What will be the lasting impact of the Wisconsin union standoff?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bid to strip most public employees of most collective bargaining rights is moving forward. Today’s Question: What will be the lasting impact of the Wisconsin union standoff?

  • andrew

    my hope is that the energy from the protests is transferred to recall elections and the 2012 election cycle…. i forecast a democratic win,

  • Heather

    I think unfortunately this is the beginning of the end for worker’s rights. In this day and age we should be making giant leaps and bounds in areas like workers rights, instead we are taking giant steps back. Politicians claim they are trying to help stimulate the economy and jump start this country, but we are moving closer to a depression state, one we will be unlikely to come out of unscathed.

  • clark

    The public employee unions are nothing more then fiscal terrorist. 95% of their political donations go to democrats. This legislation will free taxpayers from this burdon. Hiring and employing people you can”t afford to pay is not good policy for either public or private enterprise. Last I read, based on total employment in the state, the number of workers belonging to unions was a small minority of the total workforce. Therefore ,all the screaming and yelling by the unions is nothing more then the minority trying to push their agenda on the majority.

    Hopefully the MAJORITY will win the day in both Wisconsin and other states. Democrats are toast!

  • Duane

    I don’t see much lasting impact. The media coverage has given this protest more exposure than warrented. The political strength of the unions comes from the political donations they are able to generate not the numbers. Since the unions do not represent the majority of the people in the state, I see calmer heads bringing together both sides in a satisfactory solution.

  • Rich

    The distractions from stagnant wages, putting the women to work and hocking the house, are used up now. If nothing changes, at some point a real populist – not a mere celebrity – is going to combine nativism and resentment of the rich into a witch’s brew of voter fury and Congressional terror. So, filthy rich, don’t say you were not warned when the truth hits the fan. People have no idea how skewed the wealth distribution has become. Moreover, they believe that the more equal distribution they imagine to be the case, is itself not equal enough.

  • Garyf

    That, when Democrats lose enough seats in an election to be out of the majority, just won’t show up.

  • garyf


    And yes, the national mainstream media will not give stories like this any major time. Now, if it were a tea partier doing it, CNN/MSNBC/NPR would be all over it.

  • John O.

    The events that have taken place in Wisconsin transcend the simpleton’s view of labor versus business or Democrat versus Republican.

    My elderly parents still live in the house where I was raised in central Wisconsin. It is still a place where everybody knows everybody else. They still visit the local coffee shop on a daily basis, volunteer several days a week at a local food shelf, go out for a Friday night fish fry and go to church on Sunday morning. They don’t post inflammatory, denigrating or malicious comments under an anonymous pseudonym on the local newspaper’s website or tweet. They do it old school: it’s debated in the coffee shop, the barber shop and, yes, after church. It’s done face-to-face.

    Friendships that have extended (in some cases) generations are now being severely tested. The debate has even torn families apart that my parents and I have known for decades.

    The common denominator in all of this is fear. Fear of lost jobs. Fear of losing a lifetime of savings and a home. Fear of broken relationships with family and friends. Fear for their kids’ future, recognizing that the status quo will never be status quo again.

    Even in these few comments already, you see neighbors equated to “terrorists.” The politicians on both sides are reveling in the turmoil for their own self-centered reasons. BOTH SIDES have turned this into a game to benefit themselves and their respective allies. There will be no winners when this ends–only losers.

    Clearly, changes are necessary. But once the circus ends and the nationally-known speakers have moved on to their next media opportunity, all that will be left are the people of Wisconsin trying to put the pieces back together.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The Wisconsin Gang Of Plutocrats has clearly overreached on this issue. The American political pendulum has been swinging rightward for 30 years, and it’s gone so far right that the clearly centrist Obama adminstration could be painted as “socialist.” At some point, the pendulum will begin swinging the other way. When it does, those who have been pushing it to the right will have to watch it swing just as far if not farther to the left, as the liberals get behind it an push just as hard as the conservatives have been. As long as we continue to think of politics as a win-lose fight, instead of a process of rational, respectful negotiation over what makes for the common good, the pendulum will never stop in the sensible center.

  • Shirlene

    Apart from the long term issues related to collective bargaining, I would like to see an analysis of how much this has cost the state of Wisconsin so far. For example I wonder if the governor spent more money then he thinks he wills have. I suppose there is the future costs of law suits also. Just a thought. I am pretty sure most people don’t spend $20 to save $10 but then of course they are actually trying to save money. That is the real goal. In Wisconsin if that was the real goal he would have stopped and negotiated rather than continue to pay the cost for overtime for the police and to risk the costs of lawsuits.

  • Rosemary Schwedes

    I fear that the Wisconsin protest will soon be seen as one more step in America’s decline into the plutocracy first established in the Gilded Age and banished only temporarily by the Great Depression, World War II and the New Deal.

  • steve

    i think the legislature will find a solution somehow someway!

  • Sue de Nim

    Plutocrats calling unions greedy is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  • greg in roseville

    An angry Novermber voter heat. wave.

  • Greg

    a group of people can band together and form an enterprise that protects them in their dealings with other individuals, groups, parites – it is called a corporation and the USSupreme Court has – under conservative guile – given it – and specifically it operators – more effective protectionss than a citizen. ………………. Now we are to believe that when citizens band together – as a talented workforce – to protect themselves in their dealings with individuals, groups and parties – it is illegal. ………….

  • Bruce

    I fear this is the tip of the iceburg. Workers rights will be compromised for both the public and private sector in America, it has already started. The middle class will be subjected to second class citizenship for years to come. I do hope I am wrong.

  • Tony

    I guess I don’t understand the thinking that says “if we ram this through and eliminate all these collective bargaining rights then nothing will go wrong.”

    How does it make sense to rile up so much anger?

    When did working together stop being the goal?

    Why do Republicans insist on crushing their perceived enemies no matter the cost?

    It seems like nationally, over the last number of years, Republicans have been becoming increasingly more belligerent.

    I don’t understant why. It’s like watching a naughty kid who just won’t stop. At some point there are natural consequences.

    The question that remains, as with the naughty kid, will be “Did you take away the appropriate lesson, or are you going to increase your belligerence?”

  • Jay

    There will be a further erosion of Constitutional rights, as in Michigan where the legislature has approved dismissing duly elected officials and the sale of public assets without the public having a say.

    What will be next? Limits on free speech and the press? The republicans have already dismissed as “radical” the notion that people have the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

  • Philip

    I find it interesting all the ranting for several recalls and how the will of the people was trampled on. Uh, did I miss something? Weren’t these Republicans the same politicians that the people voted into office? It would seem that the will of the people has indeed been followed, whether SOME of “the people” like it or not.

  • Terry

    The major outcome will be more media coverage of disintegrating celebrities like Charlie Sheen, rather than dealing with hard to cover issues like the elimination of basic human rights. God help us all!

  • Martha

    I taught in Wisconsin for ten years. During that time, I dealt with a shrinking classroom budget, shrinking or frozen pay, increased poverty and other socio-economic factors in my students, increased work and responsibilities for no increase in pay, and increased vituperative statements by the school board, local media, parents, and politicians who speak as if all teachers are born evil and should be called out as such. When the local newspaper is quite literally calling you and your students names, it’s time to go. I miss many of the people, including my students. I don’t miss the job.

    This was before the current legislation. I can only see that things will get worse. It’s unfortunate, as it’s the kids who will suffer, which means that in the long run, all of us will suffer.

    There are many things that one can deal with as a teacher and that one assumes will need to be be dealt with. Times are rough. Budgets are tight. Expectations are high. This I understand. Verbal abuse, however, is unnecessary. In theory, we are all on the same team – we want our kids to have it better than we did. Beating down some of the very people who are working hard to get kids to that point is at best counterproductive and at worst harmful.

    We should be civil in our disagreements, and work for compromise. I can’t tell you how often I hear someone, someone I know personally, complaining about teachers. I am tired of the bashing of the profession, especially from the ignorant. I am tired of the lies and misinformation.

    Teachers, especially the good ones, will simply leave the state or leave the profession. That’s what I did. All we hear is how awful the schools are, how horrid and greedy teachers are, how we’re failures. Why should we stay?

  • Marcus

    Walker is picking up where McCarthy left off: The total annihilation of the organized labor movement. Milwaukee business wants slave labor but cannot get it until they first get rid of worker’s rights. Wisconsin will become the next China.

  • Jim G

    This is very frustrating! The urge to rant is almost irresistible. My rant will be short. I believe that unions are the savior of the American worker. They are not evil. When the flood comes to Minnesota in the next month, public union workers will be out in force protecting private property. In the wake of the flood, private businesses and companies will endeavor to make a profit from the misery left behind. American capitalism is broken and it won’t work again until we fight off this fever of conservatism.

  • David Rogde

    The lasting impact is the consolidation of power for the wealthy elites. The top .5% of Americans have amassed the lions share of the economic wealth and political power in the so called “free world.” One vote does not equal one political donation.

  • Mark

    The lasting impact will be the recall of a number of legislators. If the law remains in place, it will probably result in the recall of Walker on his one year anniversary.

    In the mean time, I have canceled the trip I planned to Wisconsin for next summer. I will not purchase anything I know is from there and will discourage others as well.

    To twist Walker’s words, Wisconsin is closed for my business.

  • Steve

    The events in Wisconsin these past few weeks have shown both what democracy in action looks like and what a major power-grab looks like. The way Governor, (I use that term loosely) Walker has acted is disgraceful! He claims he tried to work with the Democrats’, he claims he tried to negotiated, he claims he was not trying to destroy the union. All of these of course are lies. He knew exactly what he wanted and what he was going to do. Case in point, the bill that was rammed through under the cover of darkness had the financial parts stripped out of it, therefore had nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with meeting his objective of crushing the unions. He acted like the big bad bully on the playground shaking down kids for their lunch money, all the while saying, “You can’t touch me, I have all the power now and you have to do everything I say!” Beware Walker, for the people who voted you into office, (and no you did not share your plans for the unions, during the campaign) are the same people who can vote you out of office through a recall, (which I sincerely hope will happen). My question would be what else did Walker leave out of his campaign that he plans to do? I know Walker doesn’t care what people think, he doesn’t care what the polls say, he just plain doesn’t care. Well Sir, you were elected by the people – all the people, not just the rich who contribute to your campaign. RECALL, RECALL, RECALL, that will show you what real power looks like! The lasting impact? A wider gap between the wealthy and the working middle class.

  • Chris

    I am glad it happened in WI because we can see if it works or not. I think MN is in a great position to watch from a distance.

    MN state workers already contribute 5% to their retirement and pay a large percentage of their health care so that part will be similar to WI’s new plan (and it seems to work) but to my knowledge MN still can unionize. So, lets wait and see if WI starts having a greater rich/poor divide or if they have better growth because of this.

    It’s a good case study.

    If you want my opinion..I have my doubts that this will benefit anyone but rich people, much like all of our policies (dem and repub).

  • Matthew Torgerson

    As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. The elimination of any counter-weight to the corporate oligarchy will result in lower pay, less desirable benefits, and poorer working conditions not just for government employees but private sector employees as well. Walker and his supporters are perseverating over this notion that government workers are the “haves” and the private sector employees are the “have nots.” When we compare comparable jobs, that’s not true. For instance, how much does a chief financial officer of a medium to large-sized corporation make in comparison to finance directors of public agencies that employee equal number of people? Otherwise, most studies I’ve seen include data of, say, a prosecutor’s salary and that of a clerk at 7-11 — most government jobs require four-year degrees and, in many cases, advance degrees. But even assuming for the sake of argument that government employees receive higher compensation than private sector employees, so what? Why should the modern corporation be afforded a presumption of correctness when it comes to treatment of employees? Are you kidding? There once was a time when corporations operated by an ethical decision making model that identified employees, customers, and shareholders as stakeholders, and decisions were made accordingly, Today, sadly, the only stakeholders who matter iare the corporate officers, board directors, and shareholders. That’s largely attributable to the ongoing elimination of the aforementioned counter-weight. In other words, today’s corporations don’t do what they should do. They do what they can get away with doing. As we’ve seen over the past decade with outsourcing of jobs, mass layoffs based on pretext, etc…, today’s corporations are equivalent to locusts, moving field to field and destroying everything in their way. All for the sake of the bottom line. There is no patriotic component to the corporate model — driven by Ayn Rand’s “ethical egoism.” Do whatever is in the best interest of self. From TARP (Wall Street Bailout), to an effective regressive tax system, our country is being destroyed slowly not by any threat outside our borders. We are being destroyed from within, by a cancer called plutocracy, corporatism, or whatever else describes the tumor that is being nurtured by purposefully ignorant masses — “tea party,” “neoconservatives” — who carry water for the people who are drowning them. We are being destroyed by a form of corporate communism that is based on greed, irresponsibility, lack of accountability, and pure selfishness. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation.

  • Brian D

    Let’s be clear about this: What Walker is doing has nothing to do with budgets (that’s the excuse) and everything to do with power. The unions have already offered to make concessions. What Walker and Republicans want to do is to destroy unions and to eliminate the funds that they can contribute to political campaigns.

    From The New Yorker: “Of the five biggest non-party organizational contributors to political campaigns in 2008, the top two were unions, both of them pro-Democratic and both composed partly or wholly of public-sector workers. The other three were pro-Republican business groups or PACS. In 2010, after the Supreme Court threw open the cash sluices in the Citizens United Case, only one union made it into the top five, and it came in fifth.

    The unions are using a lot of the money that could go to 2012 just fighting back to defend union employees.

    The Republicans continue with their strategy of divide and conquer: vilify and demonize certain groups (public-school teachers and administrators, public-employee unions, gays, Muslims, etc.), generate hatred and division, turn that hatred into a political force and use it, along with huge amounts of money, to win elections. And then claim they’re doing this for America. Amazing!

  • Matthew

    I’d also like to add that the news media has allowed this to happen. Whether at the local or national level, news agencies are preoccupied with delivering “balanced” news — the split screen with two opposing viewpoints is but a metaphor of the entirety of news reporting. It doesn’t matter how extreme or outrageous one particular position is, the news media will do whatever is necessary to water that position down and depict it with great caution. It instantly lends credibility to what should be summarily rejected. Adolph Hitler and his positions would be accepted by a shocking number of modern American citizens if delivered by today’s news media. We no longer receive cold hard facts — be it facts of a proposal or historical facts as to enable us to compare a proposal to prevailing historical norms. This anti-union issue is one example. Another example is the purported “budget crisis.” The news media reports as fact that the country has a spending problem, when in fact we have a revenue problem, if we accept historical facts. Consider the highest marginal tax rate of 35%. Then compare it to the highest rates maintained by Eisenhower (91%), Nixon (77%), and even Reagan (50%). Yet the news reports we have a “big government spending” issue. B.S.!!!! The media is culpable when it comes to Wisconsin. Bad reporting has allowed it to happen.

  • JD

    The lasting impact?

    1) A shored up budget shortfall in WI.

    2) The continued decline of union influence in both public and private spheres, and good riddance. Great teachers should be paid more than sh_itty ones with seniority, people!

    3) More bromides from real “common-folk” like Michael Moore and posters like Steve the Cynic decrying the “plotocratic” coup de tat, blah blah blah…. Just face it, you gliberals have lost the argument here.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I was wondering how long it would take before some right-wing spin-meister would try to belittle my warnings about plutocracy. That must mean it’s hitting the mark, JD, or else you wouldn’t have bothered to try to deflect it. I take that as a compliment.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Plutocracy, from the Greek, ploutos (“wealth”) + kratos (“power” or “might”), is government by the golden rule– those with the gold make the rules.

  • gabrielle Bliss

    If the republicans have their way and nothing changes, I see the demise of the middle class. A return to 150 years ago where a few own everything, there is no longer a middle class so the whole economy will change, we will return to mansions and poor houses with nothing in between. It’s so painful to see the majority attaching each other for a few crumbs. I hope working people will catch on before this happens and stop attacking each other.

  • Sue de Nim

    Recent events in Wisconsin demonstrate that the GOP has lost its soul. They give lip service to “social” issues like banning abortion and preventing gay marriage, while pressing for economic policies that cause actual social harm to real people. The Jesus that many of them claim to follow criticized the Pharisees for straining out gnats and swallowing camels (Matthew 23:23-24), which is an apt metaphor for Republicans today.

    Abraham Lincoln would not recognize today’s Republican party. The main argument against abolishing slavery was that it would violate the property rights of slave owners and be bad for the economy– an argument that would resonate with today’s cheap-labor conservatives.

  • JD

    Geez Sue. Hyperbolic much? The duly elected governor and legislature of WI want to act responsibly and shore up their budgets in part by putting an end to the scam which is collective bargaining in the public sector—and somehow the GOP is pro-slavery?

    Funny that when President Obama decided to weigh in on this state issue, no one inquired why his federal public employees aren’t being granted collective bargaining rights, you know because it’s such a great idea? How bout the military too? All Gov.Walker did was bring the WI public sector more in line with that of the federal government, and that’s a good thing.

  • JD

    @Steve the Cynic: Me? A right wing spin-meister? Hardly. Just trying to call it like I see it, and you can take it however you want as far as I’m concerned.

    Just know that it’s not that your comments about plutocracy struck a nerve with me, it’s that they’re just so damned predictable and cliche. Not to mention hypocritical, considering the amount of money that comes in from left-leaning financiers each election cycle (like public employee unions.)

    Those on the left claim to stand up for the “little guy,” kind of an insulting thing to say, but whatever. Folks like me stand up for the smallest minority there is: the individual. The individual who works harder should be paid more, like a great teacher. But the unions protect the status quo, and the status quo means more bad teachers get protected, more children fall by the wayside, and more budgets in the red. What we’re witnessing in WI is the inevitable backlash against the status quo.

  • Jamie

    // …BOTH SIDES have turned this into a game to benefit themselves and their respective allies. There will be no winners when this ends–only losers. //

    That is so not true. Democrats and other pro-union people have been fighting to keep the plutocrats from taking even more from us than they already have. It’s no game. It’s about whether or not we continue to have a middle class.

    // The common denominator in all of this is fear. Fear of lost jobs. Fear of losing a lifetime of savings and a home. Fear of broken relationships with family and friends. Fear for their kids’ future… //

    That’s very true, and Republicans are very good at manipulating that fear to their advantage, especially since they get so much money from the likes of the Kochs and the rest of the radical conservative movement. They have managed to pit workers against workers when the real “enemies” here are rich fat cats and their apologists and sychophants.

    I hope we can sustain the Madison energy into 2012.

  • Steve the Cynic

    JD, you’re not calling it like you see it. You’re echoing Republican talking points. (I used to do that, too.) You might try thinking for yourself once in a while.

    I agree that radical socialism is a terrible idea, but so is radical individualism. Standing up for “the individual” is fine, but if taken too far, it results in pitting everyone against everyone else. Shouldn’t a group of individuals have a right to cooperate for their common good, if they so choose? That’s all all a union is. It’s every bit as legitimate as the American revolutionaries banding together to fight off King George and more or less forcing those who didn’t want to join the effort to flee to Canada.

    And about that political spending– ever since the abominable Citizents United decision, independent expenditures by plutocrats have swamped union money.

  • Sue de Nim

    @JD, I don’t think it’s hyperbolic at all. “It would be bad for the economy” is the reason we’re told we can’t do anything about greenhouse gasses, can’t break our addiction to fossil fuels, can’t raise taxes on the richest among us, can’t allow collective bargaining, can’t sensibly regulate investment banks and other big businesses, etc., etc., It’s exactly the same reason conservatives in 1860 were saying slavery shouldn’t be ablolished. (Republicans were thought of as “liberal” in those days.) No, there’s no hyperbole in that.

  • Kevin VC

    Its is clear to me that the battle in Wisconsin is not over. If the people realize what happened then they will remove their leaders.

    Another bit of news coming out is Gov Walker during his run when interviewed by the teachers unions and others actually said he had no intention of removing or altering the option to collectively bargain. Its interesting what was recorded for that interview.

    Anyone who thinks he is working on a mandate, then its a mandate with a lie.

    The recall vote must go forward under these conditions and I suspect the legal point of lack of 24 hour notice for the vote must be challenged.

    Funny that this was included as part of the needed financial needs of the state to negotiate a better price against Teachers livable wage, yet all financial matters needed to be removed in order to vote without a quorum, which even still needs 24 hour notice before proceeding.

    Also this entire mess of money is made up by the Governor Walker within the first 4 days of being a governor by giving away to the rich the money they are suddenly short as a gift to his buddies the rich.

    Its all kinda sad to see what happened there.

    “The only thing for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”

    At the very least the Wisconsin 14 allowed the nation to realize what kind of stuff is happening if we are too distracted.

    It is never a good day when ‘rights’ are removed from the people.

    Isn’t it hard enough to encourage people to become teachers? Now we see they will be at or bellow min wage with college debt to pay still… Yeah what encouragement…

    (And the claim on pension: Are not the pensions fully started and paid for by the employees in those unions, in other words a RED HERRING argument.)

  • Scott

    I don’t know. How long will we have laws?

  • JD

    @Steve: I do think for myself and I do call it like I see it, thank you very much for the insult though. If my points happen to echo whatever the talking points are on the right at that particular time, so be it. If the topic was abortion rights, gay marriage, or any other topic involving individual liberty, you’d find my tirades echoing left wing sentiment I’m sure. I don’t really care about left vs. right, R vs. D, etc…just right vs. wrong. And the public employee unions are wrong in the case of WI.

    And of course individuals have the right to unionize if they so choose, who is arguing against that? No one is saying they can’t unionize. But public unions should not be granted collective bargaining rights for the very reasons FDR laid out in 1937 (I think you’ll remember that earlier quote I posted.) What’s happening in WI does not directly dissolve the unions, although it may have that effect down the road. The union still exists, but now they have to collect their dues from the members directly, no more withholdings paid directly to the union. And they still maintain limited collective bargaining, which is more than can be said for federal employees.

  • JD

    @ Sue: You are displaying the worst form of ignorance—willful ignorance. You’re probably one of those protestors out there holding a sign comparing Gov. Walker to Hitler, not seeing that as a bit hyperbolic either. Yuck. How can anyone have a sane, rational conversation with someone so willing to dance on the brink of what is appropriate? But let me make an attempt….

    Conservatives have their faults, don’t get me wrong, but they do tend to stand for indivdual liberty more often than liberals. Slavery flies in the face of the notion of individual liberty. It wasn’t conservatism that was arguing against abolition, it was racism. The view that blacks were somehow less than human and consequently didn’t deserve any rights, a view held widely in the South and in wide swaths of the North. And it was the southern Democrats, arguing this “fact,” as well as their notion of state sovereignty to protect their racist and inhumane positions that led to what would eventually erupt into a Civil War. Did they have economic reasons to fear abolition? Yes, of course, but what policy decision, large or small, doesn’t have an economic impact? To claim that taking the economic impact of a decision into account is somehow “evil” is just plain stupid and wrong. I’m sorry.

    The reason we’re told that it’s “bad for the economy” to do all the things you mentioned is because….drumroll….it would be bad for the economy—and the “middle class” that everyone is saying will be destroyed because of WI. The energy policies being floated to curb greenhouse gases would kill the middle class with skyrocketing energy rates. Until there is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, we will continue to be “addicted.” The “rich,” as disgusting as some of them are, pay more than their fair share of taxes—where does this notion that someone else’s money belongs to you come from? I’ve already hit on collective bargaining for public employees, no need to elaborate. You say we “Can’t sensibly regulate investment banks and other big businesses???” Are you kidding? The nuclear energy sector is the only other sector more regulated than the financial sector. It was many of these regulations and “fair-housing” policies, and the govt. sponsored entities created by them, that eventually inflated home prices and brought the market to a crash—-hurting the middle class more than anyone.

    Or maybe I’m being hyperbolic.

  • Sue de Nim

    Yes, JD, you are being hyperbolic. And if you can’t see the obvious similarity between the arguments against slavery and the arguments that seem to carry the day among Republicans today, you’re the one who’s being willfully ignorant. If we can’t do what’s morally right because “it would be bad for the economy,” we’ve made the economy into a god. If I might coin another word, it’s plutolatry.

    Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are the same party today as they were in 1860. A “conservative” is, strictly speaking, someone who is cautious about changing the status quo. In 1860, that described southern Democrats. Abolition, which the Republicans supported, was a liberal idea in those days. Weren’t you paying attention in your high school history class?

  • Sue de Nim

    …the obvious similarity between the arguments against slavery and…”

    I meant to say, “…against the abolition of slavery….”

  • JD


    You’re missing the point. The argument regarding the economic impact of abolition, right or wrong, rested on the false premise that the African was sub-human and no more than a commodity to be bought and sold by their masters. Any argument based on that evil and inexcusable premise is rendered moot. This goes without saying, or so I thought. This wasn’t a conservative vs. liberal argument, just right vs. wrong. Any attempt to paint it as the former is just an attempt at race-baiting hyperbole, and I can’t let that go unchallenged, even if most of the posters here probably agree with you.

    If you separate the argument from that false premise, however, you will see that weighing the economic impact of topic X, whatever it may be, is in fact the responsible and moral thing to do. Not weighing or simply discounting the economic impact of say, expanding home ownership to “under-served” communities, or allowing collective bargaining for public employee unions, or invading foreign countries under false pretenses, is both irresponsible and asinine and exactly the type of thinking that led us down the path to economic disaster we find ourselves in. Both the Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this, and we can’t allow them to continue to spend/borrow as if there’s no tomorrow, and we can’t be afraid to argue the economic impact(s) of policies because some financially illiterate liberal pulls the “slavery card,” (if you’ll allow me to coin a term.)

    It is also worth noting that the status quo under attack in WI is not being challenged by liberals, as you imply via your strict adherance to the terms, but by conservatives and the general electorate who finally recognize that the current status quo is unsustainable, irresponsible and just plain wrong.

    Maybe you paid TOO much attention to your high school history teacher, Sue. You seem to have swallowed the “obvious” answers hook, line and sinker without so much as an attempt at scratching beneath the surface. I would expect no less from an apparent champion of the status quo.

  • Sue de Nim

    JD, you misunderstand me if you think I’m saying economic factors should not be a consideration. What I object to is the way the economy seems to override every other issue. For instance, consider the problem of climate change. Assuming, as I believe, the scientific community is correct in its consensus that global warming is real and largely (though perhaps not entirely) caused by the burning of fossil fuels, we have an enormous moral problem. We here in America have gotten rich by burning of fossil fuels, and we have enough economic resources that we could cope reasonably well with the effects of climate change. However, when sea levels rise, and when glaciers disappear so that major rivers quit running, the people who will be most adversely affected are some of the poorest people in some of the poorest countries in the world. In other words, we rich folks are benefitting at others’ expense, without asking their permission or compensating them, every bit as much as slave owners were in 1860. Now, when we say we can’t move away from coal burning because it would harm our economy, we’re saying our economy is more important than the welfare of everone else in the world, especially the poorest of the poor. (And don’t give me any of that BS about how they should have worked harder generations earlier, so they’d be as rich as we are. There are not enough resources in the world for everyone to live as well as we do, and even what we’re doing is not sustainable.) Morally, what we should do is immediately stop making things worse and begin trying to undo the damage we’ve already caused, even though it would cost us a lot. However, we find it psychologically hard to admit our responsibility (indeed our culpability), so we try to excuse ourselves by giving the denialists more credibility than we should– exactly like the apologists for slavery who argued that blacks were better off being slaves in America than being tribal savages in Africa.

  • Sue de Nim

    Oh, and what the Republicans in Wisconsin have done is not conservative. It’s reactionary.

  • Steve the Cynic

    What’s the practical difference, JD, between outlawing public sector unions and banning collective bargaining by public employees? A union that’s prohibited from doing what unions are for is a union in name only. You’re playing word games when you write, “No one is saying they can’t unionize. But public unions should not be granted collective bargaining rights….”

  • JD

    @ Steve

    Word games, schmurd games….there are currently unions that have NO collective bargaining rights at all (the bill that passed in WI only limits collective bargaining, btw)…there are unions that are legally barred from going on strike….there are entire workforces in this free country that aren’t allowed to organize at all…where’s the outrage in those cases?

    No, there’s something different going on in WI. For one reason or another, the powers that be have decided to draw the line in the sand here and take a stand. I have my suspicions on why, but I’d be speculating.

    Interesting article for your perusal:


  • JD

    Reactionary can be defined as “very conservative.” It can also be defined as one who vehemently defends the status quo, or is opposed to political/social change.

    The status quo in WI would be continued collective bargaining for public employee unions, virtually no public employee contributions to their own pension and health plans, and a continued budget nightmare for the citizens of WI. You and your ilk are the ones defending the status quo in this case, not the conservatives, doesn’t this make you the reactionary in this case?

    And once again, the “slavery card” is completely inappropriate. Nuff said. Liberals always try to race-bait when they’re on the losing side of an argument, ever notice that?

    And one more thing….all these protests and all the vitriol in WI has been in the name of “defending the middle class.” Don’t you see that your doomsday scenario regarding global climate change and the policies instituted to curb it would, for all intents and purposes, KILL the middle class? That’s a hard sell, not just to us capitalists, but to the very folks you claim to be saving. Necessity is the mother of invention, and as humans we have always found a way to survive on this planet despite all its challenges, and quite successfully I might add. I expect no different in the case of climate change.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Word games, schmurd games….”

    Wow, that’s fascinating! Are you really saying words don’t have any stable meaning? When George Orwell wrote 1984, he intended the “newspeak” in the story to be a caricature of left-wing word-twisting, like referring to a communist dictatorship as a “people’s democratic republic.” These days, though, it’s the right-wing that’s confusing people by redefining words, like when they called their attempt at loosening polution regulations the “Clear Skies Initiative,” or when GWB tried to tell us he wanted to “strengthen” Social Security by partially privatizing it, or by calling laws intended to disempower unions “Right to Work.” It’s all in the finest tradition of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

  • Sue de Nim

    JD, I’m not “playing” a “slavery card” as if this were some kind of win/lose game we’re playing. Nor have I been crying “doomsday” over the American middle class. Read what I wrote. By the world’s standards, our “middle class” is filthy rich. As the saying goes, no one is more blind than those who choose not to see. I can’t make you see that the way we Americans have been despoiling the earth’s resources has made us rich at the expense of others, just like slavery did, unless you’re willing to see it. Would it make more sense to you if I called it theft? In either case, it’s unjust, immoral, unethical, and we too easily excuse ourselves by saying we can’t change it because it would be bad for the economy.

  • RB

    There is much to debate regarding Walker’s and others moves to destroy teacher unions – and much of it is disturbing and polarizing. Instead, why aren’t we looking at how we can follow those who have created the most successful educational systems and follow their lead? By the way, unionized schools outperform non-unionized schools in the US and in other countries. Much research has been done on Finland which outperforms peers in 43 other nations – including the United States, Germany and Japan – in mathematics, science and reading skills. Finland is also ranked top in economic competitiveness and reformed its schools 40 years ago.

    Much of Finland’s successful changes contrast sharply to the changes we have and continue to make here. It is almost as if someone is asking, how can we make America’s schools fail. Let’s do the opposite of Finland…..

    Teachers are highly prepared and hold master’s degrees (unlike alternative licsensing and the belief that anyone can be a teacher…..).

    The teachers are highly respected in the community (as opposed to demoralized and referred to in the right wing media as “slobs” and “part-timers”).

    “Investment in people is the best investment” for a country to be competitive is a widely held understanding. So, instead of seeking to privatize education they improved their public education providing budgeting for a free quality education for all.


    Unlike the US, there are no mandatory tests or exams; except for a test in the end of the upper-secondary school . Instead,teachers make their own assessment tests, not quoting numeric grades, but using descriptive feedback, no longer comparing students with one another.

    Trusting the schools and teachers is a common feature in Finnish schools. Schools receive full autonomy in developing the daily delivery of education services unlike NCLB and Race to the Top that seek to tie teachers to student performance and find bad teachers vs focusing on learning.

    Another key was reassuring teachers would not lose employment security and salaries. Unlike in WI and now MN where Republicans are seeking to cut teacher pay and benefits pitting public and private workers in an unnecessary debate that has nothing to do with education our children.

    These are the issues an education debate should be examining….