Battle in the Cheese Head State




Cheese head land, Wisconsin, is exploding in protest. Why? The Republican governor, Scott Walker, is trying to union bust, all in an effort to dump their $3 billion dollar budget shortfall on the laps of workers.




The governor literally tried to have State Democratic Senators arrested.

He not only said he would not negotiate, but announced he had alerted the National Guard in the event of worker protests (note the last time the Guard was called in to handle a labor dispute was in 1934). Walker since backed down on this particular threat, but has now sent out state police to round up Democratic state senators who are refusing to vote on the latest iteration of Walker’s proposal,

Seems the Wisconsin governor has backed off the order to haul state representatives off to jail, yet the Democrat State Senators fled the state:

Wisconsin state Senate Democrats fled the state on Thursday to protest a Republican plan to sharply curtail union rights for public employees, and President Barack Obama weighed in on their side.

"We were left with no choice," Democrat Sen. Jon Erpenbach said of the decision to leave Wisconsin rather than debate the plan in the legislature. He was speaking to WisPolitics, an online news service.

Asked when the Democrats would return, Erpenbach said, "The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out."

Of course Fox News is on the case, hunting down the State Senators to a hotel in Illinois.

Some financial reality on how the budget shortfall simply isn't labor fault in the first place comes from David Kay Johston during an interview on the Dylan Ratigan show:

DYLAN: David, The AFL-CIO in Wisconsin is outraged in that state, a state where 2/3 of the corporations pay nothing in taxes and where the percentage of overall state revenue from corporations is down 50% in that state. We all know that the banks were selling fraudulent mortgages to pensions who are trying to keep up with their free-spending governors in order to keep their jobs. What are your thoughts on the situation developing right now in Wisconsin where you’re got a politician trying to eliminate the ability for anybody to tell them — anybody to resist?

DAVID: Well, Dylan, I think this is a very revealing move. You know, Aristotle taught us the tyrants first surround themselves with bodyguards who will go after anybody who challenges what they do. We shouldn’t forget that historical lesson. You know, the pensions they want to go after, they’re not very big in Wisconsin. I just calculated the numbers. The average Wisconsin state employee gets $24,500 a year. That’s not a very big pension. The state pension plan, 15% of the money going into it each year is being paid out to Wall Street to manage the money. That’s a really huge high percentage to pay out to Wall Street to manage the money. And what I think is going on here is this is the state as we began where public employee unions were first by law allowed, and if this governor can break these unions then you’re going to see this happen all across the country and further drive down wages. And if you can drive down wages in the public sector, it means private employers can drive down wages in the private sector.

DYLAN: And if you were to contextualize the rating of the pensions with the trillion dollar vampires that are off foot in this country from defense to energy to banking, who do you hold responsible — how responsible, for instance, is the media for failing to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire on the trillion dollar vampires and instead chasing the little ghosts and cupids that are set out of Facebook by leftists and rightists around the world?

DAVID: Well, you know, Dylan, it is terrible that most journalists went into the business to tell stories and they don’t know how to count because the numbers here are quite compelling. And you know, Wisconsin, if you go to subsidy watch, you can see the tens and tens of millions of dollars over the years Wisconsin taxpayers have been forced to pay to give to corporations, to everybody from SC Johnson and Company in Racine to Harley-Davidson to various cheese companies that is massive amount of taxpayer gifts going to businesses instead of their competing in the marketplace. So this should be very, very troubling to people, but it’s this notion that — you’re going to — the first thing you announces, “I’m going to call out the National Guard.” Well, first of all, do you understand a lot of the National Guard are people who are schoolteachers and public health nurses and judges and it’s going to call them out on themselves.

Note the comment that many Journalists do not know how to count. That is no lie and was a great inspiration for this site to exist.

Dr. Chinn ran some wage numbers, comparing public and private wages, total compensation by degree in Wisconsin. From the numbers:

Total hourly compensation for Wisconsin public sector workers is 4.8% lower than for private sector (-5.1% for Wisconsin State workers, and -4.7% for local government). The differentials are bigger for annual compensation.

George Washington compares the unrest to Egypt in the Revolt Spreads to America and Wisconsin cheese makers are offering a discount to anyone who openly opposes Governor Walker. It seems the tea party is sparking a revolution of it's own, called the American worker and middle class would really like some real representation now, cause you sure ain't it.

Update February 18th, 10:40 AM, CST:

The Governor has sent the State Troopers after the missing Democratic Senators, and is now messing with the Green Bay Packers:

Seven current and former Packers signed a letter in support of the AFL-CIO's efforts to derail Walker's plans. Those who signed include: Curtis Fuller, Chris Jackie, Charles Jordan, Bob Long, Steve Okoniewski, Brady Poppinga and Jason Spitz.

The Green Bay Packers, beyond being Superbowl Champs, are the only team in the league not owned by some Billionaire:

The Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned franchise in American professional sports major leagues. Typically, a team is owned by one person, partnership, or corporate entity, i.e., a "team owner." The lack of a dominant owner has been stated as one of the reasons the Green Bay Packers have never been moved from the city of Green Bay, a city of only 102,313 people as of the 2000 census.

School closings are to Milwaukee now as union members revolt in protest. Governor Walker is chasing after the Democratic State Senators with police because without them the Senate cannot hold a quorum in order to pass the union busting bill.

President Obama is getting into the mix and Governor Walker is telling the President of the United States to butt out of their business.

Overnight a recall movement has sprung up to get rid of 8 GOP State Senators and Walker.

In the Assembly, Republicans are expected to pass the union busting bill.

Stay Tuned.

Update February 18th, 1:34 PM CST:

The union busting bill failed in the Wisconsin State Senate. Looks like unions and workers won....for now. Yet the government is effectively shut down and Democrats are talking a compromise. When dealing with crazy people out to blame and destroy workers and their rights, it's yet to be seen what kind of compromise that really means.



this is a fast moving story, so please share updates in comments

This story is fairly exploding with major coverage around. I tried to focus on that fact that the budget deficit over two years is a lie, this is all about union busting and a classic example of the never ending blame the worker instead of corporate welfare, FIRE, corporate lobbyists and their demands for the economic malaise of the country.

So, they bring the globe to it's knees through fictional derivatives trading, we pay for it and now the U.S. middle class is once again supposed to pay for it by slashing their wages, more offshore outsourcing and stealing their retirement funds.

That's the overall agenda it appears, same with Congress.

Union rights

This is a notable battle in the class war. Its also a battle for public opinion. The walkout was a risky move. Walker will gut the union if he can, best we keep an eye on Wisconsin. I hope the crowds grow over the long weekend. 25,000 today!


it went up to 30k. Maybe, just maybe this might show we have a non-debate, debate being spun by corporate interests.

In other words, both parties really try to attack wages, unions, pensions, social safety nets, when these are not even the right questions or causes.

The cost, for example with Medicaid/Medicare is the for profit health sector, forcing American to pay at least twice as much as other countries.

Where's the State Department?

Insisting on protecting the right to assembly and the rights to petition the government with grievances? Oh, right, our White House is just interested in the rights of the people overseas (and just as long as we retain what we want from the country). The people in Wisconsin, and everywhere, for that matter, have NO representation in Congress and are stuck with an increasingly less stealth Republican as president.

They don't care about anyone but themselves.

We are nothing to them.

Great blog Robert!

Fake deficit

The deficit Walker created was mostly given as a tax break to Wal-Mart. The prevention of collective bargaining extends to all union workers throughout Wisconsin. Ads prepared for this campaign in all the new red states were on the air before Wisconsin and Ohio began their "tea party" agenda. This is a well-funded, well-organized political attack to regain the government in 2012 and establish US, Inc. Democrats need to act fast and not depend on the MSM for news. Watch Maddow and Schultz on msnbc.

tax break to Walmart

Have a reference? I completely believe it. Seems the tea party is just a new incarnation of the same old corporate lobbyists and political operators who manage their "money", i.e. their political control money that is.

It's like politicians are glorified thugs, given orders to do some lobbyists' or "corporate donor" dirty work.

If you find out Walmart is behind this, that's a huge story and would not surprise me. They have wanted to bust unions period for some time, for Walmart is a huge target, being the largest employee, for unionization.


Big win for tax reform: Wal-Mart’s real-estate tax
scam is now illegal
I could not find a direct quote on Wal-Mart in Walker's new Budget Repair Bill. The above article was about the previous governor who closed a Wal-Mart loop-hole. The general idea is that corporations pay almost no tax in Wisconsin. In the Budget Repair Bill they say new corporate tax measures are to be detailed later. The idea was to cut government workers to pay for corporate tax benefits and also destroy union rights (government and private) to negotiate for workers. No mention was made of the ability of the Chamber of Commerce to organize companies and charge an annual fee. I will keep working on documenting new corporate benefits in the Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill". I did quote a blogger from Wisconsin and should have included a reference.

State data

While we're bashing national journalism, esp. cable noise, when it comes to State and local news, it's atrocious. Finding out exactly what was even passed, or brought up in a State legislature is a real nightmare, and odds on one would have to read their state records, which is publicly available but a true blue paper dig/hunt.

I'm more apt to believe it for I believe the corporate lobbyist strategy is to get to the States and it's even easier because there is less scrutiny, due to Journalists talking about the latest "bad restaurant" or other trivial news and states plus there are 50 of 'em to try, with ??? local governments?

Lack of factual media reporting

How few of the following facts are reported on the mostly useless main media ? Rather we hear the lazy parroting that Walker is attempting to balance the budget (the reason it’s out of balance is him). We need to constantly demand the media detail the following facts –

As you point out -
2/3 of the corporations pay nothing in taxes and where the percentage of overall state revenue from corporations is down 50% in that state. We all know that the banks were selling fraudulent mortgages to pensions

As reported on both Rachel Maddow and YvesSmith - “an analysis of the state’s finances shows this shortfall to be entirely the result of spending increases planned by Walker. The state ran a modest surplus in the latest fiscal year and the projected falls in tax receipts over the next two years were less than $200 million cumulative. So this budget hysteria is a gross distortion of the state’s true condition)”

Dean Baker concludes re National Pension shortfalls:

"Most of the pension shortfall using the current methodology is attributable to the plunge in the stock market in the years 2007-2009. If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007, their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today. This is by far the major cause of pension funding shortfalls. While there are certainly cases of pensions that had been under-funded even before the market plunge, prior years of under-funding is not the main reason that pensions face difficulties now. Another $80 billion of the shortfall is the result of the fact that states have cutback their contributions as a result of the downturn."

EP is a news source

We are considered a news source, which is why I have been so demanding on content quality, citations, references, fact checking.

Therefore, you can write the Journalist level article on EP to counter the never ending and very obviously bought media, especially most of cable noise. They never ending set up "non-debate" "debate" on cable noise with a few nonsensical Pundits, arguing over non-existent points on a bed of lies of the actual facts.

i.e. it's about the Wisconsin budget, when it clearly is not about the Wisconsin budget since this has no effect.

We can pick almost any issue and show examples of the non-debate debate to drown out any real investigative reporting and facts.

The only request is to validate data, sources as much as one can directly. In other words, if citing another person's article, and numbers, even graphs, try to check the methods and sources.

I find dealing with anything the CBO says, in particular, very numerically in the weird. For myself, I am more and more checking methods, trying to discover actual error rates, assumptions, the std. deviation, if a distribution is normal and all sorts of "in it" statistics and so on when it comes to overviewing eocnomic reports and data.

but, it can be done. Right now, like no other time in history has so much raw information and data been publicly available via a hand gesture/click of a mouse.

This "article" is filled with

This "article" is filled with lies and half-truths. The truth is these greedy union bastards want to keep sucking at the public teat, regardless of the fact that the state is broke. I commend Governor Walker for standing up to the union thugs and the criminal Democraps.

People cannot add either, not just Journalists

If you would learn how to do your maths, you would see public employees make less than the private sector.

Be really nice if you stopped being rallied by hate and learned the numbers.

Hmm -- and I thought we won the Cold War

And then I re-read history.  Looks like V.I. anticipated the current crisis of labor.  The Cold War may be back -- only the enemy has changed.  Is this the new colonialism?

"Lenin identifies the merging of banks and industrial cartels as giving rise to Finance Capital. According to Lenin, in the last stage of capitalism, in order to generate greater profits than the home market can offer, such capital is exported and invested abroad. This leads to the division of the world between international monopolist firms and to the great powers colonizing and coming into conflict over large parts of the world in support of their businesses. Imperialism is thus an advanced stage of capitalism, one relying on the rise of monopolies and on the export of capital (rather than goods), and of which colonialism is one feature."

Frank T.

Did V.I. also identify any

Did V.I. also identify any acceptable alternatives? Many can see a problem, but none can suggested any long term solution.

What is to be done?

Anon, you would not like his alternative. My alternative is Jobs for Americans, and holding American corporations accountable for labor practices. Whether you would like that I cannot say, but that would be real "Americanism." I hope that's acceptable.

Frank T.

Solutions are to do the right thing!!

In order for America to turn itself around, just do what is right for the people...not the banksters!!

Charge the Wall Street boys and gals all the back mortgage filings in every County in every State...that should keep our teachers teaching, our police policing and firefighters putting out fires!

Every time a CEO of the Wall Street Banks receives their outrageous bonuses, that is the amount of money taken away from all the county recorders....that money is to be re paid to the "people" operate our society!!

It may just be time for the American people to " WALK LIKE THE EGYPTIANS" and get this country back to where we should be. Save money by charging Countries like South Korea for our military power...Our government just gives it away!!

I'm beyond disgusted with what we people are allowing to happen!!

So This is Completely Wrong?


USAToday Says Otherwise

that's graph is right

It's right. Here's the difference. Firstly, that's nationwide, the above is just for the state of Wisconsin, so your graph has CA, NYC, DC, VA and so on in it...
Then, your graph is just for 2009, when you see a slaughter going on in the private sector on jobs, and really hours went down (or were flat I think), and wages have declined, or been flat. So, 2009, most of all, "gov" vs. private diverged...

but since that time, government jobs have overall declined.

But in just looking at Wisconsin, Chinn is right, he's just running the numbers for the residents of Wisconsin and it's up to date, I think it's 2010 numbers, possibly 2009.

They Haven't Declined by Much

Nationwide Government worker unemployment is at 5% while Construction lingers at 22.5%, this despite heavy government intervention which is clear now was useless.

I'm betting U-6 shows a far wider gap than that however I can't find it broken down that way by employment sector.

Labour and the left

Public sector unions were illegal prior to Kennedy and the reasoning why that was is coming to fruition.

private job slaughter

Of course this is true because the slaughter was in private sector. That said, for 2010, every month, government has lost jobs, alot in local and state.

1% Loss Over the Last Year

I posted BLS stats here last year showing a 4% unemployment level for government workers so they have lost 1% since then.

So while the private sectors ability to pay higher taxes has gone down government employment levels have barely changed at all.

No stimulus funding left to bail out the government sector this year though.

unemployment rate is 5% for all gov. national

Which is by far the lowest unemployment rate per industry sector. That said, so? I don't get this bashing on government workers when one really should be bashing on corporate welfare, the offshore outsourcing of jobs.

It's like "my life sucks therefore you're should too" instead of "my life sucks and I'm going after the ones who caused my life to suck".

I can get some people wanting to destroy the teachers union, due to the god awful nature of schools but I cannot get this overall attack on people having some good jobs, when the real attack should be why the private sector doesn't have better jobs and we need those immediately, instead people are just attacking their counterparts here.

Not Bashing Just Realistic

Where is the money coming from to maintain government employment at full employment numbers?

Bernanke has said flat out 'no bail out for states' and Obama is cutting the budget not asking for another stimulus. PIMCO is unloading Treasuries. You think that's a vote of confidence?

So do we cut medicaid to save union jobs? How about welfare or food stamps?

I can't understand why anyone who is looking at the situation for what it actually is suddenly is bashing unions?

A little on the defensive there if you ask me.

no bid energy contracts, "tax cuts"

the state just gave major tax cuts to big business, plus is giving away no bid energy contracts.

Myself, first up should be corruption and corporate welfare as well as removing the inefficiencies in the system.

But destroying labor law, collective bargaining, doesn't have anything to do with the budget, this is just a GOP state governor attempt, now in Ohio, Indiana to bust the unions, which affects all workers.

That's what's pathetic about all of this, it's just turning worker against worker, all under a big, fat lie. The corporations who back these GOP people want to destroy social security, unions, workers, pretty much anything that helps out working America and this is just one of them, for unions have managed to hang on in the public sector.

Managed to Hang On?

So you're saying that some public sector unions have been in danger of disappearing?

There is probably $6 trillion in unfunded pension debt that is getting bigger not lessor. That's double what's been quoted in the press because of the deceptive and fraudulent accounting used to create the numbers. Showing future savings as 'now' savings and using unrealistic gains as automatic such as 8% when in fact they are lucky to have broken even.

Look elsewhere. look elsewhere but don't look at us. The problem is always elsewhere.

Check out the Detroit public school systems or Michigan itself for that matter and see what's going on there. That's as unionized a state as any in the land and there is no union bashing going on there either, just a total collapse. That's the future. I'm sure in some minds there was some huge plot to put Michigan where they are now but without proof that's a UFO tale.

When the private sector middle class leaves a state they take with them the taxes that keep the public sector unions ticking.

Call for Protests in China

This would be the ultimate in the protest movement happening around the globe.


Chinese authorities detained dozens of political activists after an anonymous online call for people to start a "Jasmine Revolution" in China by protesting in 13 cities—just a day after President Hu Jintao called for tighter Internet controls to help prevent social unrest.

The Chinese government has a tight lockdown on the people, and their censorship and shut down of the Internet is well known.

Still, China has over 1.3 billion people, so if those people, especially demand worker/labor rights...

Good for them and also very good for workers around the globe. This entire global labor arbitrage agenda is by corporations and for corporations. Playing workers against each other to erode working rights, labor law, working standards, wages.

*That* is a huge chunk of the problems....wealth inequality, income inequality, treating people so badly they are killing themselves, destroying the middle classes.