Sunday, February 20, 2011

Media Failed Us Again--The Truth About Wisconsin

As I mentioned in a previous post, Media slants, omits, and to be perfectly blunt, lies. There is no way the American public can make a rational decision when we can’t get unbiased details pertaining to important issues facing our country, and quite frankly, our lives.

There is a state war brewing in Wisconsin, which is probably the first in many to come, with states being cash strapped and cuts imminent. Governor Walker is under attack by many on the Left because he’s taking on the Union. Public workers-- teachers, police officers and fire fighters, are being called “bottom feeder free loaders” by Rush Limbaugh, because they are protesting at the state capital.

And the media, both Left and Right, is making it worse by not giving the public the FACTS.

Rachel Maddow and some left-winged blogs have informed their audience that Governor Walker inherited a surplus of $121 million, and gave away $140 million in tax breaks (there are tax cuts, but they don't go into effect until next year) which caused the projected $137 million dollar deficit and is taking on the union, and its workers, in order to destroy them, the middle class and the Democratic Party. Right-wing media and blogs are telling their audience that public sector employees are selfish, greedy, and should be fired.

Pitting public sector Americans/taxpayers against private sector Americans/taxpayers, in my humble opinion, is not only egregious, but could very well prove dangerous.

In light of how derelict our media has become, I would like to set the record straight and give you some facts. I promise you I’ve researched left and right sites without my political lenses and just want to report the truth.

I am an American, who is the daughter of a retired teacher, and the sister of a police officer, and I most certainly don’t believe that my mom or my brother are “selfish” or “free loaders”. I’ve also paid attention to the unions, public and private, and I’m here to tell you that they don’t have the best interest of the people at heart. There was a time, long ago, when they did, but not anymore. They have a political agenda, just like politicians and the media.

And the media neglected the truth. Wisconsin does NOT have a surplus. Robert Lang, Director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, issued a report, and this sentence, Our analysis indicates a general fund gross balance of $121.4 million and a net balance of $56.4 million, seems to have caused the confusion, because that alone doesn’t tell Wisconsin’s entire fiscal story.

Further in his report, Lang lists $58.7 million needed to repay a Minnesota Income Tax Reciprocity Payment and $258 million in Appropriation Shortfalls. Then there’s $200 million due the state’s Patient Compensation Fund, which the former Governor, Jim Doyle, illegally used to offset the general fund. The circuit court has yet to give a date and final amount, which will include interest, to replenish the Patient account. Those added to the so-called surplus gives the state an approximate $340 million dollar deficit.

Governor Walker now wants to tackle this deficit by asking for concessions from the union workers by asking them to pay up to 12% for pensions and health benefits (8% net pay reduction). Walker wants to limit collective bargaining. By this he wants them limited to wages, capping them at the consumer price index, and taking benefits and rules off the table. He wants annual recertification by majority vote of ALL members, not just a majority of those casting ballots. Walker wants to stop the mandatory deduction of union dues from a union employee’s paycheck and he wants to give employees the option to quit the union without losing their job.

From what I’ve read, there isn’t anyone who thinks the pension/health benefit contribution is out of line. It seems to be the collective bargaining that’s the issue. Some say capping the bargaining at wages renders unions worthless because it doesn’t permit them to bargain for hours, shifts or working conditions. Now, one could argue that with all our laws, we don’t need a union to bargain for working conditions, that we have plenty of laws (wage & hour, equal opportunity, discrimination, etc.) to protect us, and that’s true. But maybe Walker felt that police officers and firefighters should still be able to collectively bargain, after all, they’re EXEMPT from this bill, and let’s face it, they do have the worst hours and the most dangerous working conditions of all the public employees. However, Walker said this was an issue of fiscal security, so why aren't ALL public workers included? Another question then, is, how important is collective bargaining? Do employees really NEED it and are states that ban collective bargaining better off or worse than states that permit it?

Here is an interactive map of the United States and it will show you that 11 permit collective bargaining, 5 prohibit it, and 35 have mandatory collective bargaining. This interactive map rates each state on issues like infrastructure, people and economics, resulting in a grade. If collective bargaining were a huge factor in how WELL a state performed, then, according to the Right’s theory, those states that prohibit collective bargaining would out-perform those states that require it, however, that’s not what the data proves. That tells us unions aren’t as defeating as some on the Right would like us to believe, and the data also tells us that unions aren’t the Great Deliverer for the little guy as some on the Left would like us to believe. There are too many factors. Unions alone can’t fix everything—look at New Hampshire, a mandated collective bargaining state, which has a D+ rating, then go to Washington, also a mandated state, it has an A- rating.

We Americans need to get on the same page and put ideologies aside because Wisconsin is tethering with many other states soon to follow. People are angry, and rightly so. They’ve been lied to by the very people who told them their futures were safe and secure only to find out the parachute won’t open, and even if it does, it’s full of holes. The problem isn’t the teacher, the police officer or even the private sector accountant or beautician. There's a whole lot of blame to go around here, but we certainly can't blame people for wanting to make a living and for believing those who told them they could and would.

I understand that unions are important to the Democrats. Unions donate large sums of money to the Democratic Party. What I don’t understand is how the unions and politicians can lie and deceive us time and time again, pitting us against one another. As Americans it’s time for us to come together. It’s not public vs. private employee, as they would have us believe. It’s us vs. them.

While we, private and public Americans, have been working and feeding our families, they’ve been hiding the truth and making promises they KNEW they couldn’t keep, all for political gain. They knew one day the truth would come out, but they wouldn’t be in office or in charge of the unions when that day came, therefore they didn’t care.

Well, the day of reckoning is HERE and it’s time to pay the piper, in more ways than one. Our officials need to stop lying and do the right thing, even if it means telling us something we might not want to hear. The truth isn’t always pleasant, but it sure beats finding out you’ve been lied to, because at least then we can try to rectify the problem before it's too big to fix.

And I can't say it enough, our media needs to do the right thing too! Stop cow-towing to political parties and start reporting the facts, regardless of what they are.

We don't ask for much from our media, but it seems we get even less.

Picture Compliments of: Worth 1000 by pcysmith


  1. Pamela, Well done! It is indeed a pleasure to have the facts presented rather than hyperbole from the "lame stream" media and the political "left" and "right."

    Thank you for your in depth research and reporting the facts. A special thanks you for reporTing them here on the pages of RN USA.

  2. Les: Thank you. It took me 2 days of research and I really tried to report as UN-biasly as possible, so your compliment means a lot.

  3. Thank you Pam for your research. It seems that the real issue here was a blatant push to weaken the collective bargaining for the workers by the union without an attempt at a negotiate with the parties involved. Pretty much a dictate by the Governor and the Legislature. I am sure that came as a shock and resulted in a general knee jerk reaction from all parties, including all resident tax payers. When Walker suggested that he might use the National Guard I don't think that calmed the situation. Why is he rushing this through? The unions said they would give him what the state needs but of course they aren't about to give up their bargaining power. Changes are happening, but I don't think that this was the best way to solve the issue. Problems need to be dealt with diplomatically especially when so many entities are involved. Walker could win public sentiment if he works this out. Otherwise I feel that this might backfire because it really touches everybody in the state in a negative way.

  4. Excellent post! I am in the midst of doing my own research...more on this as it develops!

  5. I would fire all the teachers that "called in sick" on Friday. (Remember Reagan and the Air Traffic Controllers?) If I were a parent, I would be livid!

    This whole thing stinks of selfishness, petulant childish behavior, and self-absorbed nonsense.

    I saw what I saw on TV. People carrying signs saying/depicting Walker as Hitler. Oh for pete's sake. Wisconsin is in need of cuts, and this is about union control, nothing more.


  6. MADISON, Wis. -- The head of Wisconsin's powerful teachers' union is calling on educators to return to classrooms Monday and Tuesday rather than continue being absent to protest an anti-union bill at the state Capitol.

    Anti-union? This speaks volumes.

  7. Non-biased polls showing throughout the State of Wisconsin that people oppose the Governor's proposal to strangle collective bargaining rights.

  8. Nice job Governor!!!

  9. From one Anon to another:

    Even masses of people can exhibit stupidity. This WI poll shows just that.

  10. In my view teachers walking out in protest equals a wildcat strike.

    From my business perspective it essentially give management the right to replace them because in doing so they effectively violated therms of their collective bargaining agreement.

    Unless of course the agreement allows for walkouts or wildcat strikes, which I am quite sure it doesn't. If it does then shame on the management negotiators.

  11. Having been born in Wisconsin and due to the fact that I love the state I have been following this situation very closely.

    I think here is a very good analysis of the budget situation Wisconsin finds its self in:

    The big issues are:

    Medical Assistance/Senior Care
    General School Aid
    Shared revenue for local government
    Social Service Programs
    Department of Corrections

    Now, Wisconsin got 2.2 Billion in Stimulus money but that is over and now it faces reality just like a lot of states.

    Medicare/Medicad and senior care is costing the state of Wisconsin more than anything.

    Healthcare costs are increasing at an annual rate of 17.9% and we are quickly reaching the point where no one will be able to afford to pay for healthcare. Are we, as a society willing to let healthcare providers turn people away or refuse treatment if they do not have the ability to pay?

    This "financial meltdown/Recession" has dramatically changed our economic system and our ability as a nation to ensure economic growth in the future.

    How much does it cost to educate a student? Wisconsin has a great school system and a great state college system; in fact they both might be one of the best in the nation. But how much do schools do that has nothing to do with education? Can we give up our sports, our extracurrilur programs?

    On one hand we want to be competitive in the future and on the other hand we want to cut the benefits of teachers who we expect to teach our kids...

    Then we have to deal with the fact that the federal government gives money to the states to fund certain things and then states give money to local government to fund certain things.

    Of course the closer you get to the local community the harder it is to raise property taxes, get approval for bonds to fund local government expansion and so on and so forth.

    But now we have to deal with the reality that we cannot do that anymore.

    Then you come to our Prisons....why do we pay so much to put people in prison? Looks to me like law and order is pretty expensive...

    All of these are social issues...we could solve alot of problems with just letting old people die, by not being anti abortion, and by letting children and poor people do without.

    School systems could solve alot of problems if all they had to do was teach reading, writing, math, and science and forget everything else. Do away with school lunches, do away with bus service, do away with sports and extracurricular activities.

    On and on it goes....and that is the problem with the current debate of unions: It really does not deal with the basic issues that our states are dealing with.

    Due to Wall Street, which is basically putting most of its money in foreign countries we have no ability to grow our economy or to be competitive in the future. Due the the mortgage crisis our home values have dropped and that is a big tax base for local governments...home values are not going up anytime soon...if at all.

    Its time for drastic action and a new way of thinking....but union busting and extracting 300 million of teachers and state employees is not going to make much of a different on a 3 billion dollar debt.

  12. A friend of mine, and former co worker who ACTUALLY was in involved in local government had it right I think.

    He always felt that the federal government should deal with defense, federal highway system, federal courts, federal law enforcement and pretty much leave the rest up to the states and local government.

    Of course we know this would result in a huge reduction in taxes going to the feds and require a large increase in state and local taxes to fund the above points.

    Don't know if this would work for sure but his argument was the closer government and finances were to the local communities the more efficient and effective government and services would be.

    Given the reality of our current situation I believe more than ever he had it right. Our federal system has royally screwed it up and it is getting worse.

    Either way it all has to be paid for one way or the other, and the taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

    Or, we can go back to the old American Indian ways. That is when one became so sick the body couldn't repair, or so old they were no longer productive one just left the tribe, sat under a tree somewhere and died with dignity. Thus the burden they placed on society was minimal to non existent.

    TAO is correct , we are broke, the system is broke, and it is time to seriously consider thinking outside the box.

    I suggest starting with the framework the founders gave us, keeping with the basic integrity inherent republican form of government, and then apply the basics to modern realities with boldness, thinking outside the box.

    There are many challenges and dangers today. The greatest danger we face is the potential of complete economic collapse. At the end of the day folks it won't matter whether the democrats, the republicans, or a combination of both are responsible. In the final analysis the responsibility will rest with the American people.

    Our founders, without all the technology, scientific knowledge, and medical wonders of today, were a whole bunch smarter {intelligent and wise} than we are today.

    Now I think I am going to grab a blanket, find a mountain, select a tree, and go sit under it for awhile.

    When I return, and I will, perhaps my perspective will have changed.

    On second thought I doubt it.

  13. Les, we are at the beginning of economic collapse, it was the financial meltdown that marked the beginning.

    One of the fundamental priniples of capitalism is supply and demand...its like a recirclating pump...what is happening now is that the pump is sucking the wealth out of this country to invest in China, India, Russia, and Brazil...

    It is not government per se that will destroy our economy, it is actually Wall Street and globalization/free markets that will do so.

    So you might want to quit reading the Federalist Papers and maybe pick up a copy of Adam Smith The Wealth Of Nations...

  14. Here is another one for you Pam...

  15. TAO - I am aware of the fundamental principals of capitalism and the "law of supply and demand."

    Basically first comes demand and then comes supply. When the demand is there, and American businesses produce and manufacture their product offshore in foreign countries then the generation of in real wealth goes to the foreign countries.

    To create wealth a nation must produce. Our nation has decided to give productive capacity away to foreign lands to secure cheaper labor and be more competitive. The winners, big business. The losers, The American people and NATION.

    in a simplistic nutshell do I have it about right?

    Methinks Ayn Rand had it right when she said, and I paraphrase, the only thing that creates wealth is production. We don't do nearly enough of that anymore in the USA and we are paying the price.


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