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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Democratic Party has Become Radicalized

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 11, 2012

The election results of last week in Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose, have radically changed organized labor’s grip on public sector employees.  While organize labor began its rise to power with public employees in Wisconsin 50 years ago, last week’s election in that state will help unravel unions’ power in the public-sector.

Shortly after Gov. Scott Walker was elected in Wisconsin, the narrative was created by the Left and Progressive press that his efforts to cut organized labor’s power that it wields over municipal and state governments was a radical infringement on workers’ rights.  A review of history shows that in fact it is mainstream Democrats and even organized labor  of just a few years ago warned the Country of the dangers of giving organize government employees the right to strike, as the following examples show:

Fiorello LaGuardia – This well regarded Mayor of New York City was a New Dealer and supporter of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt.  LaGuardia said of public employee unions that he did “not want any of the pinochle club atmosphere to take hold” in New York City and that “the right to strike against the government, is not and cannot be recognized.

George Meany – This famous president of America’s most powerful labor organization, the A.F.L.-C.I.O, said in 1955 that “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

Franklin D Roosevelt – In 1937 President Roosevelt wrote a letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees declining its invitation to attend their convention.  In that letter, the entire copy provided below, Roosevelt said:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.  It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.  ….  Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied.  ….  It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

In keeping with the beliefs of LaGuardia, Meany and Roosevelt, it is the more recent Democratic Party that has radicalized and trampled their forefathers’ views on important societal issues.  While Gov. Scott Walker would have been accepted by these earlier Democrats that remain revered today, he is demonized by new Democrats who have become a wing of the world socialist movement.

During a weekly television interview, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels suggested the next logical step in ending the corruption of public unions when he said: “I think, really, government works better without them” suggesting public-worker unions should not exist and “I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table.”  Daniels is only saying what Franklin Roosevelt and other Democrats believed for so long.

As this Blog proffered previously, President John Kennedy would be thrown at a today’s Democratic Party.  He would also be joined by no other than FDR.

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Union Thugs Still at it in Wisconsin

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 28, 2011

Newsradio 620 WTMJ out of Wisconsin reported on the ongoing despicable behavior by public employee unions in the state.  Last Friday, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker visited a local school in order to read students.  He was not only met by protesters, but also the Vandals.  It seems some of the disgruntled unionists superglued locks on school doors in an effort to disrupt the visit.

The local school’s president said the disruptions: “People ought to start acting like adults.  You’ve got little kids who have no clue what you’re even talking about, and you make something political when it isn’t, that’s just flat-out wrong.”

The aggressiveness and greed of unions typically blocks reason.

Throughout history manufacturing unions used disruptive and sometimes violent acts to promote goals of increased wages and benefits.  Society often turned a blind eye towards these tactics in the mistaken belief that the unions were representing David against Goliath.  While in the short run the unions’ tactics helped them obtain increased wages and benefits for members, they also led to the destruction of heavy manufacturing in the United States and the loss of millions of union jobs.

After unions helped destroy major manufacturing in the United States, they turned their focus towards other sources of dues paying members.  Without member dues, union bosses could not continue getting paid.  Their focus was on the public employees including teachers.

Union strategies for increasing wages and benefits for their public employee members changed little from their earlier manufacturing roots. The threat of strikes and other intimidation forced states and municipalities to acquiesce in demands that were unsustainable in the long run.  With local governments now in dire financial conditions, politicians like Governor Walker are forced to say “no more”. This has led to even more aggressive and sometimes desperate union tactics in their attempt to avoid the inevitable.

In the battle between unions and major manufacturers in the United States, management was not without fault.  They acquiesced to economically unsound union demands because of shortsightedness.  In addition, they did not recognize that manufacturing was moving towards worldwide competition.  Those manufacturers that have not since been bailed out, no longer produce goods United States.  While a sad resolution, as a way free markets operate.

Public-sector businesses, such as schools, cannot close down like the manufacturers who preceded them.  Politicians and bureaucrats, like their short sighted counterparts in heavy manufacturing decades previously, too often acquiesced to unsustainable union demands.  Now states and municipalities are running deficits and are forced address the challenges.  The required actions will be more painful and difficult than had they been reasonably addressed in real-time.

Certainly the challenges that face America’s educational systems are complex and involve much more than teachers.  However, the greed and inappropriate behavior exhibited by some teachers unions do not set appropriate role models for the educational environment.

Posted in Public Employees, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Democrats Fail in Wisconsin Recall Effort

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 11, 2011

President Obama once famously said, “elections have consequences and at the end of the day, I won”.  It seems that Obama’s Wisconsin compatriots have trouble with that concept.

Democrats lost control of the Wisconsin governorship and its legislature in the last election.  After taking office the Republicans proceeded to implement policies that they promised the electorate including cutting the State’s budget deficit.  As part of the cutting, state workers’ union powers were sharply curtailed.  This led to massive state demonstrations that were viewed on the media nightly.  Democrats tried to thwart the Republican passed legislation by fleeing the State to delay the voting.  These efforts ultimately failed and the Republican agenda was passed and was implemented.

The Democrats still did not accept the consequences of the election.  Their next move was to have petitions signed for recall votes of six Republicans thy viewed as vulnerable.  Those vote occurred earlier this week and the Democrats failed in four of the six recalls.  As a result, Republicans maintain control of the legislature and their agenda will continue to be implemented in Wisconsin.  In addition, the Republicans have retaliated and next week there will be two recall votes for vulnerable Democrat Representatives.

Governmental budget cutting is a thankless, but necessary task required because spending got out of control during the bubble years.  No constituent wants their benefits cut or taxes raised.  Ultimately, sacrifices will be required from all if we are to successfully dig out of the deep ditch created by debt.  That will include huge and painful budget cuts for all sorts of programs and entitlements.  And yes, some revenue increases (taxes) will be required.

Posted in Debt, Deficits | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Supports Gov. Walker’s Restrictions on Collective Bargaining

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 14, 2011

The headline below speaks for itself, vindicating Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s take on the state’s law.  Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found the Governor’s restrictions on collective bargaining for state workers to be legal.

While state employee unions will continue to fight for a larger piece of the pie, it is inevitable given the budgetary problems that many states face that this is a battle they cannot win.  In this case it is not a case political power, but economic reality that will ultimately determine the inevitable outcome.

Supreme Court reinstates collective bargaining law

Posted in Unions, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Union Protestors Disrupt Special Olympics Ceremony

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 9, 2011

The Blaze published a despicable story yesterday.  In recognition of a Special Olympics event in Wisconsin, its Governor Scott Walker attended to honor the Olympians.  Union activists dressed up as zombies interrupted the festivities to push its agenda.  While Walker was speaking, the zombie want-to-be’s walked in front of the Olympians, blocking their view of the Governor (Video below).

Unionists have a severe case of entitlement syndrome.  At times that leads them to illegal and even violent behavior in pursuit of their cause.  As the example in Wisconsin shows, they will also place their own demands over the needs of the less fortunate.  Not very Progressive, is it?

Posted in Unions | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Taxing the Rich Will Not Fix the Economy

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 17, 2011

Michael Moore, champion of the people and champion hamburger eater, last month proclaimed in a Madison, Wisconsin rally for the public sector unions that America is not broke.  This claim in support of paying the state union workers more included:

“The country is awash in wealth and cash.  It’s just not in your hands.  ….  This movement – we’ll call it the ‘Madison Movement’ is exploding across the Midwest.  It will be unlike anything you’ve seen in recent US history.  It is built on this one truth: corporations have taken over our country and we know this is our last chance to wrestle America away from the grubby hands of the greedy rich.”

You got to admire gall of Leftists like Moore.  Facts never seem to get in their way.  As to Moore’s claim that America’s awash with cash, Iowahawk put that to the test in the video below and put a stake through the heart of that claim.

While there are inequities in our society, we are too far down the yellow brick road to fix the deficit problem by merely taxing the rich, no matter how you define that category.  But, their illogical arguments are instructive as to the political challenges the Country faces as it tries to get control of the massive our debt.  Every interest group wants the deficit attacked, but only by getting others to pay the bill.  This political reality will force a completely different approach to deficit reduction than either the one problem by the Left or Right.

One of President Obama’s taking points on deficit reduction is that “we have to use a scalpel and not a machete to cut the deficit”.  The scalpel approach requires bickering amongst the special interest groups and their lobbyists, which is doomed to fail at deficit reduction.  No, we will need a machete approach that requires the same sacrifice from all.  Here’s the plan:

  • An across the board budget cuts for every department in the Federal government of x percent per year for each year over the next three years that will lead to a balanced budget by the fourth year.  The cuts are irrespective of whether a program or department is good, wasteful, etc.  This approach precludes any arguments from special interest groups.
  • Once the budget cut percentage is agreed to, it will be up to the various governmental departments to live within their means.  Each department will be able to manage their own budgets within the limits and can bring them into balance by merging with other departments, eliminating workers, cutting salaries and benefits, etc., just like any private business.
  • The tax code must be simplified in a way similar to that proposed by the Bowles-Simpson Commission appointed by President Obama.  This would include three substantially lower tax brackets with no deductions available for anyone or any case.
  • A cut in all entitlement programs of equal percentage.  At the same time the wealthy (however defined) will give up its gentlemen benefits.

Obama’s proposed scalpel approach to deficit reduction will result in a death by a thousand knives.  Only by completely removing the cancer that has created our fiscal mess can the economy be brought back to true prosperity.

Posted in Debt, Deficits | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

CalPERS Once Again Rigs the Pension Numbers

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 17, 2011

On March 16, 2010 this Blog posted an article CalPERS and the Coming Pension Bubble that reviewed the shell game being played by the state of California with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).  This largest of state run public employee pension plans is basically insolvent.

The earlier posting reviewed how determining the real costs of any pension plan depends on key variables and assumptions that are subject to manipulation by the states that manage the plans.  Two key variables include life expectancy and the estimated long-term return on a plan’s investments.  Life expectancies have increased to a greater level than projector earlier.  However, this was the result of advances in science, not bad intent.

On the other hand, assumed long-term plan investment returns are determined by a plan’s administrator, in the case of CalPERS the state of California.  This creates a conflict of interest as California can and has used rigged figures to show less expensive and viable pension plan when it is neither.

In March of 2010 when the original posting was made, CalPERS maintained an already unrealistic annual rate of return on investments of 7.75% even thought the stack market had been flat for the previous ten years and interest on bonds were at historically low levels.  To placate the investment community who purchase State bonds and understood the fallacy of California’s return rate assumptions, California indicated that it was considering lowering this return assumption to 6% in 2011, a number that still may be too high in the current economic environment.  However, a decrease in this assumption from 7.75% to 6% would increase the amount of cash injection required by California by about $2.8 billion at a time when the State is already statistically insolvent.

Instead of biting the bullet with honest accounting, California today announced that it will continue running the state like a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.  They will not lower the assumed return on CalPERS investments even by a fraction of a point, against the State’s own actuary’s recommendation.  Making matters worse, CalPERS main retirement pool is only 70% funded, meaning it is not prepared to meet its obligations to its workers when they retire even with the currently used bogus return rate.

The CalPERS matter should be one that State employees and their unions protest since that State will not have the ability to meet its pension obligations.  Instead, the California public employee unions continue to take dues from State workers while ignoring the coming train wreck.  Unions at a national level have diverted members’ attention from CalPERS and similar problems by marching on Madison to attack Governor Walker for addressing a similar problem in Wisconsin.  The irony is that at the end of the day, Wisconsin retired public employees will get their pensions while many in California will lose at least a substantial portion of these.  Public employee union members would do well to heed the words the ancient Chinese General Sun Tzu who said:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.  If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

 

Posted in California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Pension Funds | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Teachers Unions and Issues Explained

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 9, 2011

The video below will be viewed as funny by some and sad by others.  Those on the receiving end,  teachers unions, will see neither humor nor logic in it.  This is understandable as no one wants to give back what they feel is theirs.

While teachers are not blameless it the battle ragging in Madison, Wisconsin, they are also not the direct cause of it.  They, like many in all businesses and professions, received gains in the bubble years that could not have occurred during  more normal economic times.

Private sector employees were hit quickly after the economic meltdown occurred with job losses and wage and benefits cuts.  Public sector employees, especially unionized ones, were shielded from economic realities by incompetent governments and unionized contracts.  In addition, the Obama Administration’s Stimulus Package gave funds to the states that allowed them to kick the can do the road a few years.  Now, with Stimulus funds running out, the day of reckoning is here.

Peeling back the layers of this economic mess, the culprits behind the “us against them” mentality growing between public sector unions and taxpayers is incompetent government.  Beginning decades ago, governments offered public employee unions benefits that were unsustainable in a real economic environment.  They also used unrealistic projections to hide the oncoming financial calamities created by the compensation packages offered.  In addition, the federal government and Federal Reserve promoted an easy money policy that led to the various bubbles, including housing.  When the bubbles popped, an instant calamity was created for states and municipalities, forcing them to go to battle with the public employee unions after decades of acquiescing to their demands.

Now the states are scrambling to balance their budgets, since they cannot print money like Washington.  Irrespective of this, it is not reasonable to expect the public employee unions to just rollover.  They have watched one special interest group after another being bailed out by the federal government.  They demand no less for their group.

It will take a more strategic approach to cutting spending by the states to get buy in from the many constituencies required.  This will ultimately have to include participation and pain for all.  Unfortunately, the economic problems will have to get worse before the overall public will accept the required sacrifices.

 

Posted in Government Ineptness, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wisconsin Leftists’ Uncivil Behavior Ignored by Mainstream Media

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 2, 2011

It was only a few weeks ago that the Left and their allies in the mainstream media were preaching “civility” in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Through this Arizona tragedy the Left attempted to create the narrative that conservatives who disagree with Progressive positions were guilty of creating an atmosphere promoting violence.  While the argument didn’t pass the smell test, the mainstream media did a professional job promoting it.

News since the Giffords’ shooting has further debunked the theory that incivility emanates from conservatives.  The vitriol in Wisconsin coming from those protesting Governor Scott Walker’s position relating to public employee unions is a prime example.  Some of the more gentle slogans from this group compare Walker to Hitler and Gaddafi.  Just imagine the response from the press had the Tea Party taken this tactic with a Progressive.

In one of the more mean-spirited events coming from Wisconsin, a Democrat assemblymen, Gordon Hintz, of Oshkosh, went on the attack last week against fellow assemblywomen Michelle Litjens, a Republican, saying “You are f–king dead“, as reported by the Northwestern.  But don’t expect the mainstream media to run this uncivil behavior story, since it came from a fellow Leftist.

As reader Jim Mahoney so well said; “Another caring, sensitive liberal in action.  Apparently he didn’t get the memo about the new civility.” No Jim, the Left views civility as they do bi-partisanship; a one-way street for others to follow

Posted in Progressives, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Public Employees Should not be Unionized

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 27, 2011

Throughout the Midwest public employees are protesting like it is the end of the world.  Who can blame them.  They had a great run of it, taking ever increasing taxpayer money and it is painful giving back.  But like other bubbles, this one too was destined to end.

Most that work in the private sector understand the sometimes cruel laws of economics.  When times are good, wages and benefits go up.  When recessions hit, salaries and benefits suffer and unfortunately some jobs go away.  But those working in the public sector have been trained by a different set of realities.  In good and bad times they expect wages and benies to keep going up.  Why not; unlike private businesses, governments cannot shut down.  Unlike private businesses, if more funds are needed to pay for employees, raise the taxes and let the next elected officials worry about the problems.  However, like all unsustainable economic models, even governments can fail, as we are starting to see in Europe.

Now many American states are also at the end of their financial road.  While their financial models were unsustainable even years ago, the economic meltdown hastened the end of the state-run shell games.  States gave pensions to workers that few in the private sector now receive.  They also supplied nearly free medical benefits, whereas those that work in the private sector pay about a quarter of their medical costs.  Making the financial models more perverse, the states assumed unrealistic returns on pension funds and incorrect future medical costs that insured when  a recession hit, they would quickly become insolvent.  They are now there.

State employees in Wisconsin are at ground zero of the battle between taxpayers and their employees.  Given the compensation discrepancies that exist between those that work in the private and public sectors, the protesters’ rallying cry has changed to their collective bargaining “right”.  This is a deflection; as it is nearly always about the money.  However, the issue of whether or not public employees have the “right” to collective bargaining is one that needs public discourse.  Here are some reasons why public employees should not have this option:

  • Public employee unions are major contributors to political campaigns, specifically the Democrat Party.  The Democrats are beholding to the unions, who are then rewarded by the Party by its giving into their wage and benefit demands.  Their conflict of interest and its symbiotic relationship leads to corruption and unfair bargaining on behalf of the public employees’ bosses, taxpayer.  There is no better proof then the extent to which Democrats will go to protect their union allies.  In Wisconsin and Indiana, Democrat legislators have eloped from their states to stop votes (legislation) that unions are against.  The fact that voters a few months earlier demanded these changes is of no concern to the unions.
  • Taxpayers pay government employees and unions then collect dues from these employees that then go to fund union executives and a political party.  The first item is capitalism; the second is corruption.
  • The public employees’ bosses, taxpayers, are hurting badly from the recession.  The fact that the Democrat politicians that also work for the taxpayers have sided with a special interest group, state employees, against the interest of the taxpayers indicates corruption.
  • Only about 7% of private sector employees are represented by unions, down from a high of about 33%.  During this same period union representation in the public sector increased from 10% to 36%.  The reason for this huge drop in the private sector is simple: unionized companies are not competitive due to crazy work rules unions obtained through collective bargaining.  Many of these companies have gone out of business.  Collective bargaining has led to the same affliction in the public sector resulting in government services being a joke to many taxpayers.  It’s time to put a stop to this insanity in the public sector.

Perhaps the best argument against allowing public employees the “right” to collective bargaining comes from a basic tenant of Progressive philosophy to which labor unions and Democrats are followers.  Progressives profess that government is the answer to all societal needs including poverty, counseling, medical care and much more.  Why then would those that work for this benevolent government need and protection from it, including collective bargaining?  If unions need protection from the government, who protects the taxpayers from these same scoundrels?

 

Posted in Public Employees, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »