Gay Patriot Header Image

Questions to ask about public employee power in Wisconsin*

Earlier today, Glenn linked datechguy’s post posing two questions that aren’t being asked about Wisconsin. In a update to those two question, the techie blogger poses three additional questions in response to the “CBS and PPP polls that are being trumpeted” (trumpeted, I gather, by allies of the Badger State public employee unions).  “If these polls were true,” he asks, among other things,

Why aren’t the democrats (sic) who have fled confidently returning knowing that this vote will only be the prelude to them retaking everything in Wisconsin?

DaTechGuy’s got a great point, if the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are so confident that Walker’s plan is so unpopular, why aren’t they returning to vote against and watching in glee as their Republican colleagues pay the consequences for their unpopular vote.  In further updates, said blogger links fellow bloggers who, crunching the numbers of those “trumpeted” polls, (including Ed Morrissey’s piece which I had caught earlier in the day), question the credibility of said surveys.

Perhaps, Democrats fear passage of the bill because they they realize that when details of the plan leak out, most people will see just how sensible are most, if not all, of the reforms Governor Walker has proposed.  Sometimes, it seems our media have focused not so much on the actual provisions of the plan, but instead on the rhetoric of the public employee unions.

So, let me ask some questions of my own.  How would people feel about public employee unions if they knew

  1. these unions campaign for the legislators who set their salaries, with public employee unions (led by the teachers’ representatives) the largest spenders in Wisconsin campaigns, making public employee unions effectively an auxiliary of the Democratic Party?
  2. that teachers’ unions are the most active lobbyists in the Badger State?
  3. that, through collective bargaining, said unions make Wisconsin counties, cities, and school districts to purchase employees health care from the union carrier, rather than from the state’s plan, as Governor Walker proposes?
  4. that public employees pay a lower percentage of their health insurance premium than do most private-sector employees?
  5. that the state serves as the collection agency for public employee unions, with resources directly transfered from the public treasury (you know the collected funds of taxpayers) into the coffers of institutions which regularly back one political party and the individual government employees cannot opt out of this system, that is, they cannot prevent a portion of their income from automatically siphoned off?
  6. just how political (and uncivil) these unions have become?

While it’s nice to see public employee unions, thanks to the Wisconsin protests, getting the scrutiny they’re do, one wonders to whether the mainstream media will be asking these questions.

*and other states.

Share

23 Comments

  1. Um, I’ve been asking essentially the same question for over a week now. Why don’t the Democrats just run against the Governor’s plan in 2012 if they think the public is with them?

    Comment by V the K — March 1, 2011 @ 8:39 pm - March 1, 2011

  2. To answer your questions:

    Badger State voters (those who are both alive, and citizens of the state of Wisconsin) fall into four groups:

    1. Those who know all about the union-Democrat love in and think that such is awesome. They’re also scanning who’s on this season’s DWTS to ensure none of “those people” (like Ms. Palin).

    2. Those who know all about the union-Democrat love in and voted the Dems out, wanting real change.

    3. Those who know all about the union-politico love in and flip the bird to the whole scene, figuring all politicos are dirty.

    4. Those who… ooh, a flower! What?

    Comment by DaveO — March 1, 2011 @ 9:29 pm - March 1, 2011

  3. Hi Dan,
    Gotta go to bed, but a couple of questions based on your questions.
    3. The question is whether or not they get value for money. If they do, it isn’t necessarily a problem for me. The union plan may act to give their membership the benefit of economies of scale. What I would like to know is what rate of net profit the union health provider is getting–if it in the same range as the alternatives, then what is the issue ecatly?
    4. And I would like to know if their public sector salaries are commensurate with private sector salaries for jobs of a similar level and type. One strategy that many state governments used in the past was to not increase salaries, but to increase benefits. So, is WI in that boat?
    5. Is unclear as to meaning. I note that union members have the right, IN ALL STATES OF THE UNION, to request that they only pay dues that cover collective bargaining and the like. They have the right to refuse to have their income (i.e., the part of their dues) siphoned off to cover political contributions or electoral lobbying. If Q5 refers to just the general practice of the state collecting dues for unions, then, I think that people are aware of that practice.
    6. What reputation does Fox News have with the unions. I am sorry, but people on the left do not like Fox News, seeing it as biased and conservatively based. They do not believe that they will get a “fair and balanced” opportunity from Fox. Whether they are right or not is not the issue here (for these unionists). It is the perception that counts. Also: their appears to be a bit of uncertainty about the validity of the Tobin “assault” claim.

    Comment by Cas — March 2, 2011 @ 2:20 am - March 2, 2011

  4. It is the perception that counts.

    Goebbles would be proud of Soros.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 2, 2011 @ 2:46 am - March 2, 2011

  5. Cas, you make some good points. On 3., I’d just note that Governor Walker is giving the various jurisdictions the choice which plan to offer, rather than forcing all into the union plan.
    As to 4., most studies have shown that public sector salaries are higher for jobs of similar status.
    As to 5., the Beck decision (written by the liberal icon William Brennan no less) allows individual union members to recover the costs of their dues used for purposes other than collective bargaining. That said, why should the state collect the dues? The unions should instead have to collect them.
    As to your point on #6, related to FoxNews, I’d reply with a question why are the unions so hellbent on criticizing the news network?

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 2, 2011 @ 2:54 am - March 2, 2011

  6. Also: their appears to be a bit of uncertainty about the validity of the Tobin “assault” claim.

    Well of course there is. These union thugs were just hanging around minding their own business, bothering nobody when all of a sudden, Tobin ran into a guy’s fist. But let’s pretend you’re right: If folks were doing the work they’re hired to do instead of wasting time in Madison with moonbatshitcrazy claims that Walker’s gonna murder them and eat their puppies, such a claim couldn’t be made. Right?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 2, 2011 @ 5:49 am - March 2, 2011

  7. I am not gay and have always wondered why anyone is- but I have a question. Why is it that no one among thegays or the leftist liberals has anything to say about Islamic Sharia laws which mandate the hanging of all homosexuals?
    The Iranians are doing this on a regular basis and making videos of these religious murders and posting it on the internet. Look it up on Youtube. And all we hear from the champions of Gay rights and their liberal pals is…nothing.
    You should be raising hell over this. Islam is on the march. They’re right up front about their intentions. If they ever get the power in this country there will be no more talk of Gay Rights- just a lot of hangings.

    Comment by Bloodaxe — March 2, 2011 @ 1:16 pm - March 2, 2011

  8. Bloodaxe, ethnocentrism tops gays; therefore, the Left is silent on Sharia Law. It’s that simple.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 2, 2011 @ 3:21 pm - March 2, 2011

  9. Simple, Bloodaxe. The left won’t condemn fellow socialists and potential democrat voters.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 2, 2011 @ 4:54 pm - March 2, 2011

  10. Hi Dan,
    “I’d reply with a question why are the unions so hellbent on criticizing the news network?”

    That IS an interesting question. We could call it a perception or a misperception. After all, liberal websites bewail the “inconsistencies and biased coverage” that Fox makes on a regular basis. Conservatives will shoot back that these are ginned up controversies, the same way that liberal commentators will defend the NY Times or MSNBC, on occasion for having a liberal bias. But, there is more to it than this.

    One issue is the confusion of news reporting with opinion based shows with a political agenda (NY Times Op-Ed page versus front page). Though, even here both sides of the ideological divide would argue the point quite vociferously!

    Here is an example. The liberal website, Washington Monthly (linking to TPM) talks about the latest kerfuffle:

    “Tobin told viewers that “labor organizations” have “bused in” outside agitators. At that point, Fox News aired footage of a protest getting out of hand, with pushing and shoving, aggressive confrontations, police intervention, etc.

    It seemed to be the evidence the right has been so eager to find, and the video quickly bounced around from conservative to conservative.

    The problem becomes apparent when one stops to actually look at the clip. Why are there palm trees in the background? Why are some of the people in the video wearing t-shirts?

    The answer is, at the very moment Fox News was accusing labor groups of bringing in outsiders for protests in Madison, the network was showing footage of a protest in California held a week earlier, passing it off as evidence of something that never happened in Wisconsin.”
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_03/028245.php

    In defense,

    “Tobin was discussing Wisconsin (since that where he’s been) while the general footage played in the background. Taken out of context, these few seconds would seem deceptive. But, if you’d already seen the full segment, you’d recognize what the footage was (besides, this same clip has aired on other Fox News programs like Glenn Beck and been identified as coming from California). Further, the protest footage from Wisconsin is clearly labeled “Madison” as well as date and time stamped, while the “palm tree footage” is labeled “Union Protests.” Confusing? Not really, though if one were to simply see the 43-second clip on YouTube, one could reasonably raise their eyebrows. A reminder of the importance of context.”

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/no-fox-news-did-not-lie-with-wisconsin-palm-tree-violent-protest-video/

    The point though, is that Fox (or more specifically, the O’Reilly Factor) was, in my opinion, disingenuous (ILC definition) about this. Not everyone is going to watch the show with the eagle eye of Jon Bershad. It would be easy to just assume, on casual inspection, that since the piece is about WI union protests, labelling a piece of footage “union protests” is bound to mislead some people into connecting the shoving in CA with what is happening in WI, especially when the interviewed Tobin claims he was assaulted by unionists. The fact that some conservatives were apparently mislead to that conclusions when the piece first hit the airwaves, suggests that this connection is an easy one to make.

    Fox could have avoided this confusion by: a) labelling the footage more clearly as “Earlier CA union protest footage” and, b) using a voice over to reinforce this point. Some folks would have been still left confused, but far fewer. Best of all, not using the footage at all, would have avoided the problem entirely.

    As the mediaite piece goes on to say: “Now, as much as O’Reilly wants to talk about how there are a bunch of “pro-union” guys on the network, this segment was clearly anti-union. Why else have a set series of footage showing just the clips of angry protesters pushing people and then get Tobin to talk about how the protesters attacked him?”

    I would go further and say that the interview piece wants to cement the connection between violence, WI, and unions. If I was a unionist, I wouldn’t like this either.

    Comment by Cas — March 2, 2011 @ 5:05 pm - March 2, 2011

  11. Hi TGC,
    “But let’s pretend you’re right: If folks were doing the work they’re hired to do instead of wasting time in Madison with moonbatshitcrazy claims that Walker’s gonna murder them and eat their puppies, such a claim couldn’t be made. Right?”

    Right! Then again, if Gov Walker hadn’t decided to do away with most of the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions (sans police fire) (for, IMO, predominantly ideological rather than economic reasons), then they also wouldn’t be out there! Right?

    Comment by Cas — March 2, 2011 @ 5:58 pm - March 2, 2011

  12. Cas, while we’re talking about hypotheticals, I think we would have seen protesters. Anytime you cut benefits you see people scream.

    Like I said, I have a unique perspective, having seen several public health plans and benefits and comparing them to private companies. I can’t do side by side comparisons, unless employers are kind enough to start putting benefits on the web (like the PERS link I posted earlier).

    Comment by The_Livewire — March 2, 2011 @ 9:00 pm - March 2, 2011

  13. I would go further and say that the interview piece wants to cement the connection between violence, WI, and unions. If I was a unionist, I wouldn’t like this either.

    Well, of course not.

    You see, Cas, what makes your hypocrisy so obvious is that you and your fellow defenders of union violence were only too happy to show footage of tea party rallies and Sarah Palin’s maps that had occurred months earlier as you were talking about the carnage in Tucson.

    And you were more than happy to show footage of Lyndon LaRouche supporters holding up Obama = Hitler signs while discussing the tea parties.

    As is usual for you, you project onto conservatives what you yourself practice as a liberal. And as is also usual for you, you hypocritically attack other people for doing what you yourself are doing and supporting.

    You expect to tell lies about us and get away with it, Cas. You expect us to behave morally when you won’t. You think you can lecture us about truthfulness when you endorse and support outright slander of people like Sarah Palin, claiming that she was responsible for the Tucson shootings.

    And here this cements it:

    Right! Then again, if Gov Walker hadn’t decided to do away with most of the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions (sans police fire) (for, IMO, predominantly ideological rather than economic reasons), then they also wouldn’t be out there! Right?

    You are blaming Walker for the fact that you and your fellow liberals are uncontrollably violent and hateful, attacking people and making death threats.

    You take no responsibility whatsoever for your behavior. You expect that you can do whatever you like and have someone else clean up after you.

    Pitiful.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 2, 2011 @ 9:22 pm - March 2, 2011

  14. Hi NDT,
    I do not accept the equivalence you wish to draw in the first part of your comment, because I am not making the point you suggest I am. I am not defending union violence. If it is there, it is worthy of condemnation (except in certain very unlikely situations like self-defence)

    “And you were more than happy to show footage of Lyndon LaRouche supporters holding up Obama = Hitler signs while discussing the tea parties.”
    Are you sure I did that? I do not have a memory of doing that. By all means show me where I was doing that.

    As for “claiming that she was responsible for the Tucson shootings,” Again-did I really say that? Or was it another argument concerning the climate in Arizona at the time?

    Finally, NDT, I hope that you recognize that the comment I was making at #11 was a playful rejoinder to TGC’s earlier claim at #6. Right?

    Comment by Cas — March 2, 2011 @ 11:39 pm - March 2, 2011

  15. I do not accept the equivalence you wish to draw in the first part of your comment, because I am not making the point you suggest I am. I am not defending union violence. If it is there, it is worthy of condemnation (except in certain very unlikely situations like self-defence)

    Except, Cas, this past summer, you and your fellow Obamabots were shrieking that tea partiers were violent and committing violence because of the signs they carried and the maps with crosshairs they had. You were whining and screaming about their rhetoric being violent.

    So you certainly are defending it. You are covering up for your union owners and refusing to hold them to the same standards that you did the tea partiers. By your own standards that you held the tea partiers to, you support and endorse union violence and the use of violence.

    And then you really get hilarious.

    Are you sure I did that? I do not have a memory of doing that. By all means show me where I was doing that.

    Why, Cas? You don’t demand any proof when your liberal masters scream that all tea partiers are racists. You don’t demand any proof when they try to link those signs to all tea partiers. You just repeat the narrative, lie for lie for lie.

    All you’re doing is showing what a hypocrite you are, Cas. Why do you insist on proof when you regularly attack and slander others like Sarah Palin without it? Can’t you follow your own rules?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 3, 2011 @ 1:30 am - March 3, 2011

  16. Hi NDT,
    I will make one last attempt at rational conversation:

    “Cas, this past summer, you and your fellow Obamabots were shrieking…”

    Do you recognize that this claim is quite weird? Why? Because I didn’t post on this site/blog last summer, NDT. I am a newcomer to Dan’s site. So, how could you possibly know what I was thinking or writing or doing about/during the events of last summer? A vulcan mindmeld? Or just painting ALL liberals with a really broad brush?

    Is it because in your mind the following must be true: Cas is a liberal. If you are liberal, you shrieked at Tea Party folks last summer. Therefore, Cas shrieked at Tea Party folks like other liberals did…?

    If this is how you think, then I can understand how you can claim: “So you certainly are defending it.” But just because you may think this, it certainly doesn’t make it a rational argument; but rather , an article of faith. Why? Because there is no necessity in the syllogism I outlined above. Liberals can have a diversity of opinions and reactions…

    NDT, when we deal with substance, I enjoy our conversations (even if you leave issues I raise previously unanswered), but your approach here just makes me feel plain uncomfortable…

    Comment by Cas — March 3, 2011 @ 2:38 am - March 3, 2011

  17. Hi TL,
    “Anytime you cut benefits you see people scream.”
    Yes, I can agree with that! Just watch what would happen if we cut government subsidies for oil companies…

    Comment by Cas — March 3, 2011 @ 2:39 am - March 3, 2011

  18. Then again, if Gov Walker hadn’t decided to do away with most of the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions

    Except that “collective bargaining” is NOT a right. But we’re not supposed to know that and that’s why the unionistas are there. Some believe, because they’ve been lied to, that it is a right. Those that know better sure as hell don’t want those who don’t to find out.

    for, IMO, predominantly ideological rather than economic reasons

    Yeah. Nothing economic about leaving in a tool that will allow the unionistas to screw the public again. GOTTA be ideological.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 3, 2011 @ 4:53 am - March 3, 2011

  19. Just watch what would happen if we cut government subsidies for oil companies…

    And why not? Oil and gas companies employ over 9 million people and contribute about 7.5% to the GDP. It goes without saying that the public unions do not. Not to mention the industry pays taxes that many industries do not.

    Why would you want to jack around with that? Do we really need tens of to hundreds of thousands more unemployed and even higher gas prices?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 3, 2011 @ 5:30 am - March 3, 2011

  20. #19

    That is an interesting question.

    Would the cancellation of subsitites to oil companies result in a negative adjustment, or would it result in a correction?

    Cleveland, for example, got the Avengers movie because Michigan cut their tax incentives. In this case one decaying urban metropolis is as good as another, so the states vie for the influx of money. Do we have to do the same for natural resources, which, by their nature, are fixed in location?

    Also we know that government subsidies for crap products (Ethanol) are generally bad. Should the government put ‘the thumb on the scales’ for oil, or food? (when we’re not burning it) Would the result of phasing out oil/food/whatever subsidies be a disaster, or would society adapt to the ‘new normal’?

    Things to ponder when we’re looking at $100+ a barrel oil.

    Aside the second: Are the subsidies rewards to companies, or a counterbalance for the somewhat onerous regulations? (Kind of like a home seller paying the closing costs for the home buyer)

    Comment by The_Livewire — March 3, 2011 @ 8:14 am - March 3, 2011

  21. Hi TGC and TL,
    You raise interesting issues regarding subsidies. I want you to know up front that, on the whole, I detest subsidies. The exceptions are where someone can make a decent argument that a subsidy is correcting a positive externality issue where increased output and consumption enhances economic efficiency (offset by an efficiency neutral or near neutral tax), or where a subsidy may help the very worst off in society.

    The basic argument about subsidy inefficiency is: they take resources from better uses in society (i.e., uses that would give you a higher rate of return than the subsidized area), and funnel them into places where the value to society of the resources used is LESS than the cost to society of the resources being used in the subsidized area. We are producing and consuming TOO MUCH of something. The subsidy is the reverse of a tax, which means that we are producing and consuming TOO LITTLE.

    Also, they interfere with consumer and producer abilities to respond rationally to the price signals in the market place. To the extent that we make something less expensive than it should, is the extent that we distort people’s decision making abilities. Why are healthy fruits and vegetables more expensive than crap junk food in supermarkets? Because we subsidize the wazoo out of corn production (and hence high fructose corn syrup, etc) which is the prime ingredient in crap junk food.

    TGC argues: “And why not? Oil and gas companies employ over 9 million people and contribute about 7.5% to the GDP.”
    The “why not” is that the billions we give oil companies are the billions we don’t give people in the form of tax cuts to spend as they wish; or (as a liberal) the billions we don’t use to support government expenditures on things I like (housing, education, healthcare, etc).

    So, in answering the question about oil subsidies TGC and TL: Petrol prices might rise slightly, as subsidies are withdrawn, but then, US citizens would face the REAL cost of oil. We would see folks accelerate their movement away from gas guzzlers to more fuel efficient vehicles in the long run. Why only a slight benefit to consumers? Oil is an inelastically demanded good, so that a production subsidy will mostly benefit oil companies in the short run, and consumers would see little benefit from the subsidy. Taking it away, mainly affects oil companies. Note: this is a mirror-image of the effect of taxing an inelastically demanded product (on either the producer or consumer side)–the demander pays most of the tax and the producer pays very little, in economic terms. On the other hand, a tax cut (funded by the cancelled subsidy) would help US citizens pay for the higher cost of petroleum, as they rationally reallocate their income to account for higher oil prices.

    If you want to get rid of the budget deficit lickety split, withdraw subsidies… After all, one person’s or corporation subsidy is another person’s tax cut. Or, more brutally–subsidies have to be paid for by taxation. Get rid of the pork–drop subsidies.

    The bulk of subsidies in the US do not go to the poor in this country. They go to the more well-off. A quote from that well-known “liberal” think tank–the Hoover Institute:
    “America’s most costly welfare recipients today are Fortune 500 companies. In 1997 the Fortune 500 corporations recorded best-ever earnings of $325 billion, yet incredibly Uncle Sam doled out nearly $100 billion in taxpayer subsidies.”
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/monographs/27208
    That story hasn’t gotten better in the subsequent 12 years–it has gotten worse. If you want to factor in the home mortgage interest rate tax deduction, it is even worse. It is well worth reading to educate oneself about the issues.

    In Congress, we have the sight of Republicans crowing about 60 billion in less spending; and yet, when Republicans recently had the opportunity to cut subsidies for oil companies (who by the way, had record profitability last year) they said–no. Don’t worry, just because Dems voted to rescind these subsidies, doesn’t mean that I think they would have done it as well, if they thought that they could really make it happen (they didn’t use opportunities when they had control of Congress and Presidency…).

    As for the regulation-subsidy trade-off. It is a good question. The one thing I can say is that I can envisage an optimal level of regulation that promotes efficiency in the economy. Can the same be said for subsidies? Except in a small number of cases, I think the answer is “No.”

    PS. Home mortgage interest rate deduction: It is inefficient–More people own than should; it is discriminatory–if I rent, I get no benefit, even if I spend the same amount of money per year for housing services as someone who owns; finally, it makes owning a house initially more expensive to get, because of artificially boosting demand.

    Comment by Cas — March 3, 2011 @ 11:47 am - March 3, 2011

  22. “Why only a slight benefit to consumers? ”
    Sorry, I meant to say: why only a relatively small increase in petrol price at the pump, after withdrawing the oil company subsidy, in the short run? :) I grant that in the long run, there will be greater effects as new oil discoveries that the subsidies might otherwise have helped make don’t heppen. Given that we are on the back slope of “peak-oil” I think that is a wash anyway…

    Comment by Cas — March 3, 2011 @ 11:53 am - March 3, 2011

  23. Too bad the MSM and other (closeted union supporters) haven’t yet figured out that the Dems are really hiding from the UNIONS, because they know what is going to happen…

    Comment by OCULUS — March 4, 2011 @ 5:56 pm - March 4, 2011

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.