Calling Out the Guard for the Class War

ED’s right that the new class war on government unions is bloody stupid, but that’s not stopping Wisconsin’s new wingnut Governor:

In an interview with the Associated Press, Scott Walker proposed stripping nearly all government workers of their collective bargaining rights. And as a warning shot across the bow, he told Wisconsin reporters Friday that he’s alerted the National Guard ahead of any unrest, or in the event that state services are interrupted. Under his plan, which he’ll include in his forthcoming budget proposal, most state workers would no longer be able to negotiate for better pensions or health benefits or anything other than higher salaries, which couldn’t rise at a quicker pace than the Consumer Price Index.

We used to have a simple social bargain in this country: government jobs were for people who would accept a slightly lower-than-market salary in return for job security and good (but not great) benefits. Since that bargain was struck, healthcare costs exploded, and corporations stopped providing pensions. What once looked like decent, middle-class benefits now look like “Cadillac” plans.

Any reasonable person looking at this state of affairs would conclude that the standing of the middle class has declined in the past few years. The functional, reasonable response would be to work to restore affordable middle class retirement and healthcare benefits. Instead, Republicans want to draw horns and a tail on government employees because they’re the last group who are getting what everyone in the middle class used to take for granted. It’s a simple case of scapegoating and indirection and, as usual, it’s working quite well.

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126 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    The disappearance of traditional defined-benefit plans from the corporate and professional services world was unambiguously a Bad Thing. I understand why it happened, and it’s ridiculous. Fuck you FASB.

  2. 2
    martha says:

    I am truly depressed for my state. I own a small business and provide good benefits to our employees, but my peers make me feel like I’m a complete fool for doing it.

    Oh, and the “duh” statement for the morning is that the 401K system is a complete scam for Wall St and its cronies. But “the people” haven’t awakened yet. Wonder if/when they will. Oh Egypt, can you show us the way?

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    Yes, I know it’s more complicated than that, but it’s Saturday morning, and on Saturday morning I’m allowed to oversimplify and create cartoon villains.

  4. 4
    Athenae says:

    THIS.

    And instead of asking, “Why don’t I have a pension,” angry fucking morons are screaming, “Why do YOU have a pension, you lazy teacher/cop/firefighter/plow driver?” It’s such horseshit.

    Mr. A has never been so happy we moved to Illinois, but I’m just sad for my friends and family who are going to get fucked over by this.

    A.

  5. 5
    shortstop says:

    Great post.

  6. 6
    Scott says:

    The completely out-of-bizarro-field threat to have the National Guard shoot state employees is what really gets me on this one. If I was a Wisconsin state employee, I don’t think I’d be able to resist taking a few days off from work, just to thumb my nose at the arrogant prick.

  7. 7
    mr. whipple says:

    And as a warning shot across the bow, he told Wisconsin reporters Friday that he’s alerted the National Guard ahead of any unrest,

    I’m only shocked he’s not hiring the Pinkertons. (private sector, and all)

  8. 8
    burnspbesq says:

    @Martha:

    “Oh, and the “duh” statement for the morning is that the 401K system is a complete scam for Wall St and its cronies.”

    Say what, now?

    News flash: defined benefit plans also need investment advisors. They’re just less visible because the individual participants don’t have any say in how plan assets are invested, because they don’t have an “account” in a DB plan.

  9. 9
    Roger Moore says:

    @mr. whipple:

    I’m only shocked he’s not hiring the Pinkertons. (private sector, and all)

    The problem with hiring the Pinkertons is that they cost real money. If you’re trying to screw your employees because the alternative is raising taxes, the National Guard will be a lot cheaper. They’re also much better armed.

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Correct: Pinkertons next.

    The terrible thing is that this is a squeeze play against both the Unions and the Democrats. To the extent that the government workers try to organize to protect themselves they will be portrayed as a “Democratic Interest Group” and their efforts will be attacked as “purely partisan” and “selfish.” Meanwhile, to the extent that local Democratic Reps see a pick up opportunity for votes, they will be attacked for being “on the side of the unions” and “against the general welfare” when it is the general welfare that is under attack.

    In a recent spite thread over at Ann Landers, of all places, I noticed people gathering to complain about “poor service” in restaurants and the rules of tipping. The same thing was going on that is going on with government workers. As non waiters/non government workers feel the pinch and begin struggling they look for someone to kick down at and all of a sudden you get people bitching about Waiters wanting to make a living wage.

    aimai

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Scott: Not to denigrate the professionalism of my state’s state employees, but I really doubt that Scotty is going to get a lot of cooperation on things. I can see working to rule and malicious compliance in the future from a large number of state workers in the upcoming months. OTOH, they may decided that it is more important to serve the people of the state and suck it up. Fuck you, Scott Walker, for put them in this bind. Asshole.

  12. 12
    Kryptik says:

    This guy really is just an abominable asshole, isn’t he? I mean, my god.

  13. 13
    HRA says:

    Government workers have always been targeted in the negative. It’s just now they have turned the burners on higher. Personally I am bone tired of having to defend my job that took me many years of jobs in the private sector to get.

    Good post

  14. 14
    Barry says:

    @Athenae: “And instead of asking, “Why don’t I have a pension,” angry fucking morons are screaming, “Why do YOU have a pension, you lazy teacher/cop/firefighter/plow driver?” It’s such horseshit.”

    Ah, the ‘crabs in a bucket’ story which too well describes too many of the American people.

    I remember some story wherein a genie appeared to a peasant, told twice times (once under capitalism, once under socialism). In each case, the peasant’s neighbor has a good milk cow.

    Under capitalism, the peasant mentions the neighbor’s milk cow to the genie, and asks for one of his own.

    Under socialism, the peasant mentions the neighbor’s milk cow to the genie. The genie asks if the peasant would like to wish for one of his own, and the peasant instead wishes that the genie would kill his neighbor’s cow.

    This summarizes the attitude of the GOP base.

  15. 15
    Lawnguylander says:

    I’m not going to bother digging up this editorial I read a year or so ago wherein some Cato institute type was pointing out how many people working in the private sector had lost their health benefits or had otherwise seen their benefits cut over the past twenty years. He wasn’t laying out the history for the News’ largely working class readership in any kind of sympathetic way, of course, he was using it to attack public employees in the NYC area for having it too good. It was the second or third such editorial just like it I had read around the time but the fact that the News was not be afraid to publish it was sad. I expect to see such arguments made for people who still think they’re untouchable, not those who would kill to have a government job with benefits and wouldn’t want to see a potential escape hatch welded shut.

    ETA: Oops, “News” referred to here is the NY Daily News.

  16. 16
    gravie says:

    What has happened in Wisconsin recently that they elected this jackass and dumped Russ Feingold? Are there that many disaffected yahoos in the population now? I lived there from 1978-88 and although the conservative movement was certainly healthy, it was also reasonable in that inimitable Wisconsin way.

  17. 17
    jinxtigr says:

    @Scott:

    The completely out-of-bizarro-field threat to have the National Guard shoot state employees is what really gets me on this one.

    Well, that does include postal workers :)

  18. 18
    Mary says:

    I had to go back and reread because at first I thought you were talking about my A**hole governor in Ohio. Although I don’t think Kasich has threatened to bring in the national guard yet I would not put it past him.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gravie:While Wisconsin has a strong Progressive history, Lafollette, developing the first workers comp. program in the country, socia1ist mayors in Milwaukee, UW-Madison, etc., it also is the state that elected Joe McCarthy. It can go either way, and, right now, it is going the wrong way.

  20. 20
    Ryan says:

    Snow Crash is looking more and more prescient every day.

  21. 21
    Kryptik says:

    It’s just outrageously infuriating, since the end game will most likely be the legitimization of such a tactic. The justification of such national guard threats because those evil fucking hippie union assholes are holding the government hostage for their pensions. Greedy fucks, holding onto their plum benefits while the REAL working man suffers from diminished bonuses and severance packages.

    And like said above, any attempt to fight back will almost inevitably become a ‘partisan’ issue, with Dems painted as working along with the ‘hostage takers’. Why? Because the assholes always fucking win. They always fucking win in cases like this, and I’m just fucking, fucking, fucking tired.

  22. 22
    Steeplejack says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Why did it happen, if you can give the short(ish) version?

  23. 23
    mr. whipple says:

    Although I don’t think Kasich has threatened to bring in the national guard yet I would not put it past him.

    Yup. Him, Christie, etc…they are all using the same playbook.

  24. 24
    buckyblue says:

    The state workers NOT included are cops and firefighters; because they endorsed Walker in November. FUCK THEM. Even more than the cuts is the complete overturn of collective bargaining. If this goes through, only salaries can be negotiated.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @Lawnguylander:

    I’m not going to bother digging up this editorial I read a year or so ago wherein some Cato institute type was pointing out how many people working in the private sector had lost their health benefits or had otherwise seen their benefits cut over the past twenty years.

    CATO never take the next step. For every one employee who gets benefits, there’s at least one other adult (and usually a bunch of children) who also get benefits.

    The next time you’re talking to a self-employed married person, play this game: “find the health insurance”.

    9 times out of 10, the rugged individualist is relying on health insurance that comes through a family member.

  26. 26
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    This is what happens when workers are pushed harder to perform more with less every year to improve the corporate bottom line while getting paid nowhere near a fair wage with good benefits. This is what happens when the rich bastards take the lions share of the pie along with a good portion of that which was intended for the sheep (they’re sheep, watta they gonna do?!). Anyone can see that our economy sucks because we quit investing in our country and the workers who built it and started investing in investors and rich people. No more good blue collar jobs being created that pay good and have good benefits, nope. Cuts into the CEO profits. No spreading the wealth around for the improved productivity and profitability to those who actually made it happen. Nope, they don’t deserve it.

    No. Just a seemingly endless upward funneling of cash that has pretty much stripped our lower and middle classes of what little wealth they had, destroying government tax revenues and economic activity solely to enrich the wealthy.

    My wife has virtually had the same pay at her job for over ten years now. She has had one raise since maxing out her pay though her salaried bosses and management get raises and bonuses every year. What really sucks is that the store director gets a bonus for doing more with less hours/personnel, and they get the shaft in having to get it done ‘or else’. The company reduces hours/workers, he gets his bonus and they get bitched out for not getting their regular jobs done due to the new work dumped on them. They regularly leave work undone at the store to keep up the grand illusion only to have it all dumped on them when the big wigs announce an ‘audit’ or that they are dropping in to shmooze. As long as everything looks good to the powers that be, the grand illusion rolls on. The employees get tired of being told to let work slide only to be told the next day that it has to be done NOW!

    The company loves to hand out ‘Great Job!’ certificates with five dollar gift cards and a ‘gold’ star for a collar or blouse that she can wear “with pride”. They have a whole department organized around giving out these ‘awards’ at every store; people who get paid to make those who are not getting paid fairly feel a little better about their shitty situation. If the wife wasted the money to frame these certificates they would cover several walls at home here. If she wore all of the ‘gold’ stars she has been given she wouldn’t be able to stand. All of it is worthless to her. She shoves the certificates into the filing cabinet and tosses the stars into a dish on a shelf. The five dollar gift card is the only thing of ‘value’ and that’s it.

    I told her it’s like kindergarten. Here’s your gold star and a cookie you good little girl! Now get back to work.

    They have to get more done with less every year and only management gets a cut of the ‘savings’ for doing nothing more than making their workers fear losing their low paying jobs if they don’t perform as ordered.

    But that’s capitalism baby!

    /wretch

  27. 27
    Cacti says:

    Notice that the Police Union, which supported Walker, is exempt from the new legislation.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Now, this is a quality rant. I am perfectly willing to join you in flying off the handle here.

  29. 29
    Mark F. says:

    Yep, we’ve got our own little dictator residing in the governor’s mansion here in Wisconsin.

    For me, a staff researcher at the U. Wisconsin, the hits almost equal the savings we got from refinancing our mortgage last fall so we come out not so bad. I was more concerned about potential medicaid cuts in support for therapy for our autistic son. Seems we dodged a bullet on that one at least for now.

  30. 30
    jwb says:

    @gravie: Yes, Wisconsinites are getting exactly what they voted for. It’s now to be seen if this is what the voters actually wanted. Depressing as hell, but that’s politics, and if the voters can’t learn to see through the manipulation, then I don’t see that there is much hope in any case.

  31. 31
    Cacti says:

    The question now becomes, do the State employees have the stones to have a general strike?

    It’s the State employees, not the governor or the legislature that makes the State function. Withholding their collective labor will prove that point amply.

  32. 32
    ogliberal says:

    Anybody wanna bet that this has something to do with why the right is targeting public sector employees/unions?:

    “African Americans make up 17.4 percent of the federal workforce, as compared to 10.1 percent of the civilian labor force. But the percentage of African Americans drops dramatically with each rise in job grade. They hold 27.6 percent of the lowest positions (GS 1-4), 25.8 percent of GS 5-8, 15.7 percent of GS 9-12, 10.9 percent of GS 13-15 and just 6.9 percent of Senior Pay levels.”

    Politics of resentment and race. So typical. Obviously, lower salaried government workers are those who are more likely to be represented by public sector unions. As somebody noted, rather than getting pissed about the fact that you no longer have a defined benefit pension, people get angry that the low-paid black lady at the DMV who made them wait on line might have a decent retirement package coming to her after 20+ years of dealing with assholes.

  33. 33
    MarkJ says:

    Yes, whenever public sector workers (and it’s not just at the State level) bargain for a better deal it’s always “look at those generous benefits”. The people whining never ask as a follow up how they could improve the deal they get, but always how we can make those people get the same raw deal we’re getting.

    If I were a member of the Wisconsin National Guard and I were asked to tamp down a peaceful strike of State employees, I’d tell the Governor to fuck off. I’m pretty sure that that’s an illegitimate use of the National Guard to begin with. Plus as a Guardsman, wouldn’t you put two and two together and think he’s coming after my generous benefits next?

  34. 34
    BettyPageisaBlonde says:

    I can’t believe I live in this fucking state. (Ex-NYC’er)

  35. 35
    Woody says:

    Perhaps Heritage, Reason, and the Kochermacht can stage another Whiskey Rebellion for the rubes watchin’ teevee! Watching the Blackwater Pinkertons club and taze those middle-aged public servants will gain gonzo ratings!

    Can’t wait to watch how this plays out on Scut Farkus ‘n’ Friends Monday morning.

  36. 36
    jwb says:

    @buckyblue: Actually, if you read carefully, even salary can’t really be negotiated, because that has a hard ceiling of the CPI.

  37. 37
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    My wife read it and said it was too short…lol! She has plenty of more pent up ranting waiting in the wings.

    It just pisses me off seeing this economic raping of the nation and everyone is getting away with it. People who actually produce are shoved aside so the fat cats can be showered with money for their ‘brilliance’.

    If Wall Street and the bankers weren’t pasty white you know every single one of them would be in prison now. Ok, maybe not every single one since I am sure some of them would be killed while being apprehended.

    Justifiably, of course.

  38. 38
    Cacti says:

    Actually, before a general strike…a mass sick-out could be done first as a warning.

  39. 39
    jwb says:

    @Cacti: I’m sure the governor will just fire the workers if they strike or stage a massive sick out. Think Reagan and the air traffic controllers. That’s what this guy is up to.

  40. 40
    Kryptik says:

    @jwb:

    And then…hey, think of what a perfect opportunity to privatize everything that would be? I mean, since it would make it obvious that government is wholly unsuited to handle these kinds of real world problems and conflicts in this modern age…..

  41. 41
    agrippa says:

    I do not expect the general public to take notice. It will take a long time for that to happen.

  42. 42
    buckyblue says:

    @jwb: Yes, exactly. And we also don’t have union protection and can be fired on the spot without cause.

  43. 43
    Cacti says:

    @jwb:

    There are over 175,000 public sector employees in Wisconsin. It took years for 11,000 air traffic controllers to be fully replaced.

    If the Unions don’t flex any muscle on this, they’re effectively finished.

  44. 44
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Cacti: They’ll need the police later — divide et impera</i

    GOP R&D may have finally developed the new product they needed.

    A crab-bucket syndrome-based war on public workers is perfect: (If I don’t have a job, then you don’t get to have one either).

    It is bi-partisan — I can find posts on even liberal/progressive boards on how they're all pension-chasing, unaccountable, drones, and everyone who's ever had a bad day at the DMV is a potential consumer of the new product.

    It's ostensibly race-neutral, as og liberal points out. We know who those employees all are, wink, wink.

    It's not closely identified with any particular area of the country, and that's been killing the GOP. But it will resonate strongly in the right to work states of the Confederacy. (I used to say 'old Confederacy…)

    It’s not obviously part of the religious wars, either, and that's been killing the GOP.

    Ressentisment light — all the rage, without all the baggage that goes with God-gays-guns. It’s so slick it had to come from Marketing. No way is this the spontaneous barbaric yawp of the Murkan People.

    Someone will ride this right to the White House. I though it might be Christie. Maybe it will be Scott. But it will make a president someday, maybe in 2012, and save the GOP.

  45. 45
    Kolohe says:

    The elegant solution would be to unionize the National Guard.

  46. 46
    Kryptik says:

    @buckyblue:

    But the reason you think you wouldn’t have probable cause to be fired would show you’re a pampered government leech who needs to be taken care of for the good of the American People, or else you’ll destroy THE WHOLE FUCKING ECONOMY!! WOLVER-FUCKING-RINES!!!!

    ….good god, I can’t even see straight. I’m getting a fucking eye twitch from the sheer frustration and rage and helplessness.

  47. 47
    taylormattd says:

    What once looked like decent, middle-class benefits now look like “Cadillac” plans

    Actually, at this point, the benefits provided to those working in State government are just as shitty as those provided by the private sector.

    Over the past 15 years, I’ve had several jobs where my employer is Washington State, and the decline in benefits has been steady and steep. My healthcare coverage is now terrible, and nobody who started working for Washington State after sometime in the late 1980s has had an actual pension. In fact, the State has turned our “retirement” program into a money making machine: a minimum of 5% of all employees’ paycheck are automatically deducted and put into a State-run 401K. Except it’s not really a 401K; employees are not allowed to withdraw the money unless they sign an affidavit saying they are no longer working for the State and have no intention of returning.

  48. 48
    Garbo says:

    @Kryptik:

    Because the assholes always fucking win. They always fucking win in cases like this, and I’m just fucking, fucking, fucking tired.

    I wish I didn’t agree with this, but I do.

  49. 49
    NobodySpecial says:

    @jwb: Walker is one of the stupidest humans still breathing. Labor leaders are praying that he lets them take the gloves off, because in spite of short term pain, virtually every single time in the 20th century there was a strike in Wisconsin, it ended up with new legislation that favored unions. Plus he’ll get the GOP murdered if government shuts down.

  50. 50
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jwb: Oh, listening to the radio when i was at home, its what they’ve been told that they want, over and over again.

  51. 51
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @taylormattd: In Maine our last Republican governor during the last deep recession raided the pension fund to cover the books. They got caught by various bond-rating agencies, and the Feds, on the strength of the newly-created gap in pension liability, but no one cared because the economy was growing, and growth put the gap on a glide path to closure, or at least kept it from growing.

    This is no longer the case. Now the rating agencies and such have noticed the problem. And we have a GOP governor and legislature again. What the solution is to close a pension-liability gap caused by raiding the pension fund is, is left to as an exercise for the reader. Hint – it involves pensions…

    We’re back to humoral medicine — the treatment for hemorrhage is bleeding.

  52. 52
    jwb says:

    @Cacti: I don’t disagree that the unions need to take a stand. What I’m saying is that the governor is an asshole who doesn’t really give a damn about good government and so will fire the workers and replace them with the national guard and whoever he can find if they do strike (and perhaps even if they sick out en masse) just to make a point. This is a declaration of war; if the governor has the backing of the legislature, he’s likely to win the early battles; and the unions and workers need to go in knowing what the stakes are, what’s likely to happen and to plan accordingly for the long war.

  53. 53
    Nick says:

    @Athenae:

    And instead of asking, “Why don’t I have a pension,” angry fucking morons are screaming, “Why do YOU have a pension, you lazy teacher/cop/firefighter/plow driver?”

    Kinda reminds me of what happened here in New York with Sanitation workers. After it was reported that supervisors who being demoted and having their pay cut may have ordered a slowdown after the blizzard in December, the people began blaming the workers, the unions, etc. Lets say even if it were true that they did that (though one worker did tell me off the record that they did, but the story released publicly is falling apart). Lets say they held an open strike. Does anyone think the people of New York would have backed them up?

    In order for labor to be effective, the American people would have to be willing to be inconvenienced so workers can fight for rights. Let’s be real about that.

  54. 54
    kay says:

    @Mary:

    I had to go back and reread because at first I thought you were talking about my A**hole governor in Ohio. Although I don’t think Kasich has threatened to bring in the national guard yet I would not put it past him.

    There may be hope there. I’m getting sort of an interesting vibe on Kasich from local Republicans. They’re not happy. They were all crowing in December when I saw them at various holiday events (they have to come up and give me shit)but now they’re a little gloomy.

    They think he’s bad at politics. The constant stupid fights with the media beginning the day he was sworn in, the unforced errors where he’s been (successfully) portrayed as a bigot, the fact that he had no “honeymoon” at all and is basically unpopular. They don’t give a rat’s ass about governing, but they do expect Republicans to be good at sales.

    I will continue to draw them out and let them cry on my shoulder.

    I’m concerned.

  55. 55
    jwb says:

    @Suffern ACE: Yes, and the voters couldn’t see through the media manipulation. As I said, the governor didn’t exactly make a secret of what he planned when he ran the election, the voters voted for it, and now they are getting a chance to see it in action. If it’s not what they wanted, well they can vote him and his cronies out next time, and the state workers and unions can try to rally support of the voters to support them with the legislature through strikes or other measures. But until the voters decide that these sorts of actions are not what they want in a very serious way, we’re going to continue having assholes like Scott trying to do these sorts of things.

  56. 56
    Mike in NC says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    They have to get more done with less every year and only management gets a cut of the ‘savings’ for doing nothing more than making their workers fear losing their low paying jobs if they don’t perform as ordered.

    Of course, the country’s been trending this way for 20+ years, but lately they’ve pulled out all the stops: Citizens United, Tea Party Patriots, Glenn Beck, etc. are all working for their corporate masters. Anybody who complains is expected to get misty eyed when they invoke the name of Ronald Reagan and STFU if you don’t believe enough in “American Exceptionalism”.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    This.

    Reagan and his goons spent the last thirty years destroying the private sector, and now people are squealing that it’s unfair the public sector hasn’t been similarly raped (yet). And thanks to the every-man-for-himself psychology of the Reagan voter worshipper, it’s working.

  58. 58
    Roy G says:

    The sad thing about Wisconsin (and Minnesota, too), is that progressive Democrats used public systems to create a very nice standard of living, but the people grew to take it for granted. Now that the screwhead Republicans are in charge, they are anxious to turn it into South Dakota or Wyoming.

    Meanwhile, i’m still hoping that Russ Feingold is going to run for something at the national level.

  59. 59
    buckyblue says:

    @jwb: Walker is indeed one of the dumbest mouth breathers out there, and not just because of this bill. Four years at Marquette, almost 80K at that time, and he was still 1.5 years away from graduation before he decided to pack it in. This is a war at this point. And some of us may have to take some lumps like our brothers did earlier in the 20th century.

  60. 60
    ogliberal says:

    It wasn’t long ago that it would be darned right un-American to go after unions. They were the hard-hats, the folks who made America great. What changed? This:

    “In 1983, just over half (also 51.7%) of all union workers were white men. Twenty-five years later, only three of every eight are, while white women are catching up (31% of all unionists 2008). Other groups, male and female, are also increasing their shares.”

    It’s all part of the plan. The GOP won over many angry white men with the Southern Strategy. But the Dems still had a stronghold in the unions. So the next step was to demonize unions, reduce their numbers using tactics like what Walker is proposing, until their numbers become small enough not to matter much, until the only folks left in the unions are a bunch of elitist female teachers and lazy brown people.

  61. 61
    PurpleGirl says:

    @ogliberal: I’ve wondered about that myself as I see the shifts in the municipal workforce in NYC. Transit workers and city office workers include higher numbers of AA’s and Asians these days. The Police and Corrections forces to a certain extent too, not so much with Firefighters and Sanitation, I think. (These four groups are the uniformed workers and the stronger unions.)

  62. 62
    gbear says:

    @Kolohe: I wonder what percentage of the National Guard are union members in their regular jobs? I’d bet that a lot of the Guard are also state employees. I’d also bet that this conflict of interest never entered Walker’s mind.

  63. 63
    uila says:

    Here’s the weird thing about this. I’m an onsite contractor for a state DOT, and there is a surprising number of state employees that are teabaggers. They constantly criticize the Democratic governor for this or that indignity, and all I can think is “do you honestly believe a Republican governor would be better as far your interests as a state worker are concerned”? There is very little self-awareness. Maybe this will wake them up.

  64. 64
    gbear says:

    @Roy G: I’m so glad that we’ve got Mark Dayton to act as a firewall for the crazy. The next two years is going to be a monumental waste of time.

  65. 65
    Wilson Heath says:

    @ogliberal:

    Possibly related, in so far as you’re discussing Federal workforce, and another high correlation to African Americans:

    What about veterans? One of the compensations for serving and putting your life in harms way is that there is a hiring preference for the formerly-uniformed going into civilian service. This may in a way be considered compensation for the lost opportunities and the age discrimination against those starting their second career. What happens when the only force reductions are civilian force reductions? What happens when a hiring preference meets a hiring freeze in this economy?

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US.....297377524/

    Once again, these muppet huggers don’t give two craps about the troops. They’re just a tool with which they can hate brown people and the gays.

  66. 66
    jwb says:

    @uila: I find the same thing with teachers as well, particularly in suburban districts: they run surprisingly Republican and can be amazingly anti-union, especially if they are at all religious.

  67. 67
    PurpleGirl says:

    @gbear: Of course not. A jerk like Walker doesn’t think through the details. He don’t need no stinkin’ details.

  68. 68
    kay says:

    @uila:

    Here’s the weird thing about this. I’m an onsite contractor for a state DOT, and there is a surprising number of state employees that are teabaggers.

    There’s a surprising number of union members who vote Republican, but no one wants to talk about it.
    When I was in a union, I was nominally active, and I got promoted immediately, not because of merit, but because I was the only person under 50 who showed up.

    What you mentioned was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to acknowledge.

    I think it was inevitable. The organizing battles were a long time ago. People forget.

  69. 69
    Cacti says:

    @jwb:

    I find the same thing with teachers as well, particularly in suburban districts: they run surprisingly Republican and can be amazingly anti-union, especially if they are at all religious.

    I watched my own religiously-inclined family members happily pull the lever for Republicans who wanted to cut off their unemployment benefits.

    The level of disconnect is astounding.

  70. 70
    jcricket says:

    Watching Republican governors (and some Democrats) dismantling the social safety net, eliminating the only protections middle-class workers have, and working hard to eliminate all gov’t funding sources so that there’s no money for infrastructure leaves me with one conclusion.

    And so the great American middle-class dream ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

    As everyone up-thread has pointed out, instead of protesting alongside their fellow middle-class and poor brethren, your average Joe is busy going “Yeah! Screw those guys! It’s because those gubmint workers have so much that I have so little!”

    The continued layoffs in the public sector and lowered taxes for public services will act as a heavy anchor on the nascent economic recovery. Throw in deregulation, overly “business friendly” laws, and capture of the regulators and judiciary and you’ve got the perfect storm – the rich will continue to screw everyone, and get away with it.

    Until they (i’d say we, but I vote for liberal Democrats) wise up and vote the Republicans out of office, the future looks pretty bleak.

  71. 71
    PIGL says:

    @Athenae: What you describing is the reaction of a Viscious Prick. The Rule of Viscious Pricks has not been sanctified for generations. A nation ruled by VPs must fall. Do not think I am singling out the USA. It may be that special circumstances in your history have increased the number and or influence of VPs. However, I think it has more to do with our whole species being doomed. My current theory is that VPs inevitably take over any complex social organisation and destroy it, by means of ratchet effects such as we are seeing now. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, the middle class that has withered can not be restored.

  72. 72
    elm says:

    I hadn’t been aware that Kain had amended his position on public-sector unions. Good for him.

  73. 73
    Nick says:

    @uila:

    I’m an onsite contractor for a state DOT, and there is a surprising number of state employees that are teabaggers

    My dad is in a union where half of its members voted for Paladino.

    What? You thought they were progressives?

  74. 74
    Nick says:

    @Cacti:

    The level of disconnect is astounding.

    and when you try to nicely reconnect them to reality, they attack you for being “elitist” or dare suggesting their lack of intelligence.

    They think what they’re doing makes sense and damn to hell anyone who suggests otherwise.

  75. 75
    Sly says:

    In related news, Hosni Mubarak has assured his supporters not to worry about his future prospects, because he can still find work as a Republican Governor in the United States.

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @MarkJ:

    Yes, whenever public sector workers (and it’s not just at the State level) bargain for a better deal it’s always “look at those generous benefits”. The people whining never ask as a follow up how they could improve the deal they get, but always how we can make those people get the same raw deal we’re getting.

    There was a Cold War joke about capitalism versus communism. A communist is someone who walks into a rich man’s home and says “nobody should have this much.” A capitalist is someone who walks into the same home and says “everybody should have this much.”

    Ironic that the joke’s turned around now – you replace “communist” with “conservative” and “capitalist” with “liberal.”

  77. 77
    DonkeyKong says:

    “You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.” -George Carlin

  78. 78
    Kryptik says:

    @Chris:

    Hell, these days, it’s almost completely inverted. Us dirty soshulists say ‘Everyone should have this much’, while the capitalists say ‘Only I should have this much’.

  79. 79
    burnspbesq says:

    @steeplejack:

    Vastly oversimplified, in the 1980s FASB changed the accounting rules for defined benefit plans so that investment gains and losses went to the income statement instead of the balance sheet. It did improve the quality of financial reporting, but CFOs don’t like things that increase the volatility of reported earnings, so they took advantage of the accounting change to terminate or freeze accruals to DB plans (and grab the surplus cash from plans that were overfunded), replacing them with defined contribution plans (such as 401k’s).

    That change shifted the risk of poor investment performance from the employer to the plan participants.

  80. 80
    A Farmer says:

    @kay:Did you hear Kasich telling the Chinese we don’t like them, but if they bring jobs to Ohio we’ll like them. That guy is going to make Ken Blackwell look sane.

  81. 81
    debbie says:

    @ Mary and Kay:

    I’m concerned.

    From what I heard of last night’s news, Kasich apprpoved it without saying so. Obliquely and noncommittally. Plus, more than 1,000 public employees turned out to demonstrate at an unannounced and unpublicized preliminary hearing at the Ohio Statehouse. This will not go down well. In fact, I wonder how long it will take for police and firefighters to be called thugs.

    My first thought on hearing about Representative Jones’s brilliant idea (and before I knew the same thing was going on in Wisconsin) was that this move was guaranteed to make the Republicans a one-term party. Yippee!

  82. 82
    jcricket says:

    @Kryptik:

    If anything, maybe conservatives walk into a reasonably taken care of middle-class person’s house/job and say “if only you had less, I’d have more”, where liberals walk into the same house and say, “everyone should have at least this much, don’t you think?”

    Put another way conservatives say “just give me more and you’ll get some, I promise” and the liberals say “everyone could have more, but only when we all chip in together”.

    The conservatives (and Libertarians) are lying, and their policies only lead to the rich having more.

    There’s no one arguing the “no one should have this much” anymore.

    The liberals are, on the other hand, right, and in fact the rich would probably be even better off if they weren’t so busy eliminating the consumers ability to spend money on goods and services that would then increase corporate profits, returning the money to the rich in greater amounts than taxes take out.

    But as long as the average Joe is convinced that giving the rich and corporations everything they want is the road to success for all, we’re doomed

  83. 83
    VOR says:

    It is disaster capitalism on a state level. He creates the crisis or takes advantage of the existing crisis. “The state is broke” is the crisis de jour. So the unions are attacked because they were allies of the enemy.
    My bet is outsourcing state employee functions to the private sector is next.

  84. 84
    mellowjohn says:

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” –H.L. Mencken

  85. 85
    debbie says:

    I can’t find Kasich’s exact words, but they were unbelievably embarrassing. What little I know of China’s leadership, one thing I do know is that insults do not win them over. I think Kasich’s turning out to be a bigger (and stupider) frat boy than GWB every could have hoped to be.

  86. 86
    Nick says:

    FYI: A friend of mine whose a firefighter in New Jersey posted this as his Facebook status

    spread the word

    I am a public employee. I am not the enemy, I am not the problem. You the Government stole from my pension fund. You the Government mismanaged YOUR money. I followed the rules you set up and agreed to. I am not the Enemy!!!!! If you are a public employee and agree, copy and post as your status

  87. 87
    Kryptik says:

    @Nick:

    And cue about 1000 responses telling him ‘No, YOU’RE the enemy, soshulist!!!’ about….now.

  88. 88
    A Farmer says:

    Here’s a link to the Kasich audio. I wrote up that he was acting like the asshole boyfriend. I guess I thought he wasn’t so dumb back when he was in Congress. I thought he would be better than Blackwell would have been, but I don’t know now.

  89. 89
    Nutella says:

    As someone said on my Twitter feed yesterday, it’s disconcerting to have two windows open showing the news of the day and see a huge and effective peaceful protest in Egypt on one and the governor of Wisconsin threatening to call out the National Guard against state employees in the other.

    Maybe the citizens of Wisconsin need to come out to block all the town squares to get their dictator to resign, too.

  90. 90
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    They have to get more done with less every year and only management gets a cut of the ‘savings’ for doing nothing more than making their workers fear losing their low paying jobs if they don’t perform as ordered.

    At some point, the US worker will have to consider the possibilities of anonymous sabotage…

  91. 91
    Nick says:

    @Kryptik:

    And cue about 1000 responses telling him ‘No, YOU’RE the enemy, soshulist’ about….now.

    I don’t even want to tell you what his wall looks like now.

  92. 92

    Any reasonable person looking at this state of affairs would conclude that the standing of the middle class has declined been completely destroyed in the past few years.

    Fixt, no charge. The kill shots have been made, the body just doesn’t know that it’s dead yet.

  93. 93
    Svensker says:

    @Nick:

    In order for labor to be effective, the American people would have to be willing to be inconvenienced so workers can fight for rights. Let’s be real about that.

    The problem is in a government union, the American people are the “employers” and the ones in opposition to the workers. How the fuck are you supposed to find a balance there? Particularly when state government legislators can buy votes by making sweet deals with the unions or stiff the unions when the political tide turns. FDR was opposed to government unions for that reason.

    I know my opinion on this is as popular as a backed up sewer, but I think a huge blind spot on the Left is public unions — it’s one of those things that can’t be discussed. It’s outside the pale.

  94. 94
    Corner Stone says:

    @Svensker: Yes, I disagree with your previous take on $100K police officers being the problem.

    The problem is in a government union, the American people are the “employers” and the ones in opposition to the workers.

    The people are not in opposition to the workers, the owners are.

  95. 95
    Nutella says:

    @BruceFromOhio:

    Here’s a graph to illustrate your point.

    And an interesting take on the effect of different income distributions on daily life.

  96. 96
    chopper says:

    as a gummint employee i have to explain to people that while my health care plan is nice, it isn’t ‘gold plated’. as you mention, it’s just that it hasn’t gotten worse, while private sector plans have taken a huge shit over the decades.

    when you’re stuck driving around in a ’72 orange hatchback with bald tires and a brown door, everything else on the road looks like a cadillac.

  97. 97
    Svensker says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The people are not in opposition to the workers, the owners are.

    Who are the “owners” employing the public union?

  98. 98
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Svensker: On the other hand, a public union provides a very effective tool against sweeping and unfair changes when the person in charge takes over. Bear with, I’ll give an example.

    A is elected, and appoints several people, one of whom is B. B reviews his subordinates two levels down and discovers a few are politically unacceptable, including C. Besides, D (politically reliable) is in line for C’s slot. So B puts together a devastating review of C in preparation for firing.

    Enter the union. Union rep argues that review fails to include successes, further includes things that aren’t applicable, and gets review modified so C cannot be fired.

    I have seen exactly this situation eight times, twice with C being myself.

    How do you find a balance? It’s hard but doable, like so many human endeavors. Tossing it all tosses the good as well as the bad.

  99. 99
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Svensker:

    Not with me. My mom and dad were union people and both were against public unions. Same here. If anything, IMO government unions have soured the pot against unions in general. The prison guard union in California is the perfect example of a union run amok. When you can retire and make significantly more than you did while working and retain your benefits, something is wrong with the system. That and the guards abuse the work injury system to no end. But they sure live real good!

    I know, some of them are my customers. They love their work, hate government and hate liberals even more. But they sure love the law!

  100. 100
    Merkin says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The people are not in opposition to the workers, the owners are.

    The “owners” are the taxpayers.

    This is dumb even for you Corner.

  101. 101
    kay says:

    @A Farmer:

    Did you hear Kasich telling the Chinese we don’t like them, but if they bring jobs to Ohio we’ll like them.

    My experience with Republicans here is that they like “winners”. They all loved Bush (although they deny it now: I was there, they adored him, in a weirdly personal way) because he was “a winner!” Politically.

    I tried to get one of them yesterday to go so far as to say Kasich is “in over his head” (I supplied that phrase, helpfully, I thought) but he wouldn’t go that far, but, really, that was the overall theme of his complaints. I mean politically, just to be clear. They think he’s stumbling around, and that is just killing them.

    He’s not “making the sale”, and that’s important to them.

    I do think he’s in over his head. He was a pain in the ass spitball throwing hugely egotistical House member who went on to be a FOX News personality. I think he’s struggling. Governing is hard.

  102. 102
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Svensker:

    Who are the “owners” employing the public union?

    Not, surprisingly, the general public any more than a private worker/union is employed by the shareholders of the company.

    The union is protecting against the senior officers of the company – the elected and appointed officials.

  103. 103
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Merkin:

    The “owners” are the taxpayers.

    Again, while literally true it’s functionally false. The taxpayers are equivalent to the shareholders.

    The workers are in tension with management — with the elected and appointed officials.

  104. 104
    Svensker says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    The workers are in tension with management—with the elected and appointed officials.

    Well, yes, but in this case, management has to demand the money to pay the unions from the shareholder/taxpayer. As my union friends tells me, the shareholder/taxpayer can “fire” the management. Yeah, right.

  105. 105
    Judas Escargot says:

    @burnspbesq:

    News flash: defined benefit plans also need investment advisors.

    Some of those advisors can be counted as being among “Wall St’s cronies”, and should not be trusted.

    Just sayin’.

  106. 106
    Merkin says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    Again, while literally true it’s functionally false. The taxpayers are equivalent to the shareholders

    Hence the quotes, but i think they’re more like the financiers. When management comes to a taxpayer and says “We have to raise your taxes to satisfy union demands,” you see how fast the public turns against them. Which brings in Nick’s point earlier about Americans not being willing to sacrifice for the rights of others.

    “You may have to pay more in taxes so that garbage man, teacher, social worker can actually survive.” isn’t going to make people more sympathetic. Especially since most people think, or are being told that they’re surviving just fine (big pensions and all)

    and in some cases, that’s actually true.

  107. 107
    Barry says:

    @uila: A Teabagger is somebody who voted for Bush twice, probably voted for McCain, but doesn’t have the basic honesty to admit what they did. It’s nothing more than a Stalinist-level false-front movement.

  108. 108
    curious says:

    @ogliberal: people who have jobs that involve dealing with the general public — meaning any and all comers — earn my admiration anytime i’m in line, quietly seething as someone who has entirely misread the mission of this particular establishment refuses to cede an inch of ground to the staff who does this every day. if that run-on sentence makes sense.

  109. 109
    Barry says:

    @debbie: “My first thought on hearing about Representative Jones’s brilliant idea (and before I knew the same thing was going on in Wisconsin) was that this move was guaranteed to make the Republicans a one-term party. Yippee!”

    Which would be good except that the GOP is like a zombie – they can shoot themselves in both feet *and* the head, and still keep going.

  110. 110
    ogliberal says:

    @curious: Like anybody, I hate waiting on lines but I feel the same way. If I get angry, it’s because these offices are often understaffed or because of jerks who don’t get that there are rules and no, they can’t be waived just because you forgot to bring all of the forms of ID required in order to get a new driver’s license and you’ve been waiting for a while. And if you think the rules are stupid well, it isn’t the people working there who made them. (and yes, those rules apply to everybody, not just the white people)

  111. 111
    Barry says:

    @Nick: Link, please!!!!!

  112. 112
    Nick says:

    @Barry: to what?

  113. 113
    Barry says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: “If anything, IMO government unions have soured the pot against unions in general. ”

    Oh, bull. The peak rate of private-sector unionzation was (IIRC) just over 30%, it got taken down to ~9%. During the last 30 years, the right sounded a relentless drumbeat against private-sector unions.

    The right doesn’t just oppose public-sector unions, they oppose *all* unions, except those politically convenient at the moment.

  114. 114
    martha says:

    @Judas Escargot: I’m back from usual Saturday morning stuff and thanks. I wasn’t clear with my mini-rant and this was partially what I meant. The other thing I meant, of course, is that what people are discovering, even smart people, is that individual investing is HARD and it’s complicated. And most people won’t be able to invest enough in a 401K plan to secure even a meagre retirement because they aren’t able to do so or they luck into it when they’re young. One huge benefit of defined pension plans is that they save us from ourselves.

  115. 115

    […] new class war is bound to end in tears. Indeed, in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is planning to send in the National Guard if public employees resist his efforts to end their collective bargaining rights. Class warfare, […]

  116. 116
    ruemara says:

    @uila:
    In a word, no. There are some Republican/teabaggery employees, particularly in the public works sectors around me. They don’t know until the douche the vote for kicks their asses after the hardcore pay rape. This may open some eyes, but conservativeism can only be failed etc. etc.

    @ NIck, doing that status right fucking now.

  117. 117
    Yutsano says:

    @ruemara: I find it hilarious that there are individuals who advocate for the abolition of the IRS…who work with me at the IRS. It would give me mad giggles if it weren’t for the fact that they could possibly succeed some day.

  118. 118
    kay says:

    @A Farmer:

    I just think he’s bad at this.

    Here’s what he said when they asked him about the bipartisan meeting to discuss a rail line along the Great Lakes:

    “I just don’t know enough about it,” he said of the proposed route along the lake. “But if LaTourette thinks we ought to look at it, we’ll take a look at it.”

    It’s okay to say he doesn’t know anything (true, right?) but “LaTourette” is the Republican attendee at the meeting. He’s supposed to be a governor. He’s not supposed to be part of some GOP caucus, where he only speaks to GOP House members. It’s just clueless.

    And he’s now done that twice. He’s not in the US House, taking orders from Newt Gingrich. He’s a governor. He’s supposed to care about THIS STATE.

  119. 119
    Kryptik says:

    @EconWatcher:

    Nah, Mussolini isn’t right. Remember, Mussolini made the trains run on time. Walker doesn’t want the trains to run at all.

  120. 120

    One of the things to consider is that, as marginal rates drop, pensions are less valuable as tax shelters.

    At a marginal rate of 70%, you can sock away $100,000 into a pension each year – probably $60k for you, $40k for the other employees – at a cost of $30k – note, that’s *half* of the money you gave yourself as a pension benefit!

    At a marginal rate of 35%, that $100k costs you $65k – you might as well designate it a bonus and take it home.

  121. 121
    PanurgeATL says:

    Unions, to some extent, did this to themselves by being so gung-ho about the Vietnam War. Plenty of people were willing to listen to horror stories about unions in the wake of that. Even now, as people in this thread have pointed out liberals are doing The Usual and rushing to defend unions largely made of hippie-bashers. If we’re going to defend unions (and, largely, we should), we need to be willing to exact a price. (A fair one, of course…)

  122. 122
    rpl says:

    As a recent Federal government retiree, I find the picture of public unions that seems to be assumed here to be inaccurate in the federal worker union instance. The Federal worker Unions have no right to strike and no right to bargain for changes to pensions or other benefits. The “union” was only allowed to negotiate with management regarding working conditions. And Management got to decide what fell under the category. We were shoehorned into cubicle farms from regular offices just like private sector worker bees were, and the union had no say. The union made no real difference to anything important about my job in the 30 year portion of my working life that I worked for the federal government.

    Also there are two different retirement systems. The older CSRS that I fell under offered a no employer match Thrift Savings Plan in lieu of a 401K as an optional supplement to pension benefits. The TSP offered only index fund like categories for optional investment to supplement the defined benefit Pension. I’m not here to complain, but there was no real opportunity to fine tune the TSP contributions beyond 4 categories (S&P Index, Government bonds, etc., so that money took the full brunt of the big losses suffered when the housing bubble burst. Federal worker pay was and remains lower than equivalent Private Sector work, despite right wing propaganda, so the benefit package was slightly better to compensate. Now that private sector benefits have cratered, Federal employee benefits look relatively greater.

  123. 123
    debbie says:

    @ Barry:

    Even Rasputin kicked the bucket eventually.

  124. 124
    Darkrose says:

    I’ve gotten used to being Public Enemy #1 in CA because I’m a state employee (sort of). And I can sort of understand some of the complaints when the Dean of the UCD Med School is threatening to sue because her pension is capped on her six-figure salary. What people don’t seem to get is that for every person like that Dean, there are a hundred of us staff members who are trying desperately to get things done with half the staff we should have, who haven’t had a raise in years and had to take furloughs last year.

    What kills me is that in Sacramento, people seem unable to comprehend that if state workers lose their jobs, the entire regional economy is going to go to shit. It’s the ultimate in cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @Darkrose:
    cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    Isn’t this the actual definition of a conservative?

  126. 126
    DougW says:

    Conservatives are really over-reaching right now. I can’t wait for the backlash. These asshats are goners soon. 2012 is going to be a massacre… The tea-party is stepping all over us little guys. I believe that we will make them aware that we aren’t happy about their luxury at our expense…

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