Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

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Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FnG] Torgo 3000 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 4:14 am

Several years ago, I promised never to post here again, because I speak a different version of English than most.

I just want to say: Democracy is breaking out again, in a way similar (but different) than in 1989. And this time, there are repercussions in the US, most notably in my own state, Wisconsin.

If it doesn't work this time, we're done. Or at least I am.

I hope you can find a way to help, if you understand my version of English. Otherwise, I guess you can go about your business, and that's that.

Forward!
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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FnG] Hanno » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:31 pm

Too much executive powder?

I have no problem your your English which seems fine but I am confused as to what answer you require?

Why does the Arab Spring (conversion into Democracy) directly affect Wisconsin?
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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Tue Mar 01, 2011 4:03 pm

Torgo, I unfortunately was not around for several years ago. I'm assuming that by "different english" you mean "completely different political views". I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that you're being this vague because you are directly affected by the on-going events in Wisconsin, but aren't supposed to say anything.

So, I'll be blunt and ignore all that to ask a straight-forward question anyway! Do you side with the Wisconsin unions, or do you side with Walker?


Personal Opinion: If Walker's total bill passes, your state is f**ked. Badly. I'm not even talking about the union issues; the bigger problem I see in that bill is the Executive No-Bid Closed Sales clause. Why exactly does your governor need the power to unilaterally sell your power facilities to private companies of his choice, without disclosure, and without any process of state law intervening? Oh, right... because his largest donors are the Koch brothers. Right.

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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FnG] Torgo 3000 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:54 am

I suppose I can't just walk away from a post like that, much as I'd kind of like to ....

Firstly, here's what's to blame for the melodrama of my post. Heh.

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It's a really good wine, by the way. Maybe TOO good. Campo Viejo, a Spanish Rioja. $13.

[FDG]Sundae wrote:Personal Opinion: If Walker's total bill passes, your state is f**ked. Badly. I'm not even talking about the union issues; the bigger problem I see in that bill is the Executive No-Bid Closed Sales clause. Why exactly does your governor need the power to unilaterally sell your power facilities to private companies of his choice, without disclosure, and without any process of state law intervening? Oh, right... because his largest donors are the Koch brothers. Right.


Couldn't have put it more clearly myself (especially last night), and this is why I take mass resistance to same as the breaking out of Democracy in Wisconsin. The relationship to Egypt ...

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The morning I saw that picture was after a day spent in and around the capitol building. The picture brought tears. (Again with the melodrama, sorry.) To think that these people threw off a REAL dictator at a cost of many LIVES, and someone takes the time to make signs to express solidarity with us - it's humbling and awe-inspiring. I read that there were many, many Wisconsin solidarity signs, but mostly they were in Arabic. Heh.

The Madison trip was a great civics lesson for the kids, btw - great way to spend part of their spring break. Despite Faux News' description of thugs in the streets, it was actually a very family-friendly atmosphere. Given that we're Wisconsinites, even the very few teabaggers in the crowd were polite and civil. Strange, but not threatening in any immediate, physical way. The whole thing was an amazing experience for a 9- and a 12-year old. It'll make the difference between them and the next generation of teabaggers.

About the "speaking a different language" thing - chalk that up to considerable frustration on my part back in 2004, seeing the constitution shredded in unprecedented ways with the apparent approval of an official majority of voters. It was all very Orwellian, thus the language ref. We were falling so far off the mark from 2001-8, and to be honest, we're only getting worse since. Better in some respects; but further off the mark on balance. But I digress. After the fiasco of the first 2 years of Obama, too many people stayed home for the 2010 elections. (One of my favorite signs in Madison: "This is what happens when no one votes.") No one expected a spirited response to anything Walker was going to do. The Dems in Madison would have taken their lumps and gone along with it. But when they saw and heard the first protests (literally by looking out the window), they caucused and took the only tactic they had to slow the process down a little. The protests gave some Democrats a spine! It was an amazing thing! And it's only gotten bigger since then. A million people here have woken up. It's an echo of the democracy that's breaking out around the world. It might be our last serious chance, and it's kind of heady (and scary) that one hotspot is right here. In 1989, Eastern Europe threw off the Stalinoids, in the Middle East now it's their delusional dictators, and in the US in 2011, it's the corporations-as-persons constitutional heresy that I hope will be the main focus. Democracy is the common denominator.

I think I made it clear what side I'm on. For the record, I've never been in a union. I do, however, enjoy weekends and the 8-hour work day (when I'm so lucky), and so I owe something back. That, and the Walkerites are coming for nearly everyone, sooner or later. Stopping the existential threat to the last little sliver of the unions that weren't busted already is the best opportunity. "May you live in interesting times."

It was work that got me drinkin', but that's a different matter. Going to go finish that rioja now.
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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FnG] Torgo 3000 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:18 am

Sorry for the double post, but this is too good not to share.

FAUX NEWS CATCHES UNION THUGS PLANTING PALM TREES IN WISCONSIN!!

Clicky here plzkthx.

I'm heading out to pick some coconuts right now!
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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FnG] Hanno » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:27 am

Now I am wiser - I hadn't heard any of this being in the UK , and not noticed anything in the UK papers about it.
I agree with the sentiment that the power of corporations are negatively.
In the UK the goverment sold off the Power (electricity and gas, production and transmission) to private companies about 15 years? ago.
We are now in the situation that these are now mainly owned by overseas corporations, and the competition between the companies are minimal so prices rise at a whim. Pricing has been investigated by our regulators for about the last 3 years but no changes have been made while our goverment seems unwilling to crack down on these companies and their pricing tactics because basically the corporations have too much power, and our goverment is frightened of any backlash.

Whilst agreeing with that - I am generally anti-unions because it seems a lot of the people who run them are as greedy and powermad as the companies they are meant to be against. For instance our traindrivers unions are currently asking for 9% rises for them, if not they will strike.
The current economic climate means most other peoples wages I know have been frozen or kept to minimal 1% rises. So why should unions be asking for outrageous wage claims at this point in time?

Also I'm not sure I am convinced that democracy (at least in its current format) actually works. You vote in politicians on the basis of promises which as soon as they get into power they find they are unable to keep because they didn't have all the figures or all the facts when they made the promises.
Unfortunately democracy is the best choice - the alternatives are not acceptable.
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Anyone who believes they know what's going on is dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.

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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FnG] Torgo 3000 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:04 pm

Yup, I agree. Unions are a human institution, and very imperfect. I don't know of a better alternative, though. Like I said, I've never belonged to one, so I can't claim to be an expert, either.

Democracy might work, as long as people put the time into it. Wisconsin had a governor 100 years ago who said that Democracy doesn't end on election day, it begins on election day. So here, people are trying to influence an issue after the election that an extremist took as a mandate to do all kinds of things. It's still in question how it will work out. Last night Walker delivered his proposals for the next 2 year budget. There's a lot in it, including cutting off a lot of school funding. We're looking at 60-kid classrooms in Milwaukee. Obviously, no one elected him to be a king - there has to be debate on this stuff.

BTW, the US is inspired by the UK as well. Have you heard of UK Uncut? They're trying to get Barclays to pay their fair share of taxes. Some folks all over the US are trying to form a US Uncut organization. Since all these budget issues are really revenue issues, an effort like this is right up our ally. I believe there's a Canada Uncut group as well. All started in the UK.
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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:34 pm

[FnG] Hanno wrote:Whilst agreeing with that - I am generally anti-unions because it seems a lot of the people who run them are as greedy and powermad as the companies they are meant to be against. For instance our traindrivers unions are currently asking for 9% rises for them, if not they will strike.
The current economic climate means most other peoples wages I know have been frozen or kept to minimal 1% rises. So why should unions be asking for outrageous wage claims at this point in time?

Hanno - I can't comment on the UK unions, but I can definitely give you some insight on unions in the USA and why it is (in my view) imperative to support them here whenever possible.

The first thing you have to realize is that unions are literally all we have here in the way of labor power. All 50 of our states use what is called "At Will Employment" laws, which permit companies to fire you for any or no reason, on any or no notice, whatsoever. The only requirement is that they don't fire you for a protected reason (like being black, let's say), but that law is completely neutered by the lack of a reason being needed. "We fired him for no reason at all," is a perfectly valid reason to terminate employment here. On top of that, over 30 states mandate that all costs / burdens of proof for illegal termination fall on the terminated employee, not the company... including the company's costs. AKA, you have to pay the company's costs for defending themselves from your suit.

A common talking point by conservatives in the states is to say "well, if your job is treating you badly, you can just go somewhere else," but this is decidedly untrue for the majority of people. Let's think about the things you guys have in the UK that we don't have here in the states.

  1. Universal health care(yes, I know you folks like to complain about the NHS, but basically every statistic except terminal cancer is better in your system than the USA's system at the median levels). We have nothing here, and we have the highest health care costs in the world by nearly double the next person. We are reliant on highly unaffordable private insurance, or on employer-provided/subsidized insurance. Leave your employer, and you run a huge risk of catastrophic health care costs. In the USA in 2009, over 60% of bankruptcy cases were for medical bills (CNN story). Of those medical bill cases, over 70% had health insurance. Even our health insurance doesn't cover our health costs. The only chance you have is usually with employer-provided insurance, because they cannot drop you unless you leave the company. First time you rack up a significant bill, you can expect to be dropped from coverage in the states if there's any chance of pulling it off at all.

  2. Proper Unemployment / Welfare. — Yes, people love to whine about welfare queens (which either don't exist or exist in such TINY numbers as to be not worth caring about here), but frankly the system sucks. You're only eligible for unemployment if you are laid off from your job. Not fired. Not quit. Only if your company pulls massive layoffs, basically. The no-reason firing from earlier means you aren't eligible for unemployment compensation. Welfare isn't available to the vast, vast majority of people. The conditions under which you can get on welfare are very strict. You effectively need to either be living below the poverty line (determined federally usually, though some states set their own, and very VERY low), or be a single mother with children. There is some hyperbole in that sentence, but not as much as I wish there was.

  3. Vacation days, maternity leave, sick days, etc. — The United States mandates no vacation days in law. Zero. They mandate no holidays in law. Zero. They mandate no paid maternity leave. Again, zero. They mandate no paid or unpaid sick days. The median worker in the USA in 2000 received 8.1 vacation days. The USA mandates three weeks (IIRC) of unpaid maternity leave, but this only applies to companies over a certain threshold. I think it was 1,000 employees, but that's a guess really. It didn't apply to over 75% of businesses in the US. The vast majority of people are not covered by any maternity leave. When are you going to go do this magical job search when you have no vacation days, sick days, etc? Every day you spend job-hunting (if you're even permitted a day off) is a day you're not getting paid for most people. Plenty of people don't even get the option to take a day off without pay. They miss a scheduled day, they get fired. Fired = no unemployment compensation = you hope you don't starve / lose your house / get evicted from your apartment / get the heat turned off on you because you missed a heating bill mid-winter.

  4. No unpaid pensions. — Retirement in the USA is between Social Security and 401(k) / IRA retirement investment portfolios. Social Security, if it continues to exist (it won't in any reasonable sense as long as we keep stealing its funds / cutting payments to it), is only supposed to keep you from having to eat cat-food, and the age for being eligible to receive payments is going up to 70 soon. Your company usually kicks you to the curb at 65 here, by the way. As demonstrated in the recent crash, you cannot count on an IRA or investments to hold up as a retirement plan on its own... but that's all you have here. Some groups of people managed to push for pensions, which brings me to the next point...

UNION PENSIONS:
In the USA, most private-industry unions and almost ALL public-sector unions have foregone raise beyond cost-of-living in their negotiations for over a decade, and in some fields much longer. The trade-off has been continued funding of pensions and health insurance. These are contractually agreed-on with the company owners. This isn't "oh look the unions get great pay and pensions too!", but rather "their companies agreed to pay pensions, and now want to shirk on their responsibilities and blame it on the unions."

UNIONS VS REGULAR PEOPLE:
People love to point at unions in the states and say "HEY LOOK HOW MUCH THEY GET! THEY SHOULDN'T GET THAT IF YOU DON'T GET IT YOURSELVES!" This is entirely intended to break down support for unions, which are all we have to prevent us from being back in laissez-faire craphole working lives again here. It's dividing the general population, who should really be asking "wait a minute... why haven't our raises beaten inflation since 1975?" or "Why exactly do I *not* get what those Union guys get? I'm joining their f____ing union and supporting them too!"

It's a race to the bottom. Don't ask why the Unions aren't sacrificing. Ask why your company's entire payroll fits into a tiny percentage of your revenue. (I make 2.4 seconds of company revenue monthly, by the way. My entire company's payroll + benefits is paid in two months of revenue, and we have 75,000 employees. My fiancee makes less per month than the product she makes several times per day sells for.) Ask why your CEO makes 600 times your salary and has 40 times your salary as his severance package. My company's second-to-last CEO had a $275M severance agreement.

There's plenty of room to cut. At the top, I mean. There is no reason that the USA's population needs to accept anything less, because when you account for what we don't have in life-benefits, we already have less than the vast, vast majority of first world nations. (Remember: No health care, no vacations, no sick days, no maternity leave, no retirement pensions [anymore]. All we have are our salaries and whatever we can join together in a union to force our employers to give us.)


[EDIT: added some coding to make it less TL;DR –Kril]
Last edited by [FDG]Sundae on Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Breaking my promise ....

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:42 pm

Also I'm not sure I am convinced that democracy (at least in its current format) actually works. You vote in politicians on the basis of promises which as soon as they get into power they find they are unable to keep because they didn't have all the figures or all the facts when they made the promises.


Sorry to double-post, but I wanted to address this separately since it's a different topic.

Perhaps that's how it is in the UK, but it isn't even that nice over here. I've fixed it below:

ou vote in politicians on the basis of promises which as soon as they get into power they will ignore, because their only loyalty is to the companies who finance their campaigns and donate to them in excess of what they even need to campaign, thus effectively being a legal bribe. They only made those promises to you so that you would vote for them. Their loyalty was never to you in the first place.


The Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court established corporations as persons for the purposes of free speech, which permits them to support any political cause they want in the same fashion as a normal person would. Normal people are permitted to donate to candidates in the states to try to help them get elected, since private funds can be used for election campaigns here. The result is that corporations, who have nearly bottomless pockets compared to a normal person, can give ENORMOUS sums of money to politicians, often on both sides of the aisle, to sway them to support their views. If they don't support those views, they know damned well that the companies won't fund them next year, and by "fund" I mean give them huge amounts of money beyond anything they actually need. My company spent over a billion dollars in the 2008 election on supporting candidates. They supported both republicans and democrats, and both Obama and McCain, in excess of what they actually needed. They both got lovely bribes to support pharma... and Obama did just that when he passed that awful, terrible healthcare bill. It's a handout to two of his largest donors - insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FnG] Hanno » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:30 pm

Sundae.

I can't disagree with a thing you say except for the fact that the UK is moving more towards the negative aspects of America
and a lot of the social benefits you mention are being eroded with time.

By the time I retire in another 30 years time retirement will be at 70 and I don't expect to get a state pension ( or not one worth more than pennies)
They are already looking at ways to privatise the NHS which may ultimately mean the free at point of use may be eroded.
Our welfare laws are pretty fantastic compared to what you have but the majority are mandated more by Europe rather than our goverment.

I don't deny we still have it better but I would much prefer America moves towards us rather than us towards America.
And politician get bought which ever side of the sea they are on - they just try not to get caught over here ;-) whilst in America its flaunted.

There is still a huge imbalance between what some people are paid and what they actually are earning.
The Royal bank of Scotland which was bought out by the UK goverment (so is owned by tax payers in effect) made a £1billion loss this
year, but we still paid the Chief excutive a bonus of 1million ON TOP of his salary. Hey have a huge bonus for FAILING.
On the other end you get people who are getting the thin end of the wedge for working 50 hours weeks in awful conditions.
Yes the unions need to be there to counter some of the worse situations but but here they seem at least from my perspective to do more harm than good,
maybe thats because we are better protected with labour laws to start with, so some of there demands sound unreasonable.
And The knock on effects from strikes tend to give the unions more bad press than anything.
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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:38 pm

I'd rather we all move toward Norway, frankly. :lol:

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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FnG] 7uh » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:14 am

I'm spending too much time on Facebook - I keep wanting to "like" these posts. :wink:

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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FnG] Hanno » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:14 pm

[FDG]Sundae wrote:I'd rather we all move toward Norway, frankly. :lol:



Lol I actually was thinking about this later after I made my post.
All of this stuff is relative, its who you compare yourself to that matters.

In the UK we tend to look in Envy at the Scandinavian countries for Health/schooling and welfare.
But France get the longest statutuatry holidays I think.
We never compare ourselves to America but maybe we should it might make us feel better about our country.
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Anyone who believes they know what's going on is dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.

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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:31 pm

I'd say to use us as an example of what NOT to turn into.

I'd also like to say "Like father, like son", but frankly your other kid (Australia) turned out way better than us. :lol:

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Re: Breaking my promise — Wisconsin legislative crisis

Postby [FDG]Sundae » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:53 am

Sorry, Torgo. I just saw the vote results. Funny how it was absolutely necessary (according to Governor A**hole) to kill collective bargaining for budgetary purposes, and yet they went and voted to redefine it as "non-budgetary" just so they could kill it when the Democrats blocked quorum.

For anyone watching from out of the country, the Wisconsin republicans just voted to ban collective bargaining (as well as striking) for all public workers (teachers included), except for the two unions who voted for Walker in the election. They also did it in a fashion that should be completely illegal.

Hate to say it, but Torgo, I'm hoping for some really nasty riots from you Wisconsonians right now. If they're going to ruin your lives, I hope someone there is willing to do it right back. Do us proud. :)


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