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Tuesday: Wisconsin has more cows than people

Or so the NYTimes would have us believe. This comment is from clueless Wisconsinite in the NYTimes:

But others suggested that unions had perhaps had outlived their usefulness. Carrie Fox, who works at a billboard advertising company, said she hoped that the battle would encourage other governors to rein in public- and private-sector unions.

“I know there was a point for unions back in the day because people were being abused,” she said. “But now there’s workers’ rights; there’s laws that protect us.”

Riiiigghht.  Protect us from WHAT, exactly?  If you can casually sweep away the promises you made to your workers who negotiated in good faith, what real rights does a worker have anymore?

I get pissed off by stupid comments like this.  What’s worse?  That Wisconsinites don’t seem to realize that what unions do has a trickle down effect on nonunion workers or that media sources like the NYTimes provide so many quotes from these dunderheads?  I mean, do we really need more ignorance cluttering up our media?

Where is the labor leadership in Wisconsin making the point that it’s not that public service unions have it so great with salaries and benefits.  It’s that we ALL should be getting the same benefits they do.  Where’s the argument that during this Greaf Recession, you really don’t want to diminish the buying power or increase the financial insecurity of one of largest employment blocs.  Because when teachers and prothonotaries and DMV clerks have less money to spend, that means small businesses get fewer customers.  It affects everyone, from the day care center workers to the waitress, to the piano teacher.  Everything but necessities becomes a luxury.

Yep, there definitely are things the unions should negotiate on.  As a board of ed member in NJ, I got the feeling that teachers got tenure way too early, recieved incrementals and promotional raises without a lot of proof that they had earned them and in some cases, could retire with a stash of unused vacation and sick days that needed to be paid by the district a very high cost.  It was also nearly impossible to fire a teacher who may have engaged in illegal sexual activity with his students.  Union grievance rules required a lengthy process, ususally resulting in a large financial payoff to make the teacher go away.  So, there is definitely room for improvement and teachers and other private section unions should be willing to examine whether some of their rules gives their public relations image a black eye.

But renegotiation is not the same as breaking the ability of the unions to negotiate at all.  Do we really want to go back to the days when teachers worked for subsistence wages, had no benefits and could be fired at will for lifestyles choices that are none of the public’s business?  Will premarital sex be used a reason in some rural Wisconsin district as the means to get rid of a female teacher?  How does Wisconsin plan to prevent that?

And what happens to the students of those teachers?  What happens to the quality of the instruction when the worker feels unappreciated?  I mean, have been on a United Airlines flight in the past ten years?  The flight attendants that are left the most senior ones and they look like they’ve lost their mojo.  If you like your job, you should have mojo in ample supply.  But when your airlines slashes your pay, pares down the staff to skeleton crews and starts tinkering with the pensions, you get a lot of very beaten down flight attendants whose tight little smiles can’t disguise the sadness in their eyes.  They’re going to have to make transcontinental flights until they die.  My guess is that you get what you pay for.  Happy flight attendants of any age make a flight more enjoyable and make that obstacle course in security worth the effort.

But the cows, er, clueless Wisconsinites think the workers are protected.  And the media have workers focussed on each other instead of the people up the food chain who are sitting back in their limos, chuckling at the carnage they are observing but do not feel compelled to join.  If you make a lot of money in Wisconsin, or NJ or Ohio or any number of states that are hurting financially, it’s perfectly ok to stay above the fray.  No one is asking you to make a sacrifice.


If they cows ever got a clue, they’d realize they don’t have to sacrifice their neighbor’s financial  well being or their children’s education.  All they have to do is start looking up the food chain instead of down.  Zero in on those wealthy with the tax cuts who are stashing money in the bank.  Money they might have used to give you a raise and better bennies.  And as Paul Krugman said last week, get all Willie Sutton on them.  Why should states tax the rich?  Because that’s where the money is.

If children end up going to bed hungry, it’s because the rich are holding out on them.  Don’t blame the unions, cows.

You’ve been eating grass.

48 Responses

  1. great post R.D. lot to think about.seems any way you go these days.the people are getting shafted 👿

  2. You’re back! Fantastic piece. RD every point you have made in this is true and, one need only read up on the history of the labor movements in the US to understand the whys of the initial unions. It’s a domino theory effect in towns just as you have described — whole towns go out of business — the other day I was driving and the number of houses for sale here, — boggles the mind RD. Also vacant stores — little mom and pops or little stores that can no longer afford to stay in biz.

    Those airline workers you are talking about? I saw them in a Trader Joe out here a year or so ago — they were from Texas airlines — RD these were not the airline people of yore. The uniforms alone showed me that. Everything you’ve said RD. Everything. Ditto that.

  3. It is so scary to see that we’re havng to relearn the lessons I thought were settled 80 years ago or so. Last night on the local news the were celebrating the fact that banks are loosening lending standards so that people with low credit scores can now buy new cars. And I thought …debt good. . Decent pay bad. At least that seems to be one message.

  4. Where does genius Carrrie Fox think the rights and laws came from?? The benevolence of kind bosses? Hahahaha.
    Rob the Clue Bank, Carrie, or better yet, rent Norma Rae.

    • Do any of you remember Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 16 Tons?
      “16 Tons – what’ld you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      St.Peter, don’t ya call me
      cause I can’t go
      I owe my soul to the company’s store”

  5. If you judged our actions as a whole, would America be considered insane?

    Consider that the courts have said the First Amendment has qualifications regarding free speech but that the Second Amendment is absolute on the right to keep firearms.

    Or voting rights, when I was a teen we could be drafted to die in Viet-Nam but I was too young to vote … or drink in some states. It wasn’t until 1971 that the voting age and the draft age were made the same.

    If you go back through our history there are plenty of such examples with this ‘unions were good in their time’ argument in Wisconsin just being the latest.

    O-bots are another example.

  6. Despite the commentary, the union is winning the argument in Wisconsin.

    FDL has numbers from the latest polls and the support leans toward the union position.


  7. RD & Co. The strangest thing just happened. I want you guys to know. I have a facebook account under “me” right. Well, I have lost permission to comment!

    Hey, I have no idea what I did, but I want you guys to know. Thank god for WordPress, no kidding. I totally do not know enough about how tech works RD & Co.
    I don’t. But I am really glad I have WP, and I am really glad I know you and Lambert.

    Those are my friends on there in real life! They are. maybe they can comment on me and I can;’t say anything to them — my research is cutting edge on this Ecopsychology tx plan I am writing. No kidding.

    After RD’s piece the other day? I have been so upset for her. Terrible. But, I thought FB would let me link to news articles?

    Geez. RD I am glad you are there.

    What did I do? I have no idea. None. Well I can say something but maybe they have erased me from view and I don’t even know what I did.


    • When you have the chance try deleting your cookies smetimes that’s the problem.

      • katiebird! you and Uppity I love you as much as RD said she did for what you did for her — thank you I will try –Rd must think I am the biggest dumbo — well seeing your icon is HUGE right now & Uppity and Woman Voter in TWITTER!

        I love you guys! I am writing about Attachment theory. We matter to each other and the tx planner will show that. We are real! We are not some little strand of nothing ness — we are people and blogging together over time shows us that!

        I want you guys to have a beautiful read on all of this! From a WP blogger. Takes mind off politics and tells us how much we really care about each other! xxoo!


      • KATIEBIRD FIXED! thank you

  8. Please excuse my late response but I am truly sorry for the loss of your dream job. And really, saying sorry is lacking. But hopefully it is nice to know that people genuinely care.

    It is hard to imagine a WH that has been less concerned with the job market….

    • Less concerned is right. Today was another heartbreaking op/ed piece from Bob Herbert in the NYTimes quoting people who are growing quite desperate with their personal unemployment situations. He also noted the growing trend that “the unemployed need not apply” for open positions. Where is Obama? We do know his wife is–on yet another posh vacation–this time skiing in Vail. Of course I am still waiting for a column from Bob devoted to an apology for his full-throated backing of Obama in the first place. His columns imply a mistake was made in this regard, but he hasn’t come out and admitted it yet.

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by puma, mbfromhb. mbfromhb said: Tuesday: Wisconsin has more cows than people « The Confluence http://goo.gl/Fs7bo […]

  10. The post is full of East coast arrogance. The “cows” in Wisconsin voted in a Republican government in November in a Democratic election. That is one of the things elitists have never liked about Democracy, people they don’t like get elected sometimes.

    “And what happens to the students of those teachers? What happens to the quality of the instruction when the worker feels unappreciated?”

    Well, what happens is there are a new group of hungry and enthusiastic teachers graduated every year (just like all the other professions) They are hungry for work and they will do it for a cheaper wage. The State of Wisconsin and 45 other states in the union are nearly bankrupt and the elected leaders are having to make hard choices.

    • And the Republican government in Wisconsin, like the Republicans in Ohio, Tenessee, Texas, the US Congress and elsewhere took it as a mandate to atempt to enact the nuttiest items on the tea party wish list.

      Wreck the middle class? Sure!

      Drive wages down and buying power and any hope of recovery with them? In a heartbeat!

      Defund the EPA so you and your kids can breathe coal dust or eat fruits de mer au BP? Of course!

      Bring the government to a screeching halt like they did once before because they don’t get their way? The very thing!

      The only consolation here is that these bozos have already so far overreached any mandate they may have had that they will be washed out on a riptide in 2012. The problem is that they still have a hell of a lot of time to do more damage, and their replacements may be no more intelligent or intersed in the common good than they are.

    • And next year “a new group of hungry and enthusiastic teachers” will graduate and work for less than this suddenly old bunch, then the year after it happens again, etc,etc,etc. Can you not understand that this is a zero sum game? Soon they will be PAYING for the privilege to work. Are you really that callous?

      • We have not gone that far yet, but there are already young people working for free, and not just as volunteers for non-profit groups. Such “internships” seem to me to violate wage and hour laws, but perhaps there is some loophole I don’t know about.


        • Amen. My daughter was required to work a 6 month 40 hr per week “internship,” for which the employer charged clients the normal rate, and for which my daughter was supposed to pay the college tuition. She would not be paid. With my blessing she quit in disgust and changed majors.

          • Right, I really don’t get why the college should get the full tuition when the kids are off working for “free” just so at the end the college gives them some kind of credit. What a scam this has become!

    • How ’bout a little hillbilly arrogance from bitterclingerville? You’re wrong. RD is right. And the cows are being led to slaughter. Say moo.

    • Constance, apparently, you have never had to ask an IT technician who has just suffered a 30% salary cut to fix a very important, data collecting computer for you.
      You get what you pay for.

    • Heh, yeah those students are really going to waste thousands of dollars to get an education to experience the joy of not being paid well and sweating paying back student loans all to teach Wisconsin kids. They’ll do it out of the goodnes of their hearts. LOL(apparently in your rosy world only states make difficult financial decisions based on facts, not people.)

      Wisconsin has an idiot running it who is prepared to sell public utilities for a bright shiny nickel and passed tax breaks to its corporate citizenry. All the while cutting the average citizens services.

      However, it does seem most wisconsinites are smarter than you because Walker has seen his disapproval rating spike.

    • Even the young and enthusiastic won’t be young and enthusiastic for long when they’re working for twenty grand a year.

      Btw, my governor is Ohio wants to hire Dirty Dozen to “create” jobs. The only thing is that these people will receive secret pay and bonuses from the public coffers. That’s right – unreported pay that comes from my tax dollars.

      These GOP idiots aren’t making hard choices. They’re union-busting because unions tend to support Democratic politicians. That’s the beginning and the end of this nonsense.

      • “These GOP idiots aren’t making hard choices. They’re union-busting because unions tend to support Democratic politicians. That’s the beginning and the end of this nonsense.”

        That’s it exactly. And they’re giving the farm away to the coporate kleptocrats because the corporate kleptocrats support Republican politicians.

        It really is that simple.

  11. Yeah. Throw away experience. Only young need to apply. Life has become so dirt cheap.

    • They won’t hire the young either.

    • Like the young are going to rack up debt to be mistreated.

      If you’re going to be stuck in a dead end minimum wage job then I daresay you’re going to waste thousands of dollars to do so.

      I have a teenager who works at a daycare. To get his one year early childhood certificate at a community college is $5000. So an associates is around $10,000. That’s at a community college.

      • I have a kid finishing at community college this spring (I hope!). It does cost a lot and it will be even more for the next couple years.

        I started working before the tech boom in the 90’s and jobs were hard to find and many people were under-employed, myself included. It got better for most of the 90’s with the tech boom/bubble and then again around 2004.

        People who have degrees will benefit more when the economy picks up. We haven’t had a truly permanent downturn yet. I do think the fools in charge are doing everything they can to get that double dip action going.

  12. Of course, maybe some of the older workers would retire, even retire early, if there was a social safety net for them. If the Democrats had actually passed health care, when they had the votes, then older workers could retire and younger, less experienced (cheaper) workers could fill the jobs. That’s the natural order, but the system is so broken that workers nearing retirement have lost their savings, their houses are underwater, their pensions are un-funded and they have no affordable health insurance, let alone catastrophic coverage. They can not afford to retire!!

    I have two daughters in college and they wonder if there will be any jobs for them when they finish. They are not trying to toss an older worker onto an ice flow, they are just working their way onto the on ramp of life. The whole system is so out of kilter for everyone.

    • Agreed, Honora! We should have Medicare kick in at 55 (as a start to Medicare for All) and should lower the Social Security entry to 60. That would help a lot of people retire and make room for younger workers.


  13. after 2.5 days trying to get through to leave a message with the governor’s office, i did it. what a bunch of morons. it’s kind of like the abortion issue. let’s just take all of our protections and benefits for granted and let them get overturned. then, do we start all over again?

    • I don’t think we will start over because there is a significant advertizing campaign to tell us:
      1. That we all need to share the sacrifice
      2. The savy businessmen with low taxes earned it!
      3. We earn what we get – just like they do.
      4. Work harder, expect less.
      5. Don’t get real sick, because the whole deal is off if you get real sick.

  14. Taxing the rich is a fine idea…except the rich can go wherever they want….and leave the poor to wallow.

    These short-term knee-jerk solutions ain’t going to work. There are some things seriously broken in our society and a lot of people are going to be headed toward a world of hurt.. In a year…we’ll all be laughing that state employees were worried about paying a bit more for their own benefits.

    • Let them leave – please!

      Then some other country’s tax payers can bail their cheating asses out.

      • yep…fine idea

        • I know – it isn’t like it would actually happen anyway.

          It just pisses me off that the banks are still “too big to fail”, nobody went to jail and there are so many former members of the middle class who are really suffering.

          I think you are right that a year from now this deal will look great by comparison to where we are heading.

          • People who vote for Republicans will never get it until they experience the pain personally.
            2012 is looking real good for some 3rd party candidate or Democratic challenger.

          • They still won’t “get it” because their suffering has perfect excuses while the suffering of everyone else is because they are stupid and lazy.

          • … or people who vote(d) for Obama.

  15. Late to the party on your job loss. You have my sympathy. I was wearing sewats in 80 degree weather inorder to sleep the chills were that bad.

    But now you know one of the reasons why Obama deep sixed single payer. It prevents the entire lab staff from walking out the door in solidarity against the suits in the window office with the MBA sheepskins.

  16. Apparently we don’t need unions to protect worker’s rights, we don’t need regulation to control corporate actions, we don’t need whistleblowers to expose government corruption, we don’t need paper ballots to ensure clean elections… the list goes on.
    We live in some utopian world where everyone does the right thing at all times from the purest motives.

  17. I just read an article about Governor Walker. It showed me how wrong I was. The Republican bots were right. Walker really is as pure as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s bang-up jump cleaning them up.

    Click to access JR1SB-11.pdf

    16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

    Looks like I’m gonna have to eat some crow. It seems Governor Walker is an Honest Man(tm) Doing His Best(tm) to Make This Country Great Again(tm).

    Yes, some things really are just that simple.

  18. I just read the previous entry – sorry for the news.
    You may want to check Health Plus for Brooke – possible for you too. It’s a state insurance for kids – in NY at least it has been excellent for us.

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