Sunday, July 31, 2011

No jobs + no growth + inequality growth = no trickle-down, and big deficits

I am enraged at the D.C. cesspool and WisGOP's inabilities to tell the truth on why we have a debt and deficit problem in the first place- a drop in jobs and benefits that required additional government spending on stabilizers such as unemployment and Medicaid, and a lack of tax revenues resulting from 1. fewer people working and 2. tax cuts given to the "haves" who have seen their incomes stay strong and even grow while the majority of the nation has fallen behind.

The new GDP reports that came out Friday reiterated this. James Hamilton's breakdown at Econbrowser gives the info in a easily-digestible way, and it shows that not only has the U.S.'s growth slowed significantly in the first 6 months of this year, with growth of only 0.4% in Q1 and 1.3% in Q2. Consumption and fixed-investment growth have remained slow, and government spending cuts are reducing what's already a low number.

But perhaps even more alarmingly, the Commerce Department also released revisions to previous year GDP that showed the 2007-2009 recession was even worse than what was previously let on. For example, the 2nd chart on Hamilton's page shows that the drop in real GDP was nearly $200 billion more from peak to trough, totalling a 5.2% loss in activity, and that the country still hasn't gotten back to the levels of output we were at 4 years ago. When you think about how the U.S. population grows, that 5.2% drop becomes even more stunning.

So that combination of dropping production and the correlating loss of 8.7 million jobs over 2 years killed tax revenues, as I mentioned last week. The only thing that hasn't gotten killed in the last 4 years? Corporate profits. The BEA's own analysis (with the link to the spreadsheet is near bottom of the page), shows that there has been a $431.7 billion INCREASE in corporate profits from the end of 2007, which is at the same time that national production has gone down. Even more egregiously, the BEA says about 60% of that increase is due to tax changes in the last 4 years, and that those profits have more than doubled since Obama took office at the start of 2009. Needless to say, those expanded profits through tax breaks have been hoarded and have not trickled down to the average American citizen, and instead have been funneled to the rich over the last 40 years, and especially since the second Bush tax cuts were signed in 2003, as this graph starkly shows .

So why are we not concentrating on the real causes of our deficit and debt issues- reduced jobs, profit-hoarding, and a tax-code that encourages gambling and outsourcing over real job-creation, wage growth, and a vibrant middle class? Other than the scary thought that D.C. and Wall Street oligarchs completely have taken over not only our wealth and politics, but also our media through their propaganda networks. It means we have to be even more out in front of the lies that are being spread by the corporatists who do not care what happens to the country at large, but only care for money and power for themselves and the politicians they control.

Because the hidden story behind the Wisconsin protests this year is that a lot of people were drawing the line between corporate corruption of government, and the destroying of workers' rights and the standard of living for the middle class. Our corproate media didn't want to bring it up (because it would indirectly turn the spotlight on themselves and their sponsors), but it was clearly there. I don't think the corporatists want us to fall back into recession and have it explode into full-fledged revolt. For the sake of these self-centered greedheads, they'd better hope that they get stopped at the ballot box over the next 2 years...or else it may be the guillotine in later years.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Walker and Van Hollen = Pure Naked Corruption

I knew the WisGOPs and Walker were corrupt, I just didn't know how obvious they'd be.

Seriously, up to $500,000 to Michael, Best and Friedrich on a no-bid contract? And drawing it up one week before you "dropped the bomb" on collective bargaining rights? As if you needed any more evidence that this was drawn up from D.C. and was in the works from the start, that story from Bill Leuders lays it bare. Blackwater (excuse me, Xe) is impressed with this unaccountable arrangement.

Especially nice is the way the "revolving door" works, where J.B. Van Hollen's office allows for one of his former underlings to receive a huge payday right after leaving state service.
Signing the contract for Michael Best & Friedrich was attorney Raymond Taffora, a month after he left his job with the state attorney general's office, which usually represents the state on legal challenges.

Werwie said the firm was hired "at the request of the attorney general's office" to review the budget-repair bill and provide other legal services the office could not.

Correspondence shows the governor on Feb. 4 requested legal assistance from the attorney general's office in anticipation of litigation on the bill. The office declined, citing a lack of sufficient non-union staff with the necessary expertise. It recommended that the governor appoint special counsel.
And gee, you think the law firm that's getting a blank check might just tell the Governor's office what they want to hear regarding the legality of what they're trying to push through? Especially at $300 an hour of taxpayer money with ZERO oversight from the Attorney General's Office or the State Legislature?

Guess those $1,000 contributions Ray Taffora gave to J.B Van Hollen each of the last 4 years had quite the rate of return, didn't it? And the over $37,000 Michael Best & Friedrich employees gave to Walker's guv campaign had a payoff of over 14 to 1on this contract alone. Like most privatization deals, the taxpayer gets nothing in savings, but the well-connected can make a fortune.

You gotta give the scumbags in the GOP credit for one thing- they take care of those who take care of them. The rest of you can go to hell, but they sure know who pays their bills.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Something's cooking, and it might be the June jobs numbers

About a week after the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development releases the monthly jobs numbers (which I dissected in this post), it comes out with a second report that breaks down job changes by metro areas, jobs, and counties. And it was even more remarkably odd than I thought it would be.

If you look at today's local jobs report, and especially if you get by the absurd spin on the front page, you'll notice an interesting group of numbers under "MSA Employment" on Page 2. What you'll see is that Wisconsin's 12 metro areas LOST a total of 3,300 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in June (including 1,700 in the Green Bay metro area, which were not Packer-lockout related) , while the rest of the state allegedly ADDED 12,800. Now, we already figured that most of the jobs listed as gained in the June jobs report were in the low-wage, low-benefit tourist season, but now they're apparently all in the sticks at Summer Camps and other rural places. Even on the non-seasonally-adjusted basis (which went up in most places like it always does in Wisconsin in the Summer), nearly 3/4ths of all added jobs were OUTSIDE of a metro area, despite nearly 3/4ths of all TOTAL jobs in Wisconsin being INSIDE a metro area

Now, if you're skeptical about this like I am, there's 2 reasons that seem plausible for the overcounting. 1. There wasn't enough of a "seasonal adjustment" made by the DWD folks to reflect those sorts of jobs in tourism and related gigs, and that disproportionately fell onto the small towns where these jobs are. 2. Some folks in the "rural" areas gave some information that would look good in the statewide reports. Somehow, I don't think Spooner, Wisconsin has become the new hot spot to find work in this state.

And the second reason I don't believe these rural numbers is that the county unemployment numbers didn't change that much in rural areas. The state's unadjusted numbers were listed at 8.1%, up 0.7% from May as school let out and migrants came in, but Northwoods counties such as Oneida, Florence, Lincoln, Marinette, Ashland, and Rusk counties also saw their unadjusted unemployment numbers go up. So unless those places gained a ton more people for June, they didn't add anything jobwise.

There are some pockets of lower unemployment figures in ultra-touristy places like Vilas and Door Counties, but those places still had unemployment rates more than 1% above the state average, and even the Dells counties (Sauk, Columbia and Adams) all went up in June. In fact, the only other big movers on the list are all college-town counties (Portage, Eau Claire, Dunn, Etc.), and a couple of random stragglers on the way up. So I don't see where all these new jobs were getting created in rural Wisconsin, unless they massively underestimated the increase in the work force that happens every June. Maybe the "Dells immigrant experience" plan for Summer hiring is really more pervaisve than we know....

The bottom line is that thise new report verifies that either last week's employer-reported payroll report was a blatant lie, there are some serious discrepancies in what this administration thinks is normal "Summer hiring", or there's going to be a massive drop-off once we get to September.

Next big report to see if this trend matches up- the state's June 2011 revenue report. Compare it to last year's gains for June, and see if we have any major changes. If not, then it's even more fishy.

Darling covering her tracks...and not very well

Capper at Cognitive Dissidence has been great at passing along some of my posts and getting people to step inside the funhouse, so it's only fair that I return the favor, as he exposes Alberta Darling and staff for changing dates on her press releases to make it seem like she approved of extending unemployment benefits all along.

The hell she was. Great work, capper. Since the Journal-Sentinel won't DO THEIR JOB and look into these things, it's up to us on the Cheddarsphere to be the ones to bring the truth and context that is so badly needed, and isn't getting. Both in Wisconsin and in D.C.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is Baraboo the next Kaukauna lie?

Caught this running over the wires and had to comment. Apparently the Baraboo School Board was able to cut their tax levy by $1.2 million for the 2011-2012 year, a nice savings of about 8.5% vs. last year. But not unlike the Kaukauna case me and a number of others exposed earlier this month, Scott Walker and surrogate Luther Olsen deserve little to no credit for that happening. In fact, their actions led to more distress than was ever necessary.

As the Baraboo News-Republic story points out, the Baraboo School District cut its spending by $1.6 million through the increased health care contributions by its teachers, and a one-year switch in insurance carriers. However, all that did is nearly make up for a $1.85 million cut from the state and in fact, still left Baraboo $250,000 in the hole, and they'd still have to cut $250,000 from expenses just to make the tax levy the same. So how did Baraboo really cut people's taxes? A few paragraphs down tells the real story.
Last year, the district made a final payment of $1.7 million on bonds used remodel Baraboo High School more than a decade ago, [Finance Committee Chair] McNevin said.

"That debt drops to a quarter of a million dollars for the next two years, then it's gone," McNevin said.

And the School Board's budget document bears this out. Check out the "State Sources" revenue near the top of the first page and "Debt Service" numbers near the bottom of Page 1. The debt service decrease is actually $1.75 million, which if you put it together with the $250,000 in the hole Baraboo was due to Walker's cuts, and you have a $1.5 million surplus which you can add to, or cut the tax levy with.

Baraboo had another item working in its favor, as the article notes a huge amount of veteran teachers have left because they don't want to put up with Walker's anti-education BS.
.... in the aftermath of a large number of retirements at the end of the last school year, about a third of the district's educational staff members will be in their first or second year of teaching. The district is responding by developing a mentoring program to help inexperienced staff members hone their classroom skills.

That's extra expense that wouldn't have been necessary if the anti-education policies hadn't gone through, because many of those teachers would have stuck around. And it's telling that Local Sources (revenue sources 200) actually goes up by $500,000 for next year, which is a good indication of what to expect in future years, especially as the one-time fixes end.

Baraboo is a very symbolic district to have this take place in. It's State Rep. Fred Clark's hometown, and an area that has swung Dem over the last 15-20 years. Clark's also narrowly ahead of recalled State Sen. and Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen in a poll released today, and you can bet Olsen and his campaign will try to point to this property tax cut as proof that he and the Fitzwalkerstanis' policies are working for education.

However, just like the Kaukauna School district case, and the claim that Wisconsin was responsible for half the job growth in the U.S., the Republican spin is BLATANTLY UNTRUE. Baraboo's property tax cut is the result of many years of debt payments for their new high school going off the books, and have almost nothing to do with the Wisconsin GOP's collective bargaining moves and property tax limits.

And if they try to tell you otherwise, it is your patriotic duty to get in their face, give them the facts, and tell them it's BULLSHIT.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our budget problem is a jobs and revenue one

One of the most frustrating things about the budget and debt ceiling argument in D.C. is the inability of our politicians to discuss the linkage between the loss of jobs, lowering of taxes, and resulting loss of tax revenue. But taking a quick look at how these interconnect makes it obvious that we MUST RAISE REVENUES if we are ever to have a chance to get the budget back towards balance and sustainability.

The Recession/ depression that began in 2007 has dropped a bomb on revenues and jobs, by any measure. As former Reagan economist Bruce Bartlett pointed out earlier this year, U.S. income taxes are at their lowest levels in 60 years, and America has the lowest corporate tax burden in the OECD. But it sure hasn't translated into jobs, now has it? It is worthy to remember just how badly things blew up at the end of the Bush Administration and how it carried over into the start of the Obama Administration.

2007- GAIN 1.092 million jobs
2008- LOSE 3.600 million jobs (2.862 million in the last 6 months)
2009- LOSE 5.063 million jobs
2010- GAIN 940 thousand jobs
2011- GAIN 757 thousand jobs

So we're still almost 6 million jobs in the hole compared to where we were at the end of 2006. Not surprisingly, this means fewer income taxes, and fewer Social Security taxes.

If you start reading around Page 133 of the CBO's budget outlook paper (Page 150 on the PDF), you'll see where the depression has crushed our revenues.

2006- $2.407 trillion revenues, 18.2% of GDP
2007- $2.568 trillion revenues, 18.5% of GDP
2008- $2.524 trillion revenues, 17.5% of GDP
2009- $2.105 trillion revenues, 14.9% of GDP
2010- $2.162 trillion revenues, 14.9% of GDP
2011 (projected)- $2.228 trillion revenues, 14.8% of GDP

So if you got revenues back to 18% of our $15.0 trillion GDP, you'd have another $472 billion in revenues, and cut the deficit by more than 30%. Along those same lines, if you go to Appendix B of the CBO report, you'd see that if we were able to increase GDP growth by 1.0 percent and get wages and salaries up to 2007's already-depressed levels of 45.5% of GDP from our current level of 44.0%, that's $49 billion in revenues without any other changes.

And that's not even taking into account the offsetting cut in expenditures for unemployment insurance, as that went from $33 billion in 2007 to $159 billion in 2010, and is projected at $129 billion for this year. You stop the layoffs and get people back to work, you not only raise revenues, you're looking at a spending cut of tens of billions of dollars.

So with these numbers in mind, why would you continue down the failed road of low taxes, low wages, low benefits, and rewarding of layoffs and pumped-up profits instead of actual production and hiring? The record of the last 30 years, and especially the last 10, tell you that lower taxes haven't led to higher revenues or employment. So with that in mind, why not change the tax code to higher effective taxation on the corporations with few to no loopholes (which discourages profit hoarding), higher tax rates on upper-level incomes (to discourage bloated executive compensation and shift that money toward the hiring of workers), and an aggressive jobs program that could largely "pay for itself" through increased payroll and income taxes, and lower spending on safety net programs.

So when you see our media let the talking point of "our debt is due to overspending" slide, they are being derelict in their duty to the public. What caused our deficit and debt problems were deregulation, which led to reckless financial decisions which eventually collapsed, leading to large-scale layoffs that we have not come close to recovering to. That, in turn, destroyed revenues, and helped to lead to big increases in safety-net spending. Add to that our stupid war costs, and you have a whole lot of the problem pinpointed.

Bottom line, get America back to work, make protections and moves that get Americans a decent wage, and make the rich and corporate pay for what they have taken from us in the last decade, and you get yourself back on the road to fiscal sanity. Any budget "solution" which does not admit that economic and employment growth is the NUMBER ONE priority won't solve a damn thing, and anyone who promotes such bullshit should be tossed out on their ears, and never taken seriously again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Connecting the dots: ALEC, Koch, Wisconsin, and why states don't matter

I shouldn't need to say too much regarding this topic, as it's been evident for quite a while that the crazy WisGOP regime in Wisconsin hasn't been taking its orders from Wisconsin (even though WMC is glad to help), but instead from right-wing shadow groups in D.C. and Wall Street. The revelations in the last few days have made these links even more obvious. Let's allow Wisconsin treasure John Nichols and Keith Olbermann explain it to you.

Bloomberg news had a strong article detailing how Koch Industries, Exxon, and other corporations write laws that end up getting introduced in state legislatures around the country.

Wisconsin has ended up being one of the most blatant of these testing grounds, but as this article shows, they are far from the only ones. Note the consistency of the anti-union legislation, usurpation of local governments, cuts in spending to social programs resulting in inevitable privatization to ALEC/Koch interests, and voter repression laws in these states. Why is it the same in these very diverse places. Well, the Bloomberg article shows why.
“Koch Industries has been a member and supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council for more than two decades,” said Philip Ellender, the company’s president of government and public affairs. “As a non-partisan organization that includes both public and private-sector members, ALEC’s mission aligns closely with many of the principles to which we are committed -- economic freedom, limited government and individual liberty.”

Koch companies, employees, political action committees, and affiliated non-profit groups spent at least $5 million to help elect Republicans to Congress in 2010, according to Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks political donations.

According to the Helena, Montana-based National Institute on Money in State Politics, Koch entities have given $2.5 million to help elect state lawmakers since 1990 (from Jake: and that's just what is directly trackable. What about the Koch front groups like Club for Growth and similar organizations?). The institute’s analysis of a partial list of ALEC corporate backers found that their combined giving to state campaigns over the past decade amounts to $12.2 million. Of that sum, 97 percent went to Republicans.
It shows that the individual states' interests and differences don't matter in the ALEC/Koch/state GOP world, despite the fact that any kind of "good governing" would demand that the local people's voices and interests be the ones that should be listened to. They are not.

And Nate Silver's charts on the ideology of Republican governors bears this out. The "red dot" chart shows that regardless of whether the state is Maine, Wisconsin, South Carolina, or Idaho, Republican governors pretty much do the same thing and ask for the same laws. This is in clear contrast to Democratic governors, who seem to closer track the ideology of their home states (more liberal govs in New York, more conservative ones in Arkansas).

It shouldn't be surprising, because people like Scott Walker, Robin Vos, Leah Vukmir, and Alberta Darling (among others) aren't getting funded and helped through the ranks by everyday Wisconsinites. They're getting paid by the corporations and discredited ivory-tower types that make up ALEC. Check out ALEC's "Board of Scholars". The completely discredited Arthur "lower taxes raises revenue and lowers deficits" Laffer? The research director for Reagan's Commission on Privatization? Richard "the hell with public schools" Vedder? These people have nothing but failed ideas and no consideration for what local conditions are, but they're the ones calling the tune for what these legislators decide to put into law. Disgusting oligarchy that goes a long way towards explaining why 65% of Wisconsinites think that government backs big interests over real people.

This would be the Dems' best weapon over the next 10 months of recalls, if Mike Tate would stop playing with his slide rule and would just listen to the people who have made things happen here. Every Dem should say "I will work for the people of Wisconsin, to do policies that work for Wisconsin, and won't take any advice from the failures in D.C." Because last I checked, the Koch Brothers may send a lot of money to Wisconsin legislators, but those legislators have to answer to US, NOT THEM. 18 days till we start taking this state back from these selfish bastards who get paid by Wisconsin taxpayes, but truly don't care what's left of Wisconsin, because ALEC and other "think tanks" will give them plenty of cash after we blow their asses out of power

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wisconsin not the only state with odd jobs numbers

As a follow-up to yesterday's analysis of Wisconsin's interesting jobs report, I wanted to look into the BLS' state-by-state report, which came out today. And it turns out that we're not the only one with unusual job numbers.

Page 10 gives the unemployment rates, and Page 12 gives the seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll numbers. And it turns out that a number of other states allegedly added more than Wisconsin's "50% of the nation's total" of 9,500 last month. They include:

Texass- 32,000
California- 28,800
Michigan- 18,000
Minnesota- (!) 13,200
Ohio- 10,600
Massachusetts- 10,400

So right there you have 113,000 jobs added. Throw in Wisconsin and it's 122,500. So why was June's jobs report so lousy for the country, at 18,000 net jobs? Last month's losers will give you an idea.

Tennessee- -16,900
Missouri- -15,700
Virginia- -14,600
North Carolina- -9,500
Arizona- -8,200

So that's 64,900 jobs lost in those 5 states alone. I understand that employment growth is different from state to state (heck, check out North Dakota the last 4 years), but those are some huge swings from place to place.

There's also plenty of states that matched Wisconsin's odd combination of "jobs and unemployment both go up" in June, which makes me wonder if there's some kind of sampling issues (intentional or otherwise). In addition to Wisconsin's "+0.3% jobs, +0.2% unemployment" performance, check out:

Minnesota- +0.5% jobs, +0.1% UE
Michigan- +0.5% jobs, +0.2% UE
Ohio- +0.2%Jobs, +0.2% UE
S. Carolina- +0.5% jobs ( if you believe them) , +0.5% UE

And even more interestingly, all of the Midwestern states in the group (including Wisconsin) had their labor force numbers go DOWN in the household survey, and "unemployed" go up. South Carolina was not much different, with "unemployed" going up 11,200 and the labor force only increasing by 2,800 for a net of -8,400. Just like as in Wisconsin, the households and businesses are telling two very different stories. INNNNTERESTING, EH?

Oh, and a follow-up to the surplus-having Mitch Daniels (i.e. the preview of the future Wisconsin under Scott Walker). Indiana has:

1. Lost 12,600 jobs in the last 2 months. All other Midwestern states have done better by at least 10,000.
2. Lost 7,300 jobs in the last 12 months. The next closest Midwestern state (Iowa) is 19,700 better than Indiana, the next closest after that is better than MitchWorld by nearly 30,000.
3. Unemployment is "down" to 8.3% in Indiana, but that's only because appoximately 33,000 dropped out of the work force- or else it would be 9.2%.

Yeah, we don't need that crap here. Be it Mitch Daniels or Tom Crean.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are Walker's job numbers BS? Depends on who you ask

I knew there would be some kind of suspicious jobs release from the Department of Workforce Development when I saw Walker sending a media alert for some kind of news conference to discuss the jobs report. And sure enough, that was the case with 9,500 jobs added, but also an increase in unemployment by 0.2% to 7.6%. My immediate response (and the response of many with IQs over 80) was "BULLSHIT!" Remember, Walker's first DWD Secretary left under extremely fishy circumstances and was replaced by a guy whose previous jobs included clerking for Charles' Sykes' ex-wife and working for a law firm giving advice on getting around employment law. So let's see if these sketchy folks are conveniently fixing the last statewide employment report before the recalls.

My immediate hypothesis was that the guys at the DWD were messing with the seasonal adjustment from year-to-year, but a comparison of today's report and last year's doesn't show that. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin gets a huge increase in jobs in June regardless of the economy, just because tourism and construction season gets going, and kids get out of school for the Summer. The seasonal adjustment should take a lot of that increase out, and indeed it does. In 2010, there were 23,500 more jobs than in May, while that increase was 38,300 for this year (an increase of 14,800). Given that the seasonally adjusted totals were -8,200 in 2010 (largely due to the end of Census work) and +9,500 in 2011, this works.

But then look at where the increases are by category, and you get the real story:

Professional services- +4,900 2011 vs. 2010. But 3,100 are in "Admin. Support and Waste Management"- i.e. secretaries and janitors.

Leisure and Hospitality- +8,600 2011 vs. 2010- this category includes "Arts, Entertainment and Rec." and "Accomodation and Food Services." In other words, restaurants, hotels, lifeguards, and Summerfest. In addition to being an iffy number to begin with (you think tourism spots hired up a lot more this year with $3.75 gas?), these jobs are all gone in 2 months.

Other Services- +2,400 (no idea what this is- escorts?)

Government- +1,200- Even this is misleading because 2010 had a lot of lost Census jobs at the time (3,500). Among state and local governments, Scotty and co. dropped 13,700 jobs from May to June. Some of that is seasonality, but a lot of that is a result of the massive numbers of retirements of those employees, spurred on by Walker's union-bashing.

Add up those 4 categories, and you have a 17,100 employee increase in jobs over 2010. All the other types of jobs? 2011 LOSES 2,300 jobs vs. 2010, including 1,300 in education and health services (and the main layoffs have yet to be posted in these categories). And you know construction won't stay at +900 when the housing markets in Milwaukee and Madison continue to fall, staying around their multi-year lows.

So we;ve established that this "great job increase" is concentrated in low-wage, seasonal jobs with no sustainability. But did even THAT happen. The household survey in June 2011 showed that nearly HALF of the more than 50,000 people entering the work force last month ended up unemployed, and the seasonal adjustment there showed a LOSS OF 12,500 JOBS. So this explains the "increases 0.2% to 7.6%" part of the equation. So why the difference? Guess it literally depends on who you ask. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics' own site mentions:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has two monthly surveys that measure employment levels and trends: the Current Population Survey (CPS), also known as the household survey, and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, also known as the payroll or establishment survey.

You can check out the complete explanation of how this works if you want to get your geek on, but the bottom line is that business owners said things were better, and actual people said things were worse. Now, which of those two might have more incentive to lie and manipulate what they do, especially this close to a recall election? Especially when it would mean the entire rest of the country had total job increases of 8,500.

So I don't have explicit proof, like I did with the Kaukauna lie. But I do have a good instinct in thinking we might see some nice "corrections" on the Wisconsin job front in the next few months, and it's not just because the full effect of the exodus of teachers and other public employees hits in full force between now and September. It's also because Wisconsin saw its new jobless claims increase by nearly 1,500 this week after going up another 1,600 the week before.

The more I look at this report, the more I think it'll add up to another Walker deception, because the alleged "job boom" sure doesn't seem to match reality. Stay tuned on this one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Once again, govenment is not in the IPOD business

A very telling response from Gov. Dropout over the weekend, in another interview with out-of-state media. He claims his mistake was "thinking like a small business owner" and not working to gain political support for his policies. There are a number of items wrong with this statement.

1. Scotty has never been a small business owner. He's barely been a small business WORKER. He worked for all of 3 years part-to-full time in marketing and IBM sales, and that's only because Gwen Moore beat him the first time he ran for office at age 22. He was elected to the Legislature at age 26 and hasn't been off the public dole since. My college junior brother has more professional experience than governor Dropout...and is about as far along in his schooling. Any time you hear Walker talk about how things work in the business world, remember that it's all theory and things he's been fed by his contributors, because he doesn't have a damn clue about how corporations and small businesses really work.

2. Walker seems to indicate that his problem was in how it was sold, not in the content. This exchange is telling, for both its ridiculousness, and its paranoia.
"I don't think we built enough of a political case, so we let ... the national organizations come in and define the debate while we were busy just getting the job done," [Walker] said.

Walker has argued the state's agreements with public sector workers were unaffordable, and said his moves had helped prevent layoffs of middle-class workers.

Uhhh, the everyday appearances on AM 620 and co ARE you trying to build a case. That's what Sykes and Wagner and Belling are paid to do - uncritically spread your propaganda. But instead, real people got the hint, started to show up at the Capitol, and as more people read what kind of crap was in there, more realized that what you were trying to sell WAS BULLSHIT. It's why you tried to sneak this whole thing through in a week, the same way your lackeys at WisGOP are trying to slam through redistricting right now. And you're doing it because you have no legitimate case other than "greed and power". And about the "prevention of layoffs", I and others exploded that from the moment you tried to claim it (see point 3). The 30 retirements in my department alone in the last 2 weeks solidifies the absurdity of your statement, and shows that these savings could have been reached through simple attrition and concessions from the state employees union that were rejected by the State Senate after Walker demanded that they not be passed, and paid off Jeff Plale to vote against it. And now we know why that was done, don't we? When you have to lie and cover up your motives for doing something because reality is not on yur side, you always lose the people in the end.

3. As I've hit on before, government services are not the same as selling iPods or DVDs or disposable consumer products. You are dealing with things such as health care and education and natural resources and worker pay and transportation that are not optional matters in the 21st Century. These things are necessities and in any kind of non-Mad Max society, and you cannot leave them up to private markets to handle, because people will be left out, and end up destitute or dead. Selling these items off to for-profit businesses leads to exploitation, lower wages, a lower quality of life, and even more of a two-tier society that either ends with large-scale ghettos and hopelessness, or the French Revolution, with oligarchs ending up with their heads cut off.

And related to this, I couldn't help but note that Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was bragging about a $1.18 billion surplus. Well, that's nice that Indiana made their numbers, but look at how they did. Cutting the hell out of schools and social services, and what does the average Hoosier get for it? The only state in the Midwest to have JOB LOSS for the last 12 months, and incomes and growth that are well below Wisconsin's in Mitch's time in office.

This is worth mentioning when you hear people claim Walker's done well to have allegedly removed the state's structural deficit, because even while the LFB may say the budget is balanced for the time being, (albeit with a whole lot of caveats that will only happen in Walker World and not the real one) you gotta ask, "For what result?" Lower-achieving schools? Less medical treatment for the sick, poor and elderly? The loss of any decent-paying job for people who don't have the right connections? 10% unemployment? Huge increases in poverty? If that's the case, 1. There's no way you can tell me that's remotely worth it, especially when Wisconsin was performing well above the national average economically when Walker took over and 2. You ain't going to have a balanced budget anyway because your revenues will collapse.

On Wall Street, "making your numbers" might get your stock to go up and get you a few bonuses from the board. But if it comes because of budget-cutting, lower wages and lower production, as it has the last 10 years, it is an unsustainable and immoral system. Unfortunately, that's exactly the type of system Scott Walker wants us to have in Wisconsin, where all the gains go to the top, and none to the more productive folks down below that made it happen. And the only way that trend will be stopped in Wisconsin if we make it stop these next 10 months.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Amazing to see Republicans cling to the lie that eliminating collective bargaining and reducing the take-home pay of public workers will make us better off and improve results. FOX 6 in Milwaukee is the latest to spread this deception with a story out today quoting Brown Deer Public Schools' Finance Manager Emily Koczela as saying the following:
"We all knew that our revenue cap was dropping in an unprecedented way, but we also all knew that we had unprecedented financial opportunity."
. Ah yes, mistreating employees and making them take home far less is an "unprecedented financial opportunity." Sounds like what CEOs say when they outsource work to Mexico or China, doesn't it?

Well, Em, I understand that you probably view it as a good thing from a money standpoint that you might not have to pay as much to teachers. I mean, after all, you only had a budget problem to solve when Scott Walker cut your school's aid by nearly $600,000. (Page 3) So he and his allies deserve ZERO credit for jacking around teacher's pay with concessions that many of their unions were willing to give. Last I checked, schools were a service business, where the product is quality citizens and workers of high skills and values. And if you hurt the quality of the delivery of this service (which you no doubt will do through paying people less and crowding their classrooms more), we ALL get hurt by what comes out of declining schools. And when you drop the pay of professionals like teachers, they tend to move out of your communities, which'll drive housing values down, because it's now an area that no one wants to teach in. People didn't choose to live in bland places like Brown Deer, Hartland, or Menomonee Falls for their scintillating nightlife, so if you take away one of the few advantages those places have...good luck surviving, suburb boys!

On top of the counterproductive strategy of disinvesting in schools and people, it's also an example of one of the more disgusting acts of Walker and his supportershave done (and God knows, there are many). Thatis, they treat education and people as commodities who should be determined by dollars and cents. There is very little discussion of how to use policy or budget to improve the actual product or people's outcomes The recent call from Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers for certain school accountability measures is a rare exception, although even that is flawed by clinging to the failed "everyone will be above average" mentality of No Child Left Behind. The GOP thinks human services should come down to cold, calculating cost-benefit analyses, and that doesn't work when you have items based on human variables (like educational outcomes for students), or items that shouldn't be left to the private, for-profit market because they are needs which people cannot afford to do without (like health care).

But when you're owned by corporate oligarchs, as Walker and today's WisGOP are, you think in the entitled, sociopathic method that CEOs do. See on Wall Street, they only care if you hit your numbers, not how you got to those numbers. Now, you can choose to hit those numbers by creating something of value that people want, paying people a decent salary to encourage them to join your cmpany, and continue to grow and innovate. Or, you can lay people off, offshore to another country, and make a garbage product. Both will get your stock price up and allow your board members to be paid handsomely, but only 1 actually adds something to this society.

Walker and company have chosen the "garbage product" method, and even though the LFB claims the budget is balanced and right-wing propaganda is yapping that the GOP "made their numbers", that doesn't mean it came close to making us better off. And that budget won't be balanced in 6 months, by the way. Unemployment is starting to come back to Wiscon sin, as we saw in May and last week. Watch how the revenues dive and unemployment and other costs kick in, and a budget hole magically reopens.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Walker and co: "No MCTS, we want you to fail."

Yet another example of the perverse mentality that goes through today's WisGOP is illustrated in the Journal-Sentinel's rundown of the budget cuts that the Milwaukee County Transit System is facing. The spin the J-S puts on it is disgusting enough ("well, it could have been worse."), but then when you analyze the systematic destruction of this previously high-performing transit system, it's all the more sickening.

First of all, that $6.8 million budget cut should be put into context. It's not like the MCTS had been fully funded for the last 10 years and it's a temporary cutback. Scott Walker consistently cut routes and raised fares since taking over in Milwaukee in 2002. These drops in service and higher prices have predictably led to reduced ridership, due to the lack of reliability and affordability, to the point that recent fare increases over the last 3 years have not increased passenger revenues for the system.

Walker and co. continued with these failing ideas for 8 years instead of trying to invest and improve service performance and reliability. Why? To create a self-fulfilling prophecy he culd blurt out on his talk radio propaganda network, of course. "See, not enough people are taking the bus, so what's the point of spending money to improve the service? Let's do another pointless pose on property taxes and use it as a reason give away another break to my contributors." (oh wait, that second sentence is only what they say in private.)

So when Walker asked to cut 10% of MCTS funding along with the funding of every other transit tier, it was done with the knowledge that MCTS already had suffered major damage (By the way, there are 4 tiers that get state aid, Milwaukee, Madison, cities in Urbanized Areas of 50,000 or more, and Non-Urbanized areas). Then these cuts in direct aid were coupled with the knowledge that the federal government was also looking at cutting back on transit aid by 20%. So there goes that bullet for MCTS. And we've already mentioned that increasing fares really doesn't work in getting revenues, so what's MCTS to do if it wants to maintain anything resembling a normal transit system?

Ah, they could raise the money themselves. And they could do it by having all the FIBs who invade Summerfest and out-of-towners that hit Miller Park pay an extra 0.5% on everything they buy. The current 0.5% sales tax is slated to raise $64 million for the County this year, so figure the same for another 0.5% sales tax (I'm told by the LFB's lead sales tax analyst that there is no elasticity for sales tax vs. purchases, so I'll go with it), and you'd be able to cover the entire farebox and property tax part of the transit system (Page 19). Or you could cut the state taxpayer support of the system by $50 million and still take it almost entirely off of the property tax rolls. Win-win, right!

"Oh, but the voters would never go for an extra sales tax for transit." Except they already did, in the November 2008 general election with huge turnout. So why don't we have it? Because Walker still argued against it (I guess 52% of the voters wasn't enough of a mandate, unlike his 2010 52% "mandate" of a much smaller voter turnout), and Jim Doyle stupidly vetoed a budget item allowing it, making a silly argument in favor of regional transit instead of separating the MCTS issues from the KRM ones.

And the transit-hating suburbans who dominate WisGOP and as a result the Joint Finance Committee took this anti-tax thing one step further, led by Robin Vosser the Tosser, who whined about the horrible idea of having consumption taxes go toward helping people travel to work and leisure destinations. Walker allowed for RTAs to continue in his original budget, but you'll notice he didn't veto this abolition of RTAs, now did he? (Sometimes the actions you don't do speaks just as loudly, now don't it?) And he also didn't say "boo" about Vos and co's move to shift $160 million of general fund dollars into the Transportation Fund over the next 2 years, and only giving $5 million more to transit in the process (and only in the form of paratransit for city bus systems throughout the state, which is all of about 5% of those systems' paratransit costs- WOO-HOO!!!).

So now where does that leave the MCTS? Good luck raising property taxes when you have a $51 million budget deficit and an $8.3 million cut from the state in shared revenue (Page 49) ON TOP OF the $6.7 being cut to MCTS. It's almost like Walker and the WisGOPs set it up so that there is no other choice other than to drastically discontinue service and make it impossible for the County to provide a quality transit service.

Oh wait, that's EXACTLY the goal. You see, failed and ineffective public services prove "the government can't do anything right", and opens up the field for services to be sold off to private providers like Atlanta's Logisticare, who's getting $20 million a year for the next 3 years from the state to work with 3rd parties to get dialysis patients and other Medicaid recipients to their appointments. Nice gig if you can get it, and even better when it comes with less taxpayer accountability than a public transit system. And a great way to exploit the needy and make them ever more reliable on the corporate overlords, since they lose the choices in transportation and mobility that transit can offer them.

It's far from the only example of this administration stepping on the average person in order to funnel money to their contributors and friends, but it's one of the worst, as a second-class Milwaukee will go a long way toward having a second-class state. Then again, a declining Milwaukee seems to be what the 262 types prefer, since their goal in life appears to be winning a whole lot of "tallest midget" contests. Pathetic.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today reminded you of more reasons why it pays to pay to play in Walker's Wisconsin. Wisconsin and Southern Railroad exec William Gardner got sentenced to probation on two felony counts relating to illegal contributions and was fined $167,000. Gardner gave over $43,000 to Scott Walker in the last election cycle by funneling money through his employees and getting access to the guy who's now governor. And the payoff for those $43K in donations and $167K? How about Walker announcing over $15 million in grants and loans to WSOR ONE DAY before Gardner was arrested on the illegal contribtion charges. That's a return on investment of more than 7000% of the $210,000 put in, and Gardner doesn't even have to get his ass pounded in jail. Crime certainly does pay when you know the right people.

I'm also reminded of who's paying the bills under the Capitol big top because the recall election fundraising totals just came out for the the Quarter ending June 30. While the mainstream newspapers predictably covered the horse-race element and concentrated on total numbers without giving the context that Republican Senators had a 2 1/2 year head start on fundraising due to the fact that they were incumbents elected in '08 , they just-as-predictably failed to go inside the numbers to see where the contributions came from. Well, if you care about how our democracy is being bought and sold, where the funds are coming from is every bit as important as the amounts, if not more.

And in particular, let's go to the Fred Clark-Luther Olsen matchup. The big story that the media covers is the 2-to-1 advantage Clark had in fundraising in the last quarter, although to their credit, they also mention the PAC contributions from teacher's unions for Clark, and the (slightly larger) PAC contributions Olsen got Eli Lilly and other health insurance interests. Luther responded today to these numbers by playing the out-of-state agitator card and claiming Clark's support wasn't legitimate. However, if I were Luther, I really wouldn't go there.

Here's why. If you look at Olsen's report with the GAB, you might notice an interesting name on Page 10- Howard Fuller and Deborah McGriff, giving $700 on June 2, and another $350 from Fuller on April 19. Interesting, as Fuller is the former Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent and one of the key figures behind the voucher school movement. He's been actively campaigning for voucher schools for years, and gee, what a surprise, Olsen chairs the Assembly Education Committee and has a key role on the Joint Finance Committee. And voucher schools were massively increased in the last budget, including a feature that could expand it even further in future years. Especially interesting in that article is that the vouchers were expanded to Green Bay and other cities after Joint Finance Committee Republicans claimed there was a huge outpouring of support of voucher schools from the public.

Well, look at the date of that meeting (June 3) and compare it with Fuller's family's donation of $700 on June 2, $500 from "Friends of Joe Leean", (a former legislator and Cabinet member who hosted a Moonie-led, "abstinence-before marriage" rally 14 years ago at the Capitol), and a donation of $500 the next week from Bradley Foundation CEO (and voucher propagandist) Michael Grebe. Sorta gives you an idea what that "public support" was to cause that reversal on GB and elsewhere. LUTHER AND HIS BOYS GOT PAID!!!

Now check out the conduit donations starting around Page 20. Not a lot of Baraboos or Portages or Ripons or Clintonvilles in the report, but there are a whole lotta out-of-staters and Milwaukee-area cash. And there's a full 2 pages of hospital and health care payoffs- gee, you think they may like being able to dictate terms of coverage with fewer people on Badger Care and more cash being able to be kept in profit? You bet they do. Lastly, there's a nice $1,000 check from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, who were a huge support group behind the GOP-led rollback in child labor laws. It really does pay to invest in a key legislator.

And Luther can also keep it in the family, as shown when One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint with the GAB noting that Olsen authored a bill allowing CESAs to run charter schools. The head of the CESA in Luther's neighborhood? Luther's wife Joan Wade, who met Luther when they were both in the State Assembly in the 1990s and early 2000s. CHA-CHING! (Of course, she was known as Joan Wade Spillner at the time and they were both married to other people at the time, just sayin')

The extra-special fun in seeing the Luther Olsens and other WisGOPs of the world complain about "outside interests groups" helping Democrats, they never mention the Koch PACs, WMCs, and Club for Growth payments that will be flooding the airwaves on their behalf. You know, the same groups that backed David Prosser and outspent pro-Kloppenburg ads by nearly a $1 million. And that $2.7 million sure paid off when Prosser and his other paid-off judges made their absurd decision last month on the collective bargaining bill, didn't it?

Deep Throat was more correct now than he was nearly 40 years ago- When you're dealing with politics in the 2010s, and especially Republican politics, it always comes down to following the money. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign database is a great resource- use it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Media picks up Kaukauna story (intentional ego trip by author)

In addition to the thanks for the great locals at Blogging Blue and Cognitive Dissidence, I also want to give special thanks to the Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, who tweeted this site as part of his great post refuting Walker and right-wing media's lies regarding the "Kaukauna miracle." Needless to say, I feel quite shocked and honored that some holiday morning ramble and research got this far.

And there's plenty more where that came from, because there's issue after issue that's clearly showing the GOP game plan of FUBARing previously-quality programs and institutions, and then trying to sell it off to profiteers in order to "save it." THIS IS THE GOAL, and apparently it's gotta be us in the blogosphere that lead the way in getting the truth out, because our corporate media doesn't seem to want to be up to the task.

ADDED EDIT: I'm getting the Twitter attention from all the big-timers. Yesterday, the Brewers' Nyjer Morgan was asking where he could find good barbecue in Milwaukee after their win over Arizona. Around 5:45 I recommended Speed Queen on Fond du Lac Ave., and within 45 minutes there he is! I see ya T-Plush!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More great moments in fake outrage from Journal Communications

A couple of classic cases of Journal Communications synergy this weekend. In both cases, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel presented certain stories in a way that were sure to make them topics to be mentioned on Charles Sykes' show, stirring up the 262's fake outrage brigade, and thereby creating a feedback loop of a "big story" when one doesn't really exist.

1. On Sunday, the Journal Sentinel accused WEA Trust of keeping funds from school districts that were expected to receive a break on retiree health care, with a huge headline that made it sounds like WEA was screwing its recipients for having them leave the Trust for a better insurance deal. Sounds awful, right? Except when you actually read the details of the story, you realize WEA is the recipient of a federal grant, and that it then distributes the money to its members. (the emphases are mine)
The federal money, which the nonprofit WEA Trust applied for on behalf of individual school districts, is intended to offset high-cost medical claims for early retirees ages 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. WEA Trust is affiliated with the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

School officials argue that WEA Trust applied for the federal money during the 2010-'11 fiscal year, which ended Thursday, so the money should be credited to the same year. WEA Trust officials contend the money should be carried forward as 2011-'12 insurance premium credits.

So far, there's no definitive answer at the federal level - at least not one they can agree on.

School districts forfeited the money if they switched providers because federal rules dictate it must be disbursed to current plan participants, according to WEA Trust. The forfeited money will be divided among plan participants in school districts that remain with WEA Trust, company officials told the Journal Sentinel.
So when the school districts decide they don't want to be part of WEA Trust (which is cool, if they feel that's better for them), why should they be entitled to a grant that is held by WEA Trust. It sure sounds a lot like Scott Walker claiming he should be able to use high-speed rail funds for highways, doesn't it? Hey, the reason you got this credit was because WEA Trust was given it, so what right do you have to keep the money when you leave WEA Trust? That makes zero sense on its face.

And as Folkbum is wise to point out, "wait, there's even more!"
The federal assistance funds may be used to reduce the share of premiums paid by early retirees, or to reduce deductibles or co-pays. If the plan's total premiums go up year to year, the funds could be used to offset increases. However, the law specifies that the federal payments may not be used by employers as "general revenue."

But God Forbid the facts get lined up about this when you can be inflammatory, and write this story in such a way that it gins up whiners to leave 400+ comments. And what a surprise that the districts doing the most complaining in the article are Hartland and Pewaukee, two of the most baggerrific areas of Walkershaw County. I'm sure they don't have an extra axe to grind, do they?

2. You may have heard about the firefighter who encountered resistance from the Racine Fire Fighters' Union for wanting to put up a float in the city's 4th of July Parade that would serve as a memorial to the fire fighters who lost their lives in 9-11. Dan Bice dutifully allowed the fire fighter to get his story of isolation and persecution in the press, which allowed angry-man radio to go off to the races on how selfish the Racine firefighters union was for not wanting to be associated with this Christian man to showcase his patriotism.

One problem with this apoplexy. Mr. Gorniak chose not to associate with his firefighting brothers and sisters first.
Officials say it is highly unusual for Wisconsin firefighters to ask to go fair share. But Gorniak - who describes himself as a born-again Christian who supports conservative politicians, including Gov. Scott Walker - filed his resignation letter and became a fair-share worker in late March or early April. He said he made the move in response to the protests in Madison over Walker's collective-bargaining plan.

The move is so rare that union officials are still, months later, trying to figure out how much Gorniak should pay to cover negotiating costs. He was the first in his fire department to resign from the union.
Sure sounds a lot like those school district officials whining about not getting a part of the federal grant that was given to WEA Trust, while deciding to no longer be insured by WEA Trust. Birds of a feather, baby.

Typical Republican, the guy wants all the benefits that his union gave him (such as a good wage to support his family, quality equipment and working conditions, and an organization that gives voice to their concerns that they would as disorganized individuals), but doesn't want to be part of the team when it doesn't suit his own needs. He makes a conscious choice not to be part of the local union, and now he comes asking for their support and staffing for his float? REALLY? He should be glad the union head didn't ask him to go fuck himself and tell his non-unionized ass to start his own fire department and see how successful he'd be.

This guy is a self-centered clown, running to the media in an attempt to get his 15 minutes of fame and self-exposure by wrapping himself in the flag and exploiting the tragedy of 9-11 to make his own personal statement. (Amazing how this works with a lot of fundies, being the humble servants of God that they are.) And even if he doesn't realize that himself, the Vicki McKennas and Sykeses and Bellings of the world sure do, and it is disgusting that they use this as an excuse to bash a union of public workers. Especially when every fire fighter that paid the ultimate price on 9-11 was UNION, and was badly mistreated by "America's Mayor", Rudy Giuliani, in ways ranging from negligent communications equipment to lying about exposure to toxins in the clean up and aftermath of that mass murder.

We need to demand balance and honest reporting from the JS, and it is far past time to start putting the hurt on anyone who pays their bills. If Journal Communications is willing to throw the state down the drain in order to make a few extra bucks, they have lost their right to be a respected member of this state's community. Just because the vast majority of ancients who still read the JS fish wrap and listen to 620 AM are pissed-off right-wing shut-ins doesn't mean JRN's outlets should be allowed to lie and deceive people about what is going on in liberally-biased real world.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Kaukauna's literally unbelievable budget miracle

Right-wing propaganda has been promoting the changes in the Kaukauna School District's fiscal situation, and are trying to credit the higher contribution requirements of the collective bargaining bill as a reason behind the better situation. And while there is truth behind increased contributions being a help in balancing a budget, a little context will find the results not so miraculous. In fact, it becomes quite disgusting that it had to even get to this point.

First off, let's look at Kaukauna's original budget cuts for 2011-2012. The district was looking at a deficit near $3.0 million dollars after the Governor's budget was originally proposed. But page 14 of this slideshow buries the real lead and the reason why Kaukauna was in trouble in the first place.
Prior to February 11, 2011, the district was anticipating a balanced operating budget but changes at the state have forced the district to make major revisions to its original forecast.

So this wasn't a "union costs exploded for 2011-2012" problem. This was a "budget cuts from Scott Walker and WisGOP in Madison are screwing us on the local level" problem. In fact, the original budget proposal from the guv resulted in a drop of Kaukauna's available revenues of $2.16 million (a bit under 5% of their total), and $2.75 million from the state (check out your favorite district's cut here, Kaukauna's on Page 5). The unions responded by proposing $1.8 million in concessions, which combined with the district $345,000 in surplus funds from 2010-11, would have taken care off all of the state cuts put into Kaukauna's budget. The Kaukauna School Board turned them down and asked for layoffs of 14.5 full-time positions instead, and decided to wait on the Legislature and State Supreme Court to do the dirty work of putting the screws on the teachers, and hope for large numbers of teacher retirements.

Which is exactly what happened. The Kaukauna teachers will now have to chip in over 18% of their pay in health care and pension contributions, with no corresponding increase in salary. And for all the talk about "Kaukauna class sizes going down," even Kaukauna School Board President Todd Arnoldussen admits it's projected class sizes being reduced, and those are reductions from huge INCREASES THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY PROJECTED. In other words, little to no change will result from what students would have seen this year. Class sizes DID NOT GO DOWN, as much as the deceptive press releases may indicate.

And I'm not even bringing up the fact that I wish Kaukauna good luck in attracting and retaining quality teachers when they're getting a huge cut in their take-home pay. Strangely, those "free-market" types that are always bashing public educators leaves out the free market reality of lower pay = lower quality. (But when has consistency and reality ever been part of the equation for those haters, anyway?)

So, once again, any benefits from Walker and co. reducing teacher benefits is nothing more than spin and short-term thinking. Let's check back next year when we see what kind of budget difficulties exist in K-ville, and see if Act 10 aolved all their problems. I'm putting my money on "far from it."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What are we celebrating this weekend?

Well, principles like THIS.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

In July 2011 in Wisconsin, these words are no less true than it was in the Engish colonies of America in July 1776. And that is why recalls are not only proper, but necessary, when government officials ignore their public and act in the selfish interest of them and their contributors over the interest of the people they are supposed to govern over.

The Declaration of Independence is a great document. Read it at some point in the next 2 days