[This post was co-authored by Lisa Mux and Phil Scarr.  All spelling or grammatical errors belong exclusively to Phil]

We watched agape as Americans for Prosperity held an “It’s Working Wisconsin Town Hall” meeting at the Waukesha Expo center.  And as an added bonus, Lisa got a big hug from Mark Block… It was a magical event!

It was a crisp, bright Saturday morning when eight hundred and fifty Waukesha-area residents gathered under the silver dome of the Waukesha Expo Center to listen to several speakers assembled by the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity.  They were there to gloat over the “success” of the Republican economic and social legislation. To the assembled throng of Scott Walker acolytes, these reforms are “working.” But they didn’t come to talk politics, they said. They came to “separate the rhetoric from the reality.” We were there to bear witness to this alternate version of “reality” firsthand.

As we sat listening to the pre-event conversations going on around us, quietly whispering “Oh my god, did you hear that?” to one another, a young man passed out bumper stickers.  Lisa was shocked to find that her brand new blog business cards were eerily similar (i.e. identical!) to the “God Bless Gov. Scott Walker” bumper stickers we’d just been handed.  It was an eerie foreshadowing of the stranger things yet to come.

2012 01 07 17 47 57 826

We settled into our seats behind a woman wearing an Andy Griffith Show t-shirt who said delightedly that she owns twenty such t-shirts. The black and white visages of Andy & Barney looked back at us appearing somewhat bewildered in this strange brew of libertarians, Tea Partiers and Movement Conservatives.  The room slowly filled as we bopped our heads to tunes from the Beach Boys, The Beatles and Steppenwolf.  Phil began to feel the dissonance resonate behind his eyes as John Lennon belted out his anthem Come Together, rumored to be a political anthem in support of Dr. Timothy Leary’s Presidential bid in 1968.

He wear no shoeshine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free
Come together, right now
Over me

Yes, the AFP crowd was humming along to a John Lennon acid trip song, conveniently forgetting that John Lennon was definitely not one of them.  Around us, fellow attendees agreed with one another with many an “I know, I know”  that the state of our state was dire.  The damage done by the unions and the greedy public sector workers was only barely surmountable and that thank the lord that Scott Walker was there to lead them into the sunlit uplands of prosperity!  We were through the looking glass where Alice was nowhere to be found.  She was hanging out with the Red Queen whom she found eminently more reasonable than any of these folks.

Shortly after 10am, Luke Hilgemann was introduced as the new State Director of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation. Luke served as the Chief of Staff for the Majority Leader of the State Assembly, and helped craft one of the most reactionary legislative agendas in our state’s history, including such gems as Conceal and Carry, Voter ID, and the Castle Doctrine.

Hilgemann said,  “This forum is meant to arm you with the facts, so that you can spread the Good News in your neighborhoods and communities. While we welcome opposing viewpoints, we will adhere to a strict zero tolerance policy for outbursts and interruptions of today’s discussion, and we have several law enforcement officers and personal security to help us do so… Unlike Madison, we can and will have respectful dialogue here today.”  In other words, get out of line, hippie, and it’s the pepper spray for you.

At that point, Lisa wanted to scream into a pillow.

Phil busied himself by focusing on the Reality Distortion Field that was being constructed before our very eyes from “charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement, and persistence.”  And a very, very, very selective use of data.

For instance, we’ve all heard the stories from the right about how the “tools” are working, about how the state managed to avoid thousands of layoffs.  We heard speakers tell us how well the “tools” were working and the state managed to avoid thousands of layoffs.  We saw a video telling us how well the “tools” were working and the state managed to avoid thousands of layoffs.  We heard how this district or that district had saved money or lowered taxes.  But the reality is that, across the state, tax bills are up.  And not by a little, but sometimes by quite a lot.

But we were told how layoffs were avoided because of the “tools.”  The crowd cheered.  The crowd knew that these heroes on the stage were the real friends of the workers!  It was these men who had saved the teacher’s jobs!  And taught them the value of “shared sacrifice” to boot!  Civic virtuousness writ large!

This is what “no layoffs” of public employees looks like in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Government Employment under Scott Walker

We don’t know about you, but if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and falls off a cliff like a duck… I’m willing to bet it’s a duck.  Now whether this duck was achieved with pink slips or intimidation, the economic result is the same.  More people out of work in Wisconsin.  I’m always amazed that Republicans believe that money spent by public sector workers is one color, while money spent by private sector workers is another color.  Last time we looked, there weren’t two kinds of money.  It was all (mostly) green.

“Wisconsin is stronger than ever,” we heard.  But yet there was no mention of the loss of private sector jobs across Wisconsin.  The ongoing hemorrhaging of good paying work was unsurprisingly absent from the lectern.  Where was this chart, for instance?

Job loss

“We’re not here to talk about politics.  Instead, we are here to separate the rhetoric from the reality on what the budget reforms … have done for our state.”

Apparently anything that can be done for the state can be done to the state, and to the citizens.  This brings me to the next linguistic quirk Lisa and we noticed from each and every speaker.  The Expo Center was not filled with citizens, it was filled with taxpayers.  Understand?  This was a room full of victims of greedy unions and public workers, not members of a community.

Citizens versus Taxpayers

Citizens have responsibilities and obligations in a democratic society.

The obligations of citizenship were deeply connected into one’s everyday life in the polis. To be truly human, one had to be an active citizen to the community, which Aristotle famously expressed: “To take no part in the running of the community’s affairs is to be either a beast or a god!” This form of citizenship was based on obligations of citizens towards the community, rather than rights given to the citizens of the community. … Also, citizens of the polis saw obligations to the community as an opportunity to be virtuous, it was a source of honour and respect. In Athens, citizens were both ruler and ruled, important political and judicial offices were rotated and all citizens had the right to speak and vote in the political assembly.

But taxpayers are only obligated and put-upon.  A taxpayer is someone forced to pay a tax.

A tax may be defined as a “pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government […] a payment exacted by legislative authority.”[1] A tax “is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority” and is “any contribution imposed by government […] whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name.”[1]

Being a citizen is an affirmative state, you are a participant in the social contract, but a taxpayer is a victim of the capricious and avaricious state.  The rhetorical use of taxpayer as a replacement for citizen permits conservatives to play the victim, something they have done throughout history to help define themselves.

But I will say this: the sensibility you describe – experiencing or identifying oneself as a victim — is a consistent feature of conservative thought. Regardless of whether the ideologue or camp follower of conservatism sees him or herself as a victim, the idea of victimhood plays a critical part in conservatism. Going back to Burke. Marie Antoinette is the first great victim of the conservative canon. The sovereign who Joseph de Maistre recommends be restored to power once the counterrevolution prevails – someone Maistre describes as being schooled in the ways of adversity, who’s been brought low by fortune and thus learned a thing or two – he’s a victim (and Maistre recommends him to power on the basis of that victimhood). William Graham Sumner’s “forgotten man” is another victim. Nietzsche’s master class, in fact, is a victim. So is Nixon’s silent majority. And so on.

Initially, I thought this was all instrumental and cynical: understanding that the lingua franca of democratic thought is the democratic appeal to the masses, the conservative turns the possessor into the dispossessed. But over time I’ve come to think that the victim is a far more fundamental, and sincere, figure in the conservative canon. Because not only does he appeal to us as a figure of compassion or pity, but he’s also someone who has a very particular claim on us: he demands to be made whole. In other words, he’s a rallying figure, someone whose losses – a country house, a plantation, a factory, a white skin – ought to be recompensed.

What’s more, when you turn your privileged class into a group of victims – not just rhetorically but in reality (the French Revolution really did produces losses among the aristocracy; Emancipation really did divest the master class of privilege and property) – they come to possess an attribute that is universally shared: loss. Their loss is quite different from that of the ordinary run of humanity, but loss is loss. I’ve sometimes wondered whether that might not be the right’s singular bid for universalism: it speaks for the loser everywhere.

But as you say, it speaks for the loser not by democratizing society – making things more equal – but by making it more elite, more privilege, more unequal.

It was an amazing experience to hear these folks talk about how the world was against them and how the greed and spite of the unions was driving the state to wreck and ruin.  How the unions were stealing their money.  In this sense, these folks certainly were not citizens in any way, shape or form.

Naomi Klein Makes an Appearance!

Early on, the audience was told that the forces arrayed against the beleaguered taxpayers told everyone that “the sky would fall” if these budgetary actions were taken.  These false victims of the left were lying.  The sky did not fall.  But they neglected to remind the audience that the entire premise of the “budget repair bill” was based on the belief that… for the lack of a better term… the sky would fall if we didn’t end collective bargaining and crush the public unions.  That “Shock Doctrine” of a faux fiscal crisis was used to justify the actions taken by the Republicans.  It wasn’t the Democrats or the Unions who said the sky would fall, it was the conservatives!

Naomi Klein was right.  The Republicans used the words of disaster capitalism to advance their radical agenda to destroy what makes Wisconsin great, and they then turn aournd and accused their political adversaries of using the rhetoric of disaster when in fact they were the ones who warned of disaster.

They used the Shock Doctrine to impose their radical agenda on the citizens of Wisconsin and then they accuse their opponents of claiming the sky was falling.  Hutzpah, indeed!

Taxes Went Up Not Down!

Contrary to the rhetoric of lower taxes, the facts show that taxes in Wisconsin went up.  Behold, the lie of lower taxes

MADISON—State-local governments collected $25.9 billion in taxes and fees in fiscal year 2011, 5.4% more than in 2010. This year’s tax burden was the highest since 2006, reflecting 2009-10 tax increases and a modest economic recovery. These findings are from a new Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) report, “Postrecession Snapshot: Total Taxes in 2011.” WISTAX is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to public policy research and citizen education.

Where are the Qualified Workers?

Another theme that permeated the discussion of economics was the assertion that many companies can’t find qualified workers.  The claim was made that there are 32,000 unfilled positions for skilled workers that employers cannot find. Why? Because we continue to discount the value of education for our workforce, training and re-training has taken a back seat to unprecedented corporate austerity in training budgets.

A recent survey of Wisconsin businesses conducted by the WMC confirms this problem.  Training dollars for employees have declined in recent years and this may go a long way to explaining why employers are struggling finding qualified people.

WMC Issues

And yet, despite the difficulty of finding qualified applicants, Wisconsin business leaders continue to starve their employees for training.

2012 WMC Training

From a training peak in 2005, training dollars have dropped ever since.

WMC Data on Training as a Percent of Payroll

 

Representative Vos: “When you hear the facts that you have today, and your neighbor or your friend or your spouse, decides to complain about what’s been done, take a moment…and share the facts because the only way we are going to win this argument is because we know the truth is on our side.”  Is it, Mr. Vos?  Is it really?

On our way out, we thought we might catch a glimpse of Mark Block aka The Smoking Man, and we were tickled to find him in the front of the Expo Center. Confronted with the reality of The Smoking man, we were unable to develop a coherent question, so Lisa loitered nearby as Phil tried to snap a picture. Without warning, Lisa was drawn into his malodorous embrace, and the photo was snapped for posterity.

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After this “Close Encounter of the Block Kind,” we rushed for the door, fleeing the shadows of Reagan and GW Bush and darted into the cold winter sunshine.  We had survived, bruised but unbroken.

 

37 Responses to Americans For Prosperity: It’s really not working

  1. Palli says:

    Mark Block looks like the kind of man who unhealthily smells. You are confirming this impression, I take it?

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Well, we originally caught up to him right after he had a cigarette so yeah, he was kind of smokey / stinky… 🙂

      But he is the Smoking Man!

  2. John says:

    Great coverage and fact based commentary. It’s the party of projection.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    These people really live in a bubble world where facts don’t matter. We need to be clowning and hammering them at every turn.

    And nice to know they hang out with Mark “Banned from Wisconsin Politics” Block. You know, the same guy who Tim Russell visited by embezzling Veterans’ funds. And it all comes around….

    Great report, sewers aren’t as full of shit as the average Walker supporter.

  4. Suze says:

    The tactic they are espousing works, Walkers reforms don’t. As long as WE continue to engage in civil discourse illustrating why Walker is wrong we will prevail. Talk to your neighbors, write letters to the editor and stay engaged.

  5. Dan Stebnitz says:

    Must be nice to lay claim to every psychedelic song ever written and most especially by John Lennon. You lefties are truly pathetic!

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Dan, stop listening to the voices in your head. They’re lying to you. Nowhere did I

      lay claim to every psychedelic song ever written and most especially by John Lennon.

      The voices are wrong.

  6. Dan Stebnitz says:

    Oh yea….do you have one of those charts to show us how you know Lennon or any other classic rocker was not “one of them”?

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Dan, why do you make it so easy to prove you’re a fool?

      When John and Yoko moved to New York in 1971, they became friends with radicals Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Rubin and Hoffman co-founded the Youth International Party, nicknamed the “Yippies.” From the visitors’ balcony, Hoffman, Rubin, and others disrupted the New York Stock Exchange briefly on August 24, 1967, to make a statement on Vietnam. Later they organized massive rallies during the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention to protest the Vietnam War. Rubin convinced Lennon to perform in Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 10, 1971, to free John Sinclair, leader of the White Panther Party, who had been arrested for selling two joints of marijuana to undercover policemen. (The White Panther Party worked in tandem with the Black Panthers to promote cultural revolution.) John and Yoko were joined onstage by Phil Ochs, Stevie Wonder, Bob Seger, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale, head of the Black Panthers. Lennon performed the song “John Sinclair,” which would later be released on his album Accoustic in 2004. Sinclair was released from prison three days after the rally when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state law regarding marijuana possession was unconstitutional.

      Noting Lennon’s appearance at the Sinclair rally, Senator Strom Thurmond sent a memo to Attorney General John Mitchell in February 1972 declaring that Lennon could pose a serious threat to the re-election of Richard Nixon that year. Lennon could allegedly mobilize the youth vote against Nixon as well as donate sizeable sums of money for rallies that would disrupt Nixon’s idea of an orderly America. The following month the Immigration and Naturalization Service began a four-year effort to deport Lennon based on his 1968 conviction of drug possession.

      No charts needed…

      • Dan Stebnitz says:

        Just like you lefties to call me names. Shame, Shame, Shame!!!! Lennon was actually beginning to turn more conservative in his later life and he was not necessarily pro-union, and you lay claim of Woody Guthrie with your photo. You really must have a complex.

        • Phil Scarr says:

          If the shoe fits, fool… I notice you provide no evidence to support your baseless assertion

          Lennon was actually beginning to turn more conservative in his later life

          Care to back that up with data? Oh wait, you can’t because neither of your silly assertions are true!

          What exactly were Lennon’s political views at the end of 1980? Late that November, Lennon spoke out on behalf of striking workers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. (The story is told in my book Come Together: John Lennon in His Time.) The strike was against Japan Foods Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational Kikkoman, best known for its soy sauce. The US workers, primarily Japanese, were members of the Teamsters. In LA and San Francisco, they went on strike for higher wages. The shop steward of the LA local, Shinya Ono, persuaded John and Yoko to make a public statement addressed to the striking workers:

          “We are with you in spirit.… In this beautiful country where democracy is the very foundation of its constitution, it is sad that we have to still fight for equal rights and equal pay for the citizens. Boycott it must be, if it is the only way to bring justice and restore the dignity of the constitution for the sake of all citizens of the US and their children.

          “Peace and love, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York City, December, 1980.”

          Lennon was quite a lefty right up until the time he was assassinated, and he was a supporter of labor unions much like Woody Guthrie.

          But take heart little Dan. Perhaps one day you can aspire be not just the fool, but the Fool on the Hill instead!

  7. Dan Stebnitz says:

    Oh yea, all you reported to me above is really old news from a different time and era in this country. I am not sure but I dont think you would have liked the democratic party back then. A bunch of racist, stuffed shirts!

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Oy vey…

      all you reported to me above is really old news from a different time and era in this country

      That’s when John Lennon was alive, you fool!

  8. Tim Gray says:

    John Lennon had a secret admiration for Reagan toward the end of his life.

    Check it out: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2009562/John-Lennon-closet-conservative-fan-Reagan.html

    • Zach W says:

      Flimsy.

      You’re basing your statement on hearsay from a man who the article notes was forced to apologize in court to Lennon’s widow in 2002 after he was accused of stealing hundreds of the star’s personal photographs and letters.

      Hardly someone whose character is above reproach.

  9. Nomi Rene says:

    LOL! I don’t know who you are, Phil Scarr, but your responses are CRACKING ME UP!

    But I gotta ask – were they REALLY playing “Come Together”??? Isn’t that by the same rebel rock group that did “Revolution”? Well, well…you know!

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Nomi, I am the blogger your parents warned you about.

      Lisa and I were witnesses to the event. I will swear to it in court (though as a confirmed atheist, not on a bible… a copy of Origin of Species perhaps…) that their playlist included Come Together and (I love this one), Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf.

      The only song that was missing was Time out of Mind by Steely Dan

      Tonight when I chase the dragon
      The water may turn to cherry wine
      And the silver will turn to gold
      Time out of mind

      to make it a true drug-induced trifecta!

  10. I’m surprised they weren’t playing this one.

  11. wi_n8ive says:

    I really appreciated your graph on the number of jobs created over Walker’s tenure. I’m sure this graph will interest you as well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65324467@N08/6681418279/

    I wait with baited breath, your negative review of this politician’s policies and the fact that he has not been able to deliver on his promises to create jobs either…

  12. wi_n8ive says:

    As to voter identification – I also have an interesting picture from a union election for Boeing.

    Seems these elections are unfair too?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65324467@N08/6681418325/

    Oh and a video that may be of interest – what happens when you don’t check voter’s ID.

    http://youtu.be/9-uVhhIlPk0

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Let me suggest you go make your own blog, that way you can spread your fact-free propaganda to your heart’s content.

      BTW, most of those idiots in New Hampshire are facing prosecution. Well done, morons!

      • Jeff Simpson says:

        I tweeted Breitbart for a response but havent received one:

        JeffSimpson7 Jeff Simpson

        hey skipper @AndrewBreitbart looks like your little Gilligan @JamesOKeefeIII tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/electi… is a fraud and committed it! #Wiunion #p2

  13. Lew says:

    A RESPONSE – just for GRINS – 🙂
    • First, I will not comment on the whining in the beginning of the blog – about the Andy Griffiths T-Shirts, and the bumper sticker/business card similarities – this is just answered by a resounding SO WHAT?
    • As for the John Lennon piece – “…Yes, the AFP crowd was humming along to a John Lennon acid trip song, conveniently forgetting that John Lennon was definitely not one of them.”
    o What petty tripe! I have heard all manner of Gentile music at Barmitzvah’s too, and I did not assume that the performers were or had to be Jewish in order to be played there. This is what’s commonly known as a “red herring” argument. I will spare you the definition, since your blog seems to have a pretty good handle on posting definitions… Fact is, there is evidence that even John Lennon had somewhat changed politically toward the end of his life. But, whether or not he would have had any agreement or objection to having his music played at an event supporting the Walker reforms is material for an episode of the Twilight Zone. Meanwhile, playing a song entitled “Come Together” at this event seemed entirely appropriate to me, and is in no way mutually exclusive to any group’s events.
    • “…We were through the looking glass where Alice was nowhere to be found. She was hanging out with the Red Queen whom she found eminently more reasonable than any of these folks.”
    o Can’t really argue with your perspective – you would have to be in some “wonderland” altered reality to NOT recognize the dire state that decades of Democrat and union (but I repeat myself) control have left Wisconsin. Or, perhaps you are one of the beneficiaries of the payoffs from that control, and therefore insensitive to the effects of it?
    • “Hilgemann said, “This forum is meant to arm you with the facts, so that you can spread the Good News in your neighborhoods and communities. While we welcome opposing viewpoints, we will adhere to a strict zero tolerance policy for outbursts and interruptions of today’s discussion, and we have several law enforcement officers and personal security to help us do so… Unlike Madison, we can and will have respectful dialogue here today.” In other words, get out of line, hippie, and it’s the pepper spray for you.”
    o No, in other words, since there is overwhelming historical evidence of un-hinged shouting, physical violence, intimidation, and bullying – by those who object to the results of legal representative republic elections – it is necessary to preclude that sort of nonsense from the start. NOT to silence that voice, but to preserve the right of the other seldom covered or heard voice from being able to be exercised. BTW – I heard NO rule or process that stopped any progressive attendee from standing up and expressing their views in the same way as the rest in attendance – calmly, and in turn… oh wait, maybe that was the real problem?
    • “At that point, Lisa wanted to scream into a pillow” – My above point is proven… 🙂
    • “Phil busied himself by focusing on the Reality Distortion Field that was being constructed before our very eyes from “charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement, and persistence.” And a very, very, very selective use of data.”
    o Not impressed with the copying of a definition from WIKIPEDIA. The assertion about selective use of data, hyperbole, and persistence is however a point of expertise that I concede to the blogger’s side…
    • “This is what “no layoffs” of public employees looks like in Wisconsin.”
    o I have had a hard time finding the chart that is used here to verify for myself the data points, and the meanings. But, there is also no data to support the reason why? Certainly, I can find no data that indicates it is because “this is what layoffs look like” – probably because it is NOT what layoffs look like. Indeed, the rest of the commentary in the blog seems to indicate that there is no evidence that the reforms (or layoffs) are the cause. The argument here is apparently satisfied with estbalishing the eroneous concept of “correlation as causation” – which of course is the antithesis of the first thing one is taught in economics 101. Fact is, many government employees retired. In my little school district alone, 7 teachers cut and run with their bloated retirement packages (an exodus rate above the norm). Even so, whatever the aggregate reasons were or are, there were NO wholesale layoffs. Bottonline – this whole argument is the definition of a straw-man… Oh, and what these Liberals always seem to overlook is that even though the money that public workers spend is indeed green, it has to come from the taxpayer first. There is no (or at least very few) public job(s) that are self-sustaining in the monetary economic cycle without having to rely on the private sector for funding…
    • “…But yet there was no mention of the loss of private sector jobs across Wisconsin. The ongoing hemorrhaging of good paying work was unsurprisingly absent from the lectern.”
    o This is perhaps the ONLY true issue that is presented. The jobless rate is horrible, and THAT IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY REASONS WHY WALKER WAS ELECTED. The economic prospects of the state’s crushing debt, and regulation environment – left us from the previous decades of progressive rule in Wisconsin – will need to be countered – and is being countered. As Thomas Jefferson correctly noted – “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson We are now on that path. Better days are now in store if we can keep these reforms in place, and build on them… FYI – Almost every day, Governor Walker posts the details of the job actions, meetings, and business announcements he is driving and promoting throughout the state. Our president is covered in nauseam the few scattered times he decides to have some sort of useless job summit. Governor Walker is working to create a REAL environment for business to create jobs almost every day, and there is nothing in the biased news… 🙂
    • Now, here’s the fun part! The whole ‘citizen versus taxpayer’ discussion is the money part of this blog.
    o First – again it is completely unimpressive to copy a definition and masquerade it as argument. The dissertation about citizens having an active part in the community, and the entire obligatory lecture that follows is complete and total academic crap! To imply that these taxpayers in attendance (at this event and throughout the state) are somehow not citizens in the ‘strictest sense’, is not only short-sighted, but flat-out wrong. I would stand the civic activities of these taxpayers – in their respective communities – against this blogger’s any time!
    o Second, there is no greater REAL contribution to citizenship than to reliably FUND the government in which the citizen and taxpayer resides, works, and votes.
    * NEWS FLASH – RELIABLY PAYING ONE’S TAXES IS A PRETTY DAMN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION! It requires thought, action, knowledge, intent, and competence…
    o Third – This is where the victim discussion comes into play. The taxpayer citizens of this state have been reliably funding this rigged game for so long now, this blogger’s public employee “citizens” believe that it is the absolute height of oppression that the taxpayers (their benefactors) should want to figure out why the buckets of money that they have thrown at public employees is still not enough? How is it that taxpayers have to pay for their own benefits, and then have to turn around and continually pay more and more and more for public worker’s benefits – benefits that are way beyond what they have access to? Where is the “occupy” mentality of FAIRNESS when it comes to this? Do we need to have an OCCUPY PUBLIC BENEFITS movement? Another huge issue that has victimized the taxpayers. Imagine an insurance company owned by the very same union that represents the insured (WEA TRUST). Now, imagine that THEY collectively bargain with politicians that THEY help to elect to purchase THEIR insurance product. And, at a rate that is way above what could be competitively bid in the open market. But, hay – it’s OK – it’s the taxpayer’s money – not THEIRS! If Governor Walker’s reforms fixed nothing but this, it would be more than worth it!!! This is just the tip of the public-sector scam iceberg that has been perpetrated on the “CITIZENS” of this state for decades upon decades… Suggestion – take your esoteric lecture on citizenship to someone who cares – like perhaps your civic responsibility class professor – at get a clue U!
    • “But they neglected to remind the audience that the entire premise of the “budget repair bill” was based on the belief that… for the lack of a better term… the sky would fall if we didn’t end collective bargaining and crush the public unions.”
    o Again – a totally wrong assertion based on a fundamental revision of historical fact. The premise of the reforms was that the state was BROKE, IN DEBT, AND ON THE BRINK OF WHOLESALE LAYOFFS & CUTS IN SERVICES if the funding model was not brought into sanity (see Illinois and California today for a real-time laboratory experiment of what would have been here). For your benefit, and edification – Walker’s reforms could just as easily be called FISCAL RESPONISIBILITY INITIATIVE – look it up, an amazing concept.
    • “Taxes went up not down”
    o This too is a miss-representation. In many districts around the state, school tax levies have gone down for the first time in many years (present company included). My property taxes went down a small amount, but even had they remained exactly the same that would be the first time in the ten years I have owned this property.
    o While some property taxes may have increased for various reasons – the statistics that are used to attempt to justify the blog’s claim have to do with the following – Higher tax collections in 2011 were largely driven by increases in individual income and property taxes—mostly income. And here’s the money piece -Those increases included a new tax bracket for the state’s highest earners and a reduction in the capital gains exclusion included in the 2009-11 state budgets – WHICH WERE ENACATED IN AN OVERNIGHT RAM-THROUGH LEGISLATIVE ACTION BY THE DOYLE ADMINISTRATION. FYI – no Republican legislators left the state – no activists marched around the capital, and no recalls were initiated. Hmmm, wonder why?
    • “Where are the Qualified Workers?” “The claim was made that there are 32,000 unfilled positions for skilled workers that employers cannot find. Why? Because we continue to discount the value of education for our workforce, training and re-training has taken a back seat to unprecedented corporate austerity in training budgets.” And yet, despite the difficulty of finding qualified applicants, Wisconsin business leaders continue to starve their employees for training.”
    o So, it is now the government’s responsibility to monitor businesses to see if they are spending an ‘appropriate’ amount on training – BECAUSE the public schools certainly are NOT increasing their level of even basic training? This is the sort of government dereliction of duty, and meddling where it does not belong, that has gotten us into this mess. FACT IS PROGRESSIVE PUBLIC EDUCATION IS FAILING TO PRODUCE “QUALIFIED” CANDIDATES FOR REAL WORLD JOB POSITIONS.
     “In 2008–09, more than half of the 1.6 million bachelor’s degrees awarded were in five fields: business (22 percent), social sciences and history (11 percent), health professions and related clinical sciences (8 percent), education (6 percent), and psychology (6 percent).” “Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.”
     Why is this? “…the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all.”
     Work cited – http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/why-did-17-million-students-go-to-college/27634
    o We have leading employers in this state that are not manufacturers of anything. The idea that one should go to school to learn how to actually do something has almost been totally lost. We are impressed if our high-schools can even produce students who can read! Decades of Liberal/Democrat/Union control of school districts – like MPS – have almost totally lost whole generations on citizens. All we get from them year after year after year is the next “literacy initiative” which results in NOTHING… There is an opportunity NOW for REAL reform, without having to cow-tau to the teacher’s union every time you want to make a useful and practical improvement.
    o Suggestion – start encouraging students to go into the trades, and learn actual skills in technology, and mechanics – instead of herding them into feel good and useless liberal arts degrees, turning them loose to work at George Webb’s, and then crying about unemployment… Years ago when my Dad went to high school in Milwaukee, there was a trade school that many-many students (including my Dad) went to for the purpose of learning trade skills – interpretation: real job skills. Students who knew they were not college candidates, or didn’t want to be – but were none-the-less qualified to be electricians, plumbers, and so on – went there. This was one of the reasons that Milwaukee was once known as the machine-shop of the world, and provided the means to lift several Milwaukee working generations into a comfortable, and rewarding middle-class life, and in some cases far beyond that. Today that school has a good day if the police do not have to be called to pick up a body, or break up a fight! Very progressive…

    • Lisa Mux says:

      Lew,

      It’s great that you hold us to such high standards. I hope you hold the mainstream media to the same such standards.

      I don’t have time this morning to address all of your points, sorry, but I will take credit for the mention of the Andy Griffith t-shirts. I like to include details like this in my posts so readers can get a feel for the flavor of the events, and because I have A SENSE OF HUMOR.

      Thanks again for reading our post, and for taking time to dissect it. 🙂

      Lisa

  14. Dan Stebnitz says:

    Well said Lew!!!!

  15. Jeff Simpson says:

    Way too much in that dissertation to even respond to. I will just say with you PLEASE stop quoting Thomas Jefferson please?

    Every time a “tea partier” quotes Jefferson, Ben Franklin loses a kite! That is a proven fact. Be kind to Ben and Thomas and the rest of us and just stop!

    You do understand that that room was full of Tories right?

  16. Lew says:

    Stop qouting TJ – I like qouting TJ.
    Anyway, that’s my s-Tory, and I’m sticking with it – 🙂

  17. Lew says:

    @Lisa, I wish I COULD hold the media to a “high standard”, but I am no match for that fool’s errand.
    I also have a sense of humor, and I have no objections to Andy Griffiths T-Shirts – I have one myself. I only got the impression that it was somehow a derogatory comment meant to proactively strengthen the false premises that were about to be developed. If I was wrong (about the derogatory comment), I stand corrected.
    FYI – I generally don’t do this kind of dissection, but in this case the opportunity, time, and target-rich material all lined-up for me…. 🙂
    Regards, Lew

  18. Tomato Addict says:

    A person with twenty identical Andy Griffith shirts does seem a little odd, but given the circumstances they may have been the least odd person in the room – Excepting Phil and Lisa of course.

    The fist graph would be more convincing if it showed several years of data for comparison, and better still if it had the number of new hires and the number leaving employment. … AND then I noticed the units are in thousands … a 2% deviation out of 400,000 is a much larger shock than 2% of 400.

  19. John Schraufnagel says:

    Boy! This blog is just further evidence of how out-of-touch liberals really are. Even with the facts in hand, they manage to twist and distort them to serve their own socialistic and liberal elitist agenda. If I read this tripe long enough, I might actually start to believe that I was in the 1% of Americans or maybe that my taxes really did go up – NOT! Wake up people! Money doesn’t grow on trees and private sector workers are not going to stand for the union, public sector double standards any longer!

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