Does Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Care More About Corporations Than People?

March 10, 2011

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Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin … he’s been in the news lately, hasn’t he?  There was an interesting tidbit that a lot of people missed back in January 31st, before this whole shebang started.  Governor Walker signed into law a little provision that says companies moving to Wisconsin will not have to pay corporate tax for 2 years.  In addition, he pushed through $140 million in special interest group spending in January.  He was busy his first few weeks!  Well this is strange, the $137 million dollar shortfall that he claims is why he’s going after the public employee unions is almost the same amount as the $140 million in spending he rammed through in his first few weeks in office.  I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, though – right?

Well, there’s a bit of very public evidence that a lot of people have laughed at but I feel not as many looked into – the “prank” phone call with Scott Walker and a journalist claiming to be David Koch.  In this phone call there is zero talk of tight budgets, a dire need to cut $130+ million, or really any significant discussion on fiscal issues.  The discussion at hand was all about the “us vs. them” philosophy and crushing the whole idea or unions.  One might even say that Scott Walker created a tense environment for the express purpose reducing or even stopping union power.  Heck, why stop there, why not just give your corporate overlords state utilities for pennies on the dollar?  A “loophole” in a proposed bill could do just that. 

I know, some of you are on the governor’s side on this.  The unions are antiquated, they don’t need power, heck, those overpaid state employees are just being greedy, right?  Well, on average public sector employees earn about 10% less than their counterparts in the private sector.  In addition many states have a mandatory minimum amount that gets put into a retirement fund.  Finally with so many recent state’s financial woes many state employees are now paying more money for the same or sometimes lesser health plans.  Very often state health plans are built using no or few bid contracts and the administer of that health plan is simply raking in the money with little reason to care for the wellbeing of the person at the other end of the plan – denial of benefits would look great on a bottom line if/when those health plan contracts go up for renewal, right?  In one state, North Carolina, the health plan was no-bid and the details are known only to a few. 

Still not convinced about unions?  How about this quote then:  ” … one of the most elemental human rights – the right to belong to a free trade union.”  Surely some liberal nutbag must have said something like that, right?  Dennis Kucinich, or Franklin Roosevelt?  It was Ronald Reagan.  He himself belonged to a union, in fact.  In a world where money is power unions allow those who don’t have as much to group together and argue and barter on equal footing with those who do have a lot.  In fact, a large majority of people say every American has a right to join or form a union, over 60%. 

Put all these things together, and what do we get?  A governor in Wisconsin who had $43,000 in direct donations from the Koch brothers and a multi-million dollar ad campaign paid for by Koch money that helped him get elected, and now he’s seeking to crush union power under the guise of financial woes he created and set his corporate masters up take over state utilities, probably under the guise of “if things get worse we’ll have to privatize our utilities” and suddenly things will be worse.  This and the North Carolina health plan are just two examples where corporate money flows to the politicians only to have taxpayer money – almost invariably from the middle class – flow back to the corporations.  Once again, another reason why we need complete transparency and a cap on any kind of corporate political contributions.  “We the people” is rapidly turning into “We the corporate rich people” and that ideal leaves a lot of poor huddling masses out in the cold.

Wisconsin Republicans Blame Unions For State’s Budget Woes

February 23, 2011

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In most elections it seems to use South Park as a reference, you have a choice of a giant douche or a shit sandwich. Unfortunately for the people of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker seems to be both of them all rolled into one. Unless you have been hiding in a cave the past week or so you know that there have been daily mass protesting State Capitol building in Madison. This in reaction to Walker and his partners in crime bringing forth legislation to start the destruction of organized labor. That is what the legislation is plain and simple. Now it is being done under the guise of cutting spending and balancing the budget, but now that is a complete lie.

The legislation calls for most state employees to see cuts in pay and benefits, as well as seeing a large increase in the amount they pay into their pensions and health insurance. The other part of the legislation calls for unions to lose almost all their rights, by only allowing them to “negotiate” for pay increases that are fixed to the rate of inflation. There would be no other collective bargaining as it is referred to for work conditions, benefits, performance or longevity based pay increases and so on. Basically making unions be that in name only as they would no longer have any real function anymore. The legislation also denies members from having their union dues directly taken out of their paychecks as a way to try to prevent unions from receiving funding as well as requiring a closed vote to be taken place to whether the unions are to continue to exist on an annual basis. Now the latter two do not seem highly important to me, but the first causes them to become that way down the line. If the union becomes a union in name only, why would anyone voluntarily pay the membership fees or vote for the union to be in.

I guess Walker and his political advisers from Koch Industries and other of the like did not see this backlash coming. They figured there would be a little fuss and that would be it. Instead they got a mass outrage to deal with that has now spread to other states with Republican led legislative and executive branches wanting to adopt measures of the like.

As I mentioned this is all being done under the guise of budget cuts. For 2011-2013 the state is projecting about a $3.6 billion dollar shortfall. What is not discussed as much is that around $2 billion dollars of that is from the effect of unpaid for tax break for businesses. A new normal? Really!? Sounds like more of the same old same old to me. The same old same old mentality is also evidenced that Walker left police, firefighters, state troopers and inspectors and their unions out of the legislation. It is easy to deduce that this is because these are the unions that to varying degrees of extent supported his candidacy for Governor. However all these unions have come out on the side of the protesters basically stating why should us and our families be any better than the rest of these unions.

Also because of this legislation, the 14 Democrat members of the Wisconsin senate have gone on the lam to undisclosed locations to deny quorum to be able to vote on the legislation. In reaction to this Walker has sent out state troopers to find the “missing” Democrats and drag them back to the statehouse for the Republicans to be allowed to shove this legislation down the throats of Wisconsinites. Also Walker stated he would not be bullied into things based on these actions. But who is the real bully Governor Walker? I would say it is undeniably you. The unions without any ask to sit down to negotiate terms have given into your monetary demands to solve your budget crisis. However that is not enough for Walker. He says there will be no compromise on this unions need to be broken. In this Walker stating that things need to be taken from the haves as the have-nots businesses have been paying the bill for too long. No besides being a completely ludicrous statement in whole, when was the last time anyone considered a teacher a have or well off person.

Also Walker has threatened to starting next week start to fire public employees if his legislation is not passed as he wants it to be by then. Saying it will be the Democrats fault if he does not get his way. Like the legislation, I think Walker is miscalculating where the public will lie the blame if people start to lose their jobs over his dictatorial style of rule.

As for the protestors at the statehouse it is amusing how they are being portrayed by the right. The are almost all in state people fighting for their rights, while those on the opposition side of the demonstration are being bused in from around the county by political “subsidiaries” of Koch Industries and the like. The former are being referred to as bottom feeders and worthless people by the right while the later are the true patriots. It is quite sad, but amusing to see. Also sad is the commentary coming from the right on what should be done. Most notably a former Deputy Attorney General in Indiana, another state facing the same political backlash, now saying that live ammunition should be used to take out the demonstrators (the official was fired after making the comment). After all, he says they are their political enemies and deadly force should be used to take care of them in his opinion, Now he isn’t the only one on the right who has been thinking this way, numerous jokes have been made of the sort on taking them out, it’s just he is an official that actually is on the record stating that this is what should be done.

An interesting new note that has come up is that Walker will actually continue to experience shortfall in the budget if he continues his desire to bust unions. The state would be set to lose $46.6 million in federal transportation money this year and other federal money allocated in other areas as well. This is because of a provision in federal labor law that states risk losing federal funding should they eliminate collective bargaining rights that existed at the time the funding was granted. Then again it really isn’t about the budget is it Governor Walker?