have been furloughed. Empty your own bedpan, it's very rewarding.

In the meantime why doesn't the Republican House of Representatives just let the Federal Government shut down for a month or two ? We would save hundreds of billions of dollars. This would also give the fine people of the Washington DC area a chance to get out there and patch up the Beltway, after there will be no traffic. ( I was in DC when during the last shut down , no traffic!)

Well come on folks, lets roll up our sleeves and get to work ! Oh by the way, you'll need to call in sick tomorrow. We have a pothole to fill. Don't worry your boss will understand after all we are saving tax dollars and getting in shape by doing it ourselves !

What a selfish , idiotic country this is becoming. Everybody wants everything but nobody wants to pay for anything.

Posted by: badmooie | February 18, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The run aways work for the union, not the voters. The union controls them. Do you think they feel good about running from the law?

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Poor Badmooie, you just don't get it - maybe capitalism is just not for you. There is not enough money in the world to give everyone everything they want.

Posted by: iypopeye | February 18, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The voucher system would work well. Let me pick the school I feel is best for my child with the tax dollars I pay.

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

So are the socialists going to stay in Illinois forever? It's time to vote them out next. Who do they work for?

Posted by: arby1 | February 18, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Dittos "kpistol"

Across the country we need to cut spending or we will find ourselves like Greece, Spain and the rest of Europe in dire financial straights. The department of Education, DHS, the EPA and foreign aid would be great places to start perhaps 50-75 % cuts in those areas. We should pull our military back from around the world and redeploy them to our borders. It is time we isolate ourselves, start drilling for oil within our borders and get our economy well. Unions and government pensions are killing us and we must fix the problem not kick the can down the road any longer.

Posted by: wakeup3 | February 18, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

smokey3, No I don't think I've made your point, you've made mine. The working people of this country continue to get shafted by the corporations. The pie is big enough for all of us to "enjoy" a level of economic stability and peace of mind, but we have (willingly) given this up by continuing to elect public officials who cater to the big money interests. I will continue to vote at the ballot box and with my wallet.

Posted by: arebow | February 18, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Walker would have more credibility and be believed if he went after ALL public employee unions. Some say those who were exempted (police, firefighters, etc.) are essential. Corrections officers are not exempt. Do we not need them?

Posted by: rlj1 | February 18, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't meyerson disclose that he is a card carrying communist and socialist?

Posted by: docwhocuts | February 18, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I say give the public service employess until monday morning to return to work, or fire them all.

Posted by: jjlj | February 18, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Lets not forget Walker is saying this is needed to avoid 10,000 from getting laid-off. The ones protesting have a high clock number and don't care about the 10,000 that would lose their job.

Posted by: arby1
_____________________
that's what he's saying, but it's nonsense. He could negotiate one time give backs or cuts in health benefits to pay for the deficit he created with his business tax cuts. ending collective bargaining rights is just his hidden agenda.

as Klein notes, states offered unions higher benefits in lieu of higher wages so that the cost would be deferred to someone else's administration. take away the benefits, increase the wages - fine, but that's not what's going on here. it's just a cowardly smokescreen to bust the union. negotiating over wages only with a cap of the CPI? what a joke.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 18, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm not clear on how this legislation "reshapes the electorate." Assuming it passes, does it prevent union members from voting? Is your point only that they won't be cajoled and pressured into voting in the same way that the unions were previously able to do?

Posted by: LHeselden | February 18, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Graduated high school...college...etc. Maybe ended up with good jobs and nice houses. Instead...you want us to pay your way. Nobody said life was fair.To all of you putting this demonstration down. If you were state workers and had these benefits for years suddenly taken away.....you'd be down at the capital whining like little babies. Just because some are better off than you.... doesn't give you a reason to slam them. Should I be disrespectful like you have all been? Well perhaps some of you should have taken different routes in life. The latest video clips from TMZ http://fms.nu/ht8PXC I get the latest what happen. It will be helpful for them who want to keep in touch with updates always like me

Posted by: mastermind7526 | February 18, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Hal,

Your buddy (and OweBama's) FIDEL just FIRED 20% of his employees.

Res ipsa, Hal.

Have a nice time in North Korea, buddy.

Posted by: RETIRE_BHO_2012 | February 18, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Meyerson makes no sense at all.

Yesterday the Wisconsin Gov was an eastern European warlord slaying unions.

Today, the Wisconsin Gov is picking and choosing his friends. OMG!!

You know Meyerson has lost the intellectual battle because.... HE'S PULLING OUT THE RACE CARD!

What's the point of paying public sector unions to the point of insolvency?

What does a bankrupt state have to do with class composition?

Posted by: ravioliman6666 | February 18, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't meyerson disclose that he is a card carrying communist and socialist?

Posted by: docwhocuts
___________________________________________
Shouldn't docwhocuts disclose that he is a tin foil hat wearing tea-bagger?

Posted by: Observer001 | February 18, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The voters have spoken -- who protects the taxpayers money. . . certainly not the unions.

Reform is needed and not just in Wisconsin.

Posted by: sarno | February 18, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

arebow..
Hmmmmm.... and what big corporation is it that is shafting you? You're a state employee, right?
The fact is health and pension benefits have absolutely skyrocketed in the last decade. And businesses should just continue to pay all of it? In effect giving you a significant raise each year that they have to eat? Besides also giving you a COLA?
Nope, sorry. The world has changed. And we all need to change with it. The private sector already has. It's time for the public sector to follow suit.

Posted by: smokey3 | February 18, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Who do you think those 30,000 people are? Illegal immigrants? Elites? These are people for whom the union means the difference between slavery and decent lives. Tell your corporate masters we won't submit quietly.

Not an exact quote, but close.
From "A Christmas Carol"
"These are your children, Scrooge. The children of all who walk through the world unseeing. Their names are "Want" and "Ignorance." Beware of them, for on their foreheads is written DOOM."

They leave that part out of most version on film.

Posted by: Robynmarigny | February 18, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Who do you think those 30,000 people are? Illegal immigrants? Elites? These are people for whom the union means the difference between slavery and decent lives. Tell your corporate masters we won't submit quietly.

Not an exact quote, but close.
From "A Christmas Carol"
"These are your children, Scrooge. The children of all who walk through the world unseeing. Their names are "Want" and "Ignorance." Beware of them, for on their foreheads is written DOOM."

They leave that part out of most version on film.

Posted by: Robynmarigny | February 18, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Who do you think those 30,000 people are? Illegal immigrants? Elites? These are people for whom the union means the difference between slavery and decent lives. Tell your corporate masters we won't submit quietly.

Not an exact quote, but close.
From "A Christmas Carol"
"These are your children, Scrooge. The children of all who walk through the world unseeing. Their names are "Want" and "Ignorance." Beware of them, for on their foreheads is written DOOM."

They leave that part out of most version on film.

Posted by: Robynmarigny | February 18, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

So, the logrolling between politicians and public employee unions is threatened? This rightly draws Democrats -- even the President -- into the fray?

I don't think you meant to be quite so honest.

Posted by: happyacres | February 18, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Who do you think those 30,000 people are? Illegal immigrants? Elites? These are people for whom the union means the difference between slavery and decent lives. Tell your corporate masters we won't submit quietly.

Not an exact quote, but close.
From "A Christmas Carol"
"These are your children, Scrooge. The children of all who walk through the world unseeing. Their names are "Want" and "Ignorance." Beware of them, for on their foreheads is written DOOM."

They leave that part out of most version on film.

Posted by: Robynmarigny | February 18, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that Walker is thinking President. He can't be that far removed from reality. He may be thinking that any dolt can be the VP. Does he have hair? I don't even know what he looks like, but I can smell a right-wing thug a block away.

No, wait, that's Rick Perry! (They all smell alike.)

Posted by: rusty3 | February 18, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I have come to the conclusion that people should discourage their sons and daughters from becoming teachers. It looks as though the public views teachers to be just a little bit above blood sucking leeches.

Posted by: smith6 | February 18, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Lets see
Northern Rust Belt states = fiscal decline = heavily unionized
Southern Right to work states = fiscal growth = largely non-union.

So why should our government employees be unionized? To drive the nation into bankruptcy?

Posted by: bruce18 | February 18, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

So now we know.

The agenda of the Republican Party of No for the next two years consists of two goals.

The first is to keep the number of unemployed high which will hurt the re-election of President Obama.

The second is to weaken and/or destroy the middle class's only source of economic and political power, its right to form and belong to a union.

In the first instance, the Republicans and their sponsors, the haves and want mores, know any success Obama has in creating jobs and relieving the economic stress created by the Republicans and the greedy rich will help his being re-elected in 2012. If he does not succeed the Republicans will try to use it against him. That the middle class will continue to suffer is of no concern to the Republicans or the wealthy class, when workers suffer the rich get richer.

In the second instance, the Republicans and there sponsors want to eliminate the only organized counter to the massive amounts of campaign monies the corporations give to the Republican Party and other conservative anti-worker groups. The Unions played a decisive role in defeating the war-mongering and greed driven policies of the Republican Party of NO in the 2008 elections.

With this two-tiered attack on Obama - preventing any economic recovery and removing the largest and most effective support base he has - the Republican Party sees its chance of victory in 2012 and and the resumption of attacks on the living standards of middle class America.

But they have a problem.

Workers know how to fight back and when we are attacked we relearn the lesson of why the unions are so important to us.

We remember the power of unity.

We remember the the truth of the union slogan, "An injury to one is an injury to all".

Today in Wisconsin and Ohio we see the spirit of unity, the need for unity, is never forgotten, we keep it in our back pocket right next to our union card.

Posted by: apspa1 | February 18, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick and tired of my union dues going to fund Democratic elections!

Posted by: arby1
===================
So why are you not pissed off that the POLITICAL and BUSINESS UNIONS like the US Chamber, KKK, GOP fund Republican Elections..

They are UNIONS TOO !!

Posted by: pdq5 | February 18, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

What irks me is MSM presents the governor looking all sad and earnest but only shows a photo of the group of protestors instead of having someone IN THE KNOW given equal time to explain their position and a few facts the governor has not mentioned.

One fact is that he just engineered a billion dollar give-away to corporations in Wisconsin who already pay 0 or next to in state and federal taxes. That give-away took the funds needed to break even leaving the state with the deficit. He created the situation.

Another fact is (gleaned from reading various union and other citizen postings on local sites) Union workers are paid less than private sector jobs in Wisconsin. This is off-set by better benefits on health and retirement. They already do pay on health and retirement but not quite as much as private sector positions. Overall their salaries even with benefits is lower than private sector jobs in Wisconsin and other surrounding states.

Another fact is due to the financial crisis in the state in past years they (as a union) have voted to furlough days WITHOUT PAY effectively taking even less in salary. They have also agreed to a salary freeze - several years ago. They could afford to do this without too much hardship because health insurance was not quite as expensive as it should be. Over the years they have paid more in health insurance and retirement costs but the one thing the governor is forcing (and why they are protesting) is taking away their right to bargain for better wages and benefits WHEN the economy gets better.

I am not a member of a union nor have I ever been a member but I know I owe a lot to union workers who fought for a 40 hour week instead of 60+, who put in child labor laws, got paid vacations and holidays for everyone and a million other perks I enjoy in my very middle class job and lifestyle.

Had the workers refused to take cuts, refused to talk to the governor I would be keeping my mouth shut but that isn't the story at all. The Governor is the one who refused to discuss and wants to remove the one thing all Republicans seem to hate -- the right of the workers to have some say in their life and of course -- Republicans want to make the rich even richer so they can contribute to their campaigns and offer them huge salary jobs once they get elected out of office.

Posted by: Lemon7221 | February 18, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Meyerson's latest post should begin, "I concede Mr. Lane's points and will now change the subject for the third time to avoid responding to the substance of Mr. Lane's arguments."

Posted by: kjhm85 | February 18, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

By throwing out not just the bathwater of generous pensions but the baby of unions, too, Walker not only strips a category of workers of rights they've held for half a century, he also reshapes the electorate to his liking. It's a partisan power grab that reconfigures much more than state budgets.

========================================

My answer is simply yeah, so?

He's been elected and will reward his friends and punish his enemies. Just like Obama, with GM and Chrysler, bypassed bankrupcy and shafted creditors to get a sweetheart deal to the UAW.

Be mad about what Gov. Walker wants to do but spare us the hyperbole.

P.S. Howard should aplolgize for the smear and lie about the National Guard.

Posted by: bbface21 | February 18, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I read your article twice, and still don't have any idea what your point was. Do you even have one?

Posted by: Bailers | February 18, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Nah. Couldn't be. Nothing going on here. ... Move along folks. (Cairo police, 4 weeks ago).

Posted by: deepthroat21 | February 18, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

smokey3, yes the world has changed due to... ??

just because i am a public employee doesn't mean the multinationals don't run the game in their favor. what are you saying? it's ok for big govt to favor the interests of corporations and leave the working people to fight over the scraps? what i am saying is we ignore the 800 lb gorilla--politicians and corporations in bed with each other and all that entails--and instead blame the working man/woman and try to take even more from them in the form of stagnant wages, less benefits, increased deductions and such while "allowing" the top 1% to grow even wealthier. how does that make sense? follow the money--where it comes from and where it goes and you'll see it goes right into the pockets of those who control the system. our current system/society/culture is so far out of whack. there are some potential baby steps we could take which could eventually lead us back to a more common sense approach. i propose 2 which are not new: term limits and campaign finance reform. i think the working people of this country actually have control but we've given it up. i say we take it back by peaceful means: ballot box and wallet. as for the economy we can once again lead the world in innovation by growing all the new technologies we are in need of now and for the next 50 years+. i have much hope for us!

Posted by: arebow | February 19, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Tea Party FASCISTS: Go back to Nazi Germany, where you belong!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 19, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

$300,000,000.00 Fund Raiser for """Obama Proof of Eligibility""" Right now millions of Americans want to donate money to any group who will go after Obama and produce all his records? Upwards of 100 million people are demanding his records and willing to pay to see them, even large amounts of money woudl be donated some say by individuals? One person said, "Real long term success and greatness in our country are founded upon the principles that people do not lie, cheat, or steal but Obama does not know the meaning of these words. Our nation is neither succeeding nor is great at this point in time because we have allowed Obama's voice to grow and spread throughout our society. Shame on us, we shuld have said stop the lying long ago...
Our nation does have the potential to be a fabulous nation again; however, let’s stop kidding ourselves in thinking that we are a great nation currently. How is it that America has lost its greatness? One word, Obama!!!!

Posted by: Richie5 | February 19, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"The truth is that society and government cost money to run. There are times when we as a society must bite the bullet and pay higher taxes to support the services that we need and want. Every one is complaining about the debts, but this is how crazy this country has become, where the idea of paying for government isn't even being discussed."

So true. I wrote Gov. Walker yesterday - suggesting that raising taxes fairly across the board to pay for what has always been a fine level of service for residents of WI would be a far better way to balance the budget.
FYI - when the train money was rejected, Talgo (rail car mfg.) began threatening to move to Illinois which just raised income taxes to balance the budget.
Cutting workers rights is just an excuse for a power grab by Walker.

Posted by: Woolgatherers | February 20, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"The truth is that society and government cost money to run. There are times when we as a society must bite the bullet and pay higher taxes to support the services that we need and want. Every one is complaining about the debts, but this is how crazy this country has become, where the idea of paying for government isn't even being discussed."

So true. I wrote Gov. Walker yesterday - suggesting that raising taxes fairly across the board to pay for what has always been a fine level of service for residents of WI would be a far better way to balance the budget.
FYI - when the train money was rejected, Talgo (rail car mfg.) began threatening to move to Illinois which just raised income taxes to balance the budget.
Cutting workers rights is just an excuse for a power grab by Walker.

Posted by: Woolgatherers | February 20, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Once the private sector led, before
their faces were ground into the filth.

Naturally the oligarchs and their Republicans seek their brand of equity now.

Posted by: cbseer | February 21, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

But no one can explain how removing the Unions right to bargain will reduce the budget deficit. Pay and benefit cuts/freezes will reduce the deficit, bargaining won't make the slightest difference.

Ergo, it's an anti-union power-grab. It's not complicated.

Posted by: garddavid | February 22, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

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