March 7, 2011- Wisconsin Democrats are continuing their fire on Gov. Scott Walker's infamous phone call with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch, in which Walker spoke of his passion for busting the public employee unions. And in their latest move, the Dems have announced that they are filing an ethics complaint with the state's Government Accountability Board -- accusing Walker of serious violations of the law.
"It [the call] showed Scott Walker as a grandiose plotter who thinks of himself as a national figure in the effort to distort the balance of power between working people and big corporations who seek to transform Wisconsin into a low-wage, low-benefits backwater," state Dem chairman Mike Tate said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. "But I'll leave it to you to discuss the political damage it has done to Walker and his corporate masters.
March 8, 2011- In California, the state government currently spends more than $34 billion a year paying private contractors to do jobs that civil servants can perform for half the cost. Another $900 million of taxpayer funds is wasted annually propping up the state's failed enterprise zone program. Common sense dictates that any proposal to balance the state budget begin here.
Instead, what is being implemented in state capitals across the country are plans to eradicate traditional retirement and health care benefits for civil servants and, in some cases, to return civil servants to 19th century working conditions by eliminating their First Amendment right to assemble, organize, and bargain collectively as free citizens.
These developments are part and parcel of an ongoing strategy to steal our taxpayer dollars by redirecting them from public services and democratic institutions and into the pockets of private companies and individuals through wasteful subsidy programs and corrupt private contracting practices in government.
March 8 2011- “You will live in the history books!” Michael Moore shouted from the rotunda of the state Capitol to the thousands of Wisconsin workers, teachers and their allies who had come Saturday to protest against Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public sector unions and public services. Speaking without a microphone, in a voice that was worn but enthusiastic after addressing tens of thousands of protesters outside the Capitol, Moore told the crowd inside: “You have inspired so many people. You have inspired the whole country. I just had to come and thank you.”
In response came the now familiar chants of “Thank you! Thank you!” that greet every speaker who gets what this uprising in Wisconsin is all about.
And Moore does get it. He gets it in a fundamental sense, the sense of having waited a very long time for some mass of citizens, somewhere in America, to say: “We have had it!”
A dream deferred long enough can give way, even in the most optimistic and hopeful of Americans, to cynicism and despair.
March 8, 2011- Ronald Reagan's infamous "it's morning in America" slogan, used as part of his 1984 presidential campaign, paved the way for a set of market-driven policies that historians faithful to the human record will be compelled to rename twilight in America to signal a historical crisis fueled less by a spirited hope for the future than by a shocking refusal to be held accountable to and for it. The policies that informed Reagan's neoliberal agenda have given way to the intense assault now being waged by his more extremist governmental descendants on all vestiges of the democratic state. This brutal evisceration includes a rejection and devaluing of the welfare state, unions, public values, young people, public and higher education; and other political, social and economic institutions and forces in American life that provide a counterweight against the political power of mega-corporations, the rich and the powerful.
An answer to state budget woes that doesn't need to involve sacrificing workers' rights.
March 5, 2011- As states struggle to meet their budgets, public pensions are on the chopping block, but they needn’t be. States can keep their pension funds intact while leveraging them into many times their worth in loans, just as Wall Street banks do. They can do this by forming their own public banks, following the lead of North Dakota—a state that currently has a budget surplus.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose recently proposed bill to gut benefits, wages, and bargaining rights for unionized public workers inspired weeks of protests in Madison, has justified the move as necessary for balancing the state's budget. But is it?
March 5, 2011- The New York Times has a front page story today on the charitable activities of the notorious Koch Bros. The Times article states brother David has given hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research over the years, including $100 million to new a cancer research center at MIT that bears his name.
The brothers are best known recently for giving financial support to the campaign of union busting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, as well as for being a major financial force in creating and developing the so-called "Tea Party Movement," whose goal it is to reduce taxes on very rich people like the Koch brothers.
While the search for new cancer treatments is a laudable way to spend extra money, the article notes that one Koch company, Georgia-Pacific, "which produces formaldehyde, has been trying to convince the government not to list formaldehyde as a human carcinogen."
March 6, 2011- In 1976, on a failed campaign to the White House, Ronald Reagan coined one of his enduring linguistic legacies - the "welfare queen," a mythical, inner-city resident who wastes the public's hard-earned money on "welfare Cadillacs" and other luxuries she can't afford, and, thus, doesn't deserve. When Reagan finally succeeded in becoming president four years later, he waged war on these "welfare queens," redistributing money from the "least deserving" by cutting social services and public programs that helped the poor, and funneling it to the "most deserving," by providing generous tax cuts for the extremely rich, who had actually "earned" their money.
March 5, 2011- When Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, began his crusade against collective bargaining by public employees, his state’s unions seemed woefully outmatched. But Wisconsin’s beleaguered labor movement woke up and mobilized, through e-mail blasts, phone trees and Facebook, getting tens of thousands of supporters to rally in Madison against the legislation and surprising itself that it could muster such a show of force so quickly.
For now, the two sides are at a stalemate, with protesters still swarming the Capitol and Democratic senators hiding in Illinois to deny the Republican majority the quorum needed to pass Mr. Walker’s bill. Meanwhile, governors in other states, most notably New Jersey and Ohio, have gone on the offensive against labor, deriding teachers’ unions, tenure and generous pensions.