Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is Obama Finally Taking a Stand for the People?

Commenter Eva has asked me to post on the union demonstrations in Wisconsin - now apparently spreading to Ohio - in light of an apparent "news blackout" of the protests.  As of 11:44 p.m. Thursday, the NY Times had no coverage of the events on its homepage.

According to "Politico," John Boehner, responding to a report that the Democratic National Committee was helping to organize the protests, asked President Obama to order his party to call it off.  Oh my!  The unions may be marching toward the district of the Grim Weeper!  Earlier Thursday, Obama remarked that the Wisconsin governor appeared to be violating the rights of unions to collectively bargain.  Thankfully, he did not call for a gradual road to union rights, or civility.  Dare we hope our President is going to be on the side of the working people?

The comments boards on Fox News and other right wing outlets are lighting up with outrage.  Apparently there is a full-fledged Communist takeover of the United States underway, complete with Hitler signs carried by teachers.  I am absolutely loving this.

As of this posting The Times has no comments boxes open on this particular topic.  Hopefully this will change.  For now, feel free to opine to your hearts content right here on my humble little blog.

Good night, and may we all have a bright tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Calling all Dems, libs, progressives, and old-school Repubs! This is your chance to show your strength and your support for the rights of red-blooded American workers. They were playing the Boss (Born in the USA) at today's protest, and who knows if Springsteen himself might show up this weekend.
Don't let the tea party folk have all the fun! Worker protests are deep in our Democratic history.
The weekend is coming up, and the crowds will surely grow. Can you make it to protests in Ohio or Wisconsin? Can you provide some cash for those who can attend?
This is an opportunity, possibly an historic one.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Karen Garcia said...

I welcome all viewpoints on this blog. The first comment I removed was well written and had good arguments against unions. Unfortunately, the last sentence said "you are full of bleep."

The second comment (from same poster) simply said "you are full of bleep."

Disagree, criticize me all you like but watch the language. And no personal attacks against other contributors. Thanks.

Marie Burns said...

As a New York Times editorial today outlines, & as several other news media have documented, Gov. Scott Walker's assault on the public employee union is a totally-manufactured hit job. Besides the fact that preserving the collective bargaining power of the state's public employees union has absolutely nothing to do with the state's deficit, there's this from the Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Times:

"In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.... [Then] Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.... Walker is manufacturing a fiscal 'crisis' in order to achieve political goals."

The Constant Weader

annenigma said...

Don't get too excited about Obama taking a stand by speaking certain words on the side of the people. He alternately takes both sides of every issue to make sure he can claim to be on the right side later. He usually is, but it is the Right side, unfortunately. Actions speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

Why did GM go broke? Why is the majority of steel no longer produced in this country? Ditto for numerous other manufacturing industries like clothing, machine parts, electronics, etc. In large part the answer to all of this is unions drove the cost of labor up to the point it was far cheaper to go overseas to find labor. So, why are unions such a good thing? I am curious if someone can explain why unions are such a great force in a global economy. Another question--why do the contributors here seem to infer that if Wisconsin is not in a budget crisis--e.g, they are breaking even or even have a surplus of tax payer money--why is it wrong to try and save tax payer money? Do unions somehow just deserve to take whatever they can from tax payers? And regarding Ms Burns post--can you provide facts? From what I read in the NY Times there was no "spending" for special interest groups---Walker approved tax breaks that were only for business that expanded--which would seem to be a good thing for employment, and for people to save for medical care. The point being there was no "spending"--he proposed to take less of people and businesses hard earned money in the form of taxes--that is not a give away--that is a take less from private citizens. So please Ms Burns, can you explain your facts? One other topic--do those of you who support public service unions not see that it is very simple for citizens and businesses to simply leave a state that has high taxes? It is dandy the unions can force the state to pay; but the state can't force people to live in a given tax jurisdiction. Oh--that's right, that's why we have federal income tax, so dollars earned in one state can be seized by the government and given to other states according to whatever political wind is blowing in Washington. But to the point: are you not troubled by the fact unions and their demands literally drive people out of the state in question due to cost of living concerns? Ditto for businesses?

Karen Garcia said...

The unions are protesting the attempt by the governor to strip their right to collectively bargain. This is not just about salaries and benefits; it's about being given a seat at the table. Public employees are not asking for the moon. The current proposal would, for example, bar teachers from negotiating for better classroom conditions, books and supplies for the students they serve.

Working conditions for private sector employees nationwide are deteriorating because of a glut of job seekers. Wages are being cut, vacations taken away, hours increased with no overtime - on and on. Labor laws are not being enforced and people are afraid to complain for fear of losing their jobs.

As long as corporations continue to treat people like dirt and sit on their mounds of hoarded cash, worker unrest will only grow.

Marie Burns said...

In response to Anonymous (why won't you identify yourself?), the Fiscal Bureau is like the CBO, a non-partisan bean-counter that calls 'em as it sees 'em. Their projection of a $121.4 million surplus was based on the state of the state when the Democratic governor left office.

Barely a week later, the Republican legislature, at the behest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, passed the Gifts to Lobbyists & Other Special Interests bill, which Walker signed.

Now comes the kicker. Gov. Walker is basing HIS estimate of the budget shortfall on the fiscal state of the state ON THE COST OF THAT LEGISLATION. There was a surplus; now Gov. Walker says there's a deficit because of special-interest legislation he supported. Your "argument" then, such as it is, is circular. It is Walker, not the Fiscal Bureau or I, who is projecting a shortfall, and he is projecting it because of new tax breaks & expenditures which Walker promoted, endorsed and signed. That is, he projects that he will spend, or not collect, the $140 million.

I don't have to "prove" anything because Gov. Walker himself has provided the proof in the form of his budget estimate. By his own estimate, he says he's going to spend the money, or if you prefer, not collect it.

There isn't space on Garcia's blog to fully address your misunderstanding of unions. So let me just say this: the American economy was at its best ever when unions were strong. That's not a coincidence; there's a cause & effect there. Unions raise the rate of everybody's pay. Federal & state governments have weakened unions, & our economy is now in the tank because of the wide gap between the rich & the rest of us. Unless you're a multi-millionaire, you're arguing against your own self-interest.

The Constant Weader

Anonymous said...

From eva to the poster at 11:12 a.m.:
I worked in investment banking in NY. Later, when I moved into health care, I was literally forced to join a union. Did I love the union? No. Did I recognize that safe working conditions had only been secured by the union? Yes. Did I miss the grotesquely high salary and bonus I earned in banking? Yes. Did I hate actually having to DO something (e.g., work) when I worked in health care as a union member? Y'know, after an 8-hour shift in the ER without a break, with psych and cardiac patients and beeping monitors etc, yeah, I kind of did hate it. But I knew it was moral work.
Why are you SO concerned about unions fighting for a living wage, but apparently unconcerned about excessive CEO pay, or how that strips US companies from keeping manufacturing here?

Anonymous said...

My conservative brother screamed about the "check for union" legislation - secret ballot and stuff. Now it's my turn. This power grab by the Gov seems very undemocratic and perhaps illegal, but nobody is mentioning illegality so maybe I am wrong. The exclusion of his union supporters, fire and police, would also seem to beg a lawsuit. When did teachers become evil? I know we have some that should be in other professions, but guys, this action is not going to be a great recruiting device for our best and brightest. And how will you feel when your kids or grandchildren are in 50 student classrooms? So much for American "exceptionalism" and how we care for our children. But that's been known as a crock for a long time. And the whole argument about "what's wrong with saving taxpayer's money"... fine...did you tell Walker that when he gave the tax breaks to business that sent the budget into deficit? Did he look at other options, other taxpayers who would also be asked to sacrifice? The draconian and very FAST action seems like a long planned set up. I also read he wants to spin off the Madison branch of the UofW because that would allow him greater control of the university. Anybody know what gives with that? The stuff going on in our state legislatures is just so depressing.

Haley Simon

Kate Madison said...

I do not believe this craziness of the Tea Party guvner in Wisconsin is really about union busting! That is a convenient catch-phrase. I think what is really going on is the ugliness of the free market philosophy gone amok! Naomi Klein documents this thoroughly in her book, "Shock Doctrine." Whereas we have seen this done by American free marketers in other countries in the past, we are now seeing the effects of "disaster capitalism" in our own country. It is getting juiced up in Wisconsin.

Guess what? WRONG PLACE TO START! The libertarians should know Wisconsin history better than they appear to. It is the home of "fighting Bob LaFollette" and has a long progressive tradition. The citizens of Wisconsin will never drink the tea!!

Anonymous said...

Ms Burns. Facts are most inconvenient, aren't they? Since you failed to provide any, I will. Please refer to this article, which clarifies exactly what legislation activities have occurred in Wisconsin.

A read of this shows, there are several bills in question, not a single piece of legislation. A read of this shows no mention of "special interest group".

A read of this shows there was no increase in spending--you seem to think that not seizing money from businesses and citizen is somehow spending. Spending is buying stuff with money. Not seizing private wealth is not spending money.

Perhaps you see them as interchangeable because the state has expenses--and if it does not seize enough private wealth it has a problem. I see that point, but seizure of wealth and political reasons for spending that wealth are not one in the same.

Please note in the article i cited that there is no tax break allowed if a business can't prove it added a new job. Do you think that is a bad idea?

The other so called "give away" that so offends you is eliminating income tax (seizure of private wealth) on private health savings accounts. Do you disagree with that? What if it happens to be the income tax on a teacher that is reduced. You disagree with that?

I also note 50% of the state democrats (and all republicans) supported Walker in these bills. I believe in a democracy, that is how things should works. So, why do you blame Walker as if he did this as a monarch?

Those are facts Ms. Burns, not emotionally charge rhetoric.

I also encourage you and other readers to read today's NY Times editorial, specifically paragraphs 6 and 7 that detail what the Times calls the states "quite generous" state benefits--and do read about what they receive vs national averages.

Again, Ms Burns. those are facts. You may find the editorial here. .

Bottom line, there is no argument from me that Walker is slashing wealth seizure and in so doing not having enough money to spend--and thus it will cause state workers pain. But you have not given a single fact as to why this is not justified. In fact, I don't see any reasoning in your opinion, just the conclusion.

As for unions, I find it interesting that because I disagree with you, you judge me to not understand unions. The American economy you cite--when the US was in in its glory years, and you correctly point out that unions were strong--is not the US of today.

It is a global economy now. It was not then. GM could not cut costs by buying steel or car components from China Mexico and India--now it can. You can't squeeze blood from a rock, and you can't mandate a private company pay more for a good or service if it can obtain that same good/service elsewhere for less.

Anonymous said...

Shame Karen Garcia. Shame, I posted a response to Ms. Burns 3x, as you know. And you gutlessly deleted it—you were sure no trace existed that the admin had deleted—lol. I guess having that appear may call into question your BS that you "welcome all view points on this blog". Am I right or what?

My response was respectful, and I put quite a bit of thought and time in said response. If you believe I personally attacked Ms. Burns, I would say you are, in fact, not interested in thoughtful discourse, or debate. No thinking person could construe my words addressing Ms. Burns as a personal attack--and I simply did not use offensive language. Unless of course, you interpret my pointing out the fallacy of her writing, and asking her by name to clarify it as a "personal attack." Which, I would wager you do. And, I would wager that you do this because dismissing me on protocol as opposed to intellectual grounds leaves the hypocrisy and illogic of your views unchallenged. Which of course is what matters most to you.

By the way, there is zero in your musings that is "politcally incorrect". Is that a joke? You are about the most politically correct blogster there is--so much so you are uninterested in anything even remotely controversial, let alone true, thoughtful, debate. Do you honestly think you have any command of anything other than dogmatic rhetoric—emotionally charged sound bites that, upon examination, have the intellectual depth of a sheet of paper? Thinking such as yours is the norm now, for both left and right? You Ms Garica, are not one bit different than the worst Fox has to offer in terms of a sincere interest in truth, exchange of ideas, or debate. And the hilarious thing is, I bet you think you are incredibly open minded and thinking. LOL.

Finally you think you offer “musings”? What musing? You have not offered an original thought or insight in any of your “writing” and I refer to you as a “writer” most generously.

Good luck with your boring and one sided blog.

Karen Garcia said...

To 6:30 p.m. Anonymous,

I checked my spam folder and sure enough, there were three identical comments there. I have just restored one of them. I do have automatic spam detection enabled, so something must have caught the attention of whatever little filter is in operation. I apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for taking the time to contribute to this blog.

Karen Garcia said...

Update re automatic spam deletion --

Links in comments are grounds for automatic deletion by the system, so that is why Anonymous above had been removed X3. Not my decision to bar links, which are often used by spamming advertisers and for malware/spyware, etc. To refer readers to a site, please supply the web address minus the link. Thanks.

Another thing - so many readers posting as Anonymati makes it confusing to tell you all apart. So it would be helpful to supply a pseudonym at the end of your comments. Example -"Signed, Personal Wealth Manager" or "Tired Old Teacher Who's Seen It All."

Marina Hirsch said...

Dear Karen Garcia (and Marie Burns, and Kate Madison),

Thank you for reading David Brooks, so I don't have to. I've come to depend on your collective insights.

Karen, I hope your blog is a roaring success! Would you consider making the font a little bit smaller?

Thank you.
Marina Hirsch

Karen Garcia said...

Dear Marina,

I recently enlarged the font after some readers accessing the site from iPads, iPhones and the like complained they couldn't read it. I don't much like the larger font myself, but I don't want to cause eyestrain either. I will try to tweak the size, but as of now I only have s,m, l and x-l to choose from. I went from m to l, which is monstrous! I am very new to this, so please bear with a technology-challenged blogger stumbling through this process!