Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Wisconsin standoff is a national battle

By SAM HANANEL and JIM KUHNHENN
February 22, 2011

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses demonstrators at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on the fourth day of large scale protests by union members, students, and others against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers. The brash moves by GOP lawmakers like Walker have brought unions, which suffered a bitter split in 2005, back together in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Michael P. King, File)

Organized labor is trying to re-energize and take advantage of the growing backlash from the wave of anti-union sentiment in Wisconsin and more than a dozen other states.

President Barack Obama and his political machine are offering tactical support, eager to repair strained relations with some union leaders upset over his recent overtures to business.

The potent combination has helped fan the huge protests in Wisconsin against a measure that would strip collective bargaining rights from state workers. The alliance also is sending a warning to other states that are considering the same tactic.

“I think it’s a clear message,” said AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman. “If you take on middle-class people and try to solve the budget crises on their backs, there’s a price to pay. Many thousands of people will be energized to fight back.”

For Obama, stepping into a confrontation with a governor has its risks. The president is in a struggle of his own to tame spending, and siding with unions may cast him as a partisan even as he talks about setting a new tone in Washington.

For the labor movement, which suffered a bitter split in 2005, the brash moves by GOP lawmakers such as Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., have brought unions together in a way unthinkable a few years ago.

Nearly every major union leader — both public and private sector — has united behind an ambitious $30 million plan to stop anti-labor measures in Wisconsin and 10 other states.

The group at the new “Labor Table” includes AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka working with leaders such as Teamsters president James Hoffa. Until recently, the two barely were on speaking terms.

“There’s nothing like the possibility of extinction to focus people’s attention,” said former Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., who spent more than a year trying without success to reunify the labor movement.

“They’ve got everything to lose here and they’re either going to do something or they’re not,” Bonior said.

Congressional Republicans are accusing Obama of trying to muzzle governors who were making efforts to rein in government. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama was helping fuel “Greece-style” protests in the United States, a reference to the demonstrations that followed Greek efforts to cut government programs.

“His political organization is colluding with special interest allies across the country to demagogue reform-minded governors who are making the tough choices that the president is avoiding,” Boehner said. “The president should make it clear to his friends that the people of Wisconsin, and states across America, can handle their own affairs without Washington special-interest money and meddling.”

The energy behind labor’s discontent is not lost on Obama and his political operation. The president waded into the fight between Walker and unions when he told a Milwaukee television station that any effort to make it harder for public employees to engage in collective bargaining “seems like more of an assault on unions.”

Obama’s political arm at the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, helped mobilize demonstrators in coordination with unions. Democratic Party officials also are watching government-labor disputes in Ohio and Indiana to see if the party should step in there, too.

Such visible support for public sector workers signals an effort by Obama’s organization to smooth a sometimes rocky relationship with some in the labor movement. Unions have sought reassurance from the White House that Obama is not pulling away from them as he ratchets up his overtures to business.

Labor unions are among the better organized foot soldiers of the Democratic Party, and party officials are wary of weakening their political motivation.

“I think Democrats here are upholding the right principle,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman. “Failing to give support to this principle would be a real problem as far as the Democratic constituency is concerned.”

Besides lobbying and public demonstrations, the unions are considering ballot initiatives, costly legal fights and even launching recalls against newly-elected GOP lawmakers. They are planning to seek help from like-minded progressive groups, immigration activists, environmentalists and religious leaders.

They expect momentum from the protests to spill into the 2012 election cycle, when they can try to punish Republicans they accuse of overreaching. Unions are focusing on the states with the most serious attacks and where they have the strongest ability to fight: Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The blessing of the White House could especially help mend relations with the American Federation of Teachers, which has criticized Obama’s support of charter schools and teacher merit pay. The group’s Wisconsin affiliate is helping lead the protests in Madison.

Even Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighed in this past week by promising teachers’ unions during an education summit in Denver that he would stand by them in states where governors have pledged to shut down teachers’ collective bargaining rights. He specifically cited Wisconsin.

The efforts by the administration and Democrats are not without risk.

Obama and the national party are challenging a cost-cutting governor even as Obama comes under attack for not trimming enough in the federal budget. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that Obama was not trying to undermine efforts to rein in state spending, but was only objecting to approaches that would curtail bargaining rights.

With unemployment at 9 percent, the public is not particularly sympathetic to public sector employees.

“On the politics, we worry that this will be seen less as an attempt to help the middle class broadly and more as an attempt to help a union or an interest group,” said Matt Bennett, a vice president at the centrist but Democratic leaning Third Way. “That does not have a deep wellspring of support among the middle class at the moment.”

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

45 Responses to Wisconsin standoff is a national battle

  1. Almandine

    February 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

    “That does not have a deep wellspring of support among the middle class at the moment.”

    Ya reckon?

  2. griff

    February 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

    As usual, William Grigg offers a different take.

    • Carl Nemo

      February 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks Griff for the link concerning the ‘Revolt of the Tax-Feeders’ article by William Grigg. If anything we get a historical perspective of how our government responds when the citizens don’t pony up their ‘perceived’ share of taxes. / : |

      I also enjoy the rhythm and meter of his writing style steeped in history along with his incisive perspective.

      Bryan seems upset that he’s attacking teachers per se when in effect I think it’s being pointed out that many of the demands by public service unions are over the top compared to the private sector whether represented or not by a union structure. We all know how Ronald Reagan treated the air traffic controllers shortly after ascending to office and he had been President of the Screen Actor’s Guild in the past. Of course air traffic control is serious business and for members to walk off the job puts flights in progress at risk as well as stifling commerce. They didn’t get their jobs back either at least those that failed to report back on the job. As a note: The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization violated a government regulation preventing government unions from striking. It resulted in the firing of over 11,000 ATC personnel and the effective “busting of the union” too.

      I believe Almandine posted a link concerning the truth behind the Wisconsin public employees pay and percs and it seems to me they aren’t doing all that shabby. So the solution is for the governor to back off on his idea of decertifying union representation, but to have negotiators sit down and come up sensible compensation and retirements for the future so both government and the greater body of taxpayers feel like it’s been a win-win situation.

      When Lee Iacocca was involved with the restructuring of Chrysler back in 1979 along with the first government indemnified bailout in corporate history, he told union leaders that he had plenty of jobs a for a lower hourly amount, but “none” at the higher union negotiated amount of yore. So the membership bucked up, turned Chrysler around, the loan paid back and in the end everyone became a winner. The government did not loan Chrysler the money, but simply provided a loan guarantee in the event of default.

      The country is suffering mightily as a function of our government at all levels feeling they should get the best since they have taxing authority. Unfortunately this has created a “class” system where they are assured of a job while the private sector has been decimated via off-shoring of jobs and/or outsourcing of in house services overseas in the past 20 plus years while the government employees continue on their merry way with great pay, percs and pensions. With the dwindling private sector jobs and tax base to support such largesse this can no longer be so. Granted government employees at all levels pay taxes too, but not enough to support their closed circuit paradigm of “government pay & percs gone wild”.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Almandine

        February 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        I don’t think he’s decertifying union representation, just limiting the scope of the bargaining to salaries.

        • Siannan

          February 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

          Directly from The Daily Page in Wisconsin:

          “One reporter suggested a possible compromise: just hike the amount workers pay toward their benefits without gutting their rights to collective bargaining. Walker rejected this, saying it was too essential to his plan. ”

          http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=32337

          Whether you wish you acknowledge it or not, this man’s plan is to eliminate collective bargaining rights completely and he’s stated it more than once. When offered the opportunity to negotiate for benefit and pension increases if he will leave collective bargain alone, he has repeatedly said “NO”.

          • bmclellan

            February 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm

            BINGO !

          • Almandine

            February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

            What I’ve read says bargaining for salaries will be allowable… within limits. In fact, you have not fully cited the apposite language in your link, which clarifies that the gov does not intend to abolish collective bargaining.

            Having said that, I’m not in favor of eliminating collective bargaining either, but given the stakes involved, the personalities involved, and the willingness to toss out any and every ruse and rationale to justify whatever, I’d put it to a vote of the people for “real” clarification. After all, every single one of them – on both sides – works for the people and who better to say what they will pay for services rendered.

          • griff

            February 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm

            The percentage being asked to pay toward their own pension funds and healthcare is still well below the national average and well below what the average private sector employee pays.

            The bill would not limit all collective bargaining, but it would limit pay raises to not more than the rate of inflation, but they would be allowed to ask for a referendum vote for a pay raise beyone the inflation rate.

            Let the public, of whom they serve, vote on whether or not they get a better pay raise? What a novel idea.

  3. bogofree

    February 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

    The sympathy and support is just not there for public service unions. As a former member of a negotiating team for a teachers union I just could not fathom my fellow negotiators lack of comprehension regarding support from the hoi polli. Our own little privy councils usually resulted in a woe is us or us against them mentality. I’ve been in the dreaded private sector in the past so I knew the sympathy quotient was not very high.

  4. bmclellan

    February 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Teachers = American Tax parasites ?

    Well Mr Grigg, what name do you call the politicians, the banks, and the corporate pirates ?
    Oh I know, the benign benevolent order of the benighted lost souls of commerce and governance, who couldn’t see and wouldn’t forestall the train derailing from the tracks…Hack2e

    • Almandine

      February 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Grigg’s past writings spare no one who offends liberty… especially those you cite.

      • bmclellan

        February 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm

        Becoming a fan Al, but in this case lumping all in with the criminal element makes for blurry vision.

        • Almandine

          February 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm

          Can you sort the wheat?

          • bmclellan

            February 22, 2011 at 9:46 pm

            Don’t rightly know Al what with all the chaff in the wind.
            If you love whole wheat bread be advised, there’s always bugs in the flour.

            • Almandine

              February 22, 2011 at 10:18 pm

              Protein.

        • Almandine

          February 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm

          Hey Bryan –

          Speaking of the criminal element, it’s sometimes only a matter of perspective. While the upshot of the education stats, as identified later in this article, is more or less an average yearly concern for all our govt schools, I think it must be particularly galling to those folks who voted for reform in Wisconsin to be faced with such abject failure in their school system and have those responsible for that failure hitting the streets in raucous revolution against their vote for reform, especially while their school-age children are out of class falling farther behind.

          http://cnsnews.com/news/article/two-thirds-wisconsin-public-school-8th-g

          • bmclellan

            February 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

            Very valid point about perspective Al, sorta like porcupine catch sans the gloves.
            I wonder if the ratio of student to teacher changed over the studies years, and if so, was it due mainly to an influx of non, or barely English speaking individuals.

            • Almandine

              February 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

              Am sure the influx had some effect, as the lack of proficiency is noted as national in scope. Perhaps Missouri would be a good focal point for comparison.

              Otherwise, were we to go beyond language, into math, science, technical subjects of every sort, one must ask… “why is it that our universities are filled with Asians, Indians, others of non-US origin, who have come here fully prepared to take advantage of the educational opportunities, while our high school grads are generally in need of remedial study before they can engage the college-level material effectively?” Yes, there is some validity to the notion that those who come here are the cream of the crop there, but hey, we continue to fall behind as a society, not just a graduation-rate statistic.

              Were this education thing a private enterprise, we would have fired many of the NEA complainers long ago, or they would have done much better to forestall such a fate.

              Just a thought.

              • griff

                February 23, 2011 at 12:10 am

                There you go again, getting all logical on us. This is politics, kid! Get with the program! Ha.

                Hey, look at the bright side, there’s no shortage of tutors on campus for the kiddies.

                It’s very hard to fire a substandard teacher, as per the collective bargaining agreement. Virtually guaranteed lifetime employment, free benefits and pensions, a 180-day work year, summers off, and when the standards aren’t being met…well, they just lower the standards a little more. It’s easier than getting a vested teacher to actually teach.

                If this were a private enterprise, it would no longer exist.

              • bmclellan

                February 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

                I can’t find any real data on ethnic makeup of the students Al but I do have first hand knowledge of the difficulty when instructing those without a firm grasp on English.

                Also as it goes with school funding it also goes with small business start up in that aliens have a leg up on Americans.Who owns your local 7-11 / liquor store ? Do they speak pidgin or the Kings English ? I’ll wager they have kids in the public system that qualify for more than just free lunches.

                Forcing a teacher to be bi or tri lingual to keep their job lessens their effectiveness big time.. Some of the Instructors I work with are full time HS / Adult-ed teachers and the rest are full time Journeymen in the trades, tradesmen who are as dedicated as it gets. Now who has energy to stay on task, learn a second language, teach, and work full time I ask.
                The blame lies with lame programs like no child left behind, revisionist history, standardized testing, and of all things , the new Math. What the heck was wrong with the old math ?
                Just text books alone is a massive outlay of funds for the same info but with enough of a twist as to appear on the surface as being revolutionary and needed.
                I feel it’s not the teachers that have failed but that the problem lies with competition over cooperation. Learning needs not be reinvented, but fortified by following proven standards and practices. Kick Freud out of the classroom and lets focus on the three R’s . You will find many more willing to give it all when a little sanity and real direction is in the mix than those you’ll find that just coast… ea-ts.

                • Almandine

                  February 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

                  I’m with you… especially on textbooks, curriculi, etc. Have you looked at a modern history textbook lately? And yep, the old math has always worked well for me. The problem is the use of schools as social workshops… multicultural laboratories… sensitivity sites.But – if the govt (union) teachers and their reps were using their collective voice in support of fixing that, instead of using it for self-promotion, I’d be a lot more supportive.

    • griff

      February 22, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      One for you, Bryan…Slaughter as Stimulus

      • bmclellan

        February 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm

        Good stuff Griff, as always.
        ” Thems the breaks I suppose “, drips from the mouths of the vampire elite in rivulets of livid carmine greed.

        • griff

          February 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

          Okay, so I had to look up carmine, I’ll admit. I thought you were talking about the guy from Laverne & Shirley. The Big Raguuuuu!

      • Almandine

        February 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

        And a doff of the hat…

  5. woody188

    February 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve got to go with Grigg. The proof is in the pudding. Obama’s car czar busted the UAW for GM and Chrysler forcing new members to accept a pay and benefit package that equated to $15 per hour, down from nearly $65 per hour.

    Where is the public employment czar to force these public unions to accept lower pay and benefits?

    Why are wealth creating unions treated with disdain by the Obama Administration while wealth destroying ones are propped up by Organizing for America?

    • griff

      February 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      But those are government jobs, Woody! The Machine needs all of its cogs to be well-oiled, or disaster may ensue. Above all else, the State must be preserved!

      • woody188

        February 23, 2011 at 12:34 am

        Build up your people o’ Master, a new great Fatherland awaits!

  6. bogofree

    February 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2668477/posts?page=2

    A 100K from being a parking lot attendant? Members of Teamsters

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1314270

    How about a toll taker getting a 100K? This is public service sector. Retire with 30 years with an 80% kiss and health insurance paid for at 90%.

    When Joe and Jane read this they get steamed and rightfully so. .

    • Almandine

      February 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Clearly, it would be cheaper to let drivers skip the toll and park free, as opposed to such unmitigated skimming… scamming.

      Don’t forget the guy who paints lines on the highway for $122K per year.

      And to think I wasted my time on a college edu-mah-ka-shun.

      • Fivebyfives

        February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm

        Almandine….I see by the spelling on that last word that you must have gone to Florida, too. Go Gatres :)

  7. bmclellan

    February 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    The root cause of our downward plunge is not the guy turning the wrench, or unplugging the storm drain, nor the lady reciting fractions to the class.
    Granted you can’t eat a wealth of knowledge or a shovel, but they both come in handy when you discover someone is serving you a pile of shit.

    The right to bargain in good faith keeps closed the portal of indentured servitude to the company store, while protecting both professional and tradesman alike from abuse in the workplace.
    This usurpation of established law has one purpose and that is to remove the last vestiges of working class voice and bury once and for all what the founders proclaimed,
    that all men are created equal.

    Why not include law enforcement unions ?
    If they are so dedicated won’t they too work for stagnated wages and benefits.
    Whoops, can’t cut back there and watch all those doughnut franchises fail,
    or is it fear of, whose your bodyguard today ?

    Looking the other way at white collar crime and wrist slap punishment has set the tone for fiefdom over freedom. This is where we find ourselves surgically pitted against one another.
    It’s coming for us all folks, whether you’re gated, or sleeping in your car the walls of greed will grow ever higher to blot out the stars that once upon a time,
    we all were free to reach for… noitulover

  8. eve

    February 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    You either allow it ………… or you don’t.

    It’s either a yes ……. or a no.

    Simple choice …. one would think.

    and with these words I wish you all a farewell and above all, strength and courage in the coming times.

    • Carl Nemo

      February 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      From your writing I get the impression you are leaving CHB.

      I surely hope none of us offended you in any way other than having a possible difference of opinion.

      I’ll miss your commentary to the site.

      Best of health and wishes to you dear lady. : )

      Carl Nemo **==

  9. griff

    February 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Read it and weep…literally.

    Excerpt…

    Barack Obama recently made the following statement to American families that are struggling to survive in this economy: “If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation.” A few days after making that statement Obama sent his wife and children off on yet another vacation, this time to a luxury ski hotel in Vail, Colorado.

    Sound advice, Facilitator-in-Chief

    Over the past several decades, the biggest financial institutions and the biggest corporations have worked really hard to “fix” the rules of the game in their favor. The truth is that our economy is no longer a “free market” capitalist system. Rather, what we have now is more accurately described as “corporatism” or “neo-feudalism”. The big corporations dominate almost everything, and whatever they don’t dominate the government does.

    Corpo-Gov, at your service…

    But hey, weren’t the Democrats and the rest of the lefties all shook up over Bush’s relentless vacationing?

    According to the New York Post, Barack Obama enjoyed a total of 10 separate vacations that stretched over a total of 90 vacation days during the years of 2009 and 2010.

    During his first two years in office, he also managed to play 29 rounds of golf.

  10. Carl Nemo

    February 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    It’s sickening to say the least Griff. This paradigm won’t change as a function of the ballot box. Unfortunately they’ve got the firepower to crush the populace unmercilessly as they sip latte’s or their favorite beverages while they, secreted in their mountain retreats, gated communities, luxury yachts or in the our leadership’s case, bunkers with a 10 years supply of food, first run movies and other unmentionable entertainment to sate their jaded palates courtesy of their captive tax slaves. It will simply be an “As seen on Tv” experience for them while unholy mayhem and blood runs in the streets.

    The upside is when the slimeballs finally have to crawl out of hiding there won’t be anyone left to tax and exploit. They’ll have to learn to survive no different than noblemen surviving the Black Plague in Europe of the 14th century with no serfs to feed them and wipe their collective butts.

    Although a skeptic and having written about natural disasters coming to our planetary rescue; maybe, just maybe 2012 might be coincident with a major worldwide catastrophe that will turn their applecart over permanently. Granted we’ll all suffer or lose our lives as well as hundreds of millions possibly billions of other people worldwide, but it will completely tear asunder their elitist paradigm built around evil banking and business practices. These mattoids can all gaze at their Patek-Phillipe half million dollar wristwatches as the sweephand hits the last hour of the last minute of the last second of their sorry-assed terminally greedy existence on earth. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff

      February 23, 2011 at 12:23 am

      Okay Carl, I’m gonna hafta find some thing a little more humorous for you. Just put the brewski down, huh? Snorking can be painful, if not harmful.

      I would love to go on five vacations a year. Actually I’d be thrilled to have a day off once in a while. I would also love to play golf 15 or 20 times a year. Actually, scratch that, I’m not much for walks in the woods looking for my ball all day. Once or twice is good for me.

      I would prefer a peaceful, political solution to our problems. A little enlightenment of the masses, perhaps. A fool’s errand, to be sure, but I got nothing else going on at the moment, it’s 3 degrees outside.

    • Almandine

      February 23, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Yeah, jeez Carl…

      When you’re thru postin, turn off the monitor, turn off the lights, light a candle, watch the flame dance on the walls, breathe deeply, taste the brew fully… picture your fondest memory.

      Good night.

  11. Fivebyfives

    February 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Our forefathers revolted against British taxation (the Boston Tea Party). The Stamp Act was an effort to recoup costs of the French and Indian War. 230 years later our national streak of bugging out on government costs continues. I know that if it was announced tomorrow that an asteroid the size of Texas was going to hit the earth within six months, many politicians (particularly Republicans) would ponder the problem and address it with …..tax cuts.

    To initiate wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without taxes to finance them was irresponsible. When pundits use the ‘ole “a family facing a tight budget would blah blah blah around the kitchen table”…I wonder who the hell would buy two very expensive cars without the slightest intention of paying for them. Oh, we can borrow from the Chinese.

    At least LBJ had the basic indecency to rob funds from SS in order to hide the costs of the Vietnam War. Now such subterfuge is unnecssary. It’s obvious that NO ONE in the entire United States can afford to pay “higher” taxes. We’re the “richest nation on earth” but there is no one to be found who can afford the government.

    So Wisconsin is Starve The Beast 2.0. We can’t have Big Unions, nor can we have Big Government. But Big Corporations? No problem. I’ve worked for several large corporations and they were just as, if not moreso, oppresive as any government. What it boils down to is that the shareholders of Corporate America count, and no one else does.

    Governor Walker issued new tax cuts as soon as he got into office. the illustrious governor of my state (NC) has announced plans for more corporate tax breaks in the face of a $3 billion deficit. And North Carolina has no public unions to deal with, either.

    There is a cold-blooded childishness to this process. Government is not supposed to be systemic cruelty. Yet that is what it is, after the gloss is rubbed off and the curtain pulled aside.

    One time Winston Churchill asked his nemisis, Lady Astor, if she would have sex with him for a million pounds. She said yes. He then asked if she would have sex with him for one pound. She said absolutely not, asking what kind of woman did he think she was.

    He replied they had already determined what kind of woman she was, they were just negotiating price.

    And that is what is going on all over the country…they all know WHAT they are; they’re just negotiating a price.

    • Carl Nemo

      February 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Spot-on analysis supported by fine writing my friend in thought… : )

      Carl Nemo **==

    • Almandine

      February 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      All good ideas, but conflated to become confounded. A few question come to mind:

      Why is it that some folks don’t want higher taxes?

      Why is it that some folks think cutting taxes is wrong?

      Why are higher [lower] taxes thought by many to be such a good thing?

      Why is it that govt is the only entity we look to for public services?

      Why do many think that whatever program govt comes up with is worth funding?

      Why would we fight wars we don’t need?

      Why is it that some folks believe that govt and private business (citizens vs shareholders) have the same funuction?

      Why?

      • Fivebyfives

        February 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm

        Almandine:

        I say the following with the greatest respect, and acknowledge that differing opinions do not equate with impairment or bad judgment.

        1. Most people don’t want higher taxes because they figure they’re paying enough. Many don’t want to because it is a point of principle, encapsulated in the notion that anything we earn is automatically “ours to keep” which makes taxation seem a form of thievery.

        2. Cutting taxes is not wrong, per se. However, circumstances should be a good guide. Also common sense. For example, reducing government spending by eliminating programs that return funds to the economy quickly while maintaining huge spending on outmoded or wasteful programs is not wise. I think of unemployment insurance at this particular time versus continued subsidies for ethanol, milk, and other corporate farming largesse.

        3. Higher taxes are NOT a good thing. Lower taxes are preferable, but one must recognize the obligations of the government and decide what level is sustainable or more conducive to economic growth. The basic fact that government requires resources is being ignored in the national debate. Going blind through a forest with a chainsaw is not the thing to do.

        Conversely, what I saw the Democrats do from 2009 onward was horrific. This was a case of spending money on dream projects that were hugely expensive and hardly stimulative in nature. In fact, the so-called “stimulus” was about 40% tax cuts instead of real, hands on infrastructure investment.

        4. Government IS the sole and last resort for many public services. Wealth means power, and many of the powerful have no consience. It’s like Madonna and Angelina Jolie “saving” all these children around the world while ignoring the many American children in dire need of something better. It might salve a concience, but is not effective.

        5. Those who think ANY govt. program is worth funding are not living in reality.

        6. “We” don’t fight wars, just a small minority of people. One of the greatest dangers of our modern times (and Eisenhower warned of this before leaving office) is private interests influence government policy to the extent that wars are fought for no reason connected to the nation’s security. The Mexican American War, the Spanish-American War, and Vietnam are good examples of this. The personal bravery and valor exhibited by men and women for centuries is uncontested. But the motives are questionable, even if they’re rarely questioned in depth.

        As a slight aside, I had an uncle who was on Corregidor at the beginning of World War II. He was a POW of 3 1/2 years, and suffered unimaginably. He was (and always will be) a hero to me for what he did and the kind of man he was. Once he said to me, “Don’t ever forget what our flag means…there have been so many who have suffered and died for it..but, don’t EVER trust a government. By their very nature they are designed to lie.”

        7. Government and private business DO have the same function currently since private business owns the process whereby government makes policy and legislation. At present government has a huge disconnect from citizens, unless of course there are large contributions in the mix. Having an avid interest in history, I believe Herbert Hoover gets a bit of a bum rap in our condense history. He was a man of his times, but whatever his faults he was quite intelligent. And he summed up then the same problem we have now, ‘The only problem with capitalism is capitalists. They’re too damned greedy.”

        Hope this addresses some of your quesitons and points. Sorry to go on so, but the peepers are working fairly well today so typing is easier. :)

  12. Almandine

    February 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hi 5BY –

    Nice comments.

    1. Many people also think that a govt that has overspent itself into near oblivion – through sheer lack of self-control – is not worthy of more “drug” for its addiction. Fool me once…

    2. The “stimulus” bill is a good example of the “returning funds to the economy” theory, when in fact it made no difference. Since then we’ve had AIG, Fannie, Freddie, QE and QE2 with the same outcome. The only funds seeing immediate economic return are the $250 checks mailed as “tax rebates”. Don’t forget – the Big Banks get all the real treasury largesse. Cutting taxes stops that kind of crap… Federal Reserve graft aside.

    3. The “obligations” of the govt are the bone of contention to many. Too much has been promised to too many. The resources “required” by good, honest, limited, constitutional govt are nowhere near what is being devoured. Somebody actually has to pay for it.

    4. Beyond the military, what functions are inherently, necessarily, singularly governmental?

    5. Some believe anything the govt proposes must be good.

    6. We, of course, meant our govt, staffing profiles aside. We are now fighting 2 such wars that have no meaning… except as budget-busters.

    7. This response conflicts directly with your number 4 response. I suggest a look at the constitution for anyone who wants to see government’s approved role, private enterprise gets most of the other stuff. If our current model is fascist (it’s certainly not capitalist, or only poorly so) then it is up to us to remedy that. Yes, starving the beast is a time-honored fix.

    And thanks to you for the genuine effort.

  13. woody188

    February 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    What we have is “lemon socialism, skirt capitalism or the devil’s socialism.” Lemon because lemon companies that should have failed are propped up. Skirt like a child hiding behind a mother’s skirt. And devil I think everyone can figure out.

    It’s similar to fascism, except possibly worse. Fascists wouldn’t have turned their backs on their nations working people like our bourgeoisie has done. We are also missing that push towards nationalism, as they are instead wrecking communities and pushing globalism.

    • Carl Nemo

      February 24, 2011 at 1:27 am

      Hi Woody,

      You probably meant in your progression of thought concerning socialism to capitalism then meant “devil’s fascism” which wrecks domestic communities pushing everyone over the abyss towards their globalist paradigm. Fascists being corporatists, still with a sense of nation; ie., “theirs too” in addition to the workers that serve their corporate needs and bottomline wouldn’t sell out to offshore interests.

      Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have made a good NWO “globalist” unless he were running the planetary banking show whereas these new age globalists at national levels seem to enjoy worshiping shadowy, faceless characters that must hide out in the sub-basement of the BIS (Bank of International Settlements) in Basel, Switzerland which is the Central bankers’ banker and no doubt it’s World CEO is a collective of the Rothschilds of Europe who own planet earth lock, stock and barrel and have evermore so since the founding of their transgenerational grip on sovereign nation’s since the 16th century.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_for_International_Settlements

      Carl Nemo **==