Tuesday, March 31, 2015
In Wisconsin, we've seen tens of thousands protest legislation that in the end, fell on deaf ears. We've seen citizens gather issue-oriented petitions and send them to Congress and local councils only to be completely ignored. By now, real grassroots groups and concerned citizens should have it all figured out. Protests and petitions mean nothing to our elected officials. Not just in Wisconsin, but everywhere in the U.S.
We can have all the petitions and grievances against government spelled out and signed, but at the end of the day our public officials refuse to recognize us and in fact successfully reverse-spin their inability to engage the electorate as victories over "special interests." In the so-called "Citizens United" world, the majority of politicians recognize and listen only to money from wealthy individuals, groups and corporations.
So, I'm hoping some of the more active grassroots citizen groups including labor unions are paying close attention to the hashtags #BoycottIndiana and #RFRA, because that very well could be what the future of resistance and reform looks like in a world where money says everything. In a period of just a few days, there has been much more movement to repeal and reform bad policy in Indiana than what has happened in Wisconsin over the last five years from struggle and protest.
If you're a regular reader you probably know I was not excited for unionized workers calling for a general strike during the ramming sessions of the so-called right-to-work law in Wisconsin. At that time I suggested labor groups and others should seriously look at ways for now and in the future to carry out an organized general boycott of the state in what I described as "flash boycotts" in consumer spending by willing participants and their families. What I suggested several weeks ago was very similar (but not the same) to what is taking place in Indiana right now.
However, I did not anticipate corporations or other states becoming active participants in the boycott aspect of the Indiana campaign. That certainly gives a fully organic boycott more power, and as much as I agree with their position, I don't think it's too smart for businesses, large or small, or individuals to go public with their politics. Just my opinion.
At this point with so much success over so little time, I think it would be very wise for unions and citizen grassroots to take notice and start focus groups to begin looking at the ways and means to carry out general regional-wide or state-wide boycotts.
Sadly, since it is profits over people, boycotts are a natural progression of free market action from "the people" when government officials listen to no one but money.
RNR - Idea: General Strike Should Take The Form Of a General Boycott
Posted by Lou Kaye at 2:18 PM
Thursday, March 26, 2015
We're number one! We're number one! We're number one!
According to a report from Pew Trust Research, Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, or in Gov. Scott Walker's twisted world, we're number one and "heading in the right direction."
In fact, Walker's spokesperson tried to make a case in response to the report by stating Wisconsin's income grew during Walker's first three years. Except, Pew's research includes statistics showing a steep decline in the percentage of Wisconsin families considered "middle-class," that means most income growth occurring was concentrated in the top 1 percent, Walker's campaign donor class.
As it is, Wisconsin has the number one spot all to itself as no other state comes close to the 14.7 percent drop in median incomes combined with the 5.7 percent shrinkage in middle class families. And to think Wisconsin is ranked number one in this category BEFORE Walker's "Divide and Conquer 2.0" reforms of right-to-work, the 7-day work week and the end of prevailing wages have their day driving the middle-class roadkill machine.
On a local note, the Pew report serves as a crowning moment for the conversations captured in the documentary As Goes Janesville.
To be fair, the decline of the middle-class had already begun on a national scale, but it was during the documentary filming when Gov. Scott Walker said major changes are on the way from reforms that will move the state in a new direction.
Walker described how he would use "divide and conquer" in a campaign to break unions and turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work red state with Rock County 5.0 business elites responding, "exactly what we need" and "right on target," to Forward Janesville operatives giggling about ex-Janesville GM employees being forced to take much lower pay in their next jobs and how that will work in the "plus column" for their business purposes, to the Beloit City Manager explaining how Wisconsin workers have enjoyed higher wages, good benefits and even civil rights "for too many decades," to which a Rock County employee replied back that economic development (policy) is about eliminating "those burdens."
THAT is what they mean when Walker and his donor class say Wisconsin is now "heading in the right direction." So it's not "despite" the shrinking of the state's middle-class, Walker's reforms don't work unless they spite the middle-class. The direction was laid out in "As Goes Janesville" and the Pew Report shows it's working as intended.
CapTimes - Report: Wisconsin worst in nation on shrinking middle class
Crooks and Liars - Pew Report: Wisconsin No. 1 State In Household Income Decline
CAW - Wisconsin’s Worst in the Nation Decline of Middle Class a Bipartisan Disaster
RNR - Rock County: Wisconsin Enjoyed Higher Standards For Too Many Decades
RNR - Janesville Is On The Edge With Low Wages
RNR - Letter Writer Says Middle Class Is Unaffordable. Walker Is Right To End It. (April, 2013)
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Hosted by Move To Amend Evansville
Two powerful speakers. One important issue. Mike McCabe and Rick Brunton will discuss how We the People can get big money out of politics and reclaim our democracy.
Thursday, March 26
Begins at 7 PM
Evansville High School, Media Room
640 South Fifth Street
View Event Flyer Here
Monday, March 23, 2015
The special meeting held by the Janesville city council last week is turning out to be a treasure trove of eye-rolling statements by Forward Janesville operatives answering questions during interviews before appointment to the city council.
Tha candidate eventually winning the appointment, Richard Gruber, holds a chair on Forward Janesville's board of directors and is VP of Mercy Health System. To a statement that 2015 will be a tough budget year for Janesville and asked for his thoughts on what the city can do to raise revenue beyond the state-imposed levy cap, Gruber said "I think 2016 will be a tough budget year, 2017 will be a tough budget year. 2018 will be a tough budget year ...unless things dramatically change in Madison."
Digest that one keeping in mind again ...it was made by a board member of the local Scott Walker booster club, Forward Janesville.
Why does it seem like local chambers want Wisconsin municipalities to be kept "budget desperate?" Is it to force officials to do desperate things like sell off city property to raise revenue, privatize public works, create more TIF Districts and drain off TIF surplus cash? It sure seems that way to me.
Watch the segment here. The passage begins at the 1:26:30 mark.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Robert Yeomans, a member of Forward Janesville's Government Relations Committee (former, present?), was one of four finalists answering questions from Janesville council members during a special meeting to select a replacement for Council Member Matt Kealy. One of the questions asked was for their opinion on what Janesville city officials can do about correcting the wide differences in state shared revenues among Wisconsin communities.
Yeomans answer: “It’s a complicated formula and it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be something easy to do because I think the people in Madison and Milwaukee have a lot more say as to what that shared formula looks like at the end."
The "people in Madison" are often referred that way in the context of describing state government, but once someone combines Madison with Milwaukee, the context is no longer about state government but a derangement to create a mythical political scapegoat to divert attention away from the real suspect. In this case, Yeomans implies to the listeners that the republican-led majority state assembly, senate and governship are powerless to change the state aid formula. He continued to drive that theme home...
"But I think we need to continue going to the legislature and saying hey, and I think we need to do it on a local basis ...NOT go up there, but have OUR legislators come down here to us and say this is what it is, do you feel this is right and what can you do within your party to try and adjust it."
Is that how Forward Janesville does it when they want something? Umm, no. They go up there and lobby the state legislature.
When they wanted to grab more federal money to help fund the I39/90 expansion, did they call local federal guy Paul Ryan into Janesville to press his party for the fix? No, they flew to Washington DC. In fact, Forward Janesville just finished their second annual "legislative" trip to DC during the last week of February.
At stateside, by "our" legislators from Janesville, Yeomans means democrats.
So, he's saying don’t go up there. Why? Well ...because "up there" is the single-party ruled GOP Forward Janesville legislative majority!! They’re doing exactly what they’re told to do. That's why! Instead call down your “democrat” legislators, box them in and see what they can do “within your party” to correct the shared revenues error. Seriously.
You can watch the video here. The question and answer on this begins at the 0:41:30 time mark. It's precious if you're into this sort of thing.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 12:03 AM
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Last night at a special city council meeting, Richard Gruber, a board member of Forward Janesville, was appointed to fill a council seat unexpectedly vacated by Council Member Matt Kealy who resigned mid-term after recently buying a home outside city limits.
Gruber's selection came soon after the council questioned each of the final 4 candidates separately in 30 minute interviews. The six member council's second round of voting came to a 3 to 3 deadlock between Gruber and Barry Badertscher. However, soon after the tie was announced, Council Member Doug Marklein said he will change his vote in favor of Gruber. The council recast their votes and Gruber won 4 - 2.
Doug Marklein is also a member of Forward Janesville and happens to be the loudest cryer on the council about partisanship in city government. That's how that always works, isn't it?
I can't even begin to imagine the rage that would have ensued had a member of a local labor union won that seat or if the deciding vote for a union "boss" was cast by one of its own patch-wearing members. Yeah, praise the Lord for Janesville's city manager slash council at-large form of government or else some disagreeables might win election. I mean, God forbid ...we'd be talking about months of some serious backlash from naysayers in the Janesville Gazette with that sort of partisanship. LOL.
As it stands, Janesville will continue to be run by the tax-shifting footstools of the oligarchy, while its majority population continues to dance around the campfire singing Kumbaya or just simply look the other way. So although the names have changed, everything pretty much remains the same.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 12:02 AM
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Rock County's school districts are expected to be slammed yet again by substantial cuts during year one of Gov. Scott Walker's next budget. Now into his third state budget, this leaves no doubt that Walker's reforms including his heavily touted Act 10 have failed to provide Wisconsin school districts and communities with even a minimal level of budget neutral certainty.
Total shortfalls are estimated at $5 million for Rock County school districts alone.
See Scott Walker's pie chart of cuts for Rock County schools here.
H/T Source - School Funding Reform For Wisconsin View more Wisconsin counties.
Monday, March 16, 2015
More than five weeks have passed since School Board member Bill Sodemann doubled-down with a retaliatory second FOIA request on the Rock County office emails of employee Carla Q, and so far there have been no headlines or major articles posted in the Janesville Gazette about his findings.
Carla Q, as you might recall, became a target of Sodemann's only after it was discovered her school board petition signatures and candidacy papers were deemed valid and in proper order. You read that right.
Of course we wouldn't think Sodemann filed his FOIA requests simply because he thought she was associated with a group like ...ohhh, let's pretend and say, Catholic Charities, the Girl Scouts of America, United Way, St. Jude or World Vision. Nahh. It's much worse than that. He figured she must be associated with one of those democrat parties or employee unions and he'll find all their dirty laundry tucked away inside her county paid email box.
After five weeks, had Sodemann or the Gazette found the dirt they were looking for, I'd think it would have been published by now with blazing headlines and flow charts showing how all the partisan conspirators have conspired to steal a Janesville school board seat.
Instead, they have egg on their faces. Only their victims remain.
But, IF the Gazette lets Sodemann's wrongheaded witch hunt die on the vine with no respite for the victims, it will still serve a desirable purpose for them.
It will stand as a lesson to any of you unionistas or "citizens" who think about snooping around Janesville where you don't belong. Let's just say you won't see procedural cooperation according to state and local ordinances. Instead, we will obstruct where we can, publish what we feel like publishing, and retaliate without just cause in ways that will make your life miserable.
We've shown you what you should always expect. And Oh, thanks for visiting!!
RNR - Janesville School District Insiders Retaliate Against Whistleblower, Scandal Spreads
Posted by Lou Kaye at 2:35 PM
Thursday, March 12, 2015
According to a Web site (a research facility?) touting itself as "exposing the inequities of compulsory unionism," so-called right-to-work states have living costs averaging about 22% less than economies of "forced" union states. Ironically, that percentage is equal to U.S Government Federal spending portion of the nation's GDP. That's a considerable percentage of capital activity to potentially lose given the already tight economic conditions.
Although their article states that the correlation between higher living costs in union states and RTW States is robust, they also want everyone to know that correlation does not equal causality. So their talking points serve some purpose, just don't rely on them to mean something substantive to the point you may think they're trying to make.
Besides they claim, employees are happy so long as they can get two buck cheeseburgers and $39 eyeglasses. That's what matters most.
What matters most to employees seeking better lives for themselves and their families and employers seeking good employees is not nominal wages and salaries. It is what those wages and salaries can buy in the location where they are earned.
Wow: "what matters most ...is what those wages ...can buy ...," not whether those wages compensate employees equitably for their production, skill set or time. Here's two bucks, go get yourself a cheeseburger.
Obviously, things won't change overnight, but with rhetoric like that winning the argument for right-to-work, I hope local officials throughout Wisconsin have budget plans to cope with kicked-down taxpayers expecting more for much less in the new sinking bottom.
The reality is now there and the psychological seeds are all set.
Monday, March 09, 2015
My guess is this blog post will seem both elementary and contrary to my more politically astute readers, while others will reject its prescription outright. My only hope is this opens a larger public debate before it's too late.
I submit that Walker's seemingly unorthodox style of government budgeting is not driven by issues, economic needs, constitutional responsibilites or even "conservatism" in its raw fiscal form. Well OK, that's not news.
But, besides his obvious thirst to lift his career ambitions on the divide and conquer of working poor and middle-class Americans, what I believe is the endgame of his rolling budget deficits is a total reversal of progressive taxation he mistakenly believes funds government dependency. His budget "reforms" radically shift the burden of taxation enough to begin the destabilization of our contemporary American way of life, under the guise of fiscal responsibility and smaller government.
This is how Walker's budgets work:
Walker's "balanced" budgets (and by extension, the state's GOP-controlled Legislature) are DESIGNED to produce a deficit in the NEXT budget, a budget deficit that will be "balanced" again with more cuts designed to produce a deficit in the next budget.
IF by some wild chance higher tax revenues are generated and a surplus is created, even if only a projection, they don't use it to shore up previous cuts to state programs, state agencies or roads. Instead, Walker "refunds" that surplus in lieu of other taxes or in the form of a tax cut to serve as a political device he can promote to show his reforms are working. This entire routine continues ad infinitum.
The uber-wealthy, particularly the authoritarian shouters of "personal liberty" and "freedom," recognize the Norquistian format immediately for the upward redistribution it is and that's why they are quick to throw millions his way. It's an easy three ingredient government-stirred recipe to brew Galt's Island.
The problem of course is, how can we liberate ourselves from this madness?
One huge mistake, and this is key in my opinion, is Wisconsin locals inherent fatalism of helping Walker over and over again by raising taxes onto themselves through referendum to replace the lost "redistributed" aid (our tax dollars) he withholds at the state level for his politically-driven priorities. Wage-earning local taxpayers across Wisconsin would have to be fools to think they can fight a central state imposed race-to-the-bottom economy carried out on perpetually targeted cuts in state aid and programs, then ADD new burdens onto our RTW-shrunken paychecks by doubling-up tax obligations with higher local fees and taxes.
THAT is not going to work.
In fact, it is irresponsible budgeting and would likely encourage Walker to withhold even more state aid in the next budget to fund another surplus projection to pay for new tax cuts for the top. See mom, it's working!
The reality is, when locals raise taxes on themselves, all they're doing is repairing or preventing the damage THEY KNOW Walker's "reforms" are intended to accomplish. Yet, his madness counts on the competitive nature of community self-preservation. He expects locals to respond with self-inflicted tax hikes.
I understand what I'm describing here is counter-intuitive, but there is absolutely no better way to show it's "working" than by giving Walker photo-ops of the roads, schools and infrastructure his reforms were prevented from destroying, but instead were saved through emergency restoration (referendum) local tax hikes, wheel taxes or new fees. Walker's supporters regularly cash in on that meme when they say, "the sky hasn't fallen like you said ...see!" Yep, that's how it's done and that's how it works. They bank on it.
Secondly, since Walker's budgeting style is so welcoming and transformative, (afterall he won election, recall and re-election) why would anyone object to applying his budget format of cuts and balancing future deficits with more cuts at the local level? Why fight what works?
Unless someone can convince me otherwise or present a logical alternative, I strongly believe local officials (township, city, county) should duplicate Walker's budgeting style, particularly his "don't spend more than you have" principle to a T.
Stop funding the ever-increasing dosage (repeated self-inflicted tax hikes to replace lost state aid) in a zero-sum game, so we can see the madness in living color.
Instead, smart local officials should brace their communities for the decline, what a local business group called a "death spiral," and immediately begin working on plans for closing unsafe areas and crumbling roads, and mothballing public schools, facilities and other physical structures affected by Walker's reforms.
In essence, the "antidote" I prescribe is not a departure from the madness itself. But it is Walker's way and implementing it locally should serve as a starting point for some rare common ground with his business establishment support base.
Maybe my perspective over-simplifies the problem and over-complicates the solution. Maybe I'm wrong about snuffing it out with a backdraft at the local level, but with local officials facing another round of beatdown cuts from Walker and the Legislature, it's time to understand their true intent, and for local leaders to step up and adapt to it accordingly. History is on my side.
To fight it is to feed it. To feed it is surrender.
RNR - Elected On a Surplus, Walker Promised To Invest In, Not Cut, Priorities
RNR - At The Crossroads, Paul Ryan's Hometown Facing a Death Spiral. But Where's Ryan?
RNR - Walker's Establishment Base Disillusioned By His Big Bold Borrowing
RNR - Conservative Newspaper Wants "Progressive" Community For Its Own Backyard
Sunday, March 08, 2015
JS Online Source: (Transcript from "As Goes Janesville")
Hendricks: ...Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions ...and become a right-to-work (state)? What can we do to help you?
Walker: Oh yeah.
Roughly four years and millions of dollars later, Gov. Scott Walker plans to turn Wisconsin into a so-called Right-To-Work state when he signs the bill on Monday at Badger Meter in Brown Deer, a Milwaukee-area company who spoke out in favor of the measure last week.
WCM COOP - Remembering March 9, 2011
Posted by Lou Kaye at 2:09 PM
Friday, March 06, 2015
Much has been seen and said about Gov. Scott Walker's divide and conquer strategy to bust unions and make good on the wishes of a local (Rock County 5.0) business group's efforts to turn Wisconsin into a "red state" and impose right-to-work regulations on the workforce. But did you know that now infamous conversation from the documentary "As Goes Janesville" ended with the co-chair of the group, Mary Willmer-Sheedy, saying "right on target."
"But I can tell you unequivocally now, I have no interest in pursuing right-to-work legislation in this state." -- Gov. Scott Walker May 11, 2012.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 2:28 PM
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Monday, March 02, 2015
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
-- President Abraham Lincoln
Therein lies the problem. Unfortunately today, capital IS superior to labor and it does get higher consideration because it is taxed much less than labor. You might have noticed too that labor is treated like worthless crap. That is why I suggest the form of a general strike should not be by withholding labor, because you'll just be replaced for your actions. Instead it should be in the form of a general boycott by withholding capital.
What do I mean exactly?
Cut your cable and dish connections. Cut all your magazines and newspaper subscriptions and private club memberships, Turn on free digital TV and radio. Start exercising instead of going to a Badger or Bucks game. Start preparing dinners and eating at home instead of going to restaurants.
Mow your own lawn, do your own gardening and shovel your own snow instead of hiring a service. Cancel those services. Delay contractor home remodeling and ALL other non-essential expenses. You'll save money. Go for walks and start bicycling instead of driving to shopping malls. Discover your family and neighbors and get off the junk wagon of perpetual consumerism and aimless spending.
Imagine the local cable company getting 1,000 calls to disconnect the cable on a single day OR a city newspaper or other major subscription service getting thousands of calls for cancellations on a single day and the calls keep coming in for a week. That's what I'm talking about.
For however long it takes.
The beauty in this is no companies or business sectors are specific targets. It's a general boycott of the entire statist establishment.
If only half of the 46 percent of those voting against Walker did this, Wisconsin would come to a complete standstill. No need to picket. No need for demonstrations or rallies. No talk or need for civil disobedience. No need for petitions and no need to put your own job in jeopardy by not going to work. No need to give a reason to anyone why you have cut spending. Conservatives in particular should quickly relate.
I also understand that some people in general can be a spoiled lot who simply won't give up their latte. That's why I don't understand why labor unions haven't developed a strong Plan B strategy similar to this from the heavy citizens participation during previous protests in Wisconsin.
Since a strike like this would be effective only if carried out in unison with a start date, why they didn't have a check box for supporters who would be willing to participate in a general boycott when called upon is beyond me. If at least to gage interest of such action.
It's still not too late to organize for something like this, but I leave this suggestion on the podium at this time for your consideration with the question: What are the alternatives?
Posted by Lou Kaye at 5:04 PM
In an interview segment of "Here and Now" hosted by Frederica Freyberg, comes a frighteningly parsed yet laughable string of statements from the WMC's VP Scott Manley.
Under a basic line of questioning, Manley delivers a dumpster full of convoluted corporate hack talking points that simply doesn't square with reality. The amazing thing here is, Manley attempts to sell his entire pro-RTW meme on the reconstruction of a few soft facts, A) wage growth is faster in RTW states vs non-RTW, B) rate of job growth is better vs non-RTW, and C) RTW gives businesses "flexibility."
Of course even the street level little guy knows Manley's iterations about rates of growth are measures of speed and lift from a new "dropped" bottom and have nothing to do with actual wages or quality of jobs.
So, after Manley opens by building his foundational argument with RTW bringing higher wages and greater union membership, Freyberg follows through with a few simple questions in an effort to square the circle.
She asked, "how do wages go up?"
Manley, "It's based on the market ...and in RTW states, keep in mind they're growing jobs twice as fast and ...when you have more jobs available and the same number of employees, that creates higher demand for employees, and when you have higher demand for employees, those employees can command a higher wage."
The main problem is Manley begins his response with a giant hole by failing to explain the cause of the demand for jobs in RTW states. The demand he's talking about is not market demand for product ...it's demand for a rock bottom wage environment for employers.
With some deductive reasoning applied, half of the giant hole is an economic environment tapped out and incapable of creating more jobs through generally accepted supply-and-demand principles. What he won't say is RTW creates an artificial way to add jobs without increased product demand while cutting the payroll at the same time. Manley of course can't bring himself to the truth of the matter because his house of cards would instantly collapse.
My other point is, IF the endgame of RTW is to foster an economy of higher wage employees circularly creating more demand, we're already there with unions. So why go through all the trouble?
Well, we know RTW is primarily about the confiscation of earnings and political power.
Freyberg then asked, "...How do unions hurt businesses...?"
Manley spins the question completely around in his reply, "it's not about hurting unions ...a lot of people assume that right to work automatically results in a bad outcome for unions and that hasn't been the case."
Of course, Manley never answered the question and a lot of people have it all wrong. cough ...cough. There's no question in my mind his entire RTW meme is dripping in bullshit.
But the question every RTW supporter should answer is, SINCE RTW brings higher wages and benefits unions, "how do unions hurt businesses?"
The Freyberg/Manley interview, only 4 minutes long, is highly recommended viewing and can be seen here.
Sunday, March 01, 2015
With Gov. Scott Walker's office announcing he will sign the controversial so-called Right-To-Work regulations into law
Besides their devotion to Scott Walker, Forward Janesville you might recall, lobbied successfully for manufacturing and "enterprise zone" tax credits including transferable "portable" income tax credits for businesses that create zero jobs.
In Wisconsin, the "doubling" of cut-wage jobs resulting from RTW for just one manufacturer can lead to getting thousands of dollars per employee in state tax credits, thus doubling the extraction rate of capital from wage-earning taxpayers.
Forward Janesville also played a major role in changing the state aid dollars ratio split between local road maintenance/repairs and interstate expansion money. That shift alone created a greater burden on communities to cope with existing revenues to fix local roads. Crumbling local roads replaced by dirt and gravel or huge tax hikes on declining wages are the expected remedies.
Make no mistake. When it comes to public policies of Rock County's economic development, Forward Janesville and the Gazette are the area's top two bloviators. Yet, with the ramming of the immensely wrong-headed right to work regulations, their silence is equal to screaming support for it from the rooftops.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 1:11 PM